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What kind of Tolkien fan are you?
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Junesong
Lorien


Mar 2, 4:04pm

Post #1 of 28 (1580 views)
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What kind of Tolkien fan are you? Can't Post

In the midst of all the swirling discussions regarding adaptation and Tolkien and lore and sacred text etc I've been thinking.

I've read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion multiple times. I can't get enough. I've read them so many times I can't even remember how tricky and tedious the SIlmarillion used to look to me the first time I tried to crack it open.

I've seen and LOVE the Rankin Bass Hobbit movie (it was my first introduction to Tolkien when I was a little kid - and formed the first scaffold for how I imagined the world and its characters.
I was first in line for Jackson's adaptations and the Extended Editions and (best of all!) the Behind the Scenes docs which are still the best behind the scenes special features ever made (in my opinion)
I've seen The Hobbit movies (and I own them - and I hate them, but you know how it is)

I have also bought and partially read a collection of Tolkien's letters.

I've read Tolkien's biography as well.

That's it.

No unfinished tales, or history of middle earth (although I'm slowly making my way through Corey Olson's podcast series about them and it's fascinating!) No Leaf By Niggle or any of the Professor's other stuff. I haven't read Children of Hurin, or the Fall of Gondolin or any of the other recent publications (although Beren and Luthien sounds awesome as it's one of the best stories ever)

So how about you? What kind of a Tolkien fan are you? How deep and greedily have you delved?

I'm sure this is one of those topics that comes up a lot around and so I'm sorry if there's already a long buried thread about this. If you don't mind, I'd love to take the temperature around here and see where people are at!

"So which story do you prefer?"
"The one with the tiger. That's the better story."
"Thank you. And so it goes with God."


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Mar 2, 5:35pm

Post #2 of 28 (1473 views)
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This isn't so easy to list. [In reply to] Can't Post

I also saw the Rankin-Bass Hobbit first, but it makes me twitch now; I haven't had any of its imagery in my head since my teens, happily. I remember my mother reading Fellowship to me and my two older siblings when I was probably five and the imagery in my head was wildly inappropriate; we never got through the Council of Elrond.

I've read LOTR and Hobbit beyond count. Silmarillion less often. Lost Tales, Unfinished Tales, Sir Gawain half a dozen times, Smith of Wooton Major and Farmer Giles countless times in my teens, Roverandom, Letters from Father Christmas, Mr. Bliss is known to my small children, my out-of-print copy of Monsters and Critics with other essays is a treasure though I've mostly only read any given essay either once or twice.

And there I peter out. I only encounter letters on here, mostly. I haven't read much biographical material; my wife, a C.S. Lewis plan, probably knows more than I about Tolkien's personal life.

Once upon a time it was my intent, if I'd nabbed a relevant job, to make it job one to get myself absolutely comprehensive, posthaste. Alas, I didn't, so I can't expense a pile of books and read them during work hours.


squire
Half-elven


Mar 2, 11:06pm

Post #3 of 28 (1463 views)
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Fairly hard-core. [In reply to] Can't Post

Along with the books and stories, which I was first introduced to at about 8 years old in the early 60s, I began many years ago to read the biographical and critical literature. In more recent years I began somewhat timidly to add to that 'undistinguished secondary literature', as Brian Rosebury so acidly and accurately called it.

As well, I've been a contributor to TORn's forums for ... well, for quite a while now; and I've found the Facebook Tolkien fan forums to be engaging as well in the past few years.

An area where I'm not so hard-core, I guess, is the various films, games, and accessory collectibles like toys, figures, and special printed editions of the books. I have the DVDs of the New Line trilogy, but I can't remember the last time I actually watched them.

But overall, I'd say I've delved pretty greedily and deeply indeed over the past twenty years. TORn has been a large part of that, and this community remains very special to me.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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Tolkien R.J.J
Rivendell


Mar 7, 2:29pm

Post #4 of 28 (1218 views)
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I have delved to deep I am Afraid to say [In reply to] Can't Post

Luckily, no Balrog yet. I have read all the op mentions and more. My first purchase for a 4k movie was the extended edition of LOTR. I have a Gondor and Rohan flag I fly that must leave my neighbors wondering what is wrong with me.

