Anne-Laure J.’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (79)

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 Anne-Laure J. 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 Anne-Laure J.’s responses:


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

I was given The Lords of the Rings when I was about 11 and got hooked

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

My favorite book is The Silmarillion and within it my favorite part is the fall of Gondolin. When I read the book that was recently published which details the evolution of the story, it strengthened my preference for this part. It embodies the whole of Tolkien’s universe : love, treason, death, grief, valor, high deeds.

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

I spent one week with the most knowledgeable Tolkien specialists of France (and Adam Tolkien came too !) in a castle in Normandy in 2012. While I am usually isolated in my « geekness », it was great to meet fans and experts and delve into the specifics of Tolkien’s work.

I also spent one month in 2010 in New-Zealand to visit all the locations where the filming took place : Hobbiton (Matamata), Edoras (Mount Sunday), Dimholt Road (Putangirua Pinnacles), Mt Doom (MT Ngauruhoe), etc. It was breathtaking. One may agree or disagree with the way the movies were made but one thing is for sure : New Zealand is what Middle-earth would have looked like.

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

No, I don’t think so. I still feel the same pleasure I felt when I first discovered The Lord of The Rings. Every time I reread one of the books, I discover something new.

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

I can not recommend it enough. Sadly none of my friends/family are into it.

It has brought so much joy to me to discover this world that I want everybody to be able to benefit from it.


For more from Trotter, you can find her on Twitter!

Trotter’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (78)

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 Trotter 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 Trotter’s responses:


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

My teacher in 1973, read The Hobbit, one chapter per week, to my class, I was six years old at the time and loved the book. I spent my Christmas gift money in 1978 on a paperback copy of the UK Lord of the Rings, and a paperback copy of the UK Silmarillion, which had been first released in Hardback the year before. A couple of years later I noticed that my paperback Lord of the Rings was not as useful as the Hardback editions, the maps were not good and only one Appendix was included.

That started me down the route of collecting Tolkien’s books.

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

UK Hobbits

I have to go for The Hobbit, I own the first 40 UK hardback impressions of this book, plus quite a few more copies, and this is my favourite book by my favourite author. I love the whole book, but Riddles in the Dark is my favourite chapter.

 

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

For me, it is Tolkien saying that “I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.” And then reading Leaf by Niggle, which is a wonderful allegory about the Professor. Leaf by Niggle is very underrated, and I urge everyone who is interested in Tolkien to read this wonderful short story.

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

Yes, as a Tolkien book collector I have collected items, that non collectors may not have read or seen. I love having items that Tolkien was personally involved with, my precious is a 1968 1st UK paperback one volume edition of The Lord of the Rings, that he signed.

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

Have to say that I am struggling with this question, would anyone not recommend Tolkien’s work?
Absolutely I would recommend Tolkien’s work. He is still the number one fantasy writer, and it would be very difficult for anyone to claim his crown.
I’d love to be able to reread The Lord of the Rings again for the first time, like I did in 1978, that would be fantastic.


For more from Trotter, you can find him on Twitter or on Tolkienguide.com where he uses the same screen name!

Christian S. Trenk’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (77)

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 Christian 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 Christian S. Trenk’s responses:


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

I first got to know Tolkien, as so many of my age did, through Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring. One of my friends – I was in primary school at the time – told me he had won tickets to see a movie, would I like to come. Naturally I agreed and it turned out we went to see the first LotR movie – in a drive-in cinema of all places. The completely alien venue, combined with the otherworldy quality of the film meant: I was enchanted straight away.

For my next birthday, multiple friends – who at that time definitely arranged their birthday presents via our parents conferring – had decided to give me a copy of The Hobbit, so I actually ended up with two copies. And I remember very clearly reading Der Herr der Ringe, the German translation of LotR in a bright-green paperback edition during the next summer holiday while my brother darted off to watch Germany play in the 2002 World Cup finals before then going to see the other movies as they were released.

