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Like many readers, I first became aquainted with J.R.R.Tolkien’s Middle Earth by way of The Hobbit. I was just entering high school and had already been exposed to the soaring intrumental combinations and quasi-mystical lyrics of the Led Zeppelin songs “Ramble On,” “Misty Mountain Hop” and the iconic “Battle of Evermore.” Thankfully The Hobbit introduced me to a Middle Earth that was less imposing and magnificent than the one hinted at by Page and Plant. This tale set in Tolkien’s newsprung world was scarcely yet more than a nursery story to be told to the young during the reading hour. Of course the story was not without terror, adversity and pain—no fairy tale is—but the level of emotional courage needed to simply keep reading was not so high that I and millions of others in the years since its first printing were unable to do so. Of course, The Hobbit was just the first book in what would become Tolkien’s lifework—a multi-book journey spanning thousands of years, from the first fires of Creation to a few final notes scribbled in Shire accountings in the Michel Delving Museum. After I had read The Hobbit many times, I decided I was ready for what my friends had told me was the very much darker part of the story. Thus I began reading The Lord of the Rings (LotR) while I was clerking in an antique shop over the summer of my 17th year. My life would be forever changed.

“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence...”  I was so enchanted by those words and the five-hundred, sixty-one thousand, seven-hundred and sixty eight that followed I hardly remember anything else from the years I lived the book. That’s not entirely true—I graduated from high school, went on to junior college and 3 years at the University of New Mexico studying anthropology, made friends, had interesting jobs, found out about my biological parents, moved back home to a little wood-heated line shack from which I launched several failed careers including children’s book writer, illustrator and poet, fell in unrequited love at least a dozen times and watched my parents succumb to old age and death. During at least 18 of the intervening years I not only read the LotR many times, but also the “prequel” to the tale, The Silmarillion (not to mention the many annotated versions that followed).
I was an eight-year member of the Tolkien Society and my library still contains many biographies and commentaries of Tolkien and his epic. I learned to read, write and speak Elvish and finally, at the very last when I pulled myself out of that fictional world seemingly so much better than my own, I wrote a long poem describing my love for the Elves and the Creation of Eru Illuvatar. Let me go back to the beginning though, before I speak much more about the end.

We read books because the words therein allow us to travel into them. Our minds, our imaginations are so able to transport us to the world in a good book, some of us may have difficulty getting back to reality once the book is shut. So it was with The Hobbit  first, and later the LotR and Silmarillion. Tolkien’s words were so well wrought that I was with the Company all the way, making breakfast for thirteen dwarves, leaving home without a hat, transversing the Misty Mountains, conversing with eagles, and enjoying the rich honey from Beorn’s bees. The climactic killing of Smaug and the Battle of Five Armies were very real, as was the image of a peaceful Thorin laid to rest under the Lonely Mountain with the Arkenstone on his breast. And by the time Bilbo arrives home at Bag End to find his possessions being carted away after the auction, I felt a distinct sadness that the journey was over.

As I began LotR, I understood why the back story of The Hobbit had seemed so much larger. I knew I was starting out on a road leading to further places than Dale and Erebor. Do you get a physical longing to be a part of a story you are reading? Have you ever desired above all things--even food--to feel the hilt of a sword in your hand, the surge of a horse beneath you, to see such wonders as Tolkien described in such sharp detail? What must the view from the seventh level of Minas Tirith have been like, with the wind-blown snow of Mindolluin above and the silvery shimmer of the Great River below? How terrifying the vision of the Emptying of Minas Morgul, the antithesis of Minas Tirith and the Pelennor before it. So many wonders—night skies filled with mythical stars strewn there by the Queen of Heaven, one star an actual jewel made by a genius, stolen by Evil itself and eventually bound upon the brow of a mariner set into the sky to bring hope to a darkening world; a broken sword, a hidden house of refuge in the mountains, a being wreathed in both flame and darkness, an Elven woman bowed by over 7,000 years of history and redeemed by a refusal; oath-breaking ghosts, an old king brought back from the edge of shame to a bright day of honor, a warrior sickened by weakness in others and determined to die as bravely as her ancestors; two sons, one reflecting the heroes of old in his fine face, the other the covetousness of his father; a dwarf and an elf becoming fast friends—so fast that in the end they refused to be parted and thus, perhaps, they found the Straight Road together; ancient kings so corrupted by evil that the very horses that carried them had to be bred to the purpose; Little People secure in their green land completely unaware of the darkness pressing close upon the borders, and one among them, no, four among them somehow calling up the courage to make a journey into that very darkness with little hope of ever returning home.

