Rob C’s Experience – Tolkien Experience (111)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Rob and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase a print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Rob C’s responses:


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

I first read The Hobbit when I was about 12 or 13 years old. One of my close friends had already read the books and we have similar interests and tastes in books, so I gave it a try. The Hobbit was completely readable and I was immediately drawn into this fascinating but vast realm of peaceful farmland, ancient mountains, fire breathing dragons, untamed forests and all kinds of peoples.

The Lord Of The Rings was more difficult for me to finish at the time mainly due to Tolkien’s incomparable skill at world-building and the minute detail he layered into his writing. It was all a bit much for a young reader. I would reread the trilogy later in high school and truly become hooked.

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

The history that Tolkien references in the trilogy and a little in The Hobbit may be my favorite part. Every race has their own history and where they intersect with the other races. Tolkien valued history and understood its importance to life and that comes through in his writing.

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

There’s no one experience but the feeling of being transported back in time and space to another world is so powerful and believable, it’s amazing. At the same time, the world of Middle-earth is not some foreign planet with strange unknown plants and animals, but is very similar to our own.

Tolkien’s Middle-earth helped to inspire me to be more adventurous and appreciative of the natural beauty all around me. Living in Kentucky in the United States, I sometimes imagine that parts of it are The Shire, with all the quiet farms in the central and western parts of the state. While in the east, there are thousands of acres of protected forests that could be Mirkwood or the Misty Mountains. It’s certainly made my childhood a very adventurous one.

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

I am nearly 30 now and I have read The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales, The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien, and J.R.R Tolkien: A Biography. I guess you could say my approach has become more serious or scholarly due to the sheer volume of history, notes, and detail you can read. Of course, I still find myself with the same amazement and level of absorption whenever I reread The Silmarillion, Hobbit, or The Lord Of The Rings. I plan to read the complete History of Middle-rarth one day, plus his other essays and non-Middle-earth stories. Like any classic book, I can always reread it and still find some new detail or appreciate something familiar, in a new perspective based on my current situation in life.

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

Absolutely! I believe The Hobbit is the mark of the classic fantasy adventure story. A child can read it on their own by age 12 or it can be read to them earlier. I would only caution people who’ve read The Hobbit and are about to read the trilogy for the first time, to be ready for a dramatic shift in tone. The Hobbit was written with Tolkien’s children in mind. The Lord Of The Rings was written for adults as is The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.

Tolkien wanted a fantasy genre that was written for adults because he loved this genre but in his time most fantasy stories were written for children. Take your time reading anything by Tolkien and you will not be disappointed. The care and detail he poured into his books and stories is still arguably unrivaled to this day. The languages, histories, cultures, peoples, places, and a creation myth he created, it’s almost too much to comprehend that one man wrote this in one lifetime.

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TEP #13 – Clifford Broadway

For this week’s episode, we welcome someone who has been influential in Tolkien film fandom from a very early point: Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway!

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As one of several volunteers who helps contribute to the online fan community located at TheOneRing.net, Clifford hosts a live podcast each Tuesday. He also co-produced a documentary entitled Ringers, which chronicles the experiences and perspectives of fans of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations, as well as the larger TORn community. This episode is full of heart, so we hope you like it!

 

 

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Comments or questions:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
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Documentary produced by Cliff:

You can also find several articles by and/or about Cliff at TheOneRing.net

He is also live streaming every Tuesday on Twitter,

Paul Goodall’s Experience – Tolkien Experience (110)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Paul and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase a print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Paul Goodall’s responses:


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

When I was 17 a friend recommended LOTR to me. At the time I read mainly thrillers and spy stories and I had never read any fantasy. When he explained the plot of LOTR I was not particularly impressed. However I got a copy from the local Library and to my surprise I was completely hooked from the beginning. 44 years later I still have that sense of wonderment that I initially felt.

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

I have always loved the scenes in the Shire in books 1 and 6 of LOTR. Also the Second Age section of Unfinished Tales and “Narn I Chin Hurin”.

