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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 Leith 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 Leith Skilling’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
My father read The Lord Of The Rings aloud to me when I was probably about six, but I was much too young to truly grasp the story – that being said, I was entranced by the map of Middle-earth in the edition my family owned, and I would draw characters and scenes from the story on the book’s few blank pages. It’s safe to say Tolkien inspired my passion for art as well as for writing.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
My favorite part is an overarching theme in The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit: the idea that simple people living simple lives can be heroic because of – rather than in spite of – their humility, their compassion, and their humanity.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
Being able to interact with some of the wonderful people in the Tolkien Community has been a joy and an unexpected blessing, especially during these trying times. Reading Tolkien’s works aloud to my family during this quarantine has also been a special personal experience.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Until I read The Silmarillion, I had only acknowledged that Tolkien inspired in me a love of writing. But The Silmarillion opened my eyes to how deeply Tolkien’s works have changed the way I live my life. It’s a book that puts everything into perspective, I think, including the reader’s own experiences.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
I would recommend Tolkien’s work to anyone: especially nowadays. More than ever, it’s crucial that we understand the importance of empathy, and the need to protect and preserve the earth itself before it’s too late – Tolkien’s works are valuable for teaching both of those things, and for instilling in readers a responsibility to be the stewards of this Middle-earth that we need to be.
You can read more from Leith Skilling on Twitter!