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 Terence 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 Terence Aries’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
It began, as it so often does, with my mother handing me The Hobbit when I was looking for something to read. I must’ve been seven at the time and had just come off Watership Down. I was quickly taken by the book and fascinated by the runes on the map in the front. Even more so when my mother told me what those runes meant (she had translated them herself) and then showed me how it corresponded with the English words. A year later I began the first of many readings of The Lord of the Rings and it was that book, together with Watership Down, that drove me to start reading in English at a very early age and I’ve never stopped since. Between readings of The Lord of the Rings my mother also supplied me with copies of Tolkien’s other works such as Mr. Bliss and Leaf by Niggle (a story that I quickly dismissed and only very recently read for the second time, this time appreciating it far more than originally).
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
The little nooks and crannies. The sketched descriptions of places such as Brandybuck Hall that allows you to fill in the details using your own imagination. Where does the road in Ithilien lead, where the crossroads? But also the descriptions of the landscape and weather. Some people might find it too much, but I can feel the blanket of warmth and hear the lazy buzzing of insects when the Hobbits come to the Withywindle at the tail end of summer.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
There’s too many I think, it is always a sense of homecoming. But looking back, those times my mother said “Are you ready for more? Here’s LOTR. Want more? Here’s The Silmarillion. Want more? Here’s Unfinished Tales, sending me farther into this world than she herself had ever gone must take precedence.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Of course it has, as a child I read it for the sense of wonder and adventure, as I grew older I found more layers; the similarities to WW1 for instance. And it was only recently that I noticed the perfect description of Frodo’s PTSD when they pass Weathertop or Bilbo’s instructions to Frodo to take all the notes and books and finish them, he wouldn’t be too critical of the results. Which exactly what Christopher ended up doing.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
We just gave the Hobbit to my 10 year old nephew with the promise that there is more…