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Old 09-17-2002, 07:50 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril The Tolkien Coming of Age Club

I know there are quite a few "I was reading Tolkien before the average Barrow-Downer was even born!" site members - this thread is for us! Since I don't know the average site age, I have just picked 18 as the legal coming of age. So how many of you have been reading LotR and other Tolkien books for at least 18 years? Please tell us how long ago you first read the book(s); if you like, your age at that time and what prompted you to read Tolkien.

I'll make a start: I first read 'The Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings' 29 years ago. My trusty 1973 Ballantine's paperback edition is still serving me well, by now heavily underlined and still carrying the dedication written by the boyfriend who gave them to me way back then! (No, only the books survived; the boyfriend has passed from memory, becoming legend, then myth! [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] ) The back cover has the Tolkien quote:
Quote:
This paperback edition, and no other, has been published with my consent and co-operation. Those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it, and no other.
That was necessary because of the illegal printing of the book by Ace earlier, which started the LotR craze in the USA at that time.

How about the rest of you "geezers" out there?!
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Old 09-17-2002, 08:45 AM   #2
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It was 1969. I was studying Classical Greek and Linguistics in college, and very much enjoying the adventures of Homer's heroes in the Iliad and especially the Odyssey. Wondering why there were no great, long, whacking good adventure stories to read like these in English - something with flowing prose and poetry, mythic heroes and villains, thrilling battles, high romance, and a great love for the use of language.

A professor threw a much read copy of 'The Fellowhip of the Rings' on my desk one day, saying, 'Here! Try this. It's pretty good. You might enjoy it.'

Have been thoroughly hooked ever since!
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Old 09-17-2002, 12:51 PM   #3
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Twenty-two years ago I was visiting my father in Toronto. His bookshelves were always stacked to overflowing, and he was very interested in what I was reading.

I had just finished the 'Screwtape Letters' by C.S. Lewis, had just polished off everything by Lloyd Alexander. He thought a moment.. "Lewis, eh? Well, you're really too old for Narnia and besides, I don't have them. Here, I know -" and he swiped a Ballantine edition of the LotR from the bottom shelf. "See if you like this."

A day and little sleep later, Dad couldn't get more than monosyllablic grunts from me, over breakfast, all that visit I merely surfaced to snack on his very fine brie and sip Canada Dry. It was hard to get me to come to the dinner table, I was still reading on the way as I barely missed tripping over furniture. He laughed, "I think she's hooked!" By the second night he made me put the book down now and join us for dinner my dear. It was torture, the longest dinner ever!

Eventually, I was so slow in returning that borrowed set he gave them to me. They were lost in a flood, but stood me well for the first 14 times I read it. Since then, I've had rotating used bookstore copies that I've given away at various times, much as Dad gave me his. Once again I have to replace my copy of The Two Towers.

-Maril
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Old 09-17-2002, 01:16 PM   #4
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Thus far, only Pio has me beat. Thirty years (1972). I was 11 years old and had been devouring science fiction. I decided to try fantasy but doubted I would like it so I chose to begin with a "classic". I borrowed a copy of the Hobbit from school. Liked it but was unaware that there was a sequel for a while. I had just finished re-reading it about a year later when I came upon Tolkien's obituary in the newspaper.
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Old 09-17-2002, 01:26 PM   #5
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I will be curious to see who posts here!

Let's see. I read the the Hobbit in 1961 when I was 13 years old. Then I read the Lord of the Rings when I was 15 in 1963. So that's 41 years for the hobbit and 39 for the Ring quest. I can remember reading the Lord of the Rings over the summer. I barricaded myself in my room and didn't come out for several days except for brief breaks to assure my family I was still alive! Those were library copies.

I went out and bought the LotR Ballentine books in 1966, my first year of college. I still have those, very used and dog earred. They are still useful, since the Tolkien thesaurus has page numbers that refer back to that edition. I also picked up a garage sale hardcopy --Houghton Mifflin--(Library edition?) of the Hobbit about that time, a "twentieth printing". It does not have any indication of year or edition. (Anybody know what this is?) It seems to be early since there's a note that talks about the changes made to the Riddle Game, and a comment about Bilbo's lies:

Quote:
This departure from truth on the part of a most honest hobbit was a portent of great significance. It does not, however, concern the present story, and those who in this edition make their first acquaintance with hobbit-lore need not trouble about it. Its explanation lies in the history of the Ring, as it is set out in the chronicles of the Red Book of Westmarch, and it must await their publication.
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Old 09-17-2002, 02:19 PM   #6
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Rats! If I had picked up The Hobbit one year earlier, I could post here. Oops.

