Grab your best walking stick, find a supply of lembas bread, brush up on your Elvish dialects, and join me on a journey through Middle-earth with our twenty-sixth reader.
After decades of composition and revision, The Lord of the Rings was published in three volumes (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King) between July 1954 and October 1955. Tolkien’s magical realm of dwarfs, elves, wizards, ents, and hobbits inspired generations of readers and artists to reflect upon the very real impact of war, greed, and industrialization.
When readers enter into this complex high fantasy narrative, they find themselves accompanied by a small, folksy people with a penchant for second breakfasts and pipe smoking. In addition to adding an undeniable element of charm to the story, the hobbits ground the narrative and offer comfort during the novels’ most desperate and harrowing scenes.
Our reader embarked on her journey with Tolkien at the age of ten after reading an illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings. In the years since, she has pursued the study of these texts and Tolkien’s The Simillarion in formal and informal academic settings. Forty minutes is not nearly long enough for her to share her deep understanding and love for these magical novels, but hopefully our conversation offers a glimpse into the passion this author can inspire.
I asked our reader to provide a list of additional reading material that curious listeners might look into if they had a greater interest in Tolkien’s work. Peruse, source, and enjoy!
Additional Reading Material:
J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century – Tom Shippey (Note from Reader 26: “Absolutely essential for anyone embarking on Tolkien scholarship.”)
The Road to Middle-earth – Tom Shippey
Tolkien and the Great War – John Garth
Perilous and Fair: Women in the Works and Life of J.R.R. Tolkien – Ed. Janet Brennan Croft (Note from Reader 26: “For anyone who wants to know about Tolkien and how he writes women.”)
Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World – Verlyn Flieger (Note from Reader 26: “My favourite work of Tolkien scholarship.”)
Also: “I mentioned Corey Olsen, the Tolkien Professor, and his online classes at the Mythgard Institute/Signum University. The webpage for all that is: http://mythgard.org/.”
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
Note: I’ll often jump from saying “books” to “book” when referring to The Lord of the Rings in this conversation. Please don’t be an orc about it.