How were you introduced to Tolkien and his writings/the LOTR franchise?
There has been alot of discussion recently about the Merits of The Hobbit film versus the book/ PJ's LOTR films, and whilst I won't go into that debate here, I thought it raised an interesting point-whether more people on This Site discovered the film franchise through the new film or the old trilogy, or were book firsters anyway, and what effect they have on peoples impression of 'Tolkien'. I thought it would be inresting to discuss how we each found out about Tolkien's writing, and whether the age and circumstances of our first reads of his works have had any lasting effect on our impressions of the story, at the very least It'll make a nice break from the arguments about Azog and CGI...
As for me though I have very vague memories of being read The Hobbit in school (to this day my visualisations of the book lay much closer to The Rankin Bass version, and I maintain the 77 Gollum is much creepier) I'm not entirely sure whether this predated the release of The LOTR trilogy or not. My 'proper' introduction came at Christmas 2002 when I got a VHS of Fellowship (after having to endure a solid year of discussion, taunts and games about a 'really cool best film ever' (I'm paraprasing here, It was a decade ago and I was 10) that I heard all about, but had been refused the chance to see by my parents. Anyway rambling/mushy/boring tory cut short I was blown away, and instantly hooked, watching the film four or five times within the space of five days, later having a similar reaction to the later films (though not AUJ sadly...), buring out several VHS tapes inthe process.
I put off reading the rather large looking book for several years, but eventually took the plunge when I turned 15, needless to say I was hooked again, captivated by the scope and language only hinted at in the films (though I couldn't help but wonder, and still do Who the Heck is This Tom Bombadil bloke anyway?) I have gradually increased my love of all things Tolkien, and although (somewhat ironically) I haven't got quite the love for the trilogy I did have (I sorta turned into a bit of a purist in reverse) they still rank amongt my faves, and whatever my issues they sparked my love of cinema and interest in Reading.
How about you? How and when did it happen? What made you pick up that book about odd little hobbits? More importantly can you be bothered to explain?
I'm very confident that I read The Hobbit as a teenager but I have no memory of that experience. I have a few strong memories of reading LOTR, however. Since one of my memories involve a particular high school teacher and I had that teacher for two years (junior and senior year advanced math), I can pin the years down from fall 1968 to spring 70.
I also don't know where I got the book. I only had access to the school library and purchasing books through the Scholastic Book Club. I don't know if I bought the book or took it out on loan from the library.
And I can't remember what prompted me to pick it up. I just remember it making a huge impact on me. I remember drawing mountain ranges on the blackboard in my math class during lunch (we were free to roam the halls after eating) and the words: One Ring to Rule Them All and having my math teacher recognize the phrase. I also remember reading some scene with the Black Riders (I'm fairly sure from FOTR) in the middle of the afternoon and being truly scared.
One of the first things I purchased with my first job was The Road Goes Ever On Song Cycles by Tolkien and Donald Swann.
I remember wanting to go see FOTR in theaters but my parents thinking I was too young - 10 years old. So instead I went to get the book from my school library. The librarian said that it wasn't check in at the time, so she directed me to The Hobbit. I checked it out and read it in 10 days (which was fast for me ). Then I moved onto LOTR.
So I'm a book-firster, but I became aware of them because of PJ's films.
Yup, once I picked them up it was no going back!!!! I probably missed a few meals in that weekend! I do read fast though. I was so captured there was no taking a break for me. Good thing I had bought all 3 or I would have been racing out to the bookstore in between. My friends who had read them earlier had told me to just have them all on hand at once. Good advice.
When I was little, I looked at the cover of my sister's copy of The Hobbit, and mistook the dragon for some sort of flying insect. Therefore I decided that 'The Hobbit' was an insect, and I didn't want to read a book about an insect. Anyway, I didn't like to read things my sister read, because I thought she read dull books.
