The Tolkien Society has dubbed March 25th Tolkien Reading Day! This year, the Society has selected the topic ‘Tolkien and the Mysterious‘! In celebration of this topic, I thought I would make a what I am calling a Reading Day Roundup! I am pulling together bits and pieces of my First Impressions series and Tolkien Experience Project contributions that have to do with mystery! I hope you enjoy!
Tolkien Experience Contributions:
Only two contributes (to this point) have mentioned “mystery” in their responses: Tanya P. and Putri Prihatini. Interestingly, both of them mention mystery when they are describing their favorite parts of Tolkien!
Putri Prihatini says
I love the way Tolkien obscured many references when his characters mention history, characters, and stories from the past. He was supposedly the “know it all” in his world, but he restrained himself from revealing too much to the readers. This makes me feel the sense of mystery and wonder for the past, which results in some serious digging if I want to know more. When reading LOTR, for example, I only know as much as what the characters know, which makes me feel connected to them.
Tanya P. notes
Moria is one of my favorite locations in Middle-earth. Its perpetual darkness conceals secrets that I long to uncover. And I love the moment when Gandalf lifts this veil of mystery and gives his companions, and readers, a tiny glimpse of what they are missing.
It is interesting that one talks about preserving mystery while the other talks about unveiling or revealing mystery. Read more from Tanya P. and Putri Prihatini in their full Tolkien Experience Project contributions!
First Impressions series:
In my First Impressions series, I am reconstructing my first reading of The Lord of the Rings. I have mentioned mystery on three occasions over the course of the series so far. The first is when the hobbits meet Strider in Bree:
It is the artistry of Tolkien, however, to prolong the mystery and only unravel Aragorn’s true significance bit by bit.
I really enjoyed not knowing who this character really was and getting to know him slowly! I also mentioned mystery when I talked about The Watcher in the Water! I disliked the movie adaptation because Tolkien was very careful not to reveal too much about this creature:
Despite how the movie interprets this event, Tolkien’s characterization of the action leaves more mystery surrounding the nature of the Watcher.
Finally, I mentioned mystery in my entry on the Mirror of Galadriel! I was speaking of elf magic and how the way that the elves perceive ‘magic’ convinced me of its reality in Middle-earth:
[Their] rational approach to magic was so verisimilitudinous with the way that people who understand a concept dispel the mystery of those who do not that I was completely sold on the existence of ‘magic’ in Tolkien’s world.
Wow, these very disparate observations all touch on mystery in interesting ways!
What are you reading to celebrate Tolkien and the mysterious on this Tolkien Reading Day?