Through all of these wonders winds a thread of fate. Bilbo’s finding of “the least of rings” unties this thread that had been knotted for centuries as the Ring lay hidden in the mountains. Gandalf recognizes that fate is playing a larger part in the story than some would argue. Accepting fate and doing what must be done is the challenge faced by every member of The Fellowship, and to a person the challenge is met, sometimes unwaveringly, sometimes only after deadly personal struggle. Summoning courage, Frodo tells the Council of Elrond that he will take the Ring though he knows not the way. Aragorn has lived a life of unending acceptance of his fate, and his brief flash of resentment is tempered with hereditary strength. Samwise accepts that his place is with his master, even if that means facing death with him in the fires of Orodruin. Gimli’s simple view, that he has come all that way merely to represent the dwarves of Erebor, becomes more complex as the journey continues, until finally he understands his purpose—to bring elves and dwarves together after the New Age begins. Boromir’s attempt to steal the Ring is redeemed when he turns the desire for power instilled in him by his father into acceptance of the nobility inherent in the bloodline of Numenor, something his father detested in Boromir’s brother Faramir. His defense of Merry and Pippin allows Frodo and Sam to do what they in turn must do—leave the Fellowship and strike out East into the darkness. Unquenchable hobbits Merry and Pippin are to lead the broken Fellowship into desperation and great opportunity. Gandalf says “They were brought to Fangorn, and their coming was like the falling of small stones that starts and avalanche in the mountains.” Gandalf was “sent back” to complete his part in a story that was thousands of years in the telling.
Throughout the tale, each character’s choices influences their fates. Even the reader is fated to follow each member of the Fellowship in turn,  suffering every wound, emotion and action, to the end.

It was to this end that I too stumbled in exhaustion that summer in the quiet coolness of the antique shop. Throughout the books, the reader is told time and time again that, no matter what the ending—whether Sauron was utterly defeated and Middle Earth saved from the Darkness or the Dark Lord triumphed and destroyed the last resistance—many things would come to an end. Even the destruction of the One Ring and the subsequent celebration was fraught with poignancy and pending loss. With the destruction of the One Ring, the Keepers of the Three Rings would lose the power they had used to preserve and heal the once splendid beauty of the Middle Earth they used to know. In effect, the magic of the Elder Days was fading just as the Eldar themselves would eventually fade and shrink to tiny fairy people inhabiting hills and trees, to be forgotten and eventually lost to humankind.

Now, just as drug use in later adolescence can trigger schizophrenia in those predisposed to the disease, loss and grief can cause the long fall downwards into depression for those predisposed to that illness. As a child it seemed to me that the world was a place of loss and that grieving was a near constant state of the heart. Adolescence being what it was, the introduction to such a place of monumental struggle, love and loss as Middle Earth seemed to wrap me in a cloak of sadness even as I walked that immense world and its beauty pierced my heart. When I was able to start another part of the epic story, the Silmarillion plunged me back in time to the Beginning, when Eru Illuvatar brought the Imperishable Flame out of the void. I both craved these stories and dreaded their outcomes, knowing after reading LotR that fate had already plotted the courses of so many soon-to-be-beloved characters.

