Here is the first of my non-reviews of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien. I am rereading the novel as part of the Lord of the Rings Readalong. This month, Clare from The Literary Omnivore is our host.
Let me get right to her questions.
When did you first hear of The Lord of the Rings? Good question. I was probably in fifth grade. I know I read the Narnia books in fourth grade. When I finished them, I wanted more. Somehow (I have no recollection of the details) I learned about Tolkien, and so I soon read The Hobbit. Obviously, LOTR came next. Do you want to know the year? I likely started The Fellowship of the Rings in 1965, when I was ten.
Have you read The Fellowship of the Rings before? As I mentioned in the last question, yes I have. I've probably read it eight or nine times. I bought the unabridged audio edition in 2005. This is my second time through the audio (which I can't recommend enough).
What’s your plan of attack, now that we’re dealing with more "mature" literature? I have no plan of attack. I just want to listen and enjoy. I love being back in Middle Earth.
Have you ever seen the movies? If so, do you think they’ll influence your reading? If not, well, why haven’t you seen them? Oh yes, I've seen the movies many times, and I own the extended edition of the DVDs. I really like the movies, even though they are different from the books. The amazing thing about Tolkien is that his descriptions are so vivid that there is almost only one way certain beings, scenes, and settings can be portrayed. The movie did not disappoint or jar in that way.
I have no idea what it would be like if you had seen the movies before reading the books. I am thankful that I knew the books inside and out before seeing the movies.
First and foremost, the telling of the tale is better in the book. The unveiling of the history and the foreshadowing are so much more subtle and richer in the original. These are better appreciated on a second or third reading; in fact with each reread I pick up different clues or I seem to focus on a different aspect of the story.
The non-silly humor was lost in the film and the characters of the hobbits were almost unrecognizable. Frodo is not a helpless thing who must be led around as if he were a child. He does rely on Sam in the end, but he is brave, defends himself, makes decisions, and is a leader. Pippin and Merry are not dim-witted bimbos; they joined Frodo only after careful consideration--they did not willy-nilly fall into the adventure. Although it is true that the two younger hobbits make mistakes (as do all in the fellowship), they are not fairly presented in the movies.
The wonderful descriptions of the lands and people, the poems and songs, and the history help make the books seem real. There is a richness to Middle Earth and to the unfolding of the formation of the fellowship that can be found only by reading.
The Fellowship of the Ring at Amazon
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Many editions are available; try Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004ISBN-13: 9780618574940Source: Have owned for years (see review policy).