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

My favourite piece of fiction by Tolkien is undeniably Leaf by Niggle. It’s such a curious short story full of a certain gravitas that has always captivated me – long before I actually began to recognize any possible meanings behind it. Especially Tolkien’s description of Niggle as “kindhearted, in a way. You know the sort of kind heart: it made him uncomfortable more often than it made him do anything; and even when he did anything, it did not prevent him from grumbling, losing his temper and swearing (mostly to himself).” That has just always struck a chord with me and the Second Voice’s judgement hast always comforted me a little.

My favourite part of The Lord of the Rings would actually be Book V in which Tolkien masterfully threads together most of the narrative strings he has pulled apart over the course of the previous volume, weaving them together with very clever markers interspersed in the text. It beautifully sets up the hearkening back and eventual finish of Book VI as well. It’s just a masterful piece of pulling together multiple storylines.

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

Apart from seeing Richard Medrington’s Puppet State Theatre Company Leaf by Niggle stage production for the first time at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe and many times since and always shedding a few tears for the beauty of it?

I was spending a year abroad at a South African school in 2008 and had a long afternoon to myself at a shopping centre there. Naturally, I ended up in the bookshop before long. And perusing the shelves, I happened upon a beautifully white paperback edition of Return of the King which I decided to buy and another book by Tolkien next to it. It was The Treason of Isengard, I think – possibly the volume before or after it – and I bought it as well without understanding what it was I had found. That was the moment when Tolkien’s works acquired a whole new taste for me and the ridiculous chance behind it all is what to this day makes me smile: Something told me to just grab this book,

look at it and buy it even though (or because) there was something weird about it. Bookshops really are a Perilous Realm.

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

As mentioned above, I was introduced to Tolkien via the first Jackson movie but read the other LotR volumes before the other films came out. Of course I was enraged at various discrepancies but over time and as I mainly busied myself with the tabletop figurines that came out alongside the films, I lost all sense of the finer distinctions between books and films. I did read The Silmarillion and a few other works connected to the Legendarium but my interest kicked into full gear again when discovering the History of Middle-earth and beginning to glimpse the depth and breadth of Tolkien’s works. A continued interest at university, a few thought-provoking books and a few offhand comments by professors then kicked a more academic interest in Tolkien into gear, so I guess that counts as change?!

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

Would I ever NOT recommend it? Well, maybe if someone is looking for some short-lived tension or fast-paced action (Ben Aaronovitch, John Grisham, Robert Harris or Timothy Zahn for that).

Apart from that, Tolkien’s works offer such a variety of tone, style, setting and subject that I honestly think anyone can find something in it. If one approaches, expecting a book version of the films, they will be disappointed of course. If one doesn’t like reading at all, they will be disappointed of course (but also ‘shame!’ For they are missing out on so much). He has written charming little children’s stories like Roverandom and silly jokes like the Father Christmas letters and he has written the near-biblical epoch that we know as The Silmarillion. Whosoever is searching for something beyond those boundaries might be disappointed by Tolkien, but I’m not sure they’ll find it anywhere else either.

Peter Berg’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (76)

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 Peter 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 Peter Berg’s responses:


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

A former teacher handed me The Hobbit and said “I think you might like this” I was 12 going on 13 and was having some issues. I was starting to go do down a dark road. I always loved to read and maybe that’s why he handed it to me. I really wasn’t and still really am not a fan of the Fantasy genre.

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

The depth, with all the history and backstory. The realism this could have happened and Tolkien writes it in that way as if he’s telling a story that actually happened. The depth of culture and descriptions of the landscapes.

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

Probably the first time reading Books 1 and 2 otherwise known as The Fellowship of the Ring. I was introduced to a world that has been a place of solace and comfort ever since. It changed my life I would say it saved me in some ways.

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

Perhaps I take my time while reading Tolkien’s works now. I read with no particular agenda not needing to get to the end but just enjoy what’s there in the moment.

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

I have on many occasions. Just for the depth alone, showing what writing can be like, that all the background is what sets Tolkien apart from any other fantasy author. Then again I don’t read a whole lot of fantasy. Being an educator I couldn’t get away with not reading the Harry Potter series and some Game of Thrones, but I don’t know much else about fantasy authors. Taking these two examples Tolkien’s work is in a different universe. Rowling’s writing though enjoyable and creative is surface level and I believe tried to take a lot of concepts from Tolkien. When I saw Mugworts I thought hmmm where I have seen that name before. Martin’s work is the same to me it may have a little more depth than Rowling’s but much of it is gratuitous and an attempt at shock value. He’s been praised because his characters are “complex” which really means they lack moral conviction. Tolkien’s characters are complex even more complex than Martin’s. Tolkien just didn’t have the need to be so overt.


