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 Paul 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 a 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 Paul Wulfrun’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
My Father (who had also read Tolkien as a child) bought me a fourth edition copy of The Hobbit from a thrift shop in our local area when I was around 6 years of age. It was old, a little beaten up, but it was the first book I ever owned that smelled like an actual book!
On that note, I would like to thank Craig Holland from 7C (as it states on the first page of my copy) for donating your book and giving me years of good reading since. This very week I have begun reading it to my two children for the first time and I hope that they find it as magical and enthralling as I did.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
His ability to weave a story that seems ageless and wide. Even in his smaller works such as ‘Smith of Wootton Major’, through a mere 16 pages he crafts a world you can visualise and immerse yourself within.
Then, to truly craft a universe, he builds history and bloodlines, ties characters from the past to those of present day, allowing their tales to be woven into a tapestry equal to the epics of Indo-European mythology.
One of his many goals was to make a universe that felt commonplace within the history of our own and I believe he achieved this better than any author to date.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
The first time I heard Tolkien recite elvish for the first time. Specifically, ‘Namárië’ (more commonly known as ‘Farewell to Lorien’) whose lines are given to Galadriel within the texts.
Any time I hear elvish recited properly (be it Sindarin, Quenyan, Noldorin, etc) it is truly a beautiful and profound experience. Howard Shore’s fantastic soundscape for the films brought it to a whole new level.
As an aside, visiting a Tolkien Moot and a trip to New Zealand are two experiences sitting readily on my Bucket list!
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Being young when I was first entrenched into the world of Tolkien, my first reads focussed on the drama, the quicker paced areas surrounding war and battle. Now that I am older, I love sitting within the words of each paragraph, delving into them to understand the knowledge, pretence and prophecy that they hold within the story. The minds of Hammond, Scull, Olsen, Shippey and many more have allowed me to acquire further meaning and I love diving ever deeper into his mythos. To the point where I almost love The Silmarillion more than the main work.
I also love to collect quotes, of which the one I have chosen to ponder this week is;
Do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Numenor. – Faramir
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
As a teacher and educator, I always find myself recommending Tolkien’s works for one reason or another.
The Hobbit is a fantastic introduction to greater fiction for primary readers, with many of his lesser works adding to the library of resources that can be utilised to study English and writing. His works are so wonderfully crafted that all of them can scale accordingly for any year level.
From a personal point of view, I want people to read his work so I can discuss it with them, to inspire and give a story of hope within a masterfully crafted fantasy setting the likes of which we more than likely will not ever see again.