This is one in a series of posts where the content is provided by a guest who has graciously answered five questions about their experience as a Tolkien reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Michaela and the other participants for this.
To see the idea behind this project, check out this page
I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase print of this painting, they are available on his website!
If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.
Now, on to Michaela Hausmann’s responses:
How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
My sister told me about The Lord of the Rings when I was twelve years old. She promised to go and see the film with me but I wanted to read the book first. I did and became enchanted. I still am. And I shall be forever grateful to my sister.
What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
My favourite chapter in LotR is the chapter “Farewell to Lórien” as it poignantly portrays the tragedy of the Elves and of Galadriel, who also happens to be my favourite character. I still think that this chapter is one of the most important passages in Tolkien’s legendarium as it makes a crucial statement about the necessity and pain of loss but also about the beauty and importance of hope.
What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
My first Tolkien Society Seminar in 2015. In German academia, fantasy literature is sometimes still not taken seriously. To meet so many like-minded Tolkien enthusiasts at the seminar made me ridiculously happy and encouraged me to continue my work.
Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
It has. Of course, reading The Silmarillion is an altogether different experience than reading LotR. For many years, I preferred The Silmarillion with its creation myth, the epic wars between Morgoth and the Elves, and the touching stories of the fall of Gondolin or the love of Beren and Lúthien. The Silmarillion fascinates me because it oscillates between the bigger picture and the portrayal of individuals. However, after learning more about narrative techniques and Tolkien’s works in general, I began to appreciate the unique narrative style of LotR more than the necessarily fragmented stories of The Silmarillion. And finally, writing my PhD thesis on the poems in LotR required a more detached view and analysis of Tolkien’s works. This was an important and necessary experience. The enchantment continues but it has changed, and that is a good thing.
Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
YES! Because they take you to a beautifully written world full of wonder, tragedy, good & evil deeds, and fascinating stories. Yet they also take you back to “recover” your own world, as Tolkien called it, to see your own world in a new light. And, what is more, Tolkien’s hopes came true. His works indeed left “scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama” (Letters, 145). Even people who are not voracious readers can take the road to Tolkien’s Faërie – through music, pictures, films, games, cosplay, etc. Tolkien’s works have, in many ways, become a shared experience.
For more from Michaela, you can follow her on Twitter!