Jonathan Purdy’s Experience — Tolkien Experience Project (209)

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 Jonathan’s responses:

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

I was introduced to Tolkien when I was about 9 and my parents took us to see Fellowship in the cinema. I got home and immediately took my mum’s copy off the shelf and devoured it. Badly, I was picking up bits I’d skimmed over for years to come, which really made rereading all the better.

Tell a lie, it was my headmaster reading “Riddles in the Dark” in assembly when I was even earlier in primary school. I even wrote a poem based on the fall of Esgaroth that won a competition and was published well before FotR came out, but I don’t think I joined the dots between the two for a few years.

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

As a whole, it’s the depth of the legendarium that stirs something in me. Lots of fantasy books and series have big histories and ancient characters, but apart from Malazan, none of them feel as real or vast as Tolkien’s work. When I first realised just how old Galadriel is, or that Elrond’s dad became a star in the First Age and Elrond is still just walking around and chatting to people like Sam, it blew my mind.

I think it’s the way that he stubbornly presented it as historical fact, writing as though he were interpreting real events that actually happened to real people that makes it so believable.

Also, the manner in which the man wrote. I adore his prose. The fall of Fingolfin, the ride of the Rohirrim and so many other scenes are presented so sublimely that reading them never feels stale. Excellent horror work as well.

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

I can’t think of a specific experience. Generally speaking, if I’m in the countryside, surrounded by grass and trees and the open air, Tolkien is the only writer it really feels appropriate to read, especially chapters set in the Shire, so I’d say any time I’ve read LotR outside in the shade of a tree. I think he’d appreciate that.

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

I honestly don’t think it has, except that I’ve faltered in my attempts to read LotR on a yearly basis (inspired by Sir Christopher Lee) and tend more nowadays towards dipping in and out, just picking it, or The Silmarillion, up and reading favourite passages or chapters for a quick bump of comfort or awe.

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

Yes. All the time. Because I want him to continue to be recognised as the titan of literature and worldbuilding that he was for as long as possible, and for other people to find as much happiness in his work as I do. I do, however, realise that it’s not for everyone and that not every reader will find the same connection that I have, but I still want them to try.

You can find more from Jonathan on Twitter!

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