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Can I have a passion for Tolkien's works with a high school grade only?
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Registered User

Apr 17 2013, 11:25pm

Post #1 of 29 (774 views)
Can I have a passion for Tolkien's works with a high school grade only? Can't Post

Hello everyone,

This is not a poll in it's usual way, it's more of a topic created in the hope to get your opinion about a question that's been bothering me for a while.

I know this may sound silly but I've heard some people saying that Tolkien's passionate are most likely scholars, people with education from college and university. I doubt these statements but still I wonder if I am an unusual fellow here, with only an high school grade but very passionate about Tolkien's works in various way from the languages to the mythologie and the lands and all the depth on his stories.

So my question is: Can I have a passion for Tolkien's work and epic fantasie work even though I've not got any education beyond high school? Am I the only one in this situation?

(This post was edited by Huriko897 on Apr 17 2013, 11:27pm)

Grey Havens

Apr 17 2013, 11:33pm

Post #2 of 29 (459 views)
Why not? [In reply to] Can't Post

A college degree is not essential for interest, passion or brains. Abraham Lincoln didn't have any formal education to speak of and he was a brilliant person.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com


Apr 17 2013, 11:41pm

Post #3 of 29 (455 views)
No, you're fine [In reply to] Can't Post

Many of us discovered Tolkien before or during high school, and that's when the passion hit us, so being a scholar has nothing to do with it. And this is not a judgmental place, so no one should make you feel like you don't belong. It's about your interest level, not educational level, so you clearly have all you need to belong. Welcome!


Apr 17 2013, 11:43pm

Post #4 of 29 (457 views)
Indeed, Welcome to TORn Huriko! [In reply to] Can't Post

And may I say seeing "passion" and "Tolkien" in the same sentence always make me smile! By all means follow your passion and see where it leads you.

Hell hath no fury like a Dragon who is missing a cup.


Apr 18 2013, 12:17am

Post #5 of 29 (432 views)
Of course not! [In reply to] Can't Post

In fact, reading your post made me realize I only have a high school diploma, so we're in the same boat. Wink

Use Well the Days

Aragalen the Green

Apr 18 2013, 12:35am

Post #6 of 29 (436 views)
Welcome! And yes you can! [In reply to] Can't Post

I read the Hobbit when I was 8 years old, and Lord of the Rings when I was 12. Then the Silmarillon when it came out in 1977, I was 14 then. I was totally enthralled and yes, passionate about Tolkien's writings and imagination then, and still am (at age 49:)

Also--I did not start my college education until I was 42. Having a degree is not necessary to be a Tolkien fan! Smile

'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'


Apr 18 2013, 12:54am

Post #7 of 29 (430 views)
Absolutely! [In reply to] Can't Post

I did all of my HoME reading during high school. Age isn't really a factor in this kind of thing Smile

Cheers to you! Glad to have another aboard!

"...not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive." -Arwen


Apr 18 2013, 1:56am

Post #8 of 29 (440 views)
pshaw! [In reply to] Can't Post

There are many things to love about Tolkien and different personalities and interests will like different aspects about Tolkien.

Some of the best conversations I've had about Tolkien involved people from all ages and all walks of life - some as young as 15 (and many people younger than 15 like the books but they don't tend to post on online forums).

I have some books written about Tolkien that are such dense reading for me that it's hard to wade through them. Obviously, those people - very well educated, no doubt - found very worth stuff to discuss at a highly educated level. But there isn't anything I LOVE about Tolkien that needs a college education as long as one has a passion for learning. (for example, Tolkien uses lots of archaic and unusual words ... if you're willing to look them up in a dictionary, you'll get the definition. No degree required for that.)

But be careful... reading Tolkien may make you yearn for a degree of some sort. I have one friend who went back to school to study mythology borne out her love for Tolkien. :-)

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(This post was edited by Magpie on Apr 18 2013, 1:58am)

Tol Eressea

Apr 18 2013, 6:18am

Post #9 of 29 (413 views)
Here in the UK [In reply to] Can't Post

it was possible to leave secondary school at 15 without taking any exams, or gaining any certificates. That's what I opted to do, 'cos I passed an entrance exam for a tech. college. Anyway; I don't have any GCEs (as they're called) and I've never found that to be a block of any kind in my enjoyment of Tolkien.


Apr 18 2013, 11:04am

Post #10 of 29 (381 views)
you are far from alone [In reply to] Can't Post

you will find a very wide variety of scholarly certifications here.

some with high school diplomas, some with phds. people who are avid readers in general (of books additional to tolkien), and non-readers who really only read tolkien.

anyone's life experiences, in or out of a classroom, potentially add to one's enjoyment and interpretation of and pleasure in... +anything+, really... but no less is this true for tolkien.

what strings in your heart does middle-earth pluck? are you drawn in because of the languages, the characters, the themes (endurance, hope, humility)?

you may find much in common with many people here. but at the same time, your appreciation, your passion will be unique, because you are seeing it through your lens, and you are unique.

many cheers --


aka. fili orc-enshield
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel

(This post was edited by Maciliel on Apr 18 2013, 11:05am)


Apr 18 2013, 12:08pm

Post #11 of 29 (365 views)
I really don't think you'll find it a problem [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome to the other "Fellowship of the Ring". We're probably at least as varied a bunch as the Nine Walkers.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....


