Marita Arvaniti’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (72)

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 Marita 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 Marita’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

When I was nine, my older cousin was a huge Tolkien fan and recreated the maps, made himself a copy of the ring etc. One day I was visiting his house and his copy of The Silmarillion was left on the table so I read the parts of it that sounded interesting. I was hooked after that and found myself copies of The Lord of the Rings, Unfinished Tales, and, finally, The Hobbit.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

I love the paratext. The maps, the art. I’ve also always loved the poetry and I genuinely appreciate the pacing of The Lord of the Rings.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

Movie marathons with friends, while we loudly complain about the differences in adaptations and point at orcs saying “this is you”

4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?

I’ve gotten simultaneously more critical and more protective of him. I think there are clear elements in his work that need to be criticised (the racism, the women) but at the same time I think a lot of people write him off because his writing style is not to their taste or they don’t understand his pacing.

5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?

Yes. I’m with Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula K. Le Guin in thinking that he’s one of the all time greats not only in terms of world building but also style, pacing, and pure craftsmanship.


If you would like to follow Will Sherwood for more thoughts on Tolkien, you can find her on Twitter!

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