My introduction to Lord of the Rings was a compulsory school trip to see the movie version in 1980. I was talking, so I had to sit beside the horrible teacher who wore a sickening amount of aftershave and a blue polyester suit. The only redeeming feature of the experience was a few horses to look at on the screen.
When I was very young (it must have been late 70s), I watched one or both of the Rankin Bass cartoons on TV. I remember being thoroughly creeped out by Gollum, and I remember the Eowyn reveal on the battlefield, and that's about it. Oh, and the song "Frodo...of the niiiiine fingers and the Ring of Doooooom!"
When I was 14 and on an extended visit to a friend, I had some time to kill while she was somewhere else...doctor's appt or something, and I raided her bookshelf for reading material. I think I started with The Hobbit and then sped through LOTR in the space of about 4 days. I was desperate to get done before I had to go home; I didn't want to wait to read the end of the story! I later discovered that we actually had a set at home.
When I was in my early 20s, I suffered an extended illness which had me bedridden for about 6 weeks. Reading was about all I could do, and since I read quickly, I needed lots of books and long ones. I read several lengthy classics, but then I turned to Tolkien. I did a whole read-through and was blown away by the depth and scope I simply hadn't noticed before. It's often been said that these books grow as the reader grows and that is what happened to me. As soon as I was finished, I immediately turned back to the beginning and read them again. And again. I found new things each time. First time through (at 14) I was riveted by the plot; what was going to happen next? Next read-through I noticed the world of Middle-earth, its depth and breadth. The time after that I began to notice the little nuances of the characters and how they related to each other. And after that I noticed the vistas of history and all the small allusions to stories behind and beyond the main story.
And then, after discovering that though lots of people I knew had read the books, none of them seemed to see what I did, or were as fascinated by the world-building, it occurred to me that somewhere online there must be a mailing list or newsgroup where people were talking about this, so I did a search and found TORN...and was horrified to discover that Hollywood was about to ruin the book by mangling it into a movie. Noooooooo! But I kept coming back out of horrified fascination to find out just how bad it was going to be, and then some months later I finally ventured into the message boards and found my "tribe". I started lurking every day and little by little I kept hearing things that made me hopeful about the movies. And then, of course, one day I couldn't keep quiet any longer and chose a name and came out of lurkdom. Well, to fast forward to the end of the story, I ended up loving the movies and loving the fellowship of fellow fans every bit as much. It was conversations here that led me to read the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, and several other volumes of the HOME, as well as Roverandom and Father Christmas and Farmer Giles, and a Tolkien biography or two. So though I found and loved Tolkien on my own, it was TORN that made me a geek.
(This post was edited by Silverlode on Jun 16 2013, 1:15am)
"Frodo and the Nine Fingers" ... swirling hobbits in dark vortexes ... spookiness I had no interest in this particular preview at the time - I was young and blinded by the dazzling enchanted sparkliness of unicorns.
Reading material (TH) on a short domestic flight (Hi Stephen Fry) It was only 50 cents. There were coffee stains on it. Now here is the bizarre part - there was this old guy there, that I swear was also coffee-stained himself and cashiering. When I picked this copy of TH up, I got in an argument about how to pronounce "Minas Tirith" - actually, it was more like him saying it and me realizing that I was saying it wrong. So now, I must have read LotR - I just can't remember. I did a lot of reading back then!
High School Book Report / Project (surprising comments from a fellow student) I made character sketches and had to run through the whole plot / characters / etc. in like 15 minutes. I got comments from another student who was listening, actually, and he said that there were some other names for Gandalf that I had missed.
High School friend / fellow fan (there was only one that I knew of among my gamer-geek comic-loving crew) So surprising - all these people who play fantasy table-top RPGs - and they are not fans of LotR, all except for one. They were more into comic book heroes and worlds. That all changed after PJ's movies came out! I bought one of them "Children of Hurin" for their birthday this year.