[ September 17, 2002: Message edited by: red ]
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Old 09-17-2002, 03:12 PM   #7
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I was 14 when I finally read The Hobbit to get a friend off my back. She wouldn't quit talking about it... that was 22 years ago.
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Old 09-17-2002, 03:54 PM   #8
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Sting

As I recall I first read The Hobbit in 6th grade (11 yrs old, 1972) and then made it through the Lord of The Rings in Junior High (12 or 13 years old, I remember discussing Boromir's repentance with several good friends.) What prompted me: those same friends. Dell, Martha, Carla. And then when my siblings saw the books, they said, Ah, the kid has some sense after all.

So: 30 years ago for Bilbo, 28 years ago for Frodo. (Mith, we're tied!)

I still have my original Hobbit; alas, however, my matching boxed paperback trilogy mildewed, and I threw it out last year. I had the one with Tokien's watercolors on the cover, and the Heraldric banners and tiles and insignias on the (red) box. It must have been a ballantine version, I still remember that inscription.

I have read thoroughly thru the trilogy (I think) eleven times; parts of it (Pelennor Fields) many, many more times than that. I used to gallop thru The Hobbit whenever I had a spare day.

This was Junior High, and High School; I had embroidered Tengwar on my jeans jacket and several pairs of jeans. Nobody could read it except one close friend, and she didn't squeal.

[ September 17, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 09-18-2002, 03:22 AM   #9
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So, "Child" whups the rest of us at forty-one Hobbit-filled years. Anybody else out there?

[ September 18, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 09-18-2002, 05:28 AM   #10
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I'm of a simmilar vintage to "Child". 1947 was a good year.
I first read The Hobbit in 1962 and LoTR in 1963.
I was introduced to the works of Professor Tolkien by non other than Smaug the Golden.
My younger brother brought a copy of the hobbit home from his school. I pick up the book and found, inside the front cover, a map with a tiny red dragon on it. I love maps and dragons have fascinated me scince I was a young child. Here were both in the same place! I was hooked
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Old 09-18-2002, 10:37 AM   #11
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Silmaril

I don't have as vivid a recollection of "my first time" as some, but I reckon I qualify. I ran into Tolkien somewhere along about '81 or '82. My uncle became aware of my interest in sci-fi and fantasy roleplaying games, and turned me on to the prof. I still have the old Ballantine paperbacks he gave me, though they're yellowed and falling to tatters now. They have the same commentary about unauthorized editions that Esty mentioned. I recently acquired a nice hardback all-in-one volume.

I got The Silmarillion fairly soon after its original release, but could never get into it. Only within recent years did I finally go back and tackle it.
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Old 09-18-2002, 11:26 AM   #12
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Tolkien

Mr. U, were you an old D&D-er? [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] My house in the late 70s early 80s was D&D central. On rainy days we had D&D conference calls.

We had the two essential elements:

1) a brilliant dungeonmaster with a natural flair for storytelling (my brother)
2) parents who were never home.

I remember when the Silm first came out. Everyone was so impressed that I would read that monster, and to tell you the truth, only that respect and a certain stubborn streak got me through it. To this day I find the Silm. useful, beautiful at points, but very obviously (and frustratingly) unfinished. The LotR is my first love.

-Maril

[ September 18, 2002: Message edited by: Marileangorifurnimaluim ]
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Old 09-18-2002, 12:04 PM   #13
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I was eleven when I first read The Lord Of The Rings in 1970. The Hobbit came for me some time later that year. After wearing out my first set of paperbacks, my SECOND set contained the quote about "buying this and no other" though I always thought that was because of the mimeo-graph copies being sold on campus at Harvard. Anyway, my copies of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales are both first American editions that I bought new when they came out and they are still in very good shape. I'm afraid they spend more time on the shelf and less time before my eyes than they should.
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Old 09-18-2002, 12:23 PM   #14
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Tolkien

I was indeed a D&Der, Maril (actually AD&D, for those really in the know). I had similar fortuitous circumstances, especially starting out: a brilliant dungeonmaster with a natural flair for storytelling (Bless you, Karl L., wherever you are! Alas for the lost friendships of our youth.), and a friendly math teacher who let us use his classroom for lunch-period sessions.

