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 Linda Joness responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
My aunt gave me a copy of The Hobbit when I was 10, but I didn’t get past first chapter. Then the teacher started reading it, and I was hooked.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
I think it is the whole sub-creation that spans so much- the books, art, films, music, games, each part just adds to the immersive experience, and basically feeds the need to know/read/see more. I think that’s why I’ve spent so much on Tolkien merchandise over the years, because it makes you feel part of it, and it makes it tangible.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
When I was 16, and absolutely obsessed, I found the Tolkien Society, and suddenly I wasn’t the only one (this was before the internet!). I went on some moots and to Oxford, and, by sticking up posters to form a local ‘smail ’ met one of my best friends. We are still close 35 years later!
And the release of the films! I remember when Amon Hen was filled with ‘who would you cast’ posts, but never thought it would be a reality. For three years it would become an event. I’d always go the first time myself, to drink it in, then a few of us would go as part of build up to xmas, with plenty of sweets and a sneaky plastic bottle of wine.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
I think it has matured. As a teenager I was quite obsessed, then life sort of took over, as it does, and though still a huge fan, it was subdued. Recently it’s like the flame has been kindled again, and I take an active interest in online forums, have rejoined the Tolkien Society. I am rereading The Silmarillion, slowly, interspersed with resources such as the Prancing Pony Podcast, and appreciating the whole story but also pondering themes and language, and just a deeper level of understanding/ appreciation. It’s fascinating to read the online discussions and fan takes in terms of gender, sexuality, etc., and how a young generation has embraced the works but also interpreted it. I might not agree with all of it, but I think it is brilliant. I know some people feel strongly that it’s non-canon and not what Tolkien meant, but I remember reading something about how Tolkien wanted to write a mythology that would inspire creativity and interpretation. And the fact that different people love the stories, but are reframing it to make sense of their world and making it relevant to them now, without losing the central tenants (to me) of friendship, hope, triumph over evil/ adversity is brilliant. It means it will continue to be read and enjoyed and inspire.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Definitely! Because it’s just an amazing story, with so much depth and variety in the whole of the legendarium. It’s given me so much joy, comfort, friendship and inspiration over the years. But bottom line is that LOTR by itself is just a bloody brilliant book!
You can read more from Linda on Twitter!