“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
J.R.R Tolkien


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Mar 7, 3:12pm

Post #5 of 28 (1221 views)
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I'm pretty deep into it :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Not to sound dramatic but simply saying that Tolkien has changed my life since I discovered LotR in 1971 when I was 19yo. My then husband, baby and I were living out of a 1961 van and travelling the country when we picked up the books on the side of the road. They became my lifeline as I related to the characters and the story. I still read them once a year and still discover other ways I can relate to them. So over the past 50+ years, I've done a lot of collecting (statues/toys/books/etc), conventions, moots, writing, etc. Just in books, I have about 70 different editions of LotR and over 50 of The Hobbit... including a hand-made copy of The Red Book of Westmarch.

I read The Hobbit to my children when they were young, and then to my grandchildren. I recently gave my Japanese ed of LotR to my grandson who learned the language in High School and College.

The most wonderful part of my life-changing journey because of Tolkien has been TORn. To find so many people who feel the same way (if not moreso) that I do about the Good Professor's world has filled my life with so much joy. For all the years before the films came out, I was pretty isolated when it came to finding others who even knew about Tolkien. The Rankin/Bass and Bakshi animated films were treasures! We still had calendars (first brush with Alan Lee/John Howe/Ted Nasmith/etc.), some publications, pewter figures, etc. Once Jackson's LotR was released, it's like someone turned on the lights to reveal a stunning world of beautiful imagery, people, events, artwork, etc.

So yeah... pretty much every part of my life has been touched by and includes Tolkien and TORn :)



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FrogmortonJustice65
Lorien


Mar 7, 6:30pm

Post #6 of 28 (1203 views)
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I've been obsessed for about 20 years [In reply to] Can't Post

I was in 5th grade when my parents took me to see Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring. I remember finding the film confusing but enjoyable; I wasn't much of a seasoned filmgoer at that point Blush. LOTR really clicked for me when I saw the Two Towers the next year, and was in awe of Gollum and the Ents. After that I began to watch the Extended Edition DVDs obsessively and made my first attempts at reading LOTR.

Since then I have read LOTR, the Hobbit, and Silmarillion multiple times. I've read Unfinished Tales and Beren & Luthien once. I'm currently working my way through Children of Hurin and Tolkien's letters. After that I'm hoping to read the Fall of Gondolin and maybe branch out into Tolkien's translations of Green Knight & Beowulf.

When I'm not reading Tolkien in my spare time, chances are I could be playing Lord of the Rings Online, or painting miniatures from Games Workshop's line of LOTR models, or listening to the Friendship Onion (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd's podcast) or the Tolkien Professor's voluminous YouTube content. I try to watch all 6 of the PJ films at least once a year.

I'm hoping to finally visit New Zealand and see some locations from the films once the travel restrictions lift.

I'm thankful for TheOneRing.net because it's still the best place on the internet to connect with Tolkien fans and introduced me to a lot of the things mentioned above.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Mar 9, 12:39am

Post #7 of 28 (1144 views)
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Deep enough to also read other Inklings members’ works? [In reply to] Can't Post

C.S. Lewis of course, but what about Roger Lancelyn Green, or any of the others (CTs original writings in the Fall of Arthur are brilliant)? What about collecting (and sometimes reading) textbooks, dictionaries, glossaries or other works, edited by, featuring prefaces by, or simply citing our Professor?


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Mar 9, 12:46am)


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Mar 9, 4:50am

Post #8 of 28 (1109 views)
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How about writing a book? [In reply to] Can't Post

Tongue

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Mar 9, 4:53pm

Post #9 of 28 (1071 views)
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Well... [In reply to] Can't Post

No books (so far) but I have written a fanfic that was published in Other Minds (a webzine devoted to Middle-earth tabletop gaming) and have had home-brewed game content published both there and in Hall of Fire (another similar webzine).

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations

Year of the Tiger


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Mar 9, 7:33pm

Post #10 of 28 (1058 views)
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Cool! [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder how many only Tolkien sites of different kinds there are called the Hall of Fire. It seemed like such a good idea at the time!

