Alistair S’s Experience – Tolkien Experience Project (141)

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 Alistair 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 Alistair S’s responses:


1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?

I first became aware at Primary school at the age of 9 or 10 when we were set to write an essay on a book we were reading. Someone in class wrote about The Two Towers. I had never heard of it so he described it and recommended The Hobbit. I found a second hand copy at a jumble sale and that was me hooked. Later another friend lent me The Lord of the Rings. I still remember the edition, hardback with the dust jacket with Pauline Baynes’s illustrations. Those were good times to discover Tolkien as soon after came the Ralph Bakshi film and the BBC Radio 4 adaptation.

2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?

I think now there are two aspects that have become favourite. The ‘quiet’ moments of The Lord of the Rings such as meeting the Elves outside the Shire, the Rivendell passages and the Houses of Healing. Also I have recently started exploring the works that Christopher Tolkien has added to the canon such as The Fall of Gondolin and that has opened up a whole world.

3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?

There are several to be honest. Reading Lord of the Rings about every six months as a teenager was magical. Discovering all the different artists who have interpreted Middle-earth – Rodney Matthews, Brothers Hildebrandt, Alan Lee, John Howe, Michael Kaluta, Ted Naismith and so many more. Listening to Blind Guardian’s concept album – Nightfall in Middle-earth–just fantastic. Watching The Fellowship of the Ring film and against the odds it was great. Lastly when my son fell in love with Middle-earth too and it is a huge bond we have in common.

4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?

Yes it has as when I first discovered it I gravitated to the Hobbits as I think is natural in children. Later I found the Elves to be more attractive as I imagined them hanging out in forests drinking cider. Later Aragorn who has to take up the mantle almost of adulthood and responsibility as we ourselves do. I suspect the next stage for me will be identifying with Gandalf or Radagast. I hope so. Other than that I have begun to explore the wider world of Middle-earth via The Silmarillion, The Fall of Gondolin whereas I used to stick to The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings only. I think my appreciation of his creation has only deepened over the years,

5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?

I would always recommend it but I appreciate it is not for everyone. I have tried F.Scott Fitzgerald, Patrick O’Brian and some other notables but can’t really get into them so I believe in ‘each to their own.’


For more from Ed, you can find him on Twitter!

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