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 Br. Pius, Norbertine friar, 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 Br. Pius, Norbertine friar’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I was introduced to Tolkien’s works by the wonderful films of Peter Jackson. Back in my childhood, I really enjoyed watching them, especially with my father who’s also a little bit addicted to the story (at least I made him interested in it). He thinks that everyone knows something about Tolkien’s breath-taking universe. Of course, after watching the films, I felt a hole inside me. I mean, they weren’t enough for my always-working imagination, so I wanted to know much more about Middle-earth. I immediately searched for The Lord of the Rings books in a bookstore’s online page and I bought my first ones by the beloved Professor. I was so happy when I received them and I read them as soon as it was possible during my vacation at my granny’s garden. I imagined that I was sitting on Bilbo’s bench, looking at his wonderful flowers and admiring Gandalf’s fireworks upon the sky.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
Naturally, my favourite parts are my first reading experience, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but I also really venerate the whole of the universe which was made by Tolkien. I have to tell you that I’m not really into man-created worlds. I mean, I never saw Star Wars, Star Trek and several adaptations like these, but I was fulfilled by Tolkien’s work after reading just the first and the smallest part of it. The best part of all for me are the first sentences of the Hobbit, as I always feel so delightful and comfortable while reading: “In a hole under the ground…”
It lasted till my twenties, as now I can look from another perspective at my Tolkien readings, as I’m older and I manage to understand the fond meaning of these works. I mean the real meaning of them. I like to think about the sequences and wise sayings of Tolkien, which can be suitable for every situation in our life.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
I have to tell that I’m a Norbertine friar, so my fondest experience was that I realised the religious side of Tolkien’s work. Even during reading, I stopped and I thought about where I’ve met with a situation or story like that in my philosophical or theological studies, or even in the Holy Scripture. Sometimes, if I start to talk about it to others, they look at me as one might look at something which is strange, as if they’ve never heard that the world made by Tolkien can also be seen as a religious or philosophical work. But yeah, he was a dedicated and conservative catholic, which makes him more sympathetic to me.
As I’m still studying philosophy and theology this year, I’ve decided to research the philosophical, especially metaphysical, relations of The Lord of the Rings for my annual exam.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Indeed! Of course, as my first reading experience was in the beginning of my teenage period and the last was after entering the Norbertine convent. As I had time to spend reading during my formation, I mean the period of postulancy, I decided to extend a little bit my collection of Tolkien’s works. So I bought some studies about him, some language books of Quenya and Sindarin, and even a Hungarian-Quenya dictionary. That is not because I wanted to be fluent in elvish, as I have much more studies to do, even in Latin or Greek, it was just to have a closer look into this eye-catching universe. After that, I read The Silmarillon, Children of Hurin, The Lost Tales, and the History of Middle-earth… I’m so addicted to it all. They’re so deep, so fond, I managed not to see Tolkien’s work as a fairy tale as I did in my teenage years. I really understand now the idea of sub-creation
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
I would recommend Tolkien’s work, but divided into age-levels. I mean, The Hobbit and The Father Christmas Letters are suitable for children as they’re written for them. To deeply understand the whole universe, we should be a little bit older. I mean, to find the real things behind the fairy tale, which I explained in my other answers. By the way, I think we should recommend the reading of Tolkien’s work for everyone as it has a meaning, maybe a different meaning for everyone. It could be a fairy tale or something to read before going to bed, but it can be someone’s fondest reading experience or even a subject to do research on or to find the real meaning of. I also really recommend it to religious people who know about Holy Scripture and have theological and philosophical knowledge, as they also can have a nice experience in finding these meanings of the novels.
If you want to talk to Br. Pius, Norbertine friar, you can find him on Facebook!