You can find more from Peter Berg on Instagram!

Deborah Sabo’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (75)

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 Deborah 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 Deborah Sabo’s responses:


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

My dad, who was a great reader, enjoyed science fiction among other things. From a young age I got reading material by rooting around in cardboard boxes of his old paperbacks. I liked any kind of adventure story, especially if it was science fiction or historical. I had found a book at the library called The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall about a kind of little people called Minnipins who lived in a secret Land Between the Mountains. In one village a group of nonconformist Minnipins get banished and have to live on their own in the wilderness, but they end up saving their village from deadly invaders. It’s a simple story written for children, with lovable characters and valuable messages about friendship, courage, the worth of every individual, and the importance of truth. I read this story over and over and still enjoy it today. I was about 15 when my dad brought home 3 paperback books that he thought, from the cover blurbs, were about the same little people as that book I kept checking out of the library. But they weren’t Minnipins, they were Hobbits. He’d bought The Hobbit and 2 volumes of The Lord of the Rings. I read The Hobbit, was instantly captivated, realized what The Lord of the Rings was and that we needed the other volume because they had to be read in order. I also noticed that we had a mixture of Ace and Ballantine paperbacks, which simply would not do. I used my babysitting money to replace the “unauthorized” Ace volume with a proper Ballantine. My dad and I both read them. Eventually all my close friends and my 3 siblings read them as well.

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

Definitely The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The stories that are contained in The Silmarillion are majestic, but I do not re-read that book like I do the others. I re-read a couple of the essays frequently and I love Tolkien’s narrative poetry. The Lay of Leithian is one of my favorite Tolkien works. Some of Tolkien’s alliterative poetry is stunning.

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

Introducing Tolkien to my two young kids by reading The Hobbit aloud to them. My daughter was about 6 at the time, and being a learning reader, she wanted to participate, so her job was to read all the poems when we came to them. She was so proud to play this role. They loved the story and hung on every word. Both remain serious Tolkien fans as adults.

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

Yes, the biggest change was when I discovered that there was such a thing as Tolkien scholarship. This happened in the late 90s. I felt a mixture of elation and dismay. On the one hand a whole world of new reading and discovery opened up for me. I’m academic so I was determined to learn as much as I could, to attend conferences, and hopefully to contribute something, even just a small something, though I didn’t have background in any of the disciplines that I saw being brought to Tolkien studies. I took a number of courses online, which offered great opportunities to learn directly from some of the top people. I did manage to achieve some of what I’d hoped to do (I presented a few papers at the Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo and at Mythcon, and published an article in Mythlore), and the things I’ve learned have added so much richness and depth and layered meaning to my appreciation of the books. In addition I’ve met so many wonderful people, in person and online, fellow Tolkien lovers I count as friends who have really added a lot of enjoyment to my life. On the other hand, I felt and still feel a kind of regret, as if something had passed me by, because if I’d known earlier in my life that Tolkien scholarship was possible in this world, I think I would have done many things differently.

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

I don’t really recommend Tolkien directly, but I “insert” him into conversations or activities involving literature (and I have lots of those). If it’s Poetry Month for example, I share something written by Tolkien. I use quotes from Tolkien’s stories, letters, and essays in discussions about other topics. I compare other books that my friends are reading to something or other in Tolkien. Most everyone has heard of him nowadays, so I hope that this more “subversive” kind of recommendation might remind people to give Tolkien another look—remind them that he’s a serious 20th century thinker and writer. But I don’t feel it’s my job to convince people to read him. My friends do know about my interest, and they sometimes ask me things.


You can hear more from Deborah Sabo by friending her on Facebook!