In college as a side glance while studying Christian authors (ahem ... Lewis) and the Inklings a bit Again - very surprised to see that so many fans of Narnia and Lewis weren't automatically fans of Tolkien and ME. But there were a few. I almost took a class but didn't have room in my course load because of how many times I had switched my major. I did talk about what they were learning with some friends of mine in the class, though.
In college, made a friend with all those extended books edited by CT I have a habit of rummaging through other peoples' books (to the extent that it seems appropriate - browsing, borrowing, making conversation, etc.). She had them all, I think! Her favorite was Gandalf. The one I remember best was "The Lost Road".
Foray into Fan-fiction I tried it out, and found out why it is not for me. Separating my own work / creative ideas from all the stuff that has infiltrated my imagination now from ME When I decided to go ahead and try to make something out of the creative stories that I spin off of almost everything I see, it came to my attention that there were certain things that were "too much like Tolkien's work" for my liking. So I started scouring the appendices of ROTK and "The History of Middle Earth" in order to pin-point what these threads were so that I could eliminate them and / or modify what I had so that it wouldn't suffer from that mistake. I was also trying to see if my suspicions were at all founded. There were parts of what I had that seemed to fit, and other parts that seemed to contradict. So I really looked hard at things to see how much it really was reconcilable with things I had read of Tolkien's. It had been made readily and unquestionably clear, at least to me and for me, that any kind of use of such things without major transformation was just out of the question. But luckily, I had along the way decided to go ahead and study the likely / possible sources for Tolkien's fairy stories and I had had some luck doing that! So I will use that stuff for modelling instead - at least for those parts that I can't just remove easily. But I am taking my sweet time with all of this and may never actually publish anything, which is fine with me.
I lived in Berkeley, CA from 1963-70 (the "golden years"?). I read all the books then, and found them enjoyable. But, frankly, I didn't get hooked until seeing PJ's TTT in the theatre and then FotR-EE. I did see FotR when it came out, but it didn't move me. The extra scenes in the EE did it.
Anyway, I re-read all the books, and was permanently hooked.
It would have to have been in the early 1980s . . .
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A friend of ours had just bought and read The Hobbit and LOTR and wanted someone to discuss them with. He knew I loved to read and so gave them to me to read. I LOVED them immediately. We started discussing them, but his wife got jealous and made us stop discussing something she and my then husband didn't enjoy. I was certainly an adult when I discovered Tolkien, but I loved fantasy from the 1920s and 30s, so I moved to Tolkien quite easily.
I never saw any of the early film attempts at The Hobbit or LOTR. PJ's were the first LOTR films I saw and loved.
I was about 10-ish saw a kid in the library looking at a fold out map in a hardcover book. (I vaguely recall some illustrations to, but I am not 100%) ...Were there any illustrated harcover versions of the Hobbit? Any ways I asked him about it and he said it was good and I should sign it out when he was done with it. So i did and was hooked ever since.
I was introduced as a child, through my sister and Mum
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I vividly remember a conversation (a good couple of years before the FOTR was released) - my Mum was re-reading the books and my sister had just begun reading them. They were telling me about these characters called Pippin and Merry (specifically the Buckleberry Ferry chapter). I thought they were ridiculous names and thought the whole story was silly (I would've been ~7 years old). How wrong I was. I then picked the book up not long after that, and gave it a go. And haven't put it down since! At that age, I didn't use the internet much, so was pretty much out of the loop about the new films. It wasn't until TTT/ROTK when I really lurked around TORn.
Good old memories. Unfortunately, neither of them can remember that conversation!
I read lots of books when I was very young...
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...many of them were picture books, though, because I found them interesting. My older sister would sometimes sketch pictures and make up a book for me. One day, she sat down with me and read 'The Hobbit' out loud. Some of it I cannot recall, except from Bilbo and Thorin and Erebor and Smaug and Bard, but I always remembered the author's name. When I had only been three years old, the first 'Lord of the Rings' film came out (not that I was ever able to watch it because I was too young) and I saw on the credits that it was inspired by the book by "J.R.R.Tolkein" and I recognised it. Then I realised it was the same person who had written 'The Hobbit'...
