Thread: The first contact with Tolkien
My first contact with Tolkien was when I was nine years old. We have many books at home (from floor to ceiling) and one day I found this scabby book with practically no cover. Nothing fancy. I asked my father if he had read the book and he told me that he had read it long time ago and that it was the first one in a serie. Well, I gave the book a chance (even if the cover didnt appeal me) and ever since then I am hooked on Tolkien.
Thats my story about my first contact with Tolkien. Does somebody else have a story that you would like to share?
I read The Hobbit--that Ballantine edition with the picture that Tolkien couldn't stand--to my brothers (my first audience), finding a voice for each character, and they loved it! We pooled our money and sent away to Ballantine to buy LOTR. At the time, it cost all of 95 cents per volume! Then I read that--right through a period when I was laid up with strep and a temp of 104. My brothers were anxious to hear LOTR, and I have been reading it to various audiences ever since.
For the past 16 years, I have been reading excerpts to my English classes. Finally, this spring I will be reading it to a "real" audience in our campus auditorium. My aim is always to bring the story to life for my audience and to help them see the lessons Tolkien wants them to see.
(Thank goodness I held off... can you imagine trying to read any two books of the trilogy without the third one?) That was my first experience with Tolkien.
I can, and far worse. I started reading Katherine Kerr's Deverry series after she had written the third book, believing it to be a trilogy. While I was reading them, she brought out a fourth book in the series, and it didn't end there. It's been over ten years since I first started reading this series, and I am still waiting for her to release the twelth and final book. In that time she has undergone long legal wrangles with her publishers, which have occasionally meant some of the books have taken years to be released. I find myself having to re-read the entire series each time she releases a new one.
To get back on thread, however, my first encounter with Tolkien was back in my University days. Several of my friends were discussing the characters etc, after one of them had named a couple of her plants Boromir and Faramir. While they were chatting about things beyond my comprehension, I picked up a copy of Unfinished Tales from her coffee table and began reading it. The story of Tuor's journey to Gondolin was my first experience of Tolkien, therefore, and I was hooked. I went out and bought the Hobbit, LotR, the Silmarillion and UT the next day. Within just a few months I was considered to be some sort of Tolkien nut by most of the people who knew me.
The worst of it was, this was during Spain's Franco years and there weren't any other books for sale there worth reading. So I couldn't even find a murder mystery, or a spy or an adventure novel; and of course any other fantasy novels had yet to be published, even at home, for Tolkien was just then making his splash in the USA.
As I was waitng for the ferry ride back home from Seattle, after landing at the SeaTac Airport, I found a bookrack which had both The Two Towers and The Return orf the King and bought them forthwith and started reading right away. I later read them all to my wife.
I had to endure waiting another ten years for The Silmarillion to be published; though I was able to find Tolkien's short stories and poems and did have the enjoyment of many re-reads of The Lord of the Rings over the intervening years. I also found both the BBC's and The Mind's Eye's audio versions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I also found the two Lost Tales volumes; but hadn't even heard of the rest of the H.O.M.E. series or Unfinished Tales until I found Planet-Tolkien four years ago.
(Oh what a relief! After spending 45 minutes on the above, my computer locked up when I hit the save post button; I thought you the reader had probably been saved from being subjected to the above reminiscence.)
(Another was getting glasses in the second grade, going from legally blind to 20/20. I remain astounded by the detail of being: trees have an unbelievable number of branches. The third was finding out you could make things look three dimensional with pencil shading. Thank you, Jon Gnagy.)
I really liked the illustrations to The Hobbit. They really realize that world. I retain a love for them that far outweighs their level of artistic skill.
Anyway, a year later the same person recommended "The Lord of the Rings." ("There's more?!") That was really fantastic. I had to get it through inter-library loan. The librarian urged me to just get one book at a time, so I just got "The Fellowship of the Ring." It wasn't like anything else, as you all know. I'm glad that I got the next two together rather than stumble about for a week or so waiting for the third volume after the end of "The Two Towers."
(The man who recommended the books to me recounts being woken up at 2 in the morning by someone he had loaned the books to, one at a time. He had just finished "The Two Towers.")
I ran across the trilogy in the infamous Ace version a few years after that and they became my precious. It was really amazing to me when "Lord of the Rings" became (almost overnight to me) so immensely popular. I think I was somewhat annoyed. ("Hey! That's mine.")
I've kept re-reading them and have eventually aloud to my children. By this time, I'd say "The Silmarillion" is my favorite book. I had it and "Unfinished Tales" set up with little penciled directions to flesh out the parts that are partially expanded on in UT. ("Go to UT, page xx; Go to Silmarillion, page YY) Now I mostly listen to them and a lot else on tape because I can draw at the same time.
Word for word, though, "Leaf by Niggle" is the most valuable thing he wrote, for me. It goes very deep. I don't know that that is objectively true. It's just that it's just my experience of being an artist. I don't think it's universal.
Soon after reading LotR I got the Hobbit and the Silmarillion and by now I've read Roverandom, too. At the moment I'm impatiently waiting for some books I ordered at Amazon last week.
So the real first contact was when I was a 3rd year student of the University.Somehow it happened that it took place during my exams-session.And although I've always been a good student,I couldn't do anything and didn't put the book down until I finished it.So you imagine my results But it was the last thing I was thinking about.
From that moment I never parted with Professor's books.
Now I'm reading LOTR for the third time, still discovering and enjoying the magic and depth of what it is the perfect book for me.
Also, reading "The Silmarillion" was an even more spectacular and spiritually educative experience.
That was a real hey-day for LotR, as my memory has it. It spawned a lot of counter-culture connections (wonder what JRR thought of that), Bored of the Rings, etc. Unrivaled until the recent movies came out.
You say you began reading both LotR and The Hobbit that October. Concurrently (ha)? I think it was about another year before I turned to The Hobbit.