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 Hugo 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 Hugo G’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I was younger when I first watched Peter Jackson’s trilogy of The Lord of The Rings. I remember having read Bilbo the Hobbit’s edition of 2003. Then I played the eponymous video game on PS2. I even started a collection of LoTR figures by Games Workshop. At this point, I didn’t know much about Tolkien. It was when I became a student that I worked more on Tolkien’s works and life. It was during this period I discovered his world was far beyond just LoTR and The Hobbit.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
Elves for sure. Perhaps my favorite scene of all of Jackson’s movies is the rescue of the Elves during the battle of Helm’s Deep. It was many years after the first time I watched that I learned this scene wasn’t written by Tolkien and was just an epic addition of Peter Jackson. Obviously Orlando Bloom’s performance as Legolas was outstanding for a 10 year old boy. And even if I’m 24 now, to my eyes Bloom’s acting is still outstanding. I even had the chance to see him in a play in London and even take a selfie with him. It’s some kind of the realization of a boyish dream. I was so proud!
During the battle of Helm’s Deep, I love the death of Haldir. Obviously I wasn’t happy and was even sad when I saw it, but I really appreciate the fact that he and his elves are coming to their death because of honor. It was honor that brought them to Helm’s Deep. It was honor and respect for the past, a past alliance between Elves and Men, that brought them to rescue the Rohirrim. This scene perhaps taught me the most important lesson of my life: you always need to be yourself, to be whole with yourself even if it leads to your death. I recognize this kind of mantra is very close to knighthood and chivalry tales, but, after all, why not. Why not apply this very old way of thinking in today’s actual society ? It needs it. Anyway, I started studying the role of Elves in Tolkien’s work and in the fantasy genre in general. Tolkien’s interpretation of these traditional German little sneaky creatures is very important and begets what modern fantasy is. Currently I’m reading more about the cosmogony (and even writing an article on it) and the relationship of fate and swords.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
My fondest experience with Tolkien’s work was maybe when I went to Wolvercote Cemetery and read the first lines of The Child of Hùrin by his grave. I mean I’m partisan of the metalpectic beliefs and you can’t imagine what I felt during this moment. From a young boy living in country in the east of France, I grew up and went to Oxford in order to collect myself in one of the most important places of Tolkien. It’s an unforgettable memory and I’m planning to do this kind of cultural pilgrimage each year.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Yes obviously. I discovered him as a fan and now I’m more interested to know him and his work from an university and researcher point of view. I know this path is very long and endless, but I really wish to know as much as I can about him. That’s why I joined the Tolkien Society, and that’s why I would like to submit many articles I will write.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
It’s difficult to recommend Tolkien’s work to someone who isn’t an initiate. From my point of view, it’s hard to read. The only one I have read and that I could ever recommend is The Hobbit. But the rest of his work I know is difficult and someone who doesn’t know a little bit about Middle-earth would be lost.
Here are some meme which I think illustrate my point of view about perhaps the most difficult book of Tolkien :
For more from Hugo, you can find him on Twitter!