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 Liam 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 Liam H’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I was first exposed to Tolkien’s work through the Peter Jackson films. I was very young but I can remember vividly watching the Battle of the Pelennor Fields on my couch in my childhood home. I have watched those movies scores of times.
Later, while in eighth grade I was simultaneously introduced to Tolkien’s literature through the copy of The Children of Hurin my mother kept and a sweet Valentine’s Day gift I received from my Mother; a copy of The Hobbit.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
His detail, more specifically with his invented languages. Tolkien brought a love for understanding in me. Directly as a result of his works I love English etymology and the meaning of words!
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
Reading. Always, reading. I find that I go to a magical world when I open the pages of one of his works. So if I were to be specific it would be sitting on the loveseat in my parents room when we lived in Florida. A book on the shelf had caught my eye; a warrior, standing on a high point with his helmet reminiscent of a great worm. I picked it up, read a few words, looked at the stunning pictures and fell into a magical pool that has transformed my life since.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Of course! About a year after I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time I dove in, but without very much thought. I bought The Silmarillion and the first few books in The History of Middle-earth. Those can be heavy books, particularly the Histories. I put off reading The Silmarillion for a few years but I tried to read the histories like normal books, which doesn’t really work, at least not for me. Now I have more of a study approach when reading the incomplete, fragmented works.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Absolutely, I love fantasy and Tolkien is the granddad of the genre. Tolkien is very readable, though many feel he is not. His writing is so alive and a bizarrely fantastic mix of fairy-tale and epic. He really was a scholar, and his books are scholarly works. I think they have the potential of making scholars out of your simple, every-day folk.
Just the other day at work a coworker was listening to Shakespeare and he liked tragedy, so naturally I recommended The Children of Hurin. I have even managed to get my wife passively interested in Tolkien’s work and I got my in-laws hooked with the movies. When my children are older I plan to read Tolkien’s works to them until they hopefully pick them up on their own
To talk to Liam H about Tolkien, find him on Twitter!