Again Middle Earth was revealed to be a place of profound beauty, danger, sadness and loss. It took me the better part of a year to read the Silmarillion. Each piece of the story brought fresh sights to my mind’s view. Each mountain meadow, carven hall, ferny forest and windy height, the piney slopes, the flower-strewn, sunlit spaces in secret woods, rocky trails high into mountains since ground to sand, the ice and snow, the wild tides, all opened my mind to a world so large, so ancient, I would have to close the covers for weeks at a time to allow my own small life to go on. The terrible, fated sadnesses of the earliest days of Arda—all of the great love given to the works of their minds and hands by the Valar, the beauty of the Two Trees of Valinor, the Sun and Stars and Moon, the Children of Eru; all of the oaths, the anger, the terrible curse, the marching of gleaming armies against the Great Enemy, the downfalls of the golden children of high houses brought forth in the bliss of the Blessed Realm, the trothing of Elves to Men that would bring the songs of ancient times into the lives of the Shirefolk many millennia later—and all would culminate in the fall of Sauron, the dawning of a new age and the passing of so many beloved characters either to the Halls of Mandos upon the outer walls of the Blessed Realm, to the garlanded quays of Valinor itself, or to a slow decline into histories long forgotten.

Like someone returning from a long journey to a place once familiar, eventually I had to come home from Middle Earth. I still mourn the loss of Gil-Galad upon the slopes of Orodruin. The downfall of Gondolin, the passing of Frodo oversea, the separation of friends, lovers, brothers, husbands and wives, the fall of Numenor that so monumentally recorded the modern hubris of humankind, the lonely passing of Arwen as she laid herself down amid the elanor and niphredel on the green hill of Cerin Amroth, the fading away of the magic of Middle Earth—I mourn the loss of all of the marvelous things that Tolkien brought to life. Like the passing of loved ones from my own life here in the present day, those things I shall know no more until the breaking of the world.

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 05:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The scope of the LoTR is breath-taking. (22+ / 0-)

    And as much as I like the books, I think Peter Jackson may have even made the story better by including a lot of the info from the appendices, just as he apparenty plans to do with The Hobbit.  It is difficult for me to watch the extended edition of LoTR without shedding a tear, or at least experiencing a lump in my throat.  It's a powerful story about loyalty, friendship, accountability and serving your fellow man, no matter what your size or station in life.  I'm a big fan.  Thanks for this great diary!

    President Barack Obama; I helped make this happen!

    by PittsburghPete on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 05:22:05 AM PDT

  •  First read LotR (16+ / 0-)

    in middle school. I'd already read the Chronicles of Narnia, and at that time, the Earthsea Trilogy. Tolkien made me feel Frodo's flight from the Shire. I fell in love with the Elves and their sorrow in Rivendell. Lothlorien became a place of unsurpassed beauty.

    It was not until college did I meet people I could debate Frodo's heroism and the fate of remnant of Numenor.

    The only other series that had as profound effect on me was the Dune series. That's a combination - Tolkien and Herbert.

    Thank you for this post. It brings back wonderful memories of reading without distraction and feeling the Nazgul approaching. I'm miss that kind of single-minded focus of a book.

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 05:23:52 AM PDT

  •  You touch a chord deep within me (16+ / 0-)

    I don't know if you noticed, but my DK name is that of the fourth Chieftain of the Dunedain.

    I was younger when I came to the Hobbit and LOTR.  I read the trilogy over spring break when I was nine years old, and then at least once a year for the next ten years.

    I identifty with that feeling of being "in" the books.  I had a close friend, Mary, who was also a huge fan.  She and I used to stage trivia contests, which she invariably won.  But she hadn't trod the paths of Middle Earth as I had.

    For me, the effect was not depression, not that I don't have a low-grade tendency toward that at times.  The effect on me was that I preferred living in the fantasy to living in reality.  

    That tendency stayed with me for decades, and can still pop up from time to time.  It makes living responsiblly in this plane more difficult, from time to time.

    But I would not wish to be different.  What kind of life would it have been not to have trod the haunted halls of Khazad-dum.

    Magnificent diary.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 05:28:44 AM PDT

    •  Of course (5+ / 0-)

      I noticed! There are a few Tolkien names on DK--palantir being one.

      I agree with you about treading in Middle Earth. If I had not gone through the intense passionate emotions that arose while reading of that world, my life would never have been as it was, and is.