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

In the last 2 years I have been listening to the various Tolkien podcasts by Cory Olsen and also the Prancing Pony podcast. I have had so much pleasure from both of these; I enjoy the erudition, the humour and the enthusiasm of the presenters. Also the sense of community that they bring: my family all love the Peter Jackson films but don’t share my obsession with all things to do with Tolkien.

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

Definitely. Reading books about Tolkien, particularly by Tom Shippey and John Garth, has given me a deeper understanding of the depth and complexity of the books. Also, I first read LOTR and The Silmarillion when I was a teenager. I am now in my 60s and my life experiences mean I can appreciate the books in a different (although not better) way.

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

I would never say “you must read Tolkien” but I would say that, for myself, reading LOTR has given me much more pleasure and satisfaction than any other book. Also my immersion in the world that Tolkien created has given me decades of comfort and intellectual stimulation.

Yvonne Marjot’s Experience – Tolkien Experience Project (109)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Yvonne and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase a print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Yvonne Marjot’s responses:


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

My dad gave me a copy of The Hobbit when I was six. It was meant to be a ‘growing into’ book but I was already a precocious reader, addicted to story, so I ploughed through it. Although I don’t remember, I’m sure my poor mum (a teacher) was frequently called upon to define words. Afterwards I was desperate to read more about hobbits and discovered my grandparents had the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There was a family disagreement over whether I should be allowed to read it, as Mum thought I was too young, but Dad said I would take from it what I could and the rest would go over my head. Somewhat true – but I can still remember the moment, aged 8, that I staggered out of my bedroom reeling from the fall of Gandalf. I stood in the hallway, blinded by tears, unable to articulate what I was feeling while the mother of all arguments got going between my parents (starting with “I told you so.”). I’m a third generation Tolkienophile and I’ve since indoctrinated the fourth and fifth generations.

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

Tolkien’s writing isn’t perfect. No writer is. But he possesses the property that he grows with the reader. By my teens I’d read LOTR so many times. I knew vast tracts of it by heart, including the appendices. When Dad gave Mum The Silmarillion I did the same with that. I watched Ralph Bakshi’s terrible cartoon adaptation of LOTR and reconciled myself to the understanding that it would never be filmed (never say never!) and collected other Tolkien works from second-hand bookshops whenever I could. He was my favourite dead writer for most of my life (though my then favourite living writer, Ursula K Le Guin, has now joined him in equal first place). I literally cannot pick a favourite part, because I love whichever part I am currently reading. But my favourite character is Eowyn. Tolkien’s not brilliant on full-depth female characters, but he’s nowhere near as bad as he’s painted. Eowyn proved a great model for growing up, and for understanding the politics of being female. I might never have been called to be a shieldmaiden, but I completely understood (by age 11) the way in which girls can be thrust aside into purely domestic expectations “until use and old age accept them.” No wonder all those girls and their horses were keen to turn up in South Island New Zealand when Peter Jackson put the call out for extras on the films. It’s important to grasp the opportunity for out-of-the-ordinary life when it presents itself.

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

Tolkien speaks to us. This undoubtedly arises from his real life experiences, as well as from his great scholarship – growing up as I did on Andrew Lang’s colour fairy books, the 1001 nights, Lancelyn Green’s Tales of the Greek Heros etc, I already had myth in my bones so it was a familiar language. Tolkien’s mastery of Anglo-Saxon and European mythology informs his work at all levels. In common with many young readers of Tolkien I took one particular comment of Gandalf’s as my life mantra. “so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

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

Of course. Not only through approaching the books differently as I grew up (at 13 I stopped reading LOTR for some years because I’d started thinking about Aragorn and Faramir in a way I didn’t want. I realised I’d lost my childish admiration for them and was beginning to look at them with a more grown-up eye and I didn’t want that to happen. Going back in my late teens allowed me to come back fresh to them). As a writer myself now I find I can rarely completely lose myself in the story, but I am fascinated by how Tolkien constructs his tales (and the exquisite scholarship that went into his worldbuilding) and the work Christopher Tolkien did later to wrestle all those notes and fragments into further volumes. I wait longer between rereads, and they have all the familiar charm of an annual pilgrimage or a visit to a favourite holiday spot. But they still have their moments – where I turn a corner, or a page, and am confronted with an image that feels as fresh as the first time I read it.