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


NottaSackville
Valinor

Mar 11, 2:20am

Post #11 of 28 (981 views)
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Lots of reading and a bit of watching [In reply to] Can't Post

I first read the Hobbit in....6th grade? I've re-read the Hobbit/Fellowship many times since then.

The Silmarillion probably....3 times?

The entire History of Middle Earth series once.

I've seen the LOTR trilogy many times - love some parts, dislike others.

I've watched the Hobbit trilogy exactly once. That speaks for itself.

Saw the Rankin Bass Hobbit when I was young and that formed many of my mental pictures for a long time (Thank you, PJ, for replacing them with better!). I recently purchased and rewatched the animated Hobbit and LOTR movies.

And I've been a member of this board for .... about 19 years.

To be honest, at some point I intentionally pulled back from these boards quite a bit because I found myself being too analytical about Tolkien's works and losing the joy in them. But I still hang out here nearly daily.

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


ElanorTX
Tol Eressea


Mar 11, 5:35am

Post #12 of 28 (965 views)
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starting with a quote from my profile [In reply to] Can't Post

"Started at age 10, given books from friends living in England, read straight through, and never quite left Middle-earth;

Book-firster, though my daughter got Peter Jackson to sign a copy of The Hobbit for me"

Anything written by JRRT, and Christopher's posthumous editions of stories and HoME, I own in one or two editions. When my first husband and I married, we had six sets of LotR between us. I reread LotR and some short stories every year. The Sil is too sad.
Through writings about Tolkien, I was introduced to the Inklings, have read many of their works, and own much of C. S. Lewis.

Mostly for financial reasons, I don't have many books about JRRT, and several of the ones I did have were damaged beyond repair by the recent house flooding. I plan to replace those and add some standards such as Hammond and Scully.

As for film, I own but never watched the two Rankin/Bass animations. I have the extended editions of LotR, none of the Hobbit. I was one of those people who slept outside the theater for the first showing of all three LotR films together (and got the goodie bag).

As for live people, I joined a local group, the AlamoRingers, before FotR came out. We had watch parties for the Oscars (bringing brooms for the last one -- Sweep!), and when the retail versions were released, viewed them in someone's backyard on a huge screen. That group dissolved in the mid-2000 decade.

I joined this group in 2009, after the new boards came out. Though I do glance at some FB groups, this one is home for me. I was lucky enough to attend the live music-to-screen concert in NYC and the related gatherings this group organized.

Please excuse all the "I"s in this post; it's late at night.

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



NottaSackville
Valinor

Mar 11, 12:47pm

Post #13 of 28 (924 views)
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Oh - and Children of Hurin once [In reply to] Can't Post

But I've never read any of Tolkien's non-Middle Earth works.

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


Eldy
Grey Havens


Mar 11, 1:02pm

Post #14 of 28 (934 views)
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An (in)auspicious start [In reply to] Can't Post

The first Middle-earth-related media I had any experience of was the movie tie-in video games for The Two Towers and The Return of the King, which probably would've made me worse than a movie-firster in some people's eyes if I had been on forums during the height of the LOTR-era purist wars. Tongue I started asking lore questions about the games (including "what are orcs?") that the people around me couldn't answer, so I turned to the books. I feel in love with TH and LOTR at the age of nine, read a borrowed copy of the The Silmarillion when I was ~11, and bought my first copy of Unfinished Tales while I was killing time in a bookstore waiting for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (one of my purchases that night was definitely better in the long run). I tried reading HoMe shortly afterwards and found it impenetrable, but I was able to get into it within a year (my very first Amazon order was for hardcover editions of vol. X-XII, placed using Christmas money when I was 13). Then I became active in online Lore discussions and that kicked my study of Tolkien into a higher gear I hadn't really imagined before, since I wanted to be able to keep up with even high-level conversations (I mostly succeeded ... eventually).