HT’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (74)

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 HT 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 HT’s responses:


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

Saw it on bookstore shelves in the 80’s

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

Character development and exposition of culture variances

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

Reading LOTR (all three books) in the week before the first movie opened

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

A bit, since becoming more comfortable with fictional locations (versus London in England, Moscow in Russia, etc. – places I know of on maps)

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

Completely, without hesitation. Fantasy, good/bad events, characters, strong role models in his characters, extreme example of proper education and its potential outputs

Dimitrios Kolovos’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (73)

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 Dimitrios Kolovos 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 Dimitrios Kolovos’s responses:


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

My first true introduction to Tolkien’s work came through an uncommon channel, the music of the Blind Guardian metal band. It was Christmas. I was 10 years old. Family and friends were gathered. I wanted to listen to music, and I asked my cousin for his Mp3 player. There I found a song called “Lord of the Rings”. The damage was done. A few days later I saw him reading The Fellowship of the Ring. A while later it fell into my hands. Thus, it began.

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

I’m not sure I can choose one aspect of Tolkien’s work. The first that comes to mind is his invented languages. The second one would be the creation of the Tolkienian universe, which is vast, full of variety but the same time open to interpretations of our fantasy. There are a lot of things for the readers to imagine and create, many small gaps to fill.

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

My fondest experience of Tolkien’s work would be my participation in Tolkien2019. A 5-day event with academic presentations, workshops, art and a lot of fun with fellow Tolkien-lovers. I met a lot of great people, and it felt like a very friendly and inspired community. Secondly, I would mention my trip to the Forodrim celebration in 2017. Dressed in Tolkien-inspired clothing we had a great time singing, watching theatrical plays. Both events will never fade from memory.

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

It has. It differs when you read the books at the age of 10, 15, 20 and 25. I loved the way I used to perceive them when I was 10. It was a true journey, an amazing adventure. Innocent mind. Slowly the experience changed. I started looking for things, focusing on his languages, his approach on matters such as immortality, death, war, peace. Ι began reading about Tolkien’s background and how he was influenced by it. Nowadays, I’m trying to study different aspects of his work. It’s very enjoyable to try to read between the lines but at the same time I take effort to read it through the eyes of the 10-year-old boy I remember.

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

I would definitely recommend Tolkien’s work. It would be a great adventure for readers starting their journey into fantasy literature. It is a great way to experience a big adventurous journey. There is a lot in the background. There are two ways to address the matter. Try to understand Tolkien’s work as a whole. Read about his life, the experiences that shaped who he was, his languages or just sit back and enjoy reading his books.


If you would like to follow Dimitrios Kolovos for more thoughts on Tolkien, you can find him on Twitter or his blog!

Marita Arvaniti’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (72)

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 Marita 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 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 Marita’s responses:


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

When I was nine, my older cousin was a huge Tolkien fan and recreated the maps, made himself a copy of the ring etc. One day I was visiting his house and his copy of The Silmarillion was left on the table so I read the parts of it that sounded interesting. I was hooked after that and found myself copies of The Lord of the Rings, Unfinished Tales, and, finally, The Hobbit.

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

I love the paratext. The maps, the art. I’ve also always loved the poetry and I genuinely appreciate the pacing of The Lord of the Rings.

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

Movie marathons with friends, while we loudly complain about the differences in adaptations and point at orcs saying “this is you”

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

I’ve gotten simultaneously more critical and more protective of him. I think there are clear elements in his work that need to be criticised (the racism, the women) but at the same time I think a lot of people write him off because his writing style is not to their taste or they don’t understand his pacing.

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

Yes. I’m with Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula K. Le Guin in thinking that he’s one of the all time greats not only in terms of world building but also style, pacing, and pure craftsmanship.


If you would like to follow Will Sherwood for more thoughts on Tolkien, you can find her on Twitter!

Will Sherwood’s Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (71)

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 Will 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 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 Will Sherwood’s responses:


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

My parents bought me the BBC audio tapes of The Hobbit when I was five. It was the one where the narrator is joined by Bilbo’s first-hand interpolations. There was music, sound effects, a Gandalf that I did not find amiable (until Ian McKellen rode onto the big screen) and a setting of the Dwarves song that I remember more fondly than the one that didn’t live beyond ‘An Unexpected Journey’ (a major shame!) It must have been for Christmas because we had our open fire roaring. I remember being curled up on the sofa with the first tape playing, and as Bilbo was listening to the dwarves singing, he was staring into his fire, just as I was staring into my own, starting to drift off into sleep. The enchantment and awakening of Bilbo’s Tookish genes coincided with my own thirst for adventure. Twenty-two years later, I’m about to hand in an MbyRes thesis on Tolkien.

