09 February 2010

Readalong 1: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

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.

Many editions are available; try Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004ISBN-13: 9780618574940Source: Have owned for years (see review policy).


Care 2/9/10, 7:52 AM  

I loved the books AND the movies; I agree and appreciate your comments here abt the differences between - especially your thoughts on the Hobbits being unfairly presented. I don't think I had really thought about it.

Molly 2/9/10, 9:19 AM  

Read the books multiple times?! I am still quite intimidated, although I have the boxed set sitting patiently on my book shelf.

I have been told that one way to get over the intimidation factor is to watch the movies first to get an idea of the basic plot structure and character relations. Then attempt to read the books to enjoy the details. What do you think?

Beth F 2/9/10, 9:27 AM  

Far be it for me to tell you what to do, but as I said in my post, I'm glad I read the books before seeing the movies.

The movie changes the plot in several places, leaves out scenes, tweaks personalities. Don't get me wrong, I love a lot about the movies and have watched them many times (and can't wait to buy the BlueRay editions when they come out in the next couple of years).

It's a hard call. I suggest that you click through to Clare's site and read the other posts in the Mr. Linky. SOme people saw the movies before reading the books. See what they have to say and come to a decision. (link is here.

I'm such a fan of the books, I can't give you objective advice.

kayerj 2/9/10, 12:00 PM  

I love Tolkien and totally agree with your assesments. Tolkien was a master at creating an image.

I think I'll join your little group of readers.

I'm off to visit the host site.

the cover image you are featuring is the same as the set I own, it is completely worn out!

Sandy Nawrot 2/9/10, 1:03 PM  

Well, once I get to these books, I will be able to tell you about seeing the movies first. We've seen them all (over and over again...my kids quote some of the lines). Now you have me itching to get my hands on the audio. Definitely next on my list after we finish the HP series.

Julie P. 2/9/10, 1:38 PM  

This brings back some memories!

Heather 2/10/10, 7:51 AM  

I loved The Hobbit. I loved the movies. But for some reason, I have been unable to get into the books. Maybe I should try the audio version; since you recommend it so highly.

Dorte H 2/10/10, 2:18 PM  

Great comments about the difference between the film and the book. For me, reading the book is almost always the best experience, and also when it comes to this one (though I like the film and always laugh when the hobbits discover that they can buy ´whole pints´)

Anonymous,  2/11/10, 6:26 AM  

I think my favorite character so far is Tom Bombadil, who never even made it to the movie version. I don't think they could've done him right, though, so I'm glad he wasn't included. I think he would've just come off as silly in the movie, and he wasn't necessary with the speed the movie's storyline went. In about the same amount of time it took them to get to Tom, they were in Rivendell in the movie.

Athira 2/21/10, 12:50 PM  

I watched the movies first, before reading the books. And like you, I am a big fan of both the movies and the books! The movies didn't disappoint, and the books gave me a larger appreciation of Middle-Earth. I didn't feel watching the movies influenced my reading the books. As you said, there was only one way the world could be imagined!

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