The first secondary work I bought was probably The Atlas of Middle-earth when I was thirteen, though I also spent a lot of time checking out some of the lavishly illustrated film companion books from the local library (Weapons and Warfare was my jam). I don't recall exactly when I started reading published works of Tolkien scholarship; I'm confident it didn't become something I did regularly until after I became active on forums, at least. That was a long, gradual process of dipping my toes further into the field until 2016, when I resigned my admin position on another forum and suddenly had no formal role in forum governance for the first time in almost six years. That allowed me to dedicate far more time to lore, and I read a lot of books and journal articles that spring and summer, some of which had been on my radar for years (including Arda Reconstructed; shout out to Voronwë!). I went on another Tolkien studies binge in early 2019, though that one burnt out relatively fast due to a confluence of unfortunate circumstances. But even now, I still spend a lot of time jumping into lore discussions whenever I come across them.

And then there were the Hobbit movies, which played a huge role in the first seven years of my "career" in Tolkien fandom. My moderator and admin gigs were all related to PJ's second trilogy, and I really valued the chance to follow the films from pre-production all the way through the release of BOFA-EE. It helped make up for my former feelings of regret at missing out on the experience of being in the fandom when the LOTR films came out (because my age was in single digits at the time), even though I didn't actually like TH very much. Though, fortunately, I was able to make my peace with the fact of changes in the films, even when I didn't like them, which played a role in my evolution from outspoken purist in my mid-teens to actively rooting for certain changes in my mid-late 20s. Though that change is also because ROP isn't a direct adaptation of one of Tolkien's main stories.

At the end of the day, though, for as huge a part of my life as Tolkien's works have been over the past 18 years, it all pales in comparison to the impact that the people I met through this fandom have had on me. I was a really lonely, miserable 14-year-old when I started posting on forums, and the discovery that people actually liked me and wanted to be my friends transformed my whole life. Getting to talk regularly with online friends, and build up something sort of like self-confidence, ended up having a really positive effect on my ability to navigate IRL social situations as well. Most of my close friends in the past 13 years, as well as several romantic partners, have been people I met online (not all of them on Tolkien sites). I'm going to be flying cross-country later this month to spend a week with a number of online friends in the Bay Area who I haven't seen in person in a couple years, which I'm really looking forward to. That's not to say I've stopped being a mess, but it's a lot easier to manage than it used to be. Online communities haven't just been a factor in that; I probably wouldn't be here to talk about this at all if I hadn't started making friends through Tolkien fandom. That's something I'll always be grateful for.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Mar 12, 6:45am

Post #15 of 28 (891 views)
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You win! [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh so many expressions here of our love of JRRT. I forgot about video games, miniatures, quoting his characters whenever applicable. What of that big theatre production some years ago, that debuted in Toronto then moved to London? Or derivative works, movies and other texts? And yes there’s all the original content made and read here—and HoF!—and the special bond we share.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Mar 12, 3:52pm

Post #16 of 28 (851 views)
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That was lovely to read [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for sharing your journey.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Noria
Gondor

Mar 12, 4:49pm

Post #17 of 28 (851 views)
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I'm a devoted long-time fan, not a Tolkien scholar or a scholar of any sort. [In reply to] Can't Post

I first encountered The Lord of the Rings in the mid-sixties at the age of fourteen and was utterly smitten. Wanting more, I then read The Hobbit and was disappointed because it was a children's book and not LotR. As I grew up, I came to appreciate TH for itself but from that initial reaction came a perspective that influenced my feelings about The Hobbit movies.

The Silmarillion seemed strange at first, again because it was not like LotR, but once I got into it, I loved it almost as much as LotR. I've read LotR, Silmarillion, TH and Unfinished Tales many, many times and own several copies of the first three, including on my e-reader (good for convenient reading, but bad for illustrations). I also have The Book of Lost Tales, The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, The Fall of Gondolin and a few of the smaller works.

Many years ago I read some of HoMe but little of it stuck, except for some oddities like Trotter and his creepy wooden feet.

I don't remember when I first saw the Rankin-Bass Hobbit - I wasn’t a child - but I disliked it. On the other hand, IIRC there were a few things I liked about Bakshi’s LotR. I really enjoy the BBC version of LotR with Ian Holm.

Having already been a book fan for decades, I was a bit nervous about Jackson's LotR movies before they were released - who was this guy? - but Fellowship blew me away. While I don't agree with every choice PJ and Co. made, that doesn't affect my overall enjoyment of the films and there are aspects the books that don't work for me as well. It was then, after FotR was released, that I first ventured into online Tolkien forums, though mostly on another site back then. The LotR films are still amongst my favourite movies, especially the EEs and their great behind-the-scenes documentaries.

