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 Serena’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I was first introduced to Tolkien’s work when The Lord of The Rings films came out, but it wasn’t until The Hobbit films came out that I actually started paying attention to the books. I fell in love short after.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
There are two things that come to mind when thinking about this question. The first is the way the books are written. I feel understood when I read Tolkien’s books, like my emotions and experiences are tied to those of the amazingly well written characters, as if I myself were part of the story. Every word is so perfectly placed, I can’t help but feel like Tolkien’s writing is as close prose can get to music and poetry. I find there is something profoundly sentimental about Tolkien’s works, not just in the adventures, but in how these are described.
The second is the work he put into creating a world for his languages – I have always been amazed by the fact that was the order of creation, not the other way around. This denotes such a passionate interest, and as someone who is interested in languages, it makes me wish I could go back in time and be one of his students.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
The fondest experience I have of Tolkien’s works are all related to The Hobbit, films (oddly) and book. I was in a really bad place mentally, when The Hobbit films came out – I was a teenager struggling with depression, desperately looking for a way out of a home and situation that was more or less destroying my spirit. Not long after the last film in The Hobbit trilogy came out, when I was 18, one of my closest friends died unexpectedly and I found myself completely alone. At that point, I got attached to a world and characters that felt like they could understand me: desperately trying to belong somewhere, and seemingly always failing. This brought me relief, knowing that someone out there knew what I was going through.
This feeling only strengthened once I started reading the book, when I found that I could also find comfort in Tolkien’s actual words. It seemed to me like each and every word I was reading was a brick that I could use to build myself the home I never had. I find it really difficult to explain how his words make me feel, so I hope that the metaphor clears it up a little bit.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
It’s been a very eventful few years since I was first introduced to his works, but each time I go back to them (mostly to the films, they are just that little bit quicker to get through), something feels just slightly different. I think the biggest difference I have noticed, while re-reading The Hobbit and re-watching the trilogies this Christmas, is that I have felt happy to be part of them, as opposed to feeling a strong need to be understood and included in them. I have also felt a lot more inspired by them to go and do something meaningful with my life, to put my creativity towards those projects that I have dreamt about, but that I have never found the motivation to actually start.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
I tend not to show the “Tolkien fan” side of myself to anyone that I am not close to, but I have gifted The Silmarillion to a close friend after reading it, because I just found it so interesting that I couldn’t keep it to myself. I would also say my partner is probably sick of hearing me talk about Tolkien’s books. Unfortunately, I am not friends with many readers, and all the other people I am close to have already watched the films. However, if the situation presented itself, I would definitely recommend all of it – books, films, histories, all of it.