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

Yes, absolutely. For anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially if they are a reader, it’s the wellspring from which 20th century fantasy sprang. For us Brits it’s a ready-made mythology in a recognisable landscape, to which we come gladly for nourishment (and I believe Tolkien meant it that way – to give England that same kind of bred-in-the-bone mythology that the Celtic nations have managed to maintain).

But even more than that – these are great stories. The Hobbit is still a favourite amongst the children who use my library. It provokes great creative stories – hobbits are an endless source of inspiration for these young writers. Some will go on to attempt LOTR, and many will succeed. And now we have the wonderful Peter Jackson films (and a wealth of games as well) to introduce less keen readers to the worlds of Middle-earth. I am not one of those who disliked Jackson’s revisioning of LOTR. In fact, when I first heard that he might be doing it I told a number of people “if he’s working with weta workshops it might be okay.” It was better than okay. Some of his alterations were brilliant (though obviously not canon) including giving Arwen a greater role (although Glorfindel was one of my favourites, sadly). The way I described it to my sons was this: Middle-earth feels real. Reading Tolkien feels as though you are reading the history of a real place, as interpreted by him as historian of record. Peter Jackson has told us a different version of history. This happens with our history too – a new interpretation for a new generation. It doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. And if you love the films, the greatest complement you can pay Jackson is if that love leads you to read the books. Because the books are vast in their scope and give of themselves endlessly. Long may their influence reign.


You can find more from Yvonne Marjot on Twitter!

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TEP #12 – John Garth

We are elated to have with us on this episode a superstar of Tolkien scholarship, John Garth!

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John is a writer who is best known to fans of J.R.R. Tolkien for his autobiographical work about the author, entitled Tolkien and the Great War. He has also written numerous articles and other works about the author, and we are delighted that he agreed to be our guest just days before his new book is released!

Listen in to hear details about his latest work, The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired the Writer’s Imagination! We also cover our usual Tolkien Experience questions, so we get to hear about how he became a huge Tolkien fan early on! We hope you enjoy listening!

 

 

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Comments or questions:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Send us an e-mail from the contact page
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Books by John Garth

His book Tolkien and the Great War is also available on audiobook, as mentioned in the interview!

His short book Tolkien at Exeter is available from his website.

Sadie’s Experience – Tolkien Experience Project (108)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Sadie and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase a print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Sadie’s responses:


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

When I was 10 or 11 years old, my aunt gave me The Hobbit to read. Now, I don’t remember why she did this, nor did she probably think it would grow into a total fanatic obsession. At the time, I had a bad habit of starting and stopping books, or starting books and never finishing them, so it took me a while to read it. I started it, got bored, read something else, and I picked up The Hobbit again when I was in middle school. Somewhere between starting The Hobbit and actually finishing it, I watched the Peter Jackson adaptations and fell head first in love and into this world. Over the past ten years, I have probably seen the movies 300 times. I would talk about them constantly to anyone who would listen, driving most people crazy.After I got myself invested in the movies, I decided to try the books. That led to me finishing The Hobbit when I was twelve. At the same time, the story itself inspired me to write my own (terrible) fanfiction that eventually morphed itself into its own creation that I now keep alive through a writing role play with my best friend. After I finished The Hobbit, I attempted (and failed) to read the trilogy. I got slowly through Fellowship and Two Towers and when I was in eighth grade, I read The Silmarillion for the first time. I finished Return of the King later that year. The story itself and the community around it has helped me through some hard times and helped me crawl out of my shell when I was in middle school, even if it did get me labeled as a nerd, which I quickly found to be a good thing. 🙂