Dare I say in this company that PJ's Hobbit movies are also amongst my favourites? They are. Though I don't think they are nearly as good as the extraordinary LotR films, I love them because they are both like and unlike LotR and because they are fun. I do love The Hobbit novel as it is, but I always figured that Jackson's version of the charming children's book, following as it did after his wildly successful LotR, would be expanded to give the studios and LotR movies-only fans another epic. So PJ's Hobbit movies weren’t too surprising to me, excess, silly humour and all. IMO Bilbo's story is still there in the movies almost beat for beat, if modified a bit to reflect the retconning in LotR. In the movies, Bilbo shares the stage with Thorin, the Woodland Elves, Bard, and Gandalf and the White Council and I enjoyed those stories. The Hobbit EE documentaries are even more extensive than those of the first trilogy and just as interesting.

RoP had been starting to seem like some kind of YA drama to me but the teaser changed my mind and I rather liked what I saw. I'll probably give it a go and see if there is more than pretty visuals to it.


Asger
Rivendell


Mar 13, 10:13am

Post #18 of 28 (775 views)
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Norias description fits me rather well too… [In reply to] Can't Post

Besides I’ve tried my hand in translating ‘The fall of Gondolin’ and ‘Narn i hin Hurin’ into my native Danish, just for fun, years before ‘The childen of Hurin’ was published.
Since 1986 I’ve been writing a novel, long before ‘fan-fiction’ was coined, about the origin of Hobbits. Bits of this can be read on fanfiction.net under the pen-name Parma Quentar Pheriannath. At my writing speed it will be finished in about 300 years Wink I use HoME as reference, using bits and pieces that wasn’t in LotR and the other books.
One of my pet peeves is maps. I have a folder of several hundred copies and self-drawn maps of regions of Middle Earth and I love Fonsteads Atlas…

"Don't take life seriously, it ain't nohow permanent!" Pogo
www.willy-centret.dk


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 14, 7:50pm

Post #19 of 28 (721 views)
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Dedicated but not hard-core. [In reply to] Can't Post

As ElanorTX says, I've never really left Middle-earth since I first opened the pages of LOTR (aged 18). I've written some fan-fic and read the Carpenter biography - as well as The Hobbit, Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales - but I haven't delved into any of the other books, letters or scholarship.

What extra information I've gleaned has come from the wonderful Reading Room discussions on TORN. And as much as I'm a fan of Tolkien, I'm also a fan of the fans - it's the community here that's kept me in touch with Tolkien over the years and I appreciate each and every one of you for it. Smile

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 15, 12:36am

Post #20 of 28 (715 views)
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A long-time [In reply to] Can't Post

but not really a scholarly one.

I first learned of the existence of The Hobbit when I was 15, when someone in my English class mentioned it. The future Mr Kimi and I bought a copy (our first ever joint purchase), and read it to each other. We then made the more substantial purchase of LOTR, and I still recall my wonderment as I began to realise how vast in scope the epic was.

We still have those ancient paperbacks, so frail now after much reading and many moves that I handle them cautiously, and no longer read them - the lovely 3-volume set illustrated by Alan Lee is my choice for that. I own and have read (in some cases many times) the Sil, UT, and several volumes of "The History of Middle-earth"; also Smith of Wootton Major, Leaf by Niggle, and Farmer Giles of Ham. Of books about Tolkien and his works, Carpenter's biography, Kocher's literary criticism; Letters; Atlas of Middle-earth; Artist and Illustrator. Also a couple of movie-related books. I don't own, but have read and thoroughly enjoyed, Tolkien and the Great War.

For decades I read LOTR every year. I do so less frequently these days; not because I love it any the less, but just because. I might well begin a re-read this (southern) autumn.

I was a founder member of the Reading Room, and for the first several years of its existence spent a startling amount of my free time there. I very infrequently post there myself these days, but still read all the posts, and it will always be close to my heart for the great pleasure it gave me of expanding my view of JRRT's works.

