#2015ReadingChallenge – A Trilogy – The Lord of The Rings

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I’m not proud of it. But when I first read The Lord Of The Rings, it was purely so that I could go into school say, ‘Hey, I’ve read The Lord of The Rings.’ And I did. And I have since I was fifteen . But reading the books again, I’m beginning to have my doubts. I remember, in The Fellowship, the chapter with Tom Bombadill. I remember the skipping large chunks, if not all of The Council of Elrond. I had seen the movie – what did it matter if I didn’t read the book? I could always use the movie to substantiate my claims. But the more that I read of the book, the more I feel in love with the language used and created, the more I devoured it, I was beginning to have my doubts – did I actually ever attempt to read the whole trilogy? Or did I give up somewhere along The Fellowship?

I won’t lie – I’m slightly ashamed. But I’ve made amends with Tolkien and his folk.

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I fell in love with the book. I devoured it. I couldn’t put it down. Maybe it had something to do with my being on bed-rest for the last two weeks. But it quickly became my precious. When I woke, before I went to sleep, when I ventured downstairs to make tea and refill my hotwater bottle, it came with me. When I had to go to an appointment, I felt a huge reluctance to leave the book behind. When someone started talking to me or called me to check on how I was, I felt, I’m sad to say, annoyed – didn’t they know that they were taking me away from one of the most amazing works of literature that was ever created? And I mean, created. It’s as if every leaf, every gust of wind, was created and brought to life by Tolkien.

Fun little fact about myself: sometimes I forget that Middle Earth isn’t real and that Hobbits and Elves don’t exist. Sometimes I think that The Lord of The Rings is a genuine part of our history.

In my final year of college, we studied The Hobbit. It gave me a clearer idea of the background of, not only The Hobbit but also the genesis of Lord Of The Rings. You’d be amazed how much material Tolkien lifted from texts from Old English and Old Norse. But then I was amazed by how much it has inspire modern day books. Harry Potter – a figure of evil is diminished, not destroyed and then comes back to power, not to mention the locket in The Deathly Hallows, how the wearer begins to feel frustrated and burdened when they wear it… Sound like anything? A ring on a chain perhaps…? The most obvious twin would probably be the Inheritance Cylce – a generic boy/man finds himself in possession of a magical object and is accompanied by an old wizard to deliver it to safety and then they must defeat the source of all evil…

I think this is the first time that I’ve read a book after watching the movie where the movie hasn’t completely swayed my opinion. True, the character of Sam Gamgee is quite annoying in both portrayals, and Frodo isn’t my favourite character. But I loved Bilbo in the movie – what a sweet old man who only wants to lose the burden of the ring and live a quiet life finishing off his book in peace in Rivendell. In the book, he comes across as an annoying writer, constantly looking for the story. I don’t want to offend anyone with what I’m about to say – I don’t feel that this applies to all writers. I some lovely writers who are exempt from this depiction and, um, hello…

…but I’ve noticed this conception of writers – I don’t know if it’s a typical cliché or just something I’ve accumulated in my own head – this pretentious aura they have. There were a number of scenes in TLOTR where Bilbo was constantly badgering Frodo for a story, to tell him all about his adventures so he’d have material for his next book. But, while he was looking for the new material, he kept coming back to the same ending:

‘and he/they lived happily ever after till the end of his/their days.’

I found this hilarious. Maybe Bilbo is just a fraud?

As for Boromir… You know Charming, from Shrek 2? The personalities were uncanny. Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes. Not that it’s a bad thing.

I hated Sam.  Why, Sam, oh why did you have to be so cruel to Gollum and so damn annoying!?

The best hobbit of them all – Master Peregrin Took.  I love you, Pippin, simply because your optimism and good humour/nature is unfaltering.

I’m glad I gave the book a second chance. DEFINITELY better than the movie – it gave me a wider, deeper sense of the land, the characters, the journey, the perils, the surroundings… It made the whole experience more real.

Funnily enough, my favourite part of the books weren’t the ring-bearers journey; but everyone else’s.  Sorry, Sam and Frodo.

But, my God, what an experience!

Next up on the 2015 Reading Challenge: A Memoir – Just Kids by Patti Smith.

 

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