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

My favorite part(s) (it’s too hard to choose just one) are when Fingon rescues Maedhros from the cliffs of Thangorodrim, Fingolfin’s Challenge, the voyage of Earendil, and the passage in Return of the King when Aragorn is healing Eowyn and a healer recognizes him as the king saying, “the hands of the king are the hands of a healer, so shall the rightful king be known”. Along with the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in the appendices. I have many more but I had to narrow it down

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

My fondest experiences have probably happened in the past year or so. I am a sophomore in college and my department (history) has game nights every year (this year was different due to COVID). Last year, at both the Christmas Party and game night, a few of us played Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit and another Tolkien trivia game (that we thought we were going to be good at, we all sucked). We played so late into the night both times that we were kicked out of the areas we were in. Then, this year, at the beginning of spring semester, I decided to do a research proposal project for my Intro to Historical Studies class, on Tolkien’s works and the influence of Christianity and the Bible. One night, two friends and I were seated around a table, theorizing and trying to figure out who might have influenced characters and events in Tolkien. It was a special night for me, because I love discussing things like that with my loved ones and for one of the first times, I had found people who loved it as much as I do.

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

The way I approach the works is very different now, than it was when I was a teenager. I like to approach them now as stories of hope and wonder. Stories that if given the chance, I would pour over for hours as a job. When I was a teenager, I approached them much the same way but also then, it was because I was much more connected with the films than I was with the books.

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

Would I recommend Tolkien? Of course! I want people to find the wonder in it that I did and have their outlook on life changed the way mine was. It’s helped me find the good in the world, through the fandom and community. Every time I read them, I find something new.


You can find more from Sadie on Reddit!

Patrick Fulton’s Experience – Tolkien Experience Project (107)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Patrick and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase a print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Patrick Fulton’s responses:


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

Films by uncle and aunt at 7. Read more at 10 yrs old as a result, then Silmarillion at 11 yrs old.

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

His unique imagination and ability to pull together resources, philology, tales and myth together in a ridiculously brilliant way.

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

Going to an exhibition in Oxford , and meeting the illustrator Alan Lee.

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

Yes. Began with films, developed with reading books of his, and a few years ago I used my fascination with Tolkien to write (as part of my UK education) an EPQ on him.

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

Yes. His detail and history in his Legendarium is (beyond being the lead influence in modern epic story) supreme to that of other franchises. Of course, others are also brilliant, but I believe his is the best universe in many ways.

TEP #11 – Margaret Killjoy

For this episode, we are stepping away from academia and diving into the exciting worlds of writing and music with Margaret Killjoy!

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Margaret is a writer of book-length fiction, short fiction, and non fiction. Perhaps our listeners will be most interested in her short story “The Free Orcs of Cascadia” published in The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. She is also well known for her contributions to music! Our listeners may be particularly interested in her band Feminazgul. You can learn more about Margaret from her website, and even support her on Patreon (where you can also access a lot of her work as a perk of signing up).

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to the podcast via:

Comments or questions:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Send us an e-mail from the contact page
  • Email TolkienExperience (at) gmail (dot) com

Books by Margaret Killjoy:

Annie B’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (106)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Annie B and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase a print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Annie B’s responses:


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

I was probably 4 or 5 years old when I was first introduced to The Lord of the Rings. My parents took my sisters and I on a picnic to Lake Michigan on a Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee. We were in the car when the PBS broadcast came on for LOTR and I remember listening intently and being fascinated by the characters and story. I was a fan from that moment on and read The Hobbit years later but have returned time and again to his works. When I began my PhD work several years ago, I was not intending to study Tolkien but through a chance visit to Marquette University I was once again set on the path of adventure. After my visit to Marquette, I could not deny how much Tolkien’s spoke to me, especially in his relationships with the women in his life. As a result of this experience I became a Tolkien scholar and am working on the layering of women within his academic and fantasy portfolio from their origins in original Norse and early medieval poetry.