I don't generally write fan-fic (too busy with original work!), but have written two pieces set in the world of LOTR: a short story and a poem.

Tolkien's works have been part of my life since I was barely out of childhood, and I expect they always will be. And the fellowship of TORn has been part of my life for over 22 years - yet another reason to be grateful to Tolkien.


The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Mar 16, 9:05pm

Post #21 of 28 (654 views)
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I'm a devoted long-time fan, masquerading as a Tolkien scholar of sorts [In reply to] Can't Post

I first read The Hobbit at around 13 years old (45 years ago). I immediately went on to read The Lord of the Rings. At first, I was disappointed to find that Bilbo faded into the background and that there seemed to be a new hero, but soon I was completely entranced, and I have been ever since.

I read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit several more times growing up but didn’t explore Tolkien's work any further at that time. Indeed, I didn’t even realize at that point that the hints in The Lord of the Rings at a deeper history were in the process of being published at that very time by Tolkien’s son, Christopher.

When I went to college in D.C., I took a class on Tolkien and Lewis, but as to Tolkien that class only focused on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I honestly don’t recall the professor saying anything that enhanced my understanding of those books very much, though I enjoyed getting the opportunity to read Lewis’ space trilogy, which I liked a lot more than the Narnia books that I had previously read.

Several years later, after we had relocated out west, I had a brief conversation with someone who had mentioned the spiritual nature of Tolkien work. I responded with a comment about The Lord of the Rings and he dismissively said something like “no, the really spiritual stuff.” I thought (and still think) that was a silly, arrogant thing to say, but it did intrigue me, and I finally tracked down and read The Silmarillion. I was completely blown away. I quickly found Unfinished Tales and devoured that, and the three volumes of The History of Middle-earth that had been published by that point. For there on I read each volume of HoMe as they came out, as well as Carpenter’s biography, and Tolkien letters (which I recently had to replace because of consulted it so many times). I also saw the Rankin-Bass and Bakshi cartoons, but I will follow my mother’s advice about those and not say anything else about them.

All during this time, however, my obsession with Tolkien was a very private one. Other than the one brief conversation that I described above, and the college class that I took, I don’t recall having any discussion with anyone about Tolkien of any kind. That was soon to change in a major way.

Some time in 2000 or maybe early in 2001 I learned that some unknown (to me at least) slasher film director from New Zealand named Peter Jackson was making life-action films of The Lord of the Rings. I didn’t have much hope that they would be very good and didn’t pay much attention to the buzz that was starting to be generated. I honestly don’t recall whether I even saw a trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring. Still, I went to see the film a few days after it opened. I was entranced from the moment that Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel started speaking those opening words, “(I amar prestar aen.) The world is changed. (Han matho ne nen.) I feel it in the water. (Han mathon ned cae.) I feel it in the earth. (A han noston ned gwilith.) I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.” I didn’t love everything about that film – in fact there were some things that I really hated – but overall I was completely blown away by how much of the feeling of what made Tolkien special to me had been captured – for me (I make no pretension to speak for anyone else).

But I still didn’t really speak about it with anyone at that point, nor did it really occur to me to seek out discussion online (which was still a comparatively new place). However, after I saw The Two Towers it did occur to look at what other were saying. What I read compelled me to join a different Tolkien messageboard (I won’t say which one) so that I could respond to some of the negative comments. Over the next three years I participated in some truly amazing discussions about both the books and the films at that site. I also started reading more scholarship about Tolkien, including Verlyn Flieger and Tom Shippey and many others, plus, Doug Anderson’s Annotated Hobbit and when they came out, John Rateliff’s The History of the Hobbit and Hammond and Scull’s LOTR Reader’s Companion and their amazing J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. One book that particularly influenced me was Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth, edited by Flieger and Carl Hostetter (our own Aelfwine). In particularly, one paper by Charles Noad, “On the Construction of ‘The Silmarillion’” really jumped out at me.

Unfortunately, there was a big blow up at that messageboard and I ended up leaving, and after a short amount of time, a friend and I (with some help from a few others) started a new messageboard, The Hall of Fire, which I still run. Some time thereafter, I also joined up here, and I have posted here on and off ever since.