Apr 18 2013, 4:20pm

Post #12 of 29 (341 views)
Absolutely [In reply to] Can't Post

Post-secondary education is not a requirement for passion and imagination. Your passion is valid, honest, and real. Claim it, embrace it, and be proud of it.

And welcome to TORn, Huriko897!! Your passion will never be questioned here. Hope you join us often.



Apr 18 2013, 4:56pm

Post #13 of 29 (335 views)
No requirements necessary [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks to audiobooks, one does not even need to possess the ability to read to enjoy Tolkien. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Welcome to the boards!

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fëanor shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting and comes no more among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be known of what substance they were made. Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda.

Registered User

Apr 18 2013, 8:52pm

Post #14 of 29 (332 views)
You made my day. [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow thank you very much for answering this topic guys, you just made my day. I didn't expect an outpour of answers and was a bit afraid that it might looks silly and get ignored.

Be reassured, I do not have self-esteem problem it's just that I am 24 years old and a simple worker in a restaurant with 'only' an high school diploma so I wondered if I was aiming too much above myself by having this kind of deep interest. But seeing your cheering and warming welcomes is encouragind indeed and makes me realize that a passion is beyond formal education.

(This post was edited by Huriko897 on Apr 18 2013, 8:54pm)

Aunt Dora Baggins

Apr 19 2013, 12:11am

Post #15 of 29 (312 views)
A lot of us developed that passion when we were children. [In reply to] Can't Post

I had a sixth-grade education when I first fell in love with Tolkien's works. So my answer to your question is "Of course!"

I'd also like to add that I know people who are scholars who never went to college. One woman I know started an architectural firm and has published several books, without a college education. She's probably not passionate about Tolkien, but she has read him, and a lot of other authors as well.

I'd say from what you say about yourself that you are definitely a scholar.

"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

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Ziggy Stardust

Apr 19 2013, 12:29am

Post #16 of 29 (300 views)
It's more than okay [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien is for anyone who loves a good story and characters. It's okay if you only have high school, you can still love Tolkien.
I'm no scholar either. I might read some good literature (Tolkien included) by I only have a high school diploma, and am currently in the process of gettingt a BA in Audio Production. I am also a musician, and because of the professions I've chosen, I'm often misjudged and misunderstood. And I love Tolkien. So, no, there is nothing wrong with you at all. Love Tolkien with all your heart no matter how high you've been educated and no matter what profession you choose. Cheers!


Apr 19 2013, 1:48am

Post #17 of 29 (291 views)
Oh Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien can and is appreciated by people across the educational spectrum. I first read LOTR rings when I was in High School. I was captivated by it and stayed up late -- meaning 3 am -- on many nights because I could not put the books down. Every day I would meet a friend -- we found Tolkien separately and became friends as we realized we were both reading LOTR at the same time -- and we would eagerly discuss where we were and what we thought. It was magical and a lasting memory.

Tol Eressea

Apr 19 2013, 3:00am

Post #18 of 29 (284 views)
education and stuff [In reply to] Can't Post

Education happens when you are curious, when you investigate, when you read, when you experience, when you have an adventure.

You do not need a formal education to be smart, brilliant, or educated. (those things are nice, but some of us did not have the opportunities, or took a different path). Reading is one of the finest ways to educate yourself.

Classic tales like Tolkien's have such breadth and depth that they can appeal to a kid, or a professor. That's the way of well told stories.

Keep reading. And hang out with folks like these with similar passions.

Somewhere I read "you learn something from everyone you meet."

Go outside and play...


Apr 19 2013, 6:28am

Post #19 of 29 (274 views)
Welcome Huriko897! [In reply to] Can't Post

Hope I'm not being redundant here, but I agree with everyone's posts. Many of us discover Tolkien at a young age - I'm still in high school.

Sometimes, I think college and university degrees don't make you smart. My English teacher can't spell - and she is doing her honorary degree in Linguistics at the moment . I know someone who doesn't have a degree, but is more well-read, philosophical and intelligent than almost anyone else I know. It is, to me, not a matter of learning but of passion.

So yes, of course you can be passionate without a degree. Sometimes I think that formal education puts things into a box - there's only one way of seeing something, and if your view differs, you must be stupid. (Especially with literature analysis in English) Maybe learning things on your own makes your view on life less linear.

So welcome to TORn, Huriko. Hope you enjoy your stay!

"Eala Earendel engla beorhtast
ofer middangeard monnum sended."