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

I love all of Tolkien’s fantasy works but my true affinity lies with his poetry, especially his academic works. I find his language development and verse truly magical, especially his rewriting of women. He creates deep and powerful figures who transcend the pages they occupy; his translations often hone in on otherwise marginalized figures and offer them a chance to speak of the power they possess in the works themselves but also through history. It is through his poetry that I discovered much of the underlying ideas of history and strength within his female characters. This is especially evident in his manuscripts and personal notes from his undergraduate days, which I find engrossing and inspiring.

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

I have so many fond experiences but I think reading the stories to my children and having them love the characters and stories as much as I do is truly eye-opening. My youngest even had to dress up as Samwise Gamgee for Halloween one year. A close second would be my time sitting down with the manuscripts at Marquette University. I was searching through microfilm/fische on Galadriel (I think) and came across his notes on scansion on “The Owl and the Nightingale.” I was in awe, it was a curious glimpse into the mind of a serious thinker; at that moment I realized the depth of his genius and his teaching. Tolkien’s writing has always reached out to me but through his academic work, I have begun to understand what an influential medievalist he was, and through his written examples I understand my own affinity for Medieval verse and history – the real history.

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

Absolutely, especially as a teacher and in my own research techniques, my approach has become much slower and more directed. I laughed out loud at Andrew Higgins’s commentary on your recent podcast, he mentioned the hours of transcribing a certain document, only to find the typescript a few boxes down the line, and that those hours of work can be so telling—I have done this so many times. Working with his personal papers has taught me to really savor each layer of his writing and focus on the process as well as the construction. 

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

Yes, I do everyday. Actually his works are one of my favorite gifts to give, especially to my students. He teaches us so much about humanity and the creative mind through his world building and character relations. I can’t help but feel privy to a special community that embraces you as you read and experience his creations; it is a feeling I want to impart to others if I can. As a teacher I want my students to understand the kindness and understanding that comes from a whole new world. Teaching empathy—even through darkness and despair—is something that we all need to experience and maybe can help someone else understand that kindness and love really are the greatest things in life. I am trying to get a Smial off the ground here in Cleveland, Ohio and eventually would love to bring a Tolkien conference to Kent State University.


You can find more from Annie B on Instagram or her blog!

Chandler’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (105)

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 reader. I am very humbled that anyone volunteers to spend time in this busy world to answer questions for my blog, and so I give my sincerest thanks to Pauline and the other participants for this.

To see the idea behind this project, check out this page

I want to thank Donato Giancola for allowing me to use his stunning portrait of J.R.R Tolkien as the featured image for this project. If you would like to purchase a print of this painting, they are available on his website!

If you would like to contribute your own experience, you can do so by using the form on the contact page, or by emailing me directly.

Now, on to Pauline’s responses:


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

I had to read The Hobbit in high school in the late 1980’s.

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

That he didn’t just tell a story, he built a world and apparently inspired/set the stage for people like George R.R. Martin to do the same.

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

My late son and I watched Jackson’s LotR movies repeatedly and just before his death (at age 11) had begun discussing LotR on a level deeper than “just a cool story”.  It was the Good vs. Evil struggle and Campbell’s idea of The Reluctant Hero and his Mentor like Skywalker/Kenobi. As well as Chaotic vs Lawful.  (I had also introduced him to Dungeons and Dragons Online.)

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

  • Didn’t care for it in HS when I was forced to read it.
  • It became s connection point w/ my son, and I have since gone back and re-read it numerous times.
  • I now feel it is so monumental in our culture that I chose to read it aloud as part of my English/Language Arts curriculum while teaching Graduate Equivalency classes at a Medium Security Men’s Prison here in Georgia.

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

Always. It is unlike so many other ‘High Fantasy’ works and like Jimi Hendrix or Nirvana, it was the first of its kind; the flag bearer; the harbinger of Fantasy for All…or at least a large percentage of ‘All’.