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

The vast wealth and interconnectedness of it all. Although you can read The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit as a stand-alone text, I find that my reading is strengthened by voraciously consuming as much as I can. From The Silmarillion, to the Unfinished Tales, The Histories of Middle-earth, the various translations of texts (Beowulf, Gawain and the Green Knight), to smaller works like Father Christmas Letters etc etc etc. My appreciation and eternal love lies in the depth of Tolkien’s art.

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

Standing on top of Mount Sunday where Peter Jackson and his team shot Edoras. It felt like the completion of a pilgrimage. But I suppose that’s more related to the adaptions of Tolkien. Perhaps my fondest experience of Tolkien’s words would be a more collective appreciation of his ecological descriptions. He has an uncanny ability to make you FEEL what he is describing. Whether it be a warming scent passing or the green and gold sunlight. I think Sam’s first sensory experience after waking in ‘The Fields of Cormallen’ most suitably exemplifies my point.

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

Yes and no. I continue to delve deeper and deeper into his works, finding new and exciting bits of information in The Histories of Middle-earth. I think one’s approach changes with one’s maturity and outlook on the world. The more you learn and experience, the more you can apply to and extract from his work. But I never relinquish the enjoyment one gains from just reading the stories. My copy of The Hobbit is close to disintegrating because of how many times I’ve read it! I feel like I can switch from scholar to reader quite easily.

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

I would and would not. My friends can easily be split into those who try to outmatch my love for Tolkien (and fail epically) and those who cannot stand the Oxford don. A lot of jokes have been made for the past twenty years to new people I have met: ‘be careful, he’s a Tolkien nut; don’t tell him you don’t like The Lord of the Rings or he’ll never speak to you!’ It’s a shame that such superficially hyperbolic and inherently wrong judgements are passed to people whose names I have only just learnt. If someone was interested in reading something new I would most certainly recommend Tolkien, if someone wished to start with Tolkien but didn’t know where, I’d eagerly help them. But I would never forsake friendship for an elitist perspective on what my friends should consider art or be reading in their spare time. I also think Tolkien would back this perspective as friendship is, after all, the foundation of The Lord of the Rings.


If you would like to follow Will Sherwood for more thoughts on Tolkien, you can find him on Facebook and Twitter!

Snippety Giblets’ Experience–Tolkien Experience Project (70)

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 Snippety Giblets 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 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 Snippety Giblets’ responses:


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

My mum read The Hobbit and The Father Christmas Letters to me when I was small. I liked them well enough, but not as much as say the Anne of Green Gables books. Then she told me about The Lord of the Rings. I think it was my ninth birthday. I had money to spend at the bookshop, and was already an enthusiastic reader. My mum suggested getting the big paperback omnibus. She read it aloud to me and I was absolutely bowled over by it. I was obsessed with it for a good eighteen months to the exclusion of everything else. I read it ceaselessly. I was so desperate to be Gandalf or Aragorn. I lived and breathed it, and found out all about Norse mythology because I was told that was part of Tolkien’s inspiration. It was just magical.

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

The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. I love the stories about the elves and the men of Númenor. Tolkien wrote so well about natural and spiritual beauty so any part of it that conveys those thoughts are my favourite.

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

Probably as a young kid. I’ve always liked having kind of private pleasures. Before the films, and before I was on line I didn’t know anyone else who liked it. It felt like it was just for me, and I thought about it all the time. Although I’ve re-read it many times as an adult it’s never quite the same. Also introducing my husband to it, and then endlessly discussing it with him; inviting him into my private enjoyment.

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

A little with an adult understanding of his religious life and his experience of war. It’s still very special.

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

Only to people I really love. It’s like sharing a part of oneself. I tried to share it with my son, but he wasn’t that keen! He prefers the films which is maybe understandable. It’s up on the list with David Bowie and John Crowley – for kindred spirits only 🙂