Over the years the discussion about Tolkien has ebbed and flowed at The Hall of Fire, but one discussion that started back in 2006 was a conversation about who actually wrote The Silmarillion. I felt strongly that it was likely that Tolkien himself had written the bulk of it, but in different pieces. It occurred to me that it might be possible to trace the source of much of that book by comparing it to the various drafts published in The History of Middle-earth. Over the following six months or so I proceed to go through the book paragraph by paragraph, making daily posts in the thread at The Hall of Fire, tracing much of the book to specific sources.
When I was done, several people there encouraged me to seek to get my work published. I was resistant to the idea, but I did feel that there might be wider interest in what I had discovered. At some point, I also came up with a catchier tag phrase to add to the original title (which was simply “The Creation of the Published Silmarillion”): Arda Reconstructed.

Over the coming year I sent out numerous inquiries to publishers and got a lot of rejection letters. However, one publisher, Lehigh University Press, expressed enough interest to send the manuscript to a Tolkien scholar to review as an outside reader. That person (I later learned who it was, but I won’t identify him or her), recommended rejecting the manuscript as it was, but thought that it could have value if it was improved. To my eternal gratitude that person gave very detailed advice as to how they thought it could be improved. In particularly, they thought that the line by line comparison was just too detailed, and suggested moving that to tables, and to just keep in the text the most significant observations. That person also suggested that I express more opinions about what patterns I observed. After a lot more work, I resubmitted the manuscript and it was accepted for publication.

After it was accepted for publication, I learned that the next conference of the Mythopoeic Society was going to be held in Berkeley, only a couple of hours from where I live, and I decided to propose presenting an excerpt from the book. The proposal was accepted, and I presented the excerpt at the MythCon (one of my strongest memories of that experience was just before making the presentation how nervous I was after having our friend N.E. Brigand tell me that our friend Aelfwine and a couple of his colleagues from The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship were sitting in the back; suffice it to say that pronunciation of Elvish names is not my strongest point, but I muddled through). The excerpt was then published in the next issue of MythLore, and when the book was published, it was twice a finalist for the Mythopoeic Society’s Inkling’s Studies award.

Most importantly, I had had the opportunity to meet a number of Tolkien scholars at that MythCon and at several others that I attended and presented to after that, and I have continued to correspond with them since that time. I have also continued to read Tolkien scholarship pretty voraciously, to discuss it with folks both here and at The Hall of Fire, and I have published several additional papers at both MythLore and at Tolkien Studies (and I am happy to report that I have another one that is going to be published soon). In addition, Doug Anderson has asked me to review several books for the Journal of Tolkien Research where he is the book review editor, including the stand-alone books of Tolkien's Beren and Lúthien and The Fall of Gondolin, edited by Christopher Tolkien, and The Nature of Middle-earth, edited by our friend Aelfwine and published last year.

But all during this time, I’ve never really considered myself a “Tolkien scholar.” Just a dedicated Tolkien fan who got a bit lucky.

For the very few of you who actually read all the way through this, thank you!

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Eldy
Grey Havens


Mar 16, 9:26pm

Post #22 of 28 (649 views)
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Getting lucky [In reply to] Can't Post

Arda Reconstructed was published just a few months after I became active on Tolkien forums, and I believe the first time I saw any of your posts was in discussions about it on another forum. Buying a hardcover book from an academic press was out of the question for me at the time for financial reasons, but knowing that someone had published a book that was born from a forum thread was downright inspiring to me back then. It still kinda is, to be honest, whether you claim the title of "scholar" or not. Wink


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Mar 16, 9:36pm

Post #23 of 28 (644 views)
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Thanks, Eldy! [In reply to] Can't Post

Honestly, it's kinda inspiring to me, too!

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Ataahua
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 16, 10:56pm

Post #24 of 28 (639 views)
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There was a lot of hard work that went into that 'luck'. [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't minimise your scholarly efforts. Like any athlete who succeeds, there was a lot of dedication and perseverance (not to mention intellect) that led up to the gold medal of publishing and being part of the wider Tolkien discussion. Well done, Voronwe. Smile

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Mar 16, 11:35pm

Post #25 of 28 (634 views)
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Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

Heart

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire

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