      I did live the fantasy for quite a while. My feet became quite calloused as I hiked around my little wooded countryside dress as a (male, as the females did not get to do much) hobbit. I even designed and had made a beautiful long knife etched with its name and set with moonstones.

  •  Elves, wizards, orcs, hobbits, and dwarves (12+ / 0-)

    Now that I have been educated by Tolkein,
    I see them everywhere in humankind.

    And it is ever so clear that the ring was created by corporations and needs to be destroyed by a hero with hobbit qualities who will throw it into the crack  of Mount Doom on Wall Street.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 05:33:27 AM PDT

  •  My Tolkien story... (17+ / 0-)

    Beautiful diary - I understand.

    When I was young - kindergarten and early grade school - I read all the time. I got away from life to a better life, if you see my point.

    School beat that joy of reading, of escapism, out of me. By the time I finished high school I wasn't reading or writing other than those assignments I needed to complete to get a grade.

    I started college undeclared, but actually as a Math/Computer Science major.

    In my freshman year, 1977, my sister gave me a Christmas present: that Ballantine Tolkien 4-set in the white slipcase. Bet you remember it, don't you?

    I put it aside, thinking it a terrible Christmas gift (I needed cash). A couple of months later, New England got buried by the Great Blizzard of '78.  trapped in my parents' house, I was going crazy. So I read the books.

    And I read them again.

    And I read them again.

    And I remembered. I remembered "The Wind in the Willows." I remembered my many "Peanuts" books.

    I changed my major; I fell in love with reading and writing once more.

    And here I am.

  •  "Hey! you gotta read this book." (12+ / 0-)

    So said my friend John-the-English-Major when I was 19 or so.

    Me: What's so great about it?

    John: It's about these little people who sit around smoking weed.

    True. Story.

    Long Live Eowyn!

    "I don't do cowering." ~ Barack Obama

    by NamelessGenXer on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 05:48:09 AM PDT

  •  Beautiful Essay! (12+ / 0-)

    Thank you, crose!

    I started Lord of the Rings in the late winter of 1965, halfway through my sophomore year of high school and just before the Christmas break.

    The memory of gazing at Tolkien's map and reading his introduction at the long-gone counter of Walgreen's Drugstore on Main Street during a swirling snowstorm is still extremely vivid today.

    Visiting Tolkien's Middle Earth was the most rewarding experience I got from delving into his books over the years. The old professor's sub-world really changed my life in so many ways -- from the the poignancy of his best imagery to the very good example of his deep scholarship given over to the service of telling an entertaining story.

    The international fad that followed Ballantine's "Authorized" reprints was very gratifying -- I can't count the number of people with whom I shared a bond on our first meeting because of Tolkien's great feat.

    ... Deficit reduction, as it is usually discussed, is a "give to the rich" agenda.

    by MT Spaces on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 05:59:29 AM PDT

  •  My First Year of College (12+ / 0-)

    I had read LOTR before college.  My first exposure to Tolkien was when I was in first or second grade and the local high school put on a stage version of The Hobbit.  The actor playing Bilbo was about seven feet tall and fought Smaug in hand-to-hand combat.  Still, the actor playing Gollum was memorably slimy, and the artwork on the promotional posters was cool.

    My Dad, an SF fan, picked up the Ballentine paperbacks with the hallucagenic covers around 1970; but he was not impressed.  I think he was put off by what Tolkien himself called the "Hobbitry" of the early chapters.  I plowed into them, however.  They became my favorite "travelling books" for reading during the long car journeys to visit relatives in the Twin Cities.

    But when I went to college, I had to leave my books behind.  I wanted to pack light and bring only what I needed.  After all, I reasoned, there was always the library.

    It was a lonely first year.  My two roommates belonged to a couple of the college's choral groups and were frequently gone for the weekend.  And about a month after I started, my Dad, who was a pastor, received a call to serve in another congregation in another state.  I frequently found myself alone in the dorm, without any books.

