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 Anna’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
I saw the trailer to the Fellowship movie when I went to see the first Harry Potter movie. I forgot all about Harry Potter immediately. I was 11 and the age limit to see the movie without express permission was 12 at the time. My mother promised me she would let me go if I read the books first. I did, and I loved them so much, but by the time I had gotten and finished them, the movie didn’t run anymore – something I still hold against her. She understands 🙂
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
The theme of hope. There is always hope, even when things look hopeless. But equally, it doesn’t sugar coat: bad things happen, the world will change because of them, and you cannot get the old world back. I had a traumatic childhood and greatly appreciate this approach to undying hope and goodness without the expectation that bad can only be overcome by undoing it – something that is unrealistic.
Also, the way he deals with (sub)-creation: the entire Legendarium is full of cautionary tales about creativity, making and it’s pitfalls. I do relate to Aule as much as to Feanor in a way. I am a creative professional and I like having that aspect to relate to.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
Oh, that’s difficult. I reread Tolkien’s work typically in Autumn and Winter, my favorite Seasons, and I think it’s something that has turned into a tradition that is fully mine, something just for myself that I find very soothing.
The other is rewatching the Jackson Trilogy’s making-of the way other people watch Disney or Ghibli movies whenever they feel unwell. I have seen them way more than the actual movies themselves. I understand this is about Tolkien’s work, not Jackson’s, but the visuality of those movies was my gateway and the creativity of the people involved is so very inspiring and dear to me, and was 100% instrumental to me becoming a designer. I think I am fond of how Tolkien extracted the very best out of a group of people I first considered my role models, and now my peers.
Another thing that I would mention: Like most Tolkien obsessed teens, I used to teach myself writing Tengwar. Nowadays I research writing systems by way of typesetting/typography. It’s a field very much connected to Philology. I didn’t make the connection for a long time, but when I did it felt like coming full circle: Like it was something the Professor already told me when I was 11, 12, and that I had just forgotten about and had rediscovered.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
My first instinct here was to say yes, of course. I am 20 years older, and not a child anymore. But I think my approach is exactly the same: Wonder, and yearning for a moral compass especially in dark times. I always find it, too, it just tells me slightly different things each time.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
I find it difficult to “recommend” something so close to my heart. Not proactively, I think. The vast majority of people I meet have either already read Tolkien, or heard about it and haven’t read it yet. If people are reluctant about reading it because it’s a long book rumoured to be hard to get into, I will always, always encourage them!!! I don’t like wasting my time trying to convince the “no fantasy” crowd. I do tell people that I am a huge fan when it comes up and hope it serves as a recommendation, if you will. If people are interested, I will tell them more, of course, and I don’t think I am very good at concealing enthusiasm. 🙂
You can find Anna Voß on Instagram!