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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 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 Elena Davison’s responses:
1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
The very first time I heard of Tolkien and his work was in a summer camp in around 1998. A couple of people were saying how great The Hobbit is. I thought it was an odd name and didn’t come back to it until the 2001 – 2003 films were due to come out. After seeing the trailer for FotR, I sought the book out. I got as far as “The King of the Golden Hall” and I gave up. I found it hard to keep up and the language was difficult for the 13-year-old me. Two or three years later I watched all three films, caught the bug and devoured the book.
2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
The King of the Golden Hall is now my favourite chapter in TTT. This bit always makes my hair stand on end:
Legolas gazed ahead, shading his eyes from the level shafts of the new-risen sun. ‘I see a white stream that comes down from the snows,’ he said. ‘Where it issues from the shadow of the vale a green hill rises upon the east. A dike and mighty wall and thorny fence encircle it. Within there rise the roofs of houses; and in the midst, set upon a green terrace, there stands aloft a great hall of Men. And it seems to my eyes that it is thatched with gold. The light of it shines far over the land. Golden, too, are the posts of its doors. There men in bright mail stand; but all else within the courts are yet asleep.’
Some of the songs, such as Nimrodel, The Road goes ever on, Beren’s Song, To the Sea, I sang of leaves, The song of Beren and Luthien – they are a delight to sing, hum or recite.
3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
There are so many to choose from! Meeting my friends and family at Tolkien Society events probably wins. Singing Tolkien’s songs and reading from his books with friends and family is also very high up on the list.
4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
Yes, my association with the Tolkien Society has opened many doors. I’d never have considered the academic approaches not only to the texts but also to the things, people and places within the texts without their influence.
The humour and the running gags between fans are a whole different universe to explore.
Mostly, over time, as I get more familiar with the works, read things I hadn’t read before, listen to people debate things, all of this gives me a sense of belonging to this world and its community.
5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
Yes, because his works are varied. There is something for the escapist, something for the scientist, something for the serious person, something for the child.
As the adaptations and media multiply, there will be variations of his works which should be approachable and suitable for many.
Tolkien’s works fulfil a need similar to that of space exploration, even though they may seem very far apart. A need to dream, imagine and discover things, and it’s not all dragons!
You can read more from Elena on Twitter!