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 fan.
To see the idea behind this project, or if you are interested in sharing your own, visit the project homepage. If you enjoy this series, please consider helping us fund the project using the support page.
I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his artwork for this project. Prints are available on his website!
Now, on to Claude Drolet’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
It was in about 1980, when I was about 11 or 12, my aunt gave my older brother an Unwin 1966 edition boxed set. He devoured them. Sometime after that, summer 1981, I believe, my mother gave me a Dungeons and Dragons set and we tried to play. While the game did not stick, it did lead my brother re-read the series and brought it back to my attention, and I read The Hobbit.
Upon finishing The Hobbit I could not imagine reading anything else, as how could any protagonist replace Bilbo. It took me about another year to plunge into The Lord of the Rings. I was glad I did, as it opened up the world of high fantasy to me, a world I have enjoyed ever since.
I quickly read through The Silmarillion, then later purchased and devoured Unfinished Tales and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
For me it is the Merry/Pippin storylines that run through books 3 and 5, and then in the Scouring of the Shire. While Frodo and Sam are pivotal to the story, I empathized more with Merry and Pippin.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
It is hard to say, as I have returned to his work at many stages in my life, but most recently I was able to watch the film trilogy with my 10 year old son and experience it again for the first time through his eyes. We watched the original theatrical releases, and while they were shorter than the extended ones, he still was surprised when each film finished, not noticing 3 hours had passed.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
When I first read it, it was as a boy looking for adventure. As an adult I look at it for other aspects. The beauty of the language, the world building or the character development. I still enjoy the escapism, the immersion into the story, but I appreciate the more lofty aspects more as an adult. Each time I read the series, I find something new. Foreshadowing I did not pick up on, imagery that strikes me or irony that was lost on a middle school boy.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Always. I work in education, and I often find myself recommending books to young adults who are graduating out of Harry Potter. The Hobbit is the first choice, and that has led many to move into The Lord of the Rings.