I also had parents who didn't really get roleplaying but sensed that it was a much better hobby than, say, taking up smoking. It helped that they were both hippy types and open to idealism and fantastic ideas -- I was so effusive about the virtues of LotR that I finally even convinced my mom to read it.
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Old 09-18-2002, 12:51 PM   #15
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I, too, am among the venerable. In 1973, at the age of 15, I was introduced the wonders of Mr. Tolkien and I never looked back. I have read the Hobbit and LotR 23 times and counting, The Silmarillion 4 times. I have assorted others of his works also. I can also say, that thanks to Tolkien , I have been able to meet the love of my life, who also loves his works, I daresay, as much as I. Thank YOU, JRRT!

[img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
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Old 09-18-2002, 01:00 PM   #16
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i found The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings in my mom's collection of books when i was ten...(1980)
i basically devoured every book we ever had in the house and eventually came across her old Tolkien paperbacks....
i didn't reread any of them until i heard the movies would be made and for some reason i seemed to remember Legolas and Boromir as two elves in the fellowship, lol....don't ask me why....
so only after 21 years did i manage to discover the true identity of Boromir again and then The Silmarillion in its entirety, i had started it along with the other books when i was ten, but evidently i wasn't up for it then....
and i have yet to complete Unfinished Tales...but i'll get around to it one day [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 09-18-2002, 02:50 PM   #17
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D&D being the original, "you are a Level One neutral elven thief, armed with a butter knife; you have a ridiculous name because you do not know how to play this yet; your character will be dead in 5 minutes; you are in a 10' x 12' basement of a somewhat gothic looking mansion. Okay, house. An eerie light appears ahead. Boo, man, boo I say."

I wasn't usually able to play, as the irish twin that was slightly older I was the 'authority on hand.' My characters frequently wound up dying creative, humiliating retaliatory deaths whenever I lowered the boom on such unfair rules as: "no smashing grapes into the wallpaper" and "no putting the skinny kid in a headlock just because his 10th level wizard just brought an avalanche down on everyone."

Heh. My brother was pretty good at fooling people who were expecting magic with ordinary hazards they never imagined.

-Maril
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Old 09-18-2002, 07:37 PM   #18
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Thumbs up

On another note, red I believe misses the 'cut-off' by only a matter of months. Who here is willing to bend the 'time zone' for practicalities sake? They do it for cities split across time zones.

All in favor say: Aye.

"Aye!"

-Maril
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Old 09-18-2002, 08:22 PM   #19
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Engineers round up. Hi, red.
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Old 09-19-2002, 12:10 AM   #20
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Well, it's unanimous. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
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Old 09-19-2002, 07:07 AM   #21
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So where is he? Er... red, I mean.

OK, all you Pillars of the community, where do we go from here? First of all, I think Mith should start selling Wizard staffs or walking sticks for all us old dodderers. Maybe a specially embroidered grey cloak. What kind of unifying insignia should we have?

And now shall we discuss the impact of Tolkien's work on the aspects iof our own lives over that span of time? (In your answer, do not neglect the impact upon the following areas of your life: habitual, economical, cultural, sociological, sociopolitical, historical, and coffee-drinking. Be brief, concise and specific.)
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Old 09-19-2002, 08:00 AM   #22
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I am a SHE and I do not check the boards every hour, so please forgive me for not having responded yet, mark. I'll get to it later and edit this post here.

Ok, here's the story. My Tolkien adventures began in 7th grade (1985). I was not a reader then (I'm the Math/Science type). I only read when a book report was required and even then I grumbled about it constantly. The first 7th grade report was assigned and we could choose any book we desired. Our teacher had a big, circular table with piles of books if we needed help deciding. I looked over the selection and the only one that caught my eye was The Hobbit. Judging solely by the cover, it appeared to be the least horrible of all the choices. I took it home reluctantly and started to read it late one night. I was riveted!! The chapter about the giant spiders kept me awake all night in terror. (This is a good thing. Even now I partially judge a book by its ability to elicit some kind of emotional response be that fear or anger or sadness.) When I finished it, I was excited to learn that there were even more books about Middle-earth. I attempted to read LotR, but I got lost during the Council of Elrond and gave up for a while. It wasn't until my last year of high school that I picked it up again. That time I breezed through it, moved on to the Silmarillion, breezed through that... moved on to Unfinished Tales... you get the idea. I was hooked. I've lost track of rereads since then.

btw.. Nowadays I am an avid reader, but I still absolutely hate writing.