"You think you world is safe? It is an illusion. A comforting lie told to protect you. Enjoy these final moments of peace. For I have returned to have my vengeance. So, shall we begin? " - John Harrison/Khan/Sherlock/Smaug (Star Trek: Into Darkness)

(This post was edited by BoromirOfWinterfell on Apr 19 2013, 6:30am)

Grey Havens

Apr 19 2013, 8:22am

Post #20 of 29 (263 views)
Of course and absolutely! [In reply to] Can't Post

One need not have a formal education to live deeply and discover passions. These things come from inside you, right? Passion can't be taught. It's something you discover, and feel, and nurture -- and you can certainly do this on your own, without any sort of education.

I fell in love with The Lord of the Rings before I'd even started high school, so I discovered my passion without even a high school diploma!

As others have pointed out, you'll find a huge range of levels of education (and ages) here on TORn. All are welcome; we're here to share our passion and geek out about whichever aspects of Tolkien most attract us. I'd suggest you'd have a hard time guessing education levels for most people, and we certainly don't judge anyone one way or another. Ph.D.? Fine. Never finished high school? Great. Somewhere in between? That's fine too. Love Tolkien? You're in!

So, jump right in, don't feel shy, and know you're welcome. Smile


Apr 19 2013, 9:26am

Post #21 of 29 (269 views)
Mercy... there are no limits :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Whenever you pick up Tolkien's works, you can have a passion, appreciation and understanding of his tales. No, it's not just for scholars, but it's scope will draw scholars and give anyone who wants to delve in deep all sorts of challenges to study.

I found Tolkien's LotR after I graduated from high school, but my grandson discovered it when he was 8.

The beauty of LotR is that the same story will speak to different times in one's life and life experienes. I was 19 when I started reading LotR, and even now at 61 there are parts of the story that speak to what I'm experiencing or feeling. So no matter your age or what's going on in your life, there's something there that you'll find comfort or interest in.

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Registered User

Apr 19 2013, 11:40pm

Post #22 of 29 (238 views)
Of course you can! [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien's novels are a source of escapism and comfort for many people, despite their qualifications or intellectual capacity. Welcome to the community!

'Good evening, little masters!'


Apr 20 2013, 8:29pm

Post #23 of 29 (226 views)
Exactly when... [In reply to] Can't Post

... did education mean you had to be intelligent and vice versa?
I have met some pretty daft persons at university and I do stumble upon quite number of intelligent, yet non- or under-educated individuals rather regularly.

Besides, I wouldn't necessarily claim Tolkien to be enjoyable for intelligent people only. I guess the bottom line is: while your statement may be true on average (I have not bothered to make any such observations) that doesn't mean it's true for every Tolkien fan.

(This post was edited by Misto on Apr 20 2013, 8:29pm)

Grey Havens

Apr 22 2013, 2:02am

Post #24 of 29 (196 views)
Of course! [In reply to] Can't Post

I happen to be your "typical" fan with a higher education, but I was not when I became a fan! I first read Lord of the Rings in elementary school, and was immediately hooked. I read that book twice a year for the next decade, and also struggled through the SIlmarillion (in high school) to learn more about Tolkien's imagined world. I forced my long-suffering sister (not a fantasy fan back then) to play an LotR strategy game with me, drew dragons, imagined side-stories for the series, and otherwise thoroughly loved it. All this before going to university.

I do think that in my case, some of the traits that made me love Tolkien, also made me more likely to attend and graduate college, but I could and would still have loved Tolkien if for whatever reasons of circumstance or temperament I had not gone to college. Not that going tocollege in any way lessened my enthusiasm for Tolkien!


Apr 22 2013, 7:27pm

Post #25 of 29 (184 views)
I don't even think you need to be overly intelligent to understand Tolkien's writing. [In reply to] Can't Post

You need a normal attention span and perhaps knowledge of some lesser known words, but other than that it's no more difficult to follow than other high quality fiction. Yep yep, even the Silmarillion. I don't see what all the fuss is about Cool

In fact, a while ago I wrote this comparison describing an experience I had with reading LotR and being in the LotR fandom. *ahem*

my friend, 20 years old at the time, upon seeing "FotR" in the cinema for the first time: It's such a shame that they cut the intense political discussion between Gandalf and Saruman into a short brawl. It was so much more intellectual in the book!
me, re-reading it aged 26:

Of course I can take this stuff seriously and I could write analytical essays about it if I wanted to... But I don't get the need to over-intellectualize Tolkien (or for that matter anything they read that's classed as literature, as opposed to simply fiction.) I mean, if you understand it it's still just entertainment and if you don't you can still learn to. There's no big deal to it Smile

That said, I cry actual tears over the depth of the books. I'm not a clown. I just don't think anyone is exceptional or clever for being able to read Tolkien. (I hope that doesn't come across as offensive, I don't mean it that way. :))

(This post was edited by erynion on Apr 22 2013, 7:29pm)

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