I suppose I took interest in the whole idea of Middle-Earth and, when I was nine, decided to buy the books myself. I "borrowed" (though I have yet to give it back to her) 'The Hobbit' from my sister for school time so that (whenever I'm bored) I can flick back to my favourite chapters. And then I begged to see the LOTR films one-by-one so that I could see how PJ had interpreted the books.
To tell you the truth, I had been chatting to my sister a few years ago about 'The Hobbit', saying that it would make a good film if Peter was going to make another Middle-Earth film using J.R.R.Tolkein's books. And then, a few months afterwards, it had been confirmed he was making 'The Hobbit'. I was extremely surprised that I had read his mind, almost.
My first taste of Tolkien's world was The Hobbit book...
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... back in the 1990s, and after years of resisting recommendations to read LotR, I saw one of PJ's LotR films in cinema (can't recall if it was FotR first or TTT first), and became part of the fandom which I never left since.
I second what you said about turning into a purist after reading more of Tolkien's work, Malickfan. It was the same for me. I still like PJ's LotR movies, but now I place the books first and foremost, and Bakshi's more literal take on LotR right after the books.
Why is it I read The Silmarillion aged 16 and got it completely...
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...And only last year I couldn't get past the first page of Dune? (I'm normally a sucker for long complicated wordy stories!, but Dune, I don't know why I couldn't connect with it...)
Some very interesting respones-I'm Kinda surprised more people seemed to have read The Hobbit first, and Daniel, I'm Jealous, my family were ignorant of Tolkien before the films (well not ignorant that the books were 'very long and pretty old')...
I read the LOTR when I was about 11 after reading The Hobbit in school, and The Silmarillion when I was 16, and loved them all, but I could never connect with the Dune series either, even though a lot of my friends did. I tried and tried, because I wanted to appreciate it and join in their conversations about it, but never found it as deep or well-written as they did. It was one of those rarecases where I liked the movie and TV adaptations more than the books.
I'm not sure whether I can really class myself as a book firster because...
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When I was around 10/11, I remember the teacher handing my best friend and I the Hobbit to read. We were both advanced readers and had read almost everything else in the small school library. Our reaction was not good and I have to confess getting very bored reading the descriptions of the dwarves' beards and hoods. I think I also thought that I was far too grown up to read fairy stories with wizards and dwarves in them (how things change!) My friend felt the same as I and when we flicked through and realised that there were no female characters in the books, we decided not to bother to read further.
Roll on 20 odd years and the release of FOTR- I was rather underwhelmed because of my previous experience. However, later in 2002 I bought the VHS and a boxed paperback set, but did not touch them until I was ill around Christmas.Lounging around on the sofa, feeling rough, I decided to put on the VHS and within a few minutes of the Prologue starting, I was absolutely hooked. I watched the film several times over the next few days and then embarked on the books, which I read very quickly, so that by the time I saw TT, I knew LOTR and the Hobbit pretty well. Since then I have read the books and watched the movies more times than I can count and have been to NZ twice (only the first time did I visit film locations though). I also read the Silmarillion , UT and some of HOME
Roll on a few more years and I am now embarking on reading more Tolkien related stuff, recommended by my friends here on TORn. Sadly, not one of my RL friends is interested in Tolkien and think I am a bit strange for even seeing the movies
I got The Hobbit book for Christmas a year before the first LotR movie was set to come out. I read it and loved it, and so immediately went on to read LotR and eventually also The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales etc. Then of course FotR came out and I also got immersed into the movie fandom.
I was about 16 when I first got my hands on The Hobbit, which I suppose is pretty late, but somehow it just never came my way while I was a kid. If I hadn't received the book when I did, I'd probably have gone to see FotR without ever having read any of the books. I can only imagine how different the experience would have been, going in with no expectations, but I'm so glad I had that year to go through the books and get into the whole mythology in my own head before getting to see PJs version of it.