[ November 30, 2002: Message edited by: red ]
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Old 09-19-2002, 08:19 AM   #23
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Profuse apologies, red! Welcome. Please be assured I meant no offense. ( At least I didn't capitalise your name. )
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Old 09-19-2002, 09:27 AM   #24
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Silmaril

I on the other hand, do check them every hour, and am waiting with bated breath. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

-Maril
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Old 09-19-2002, 10:45 AM   #25
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Hi!! Count me in the ranks of Baby Boomer Tolkien fans. I read The Hobbit in 1971, my freshman year in high school, for an oral book report. I still have the hardback copy, with the green, blue and black cover. It cost $3.95!! I quickly read the Lord Of The Rings, twice! I recently read the Silmarillion this year, and though it was very informative, it was not the same thrill. Currently, I am listening to the BBC broadcast of the Hobbit on CD, from my local library. This is a fun "new" way to hear the story, including the songs sung and the funny voices. I'll take that walking stick!! [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 09-19-2002, 12:03 PM   #26
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Liriodendron,

I've finally decided to buy that BBC set of CDs for LOTR, basically for the songs. It's good to know that you enjoy them. I put together a list of celtic tunes to use with some of the LOTR songs, over vacation, but I'll take another set of tunes gladly.

Rimbaud, I followed your link to Keats. Thanks!! You inspire me; I think I'll go add a link to MacDonald into my sig.

Grace and peace, --Helen
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Old 09-19-2002, 05:46 PM   #27
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Hi Mark! When I read Tolkien, I have a bad habit of "gobbling" up the words to find out what's happening next. Often, the songs and poems are VERY briefly skimmed [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] Listening to the tape helps me take it all in, though between you and me, I think I could have done a little better on a couple of the songs! Oh, how I would have loved to have been the person to read and sing the songs for The Hobbit. How did the melodies come about? I really have a nice one in my head for the first dwarvish songfest sung low in the firelight at Bilbo's house. "Far over the Misty Mountains old".....Narating that book would have been some dream job!! [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 09-19-2002, 06:18 PM   #28
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How did the melodies come about? Do you mean for the ones on the CD? (I don't know.)

Have you seen this
thread on tunes & songs?

[ September 19, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 09-20-2002, 05:28 AM   #29
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Okay, ancient ones:
In all of your long years, what's your most memorable public LOTR moment?
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Old 09-20-2002, 07:07 AM   #30
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Well, giving that Hobbit book report was a good moment. I got "all excited" and started talking real fast and animated, and ended the report by blushing beet red and having a major hot flash. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] There is a woman in my central Indiana location who has a retail herb garden called "Hobbit Gardens". She has "new age" type programs and retreats, along with a lovely public herb garden and shop. It was exciting to see her at a garden fair last year and talk Tolkien (how did you like the movie etc.) in public, with a REAL LIVE person!! (an adult, no less!) [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
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Old 09-20-2002, 07:15 PM   #31
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Just a couple of weeks ago, a co-workeer stopped by at lunchbreak, saw The Barrow Downs on my screen as I at lunch, and said, "How's Bilbo?" For some strange reason, I about died; I blushed, stammered and said, "Er, Fine," and changed the subject.

If I'd had my wits about me I should have said, "Buried on a hillside in Tol Erresea. How are you?" But I didn't.
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Old 09-21-2002, 11:01 AM   #32
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*huffing and puffing and favouring left hip*

Huh. All these steps down to the nether regions of the Barrow Downs. I thought I would never make it, what with my arthritis, my rheumatism, my gout, my--oh, wait a minute. This isn't the RPG fiction forum. Well, yes *clears throat and assumes normal voice*

I was half expecting to be the eldest but find I am not. (Nods respectfully to her elders, pio, Child, Selmo, Esty? ) Nor am I of standing as the longest-read. (Nods to Mithadan, Helen, Cuthalion, ainur and the Elders). My history of reading Tolkien somewhat resembles that of Rimbaud and Mr. Underhill--not necessarily in one fell swoop.

Back in second year of university (we don't call it 'college' up here), I read the trilogy and The Hobbit, sandwiching them between such massive eye-strains as Clarissa, The History of Tom Jones, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Vanity Fair, Middlemarch, Dombey and Son and Great Expectations, The Fairie Queen, histories of Europe and of Canada from then till now, and Everyman and other medieval morality plays. (I'm trying to suggest that I nearly went blind reading that year and still read Tolkien.) So, as I was learning about western history's wars and narratives I was reading Tolkien's battles and mythology. But the reading was pure enjoyment and entertainment and true appreciation was swamped by eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome.