    Well, not without any books.  One of my roommates had Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant the Whiner books and the first two volumes of Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series.  I disliked Thomas Covenant, but read him anyway.  The Riverworld books were better, but the second one ended on a dreadful cliffhanger.

    Then, one day, I happened to look out my dorm room window.  Our room looked out over the roof of the Student Union, which was located in the basement of the Boy's Dormatory.  There, in the middle of the tarpaper roof, I saw a paperback book, lying amongst the scattered bits of paper cups and cigarette butts.

    I climbed out onto the roof to retrieve it, and found it was a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring, scortched and charred in spots as if it had come through dragonfire.  My guess was that someone had lit it on fire with a cigarette lighter and chucked it out the window on an upper floor.

    Needless to say, I resuced the book, and read it and re-read it.  That book became my friend during that lonely first year of college.  And it still has a special place in my heart.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 06:12:41 AM PDT

  •  What I found most intriguing and moving (9+ / 0-)

    about LOTR is that, even though it was so influential, the derivative works are invariably acquisitive--they involve a quest to obtain some object of value, and they therefore miss Tolkien's point in LOTR, where the most potent object in the known world is already held, and the hero's quest is to rid existence of the object, because its very power is a threat to the world.

    But having said that, I'm not nearly as interested in the events of LOTR as I am in the 4,100 years of tragedy and heroism that occurred after Melkor's release, ending with the deaths of Gil-Galad, Elendil, Anarion, and Isildur,

    Melkor, Feanor, Fingolfin, crossing the Helcaraxe, the three kinslayings (shudder), the Siege of Angband, the War of Wrath, the forging of the Rings, the War of the Elves and Sauron, Numenor's rise and Fall, the War of the last Alliance...

    Now that would be stuff that I would pay to see, but I don't think any studio is going to support filming anything that occurred 6,500 years before Sauron's ring was discovered by Smeagol. Though a nerd can dream....

    We must use what we have
    to build what we need. -Adrienne Rich

    by Xapulin on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 06:33:53 AM PDT

    •  The First Age (7+ / 0-)

      was horrible. The fall of Gondolin made me weep.

      I wouldn't mind seeing if someone wouldn't animate the First Age because there are very few people that live through the whole Age. The protagonist would have to change like in a mini-series.

      The Spice must Flow!

      by Texdude50 on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 07:18:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gondolin, yes, and also Nargothrond and (7+ / 0-)

        Doriath, each of which had their own very sad stories.

        (The character whose story moved me the most was Turin. I saw no reason for Tolkien to visit so much grief upon him.)

        A heck of a lot does happen in FA. There would be no way to encompass all of it. Dramatically, the main story thread involves the consequences of Feanor's oath. The main protagonists would be Feanor and then Fingolfin, and finally Fingolfin's grandson Gil-galad, who is High King by the end of FA. But you'd also have to include Galadriel, Beren, Luthien, Elwing, and Aerendil. Then there's Thingol, Melian, Dior...Oh boy. It's a C.B. DeMille cast of thousands, and that would be just for the First Age.

        We must use what we have
        to build what we need. -Adrienne Rich

        by Xapulin on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 07:45:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  To follow Galadriel (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Xapulin, Lorinda Pike, Dvalkure, RiaD

          through it all would be interesting--all of the FA from a woman's standpoint. Quite a first for Hollywood.

          •  A powerful woman, too (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lorinda Pike, jeanette0605, RiaD, Xapulin

            Probably won't happen.

            Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

            by barbwires on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 02:23:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Powerful, yes. In fact, not just (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              powerful, but the greatest of all Elven women, and I hate to even qualify it that way, because you can make a case for her as the greatest of all the Elves.

              Yes, we can also make cases for several others:
              for Finarfin, her father, who had the wisdom and courage to turn back and face the Valar after the horror Alqualonde,
              for Fingolfin, whose bravery was unparalleled and through whose leadership the Elves accomplished one of the greatest feats of all in crossing the Helcaraxe, who held the Siege for centuries, until (admittedly through a miscalculation) faced Morgoth in single battle and wounded him seriously, failing to kill him only because Morgoth was a Vala,
              for Feanor, unsurpassed in so many areas, as is said in the Sil: "For Fëanor was made the mightiest in all parts of body and mind: in valour, in endurance, in beauty, in understanding, in skill, in strength and subtlety alike: of all the Children of Ilúvatar, and a bright flame was in him."

