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Discovering Tolkien

My journey with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

I remember I heard about The Lord of the Rings from my parents - They recommended the book when I was a child, but I never got around to it. When the movies started to come out, there was no more escape from it. In 2001, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ was released and I was 14. In my mid-teens, I was very much a rebel and my main aspiration was to be different from anyone else. This involved all sort of antisocial behaviour, but mainly I was keen to denigrate pop-culture. I made a point to despise everything that was popular with my peers: which included, of course, The Lord of the Rings.
I convinced myself that the story was nerdy and useless. I told my friends I was not interested in fantasy and fairytales. The more people became obsessed with the movies and the books, the more I wanted to find reasons to get myself away from it!
Almost two decades later, in my early 30s, my peers have now a lot of nostalgic memories of when they first saw Aragorn, or Legolas on a big screen. They have stories like: ‘Oh my God, do you remember, I had such a crush on Aragorn!’, or ‘Orlando Bloom just got that role because he was cool at that time; but it’s so out of place’. All those memories and stories I was not part of! So I reminded myself I am no longer a rebellious teenager and I picked up the brick!

I started to read about Bilbo organising his party, thinking I was never going get to the end of it. With my great surprise, I became more and more entangled in the plot! I became very interested in the long descriptions of the journey of hobbits, the habits of the Elves and the destiny of Sam and Frodo.
This was very much out of character for me. I had to force my inner rebellious teenager to be quiet. I had to put my pride to a side and admit that I did miss out on something beautiful and inspiring.
Before I knew it, I finished the book and started The Hobbit, then moved on to The Silmarillion.

After the book, I watched the movies. I have to say that the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings did not satisfy me as much as The Hobbit one. In my opinion, The Lord of the Rings movies do not do justice to the book. This is mainly because after the book, everything seems very rushed. In the book I spent months on end with Sam and Frodo struggling in the wind and with very little food; in the movie I felt I had to quickly follow then running around. For me there was something about the pace of the narrative that did not come across well in the movie. On the contrary, I found The Hobbit movie very exciting. It really added something special and magical to the book; it made the characters more real.

Overall in the last year or so, I just lived fully immerse in Tolkien’s word and I feel rejuvenated by it and very inspired! It has been somehow a very important experience. I had a warm feeling of kindness and patience from the way the book is written. There are two learning points I will take forward with me; first that I don't have a point to prove and do not need to be a teenager anymore. This means that things change and my taste in movies and books changes and evolves. Second, that I need to give everything a chance!