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 Andrei Guchin’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
When I was 11, The Fellowship of the Ring by Peter Jackson was released. I couldn’t go to the cinema to watch it, but I remember doing it at a friend’s house a couple of months after the premiere. I loved it! The story, the special effects, the orcs, the elves, everything. After that, I asked my parents to buy me the books. From then on, there was no coming back.
Nowadays I have a bookshelf with more than 60 Tolkien related books – including a collection of The Hobbit in different languages-, maps, posters, paintings, figures, T-shirts, and more.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
Generally speaking, the way he describes the places in a very detailed manner, revealing his love of trees and nature. This is something that I usually do when I am anywhere so I feel very represented. I tend to remember more about places than people.
I also love how he developed a proper culture behind each race. The alphabets, languages, songs, myths, etc. Everything is explained so well and so well connected to the rest of Middle-earth that you could believe that they are real.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
I spend most of my time with my head in Tolkien’s worlds, so I have many stories to share here. I had the privilege of visiting New Zealand some years ago and have been in many places where the movies were filmed. It was amazing, just like being in Middle-earth! Being in Hobbiton was a very emotional experience for me.
Most recently, the last time I read The Hobbit, I was going through a hard time in my life, so I got to this part of the book when Bilbo says “So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending”. I never paid special attention to this quote before, but that time it was as if Tolkien himself was telling me that face to face. I felt relieved, hopeful. Nowadays this is one of my favorite quotes from Tolkien’s work.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
When I was a child I liked Middle-earth’s stories because of the adventures, the battles, the magic, the creatures, etc. I enjoyed watching the epic scenes in the movies and playing the video games. Nowadays I keep enjoying that, but I understood that they are more than just fairy tales and I started looking at the stories with other eyes. All the books introduce situations that can be easily translated to real life situations, from daily challenges to more complex concepts like life, death, friendship, love, life purpose and more. It’s really interesting to see how quotes like “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us” may have different meanings depending on the moment of your life in which you are reading it.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
I wonder if there is anyone who ever answers “No” to this question.
There are so many different flavors in Tolkien’s work when it comes to tales or stories that I find it very hard for anyone not to find a story they enjoy. From Letters from Father Christmas to The Silmarillion, you will always find a good fit for you. And if you are the sort of person who says that fantasy books aren’t for you, you might want to take a look at the “On Fairy-Stories” essay and see if it changes your mind.
You can find more from Andrei Guchin on Twitter!