              Even so, I can account for the motivations of every FA Elf except for Galadriel, an uncertainty that I feel because I keep returning to that moment when she had reached Alqualonde and stood on the shore watching burning ships while her uncle sailed away, and she made a choice that I have never completely understood: Rather than follow their father, she and her brothers followed their uncle, Fingolfin, over a landscape that promised brutal suffering and meant death for many, in order to rejoin their other uncle, who had just abandoned them.

              Why? She had not spoken the oath, and it has never occurred to me that she would fear even the judgment of the Valar. One can speculate, sure. One can say that she had something to prove, or that she had palantir-hard resolve (which I am sure she did), or that she had ambition.  Her motives have always seemed to me to be too complex to simplify in this way, though.

              What did she ever truly desire? Was it some power denied to her in the Tolkien-induced penumbra of male-dominated Arda? We receive a hint of this when Frodo offers her the ring. Perhaps it took her hard-won perspective--7,000 years of grief, loss, and sundered familial bonds--to give her the strength and wisdom to refuse to become the terrible queen that she could have been, but she did refuse.

              And then, after she sailed the Straight Road back to Aman at the end of the TA, to see after 7 millennia the father from whom she had parted. What might that reunion have been like? What might she have told her father? I imagine a meeting of happiness with a deep current of sorrow and regret, and that she might have admitted to Finarfin that she had learned that she had been wrong to go, and yet, that there was some good in that she had gone.

              We must use what we have
              to build what we need. -Adrienne Rich

              by Xapulin on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:30:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Absolutely. I've always (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lorinda Pike, Dvalkure, RiaD

            thought that she had a great story early on in FA because of her choice to follow Feanor even after the brutality of the kinslaying and even though she had to make the bitter crossing through the Helcaraxe (along with Fingolfin) after Feanor burned the ships.

            But you are right that we could certainly see her as a more central figure than she is generally seen. She was at Doriath, where she had a close friendship with Melian. She also visited Nargothrond to see her brother, Finrod. Moreover, all four of her brothers died in FA--two when Melkor broke the Siege, Finrod tortured to death by Melkor in his dungeon, and Orodreth at Nargothrond, where he had taken over for his brother.

            All of what she endured certainly illuminate how she achieved the deep wisdom that she became known for.

            We must use what we have
            to build what we need. -Adrienne Rich

            by Xapulin on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 02:23:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  But think (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Xapulin, Lorinda Pike, RiaD

      of the story! It could be such a revelation for people who hadn't gone through the Silmarillion. I would love to see it myself.

  •  Upon returning from Vietnam... (8+ / 0-)

    in 1971 I was introduced to three books by friends in the anti-war movement: The Teachings of Don Juan, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings. These three basically healed me mentally from what I had experienced in the Army.

    Thanks to your beautiful description of Tolkien's  works, I now understand why they did. Every few years I re-read them just to experience the peace they bring to me.

    Diaries are funny things Sam. Type one letter and you never know where you might end up. My apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien.

    by Caddis Fly on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 07:25:33 AM PDT

  •  I tried "The Fellowship" in 4th grade (7+ / 0-)

    and realized it was way over my head.  I waited until 7th grade and, one weekend, checked all three books out of the library, crawled under the kitchen table on Friday afternoon (it was the quietest place in the house) and didn't come out until Sunday.

    When I came out, I was different.  I had glimpsed greatness--a world so comprehensive in vision that it made me tremble--so overwhelming that it was then I decided to be a writer.