In later studies, I came upon academic Tolkien, his work in Old and Middle English, and then found On Fairy Stories. I was floored--truly knocked off my feet--by his perception, by his being able to get inside the narrative structure of fantasy in so perceptive a way. I remain to this day in awe of his intelligence and think far more highly of him than of any subsequent theorist in studies of narrative. I might have reread LOTR at this time and certainly debated the inclusion of The Hobbit in children's literature with friends. This was back in days when children's literature was not academically respectable. We didn't give a hoot for that.

Over a year ago I reread TH as background for a Tolkien RP with Gandalf the Grey and that led me on to LOTR again. Last November I reread it by my mother's hospital bedside as she underwent four weeks of excruciatingly painful tests and a horrifyingly rapid physical decline. About the same time that Frodo and Bilbo were sailing west with Galadriel and Gandalf, she was told to prepare for her own journey. I cannot begin to describe how this has affected my reading of Tolkien except to say with Child that it has assumed an astonishingly spiritual quality. I am only beginning to appreciate Tolkien's claim that he was writing about death. This past summer I was finally able to appreciate The Silm instead of viewing it piecemeal as encyclopedic sections.

So, what I would ask of all of you is: How has your reading or understanding of Tolkien changed or developed in your 18+ years of reading him?

Bethberry

PS. See--all those steps didn't wind me at all. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

[ September 24, 2002: Message edited by: Bethberry ]
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Old 09-21-2002, 12:34 PM   #33
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Quote:
I am an avid reader, but I still absolutely hate writing.
That goes for me too red! And as most of you have already figured out, I'm not very deep.

I don't seem to remember any public Tolkien experiences; I guess you could call me a Closet Tolkien Fan. I don't need people believing I'm any stranger than they already do.

As for any effects on my life, I guess the most profound effect would be the amount of time I spend on this board instead of with my kids. My son ,in particular, seems to believe that "Mom's lost it. "


Liriodendron, do you grow your own herbs? I love my herb garden. I have a wonderful recipe for herb bread you would like. My kids always beg me to bake it. If you have any recipes for herbed butter you could share I would appriciate them.
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Old 09-21-2002, 12:47 PM   #34
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Raefindel,

My son is thinking of retaliating by registering here so he can post with (against?) me. My daughter also views my time here jealously.
[img]smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img]

Bethberry

[ September 21, 2002: Message edited by: Bethberry ]
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Old 09-21-2002, 01:23 PM   #35
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Oh, I see! this is why we have formed an coalition (sp?) ahead of time! LOL!
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Old 09-21-2002, 09:29 PM   #36
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Yes! This Tolkien forum posting has added a new dimension to life! My daughter "wants her mother back" [img]smilies/redface.gif[/img], and my son and I "fight" over the computer! I'm not sure what my husband thinks, but he went to see FoTR with me and is somewhat interested in the story. He's too busy working himself to death [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] to read it. Maybe he'll get more hooked after TT !
Rae, I grow it all! Thank you for the recipe, I'll try it and let you know...You are very sweet! [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] I just read Tolkien more carefully now, looking for "goodies" I missed in my rush to find out plot. (in the past) I also read with an eye for a picture to paint or draw.

[ September 21, 2002: Message edited by: Liriodendron ]
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Old 09-21-2002, 10:30 PM   #37
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Lirio, me too! I've read the LotR a ridiculous number of times (about 30). But I was an artist, and was painting it in my mind, and so read it again and again and again..
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Old 09-21-2002, 11:09 PM   #38
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Yeah...How about Goldberry's Autumn washing day, or while listening to The Hobbit, I perked up at the description of Beorn's veranda, propped on wooden posts made of single tree trunks, still warm and filled with the light of the westerning sun. The sun makes the flowers that come right up to the steps appear golden. Little Bilbo sits on a wooden bench, swinging his dangling legs as Gandalf begins a tale. I can see that!! [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

[ September 22, 2002: Message edited by: Liriodendron ]
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Old 09-22-2002, 10:25 AM   #39
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To be honest with you, I only ever read the Hobbit once, 22 years ago. I remember very little of it. I really ought to re-read it, but I'm trying to struggle through the Sil right now.
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Old 09-22-2002, 10:34 AM   #40
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Raefindel, are you taking notes about names and geneologies and places? That really helped me. --Helen
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