    Being surrounded by authorities throughout high school and college, all of whom pronounced Tolkien "trash," made me rebellious; unlike my peers, I clung to that vision of what great writing could accomplish.  I've seen it in Dante and Shakespeare; I've heard it in Coleridge and Chaucer and the Gawain poet, Dostoyevsky and Dickens.  That vision made a writer of me and, even though I got sidetracked for 20 years, I never lost that vision.

    Great essay, crose.  

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 07:37:22 AM PDT

  •  Thank you, crose. Evocative diary. (8+ / 0-)

    I found Tolkien when I was fifteen... It was a paperback copy of The Two Towers, and I had no idea what it was, or (at that time) that it was the second book of a trilogy. Hooked. Immediately. Found the other two, and the Hobbit...

    I stopped counting complete readings when I had traveled cover-to-cover ten or eleven times. I am constantly dipping in to revisit favorite passages, in addition to actually beginning at the beginning and reading as though it is my first time.

    It changed me also, and I am glad.

    And I'm not ashamed of the Elvish tattoo that I've had for twenty years now either...

    (-7.62/-7.90) .....It was their destruction. They delved too greedily and too deep... Gimli in Moria, JRR Tolkien

    by Lorinda Pike on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 07:58:56 AM PDT

    •  Elvish tattoo! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lorinda Pike, RiaD

      What is it of?

      Thank you for your comment. Everyone here seems to have read these books over and over. I too refer back when I want the exact wording of a passage or phrase I've half forgotten.

      •  My (well-researched!) initials in Quenya... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        lovingly inscribed on an ankle in deep green ink...

        From a distance, I'm told (by non-Elvish speakers) it looks sort of like the word "papaya"...    :-)

        (-7.62/-7.90) .....It was their destruction. They delved too greedily and too deep... Gimli in Moria, JRR Tolkien

        by Lorinda Pike on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 02:46:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I love these books beyond (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ellid, Lorinda Pike, crose, barbwires, RiaD

    all reason. They are as much a part of me as any of my organs. I stole them from my brothers when I was 10. Which means I had already read them at least once. Aragorn & Faramir are the standards I hold men up to (any wonder I'm still single?). I have a green, glittery dress I call my Galadriel dress... basically, if you don't speak Tolkein (or Wheedon-ese) I have a hard time communicating with you. This is a measure of my nerd-dom: in the late '70s, my friends & I used Elvish runes to write our notes to each other in school (English & German language, just the runes for an alphabet). I didn't need the appendix.

    •  Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anotherdemocrat, crose, barbwires, RiaD

      Aah, there you are! I am happy there is at least one other person like me... :-)

      (-7.62/-7.90) .....It was their destruction. They delved too greedily and too deep... Gimli in Moria, JRR Tolkien

      by Lorinda Pike on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:31:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Me too! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barbwires, Lorinda Pike, RiaD

        That was the standard phrase, instead of "have a nice day."

        I was never beautiful, so I dressed like a boy hobbit just like I dressed like a boy. If I had been beautiful though, oh so many dresses and cloaks and well, beautiful things.

        Thanks for your comments.

        •  I still have a (male) hobbit haircut... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          curly but more than a bit gray now.

          I always identified with Goldberry (I could live down Under Hill) or Eowyn.

          My favorite exchange:

          Aragorn: What do you fear, Lady?

          Eowyn: A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.

          (-7.62/-7.90) .....It was their destruction. They delved too greedily and too deep... Gimli in Moria, JRR Tolkien

          by Lorinda Pike on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 02:52:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you all (6+ / 0-)

    for posting comments. As I messaged aravir, I have a torn cornea and I got a call for an early moring appointment to check the progress of the healing, or I would have been here. Thank you for letting me write about how I wish I never had to come back from Middle Earth.

    "Say 'friend' and enter!"

  •  Beautiful diary...thank you! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorinda Pike, Dvalkure, RiaD

    I love the books, too.  Hubby has worn out a set of paperbacks and I bought him the hardbacks.

    I learned to read, write and speak Elvish

    My younger sister and her friends used to write in Elvish, but I don't remember if they tried speaking it.

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 02:30:07 PM PDT

  •  Read many times (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorinda Pike, RiaD

    starting at age 9.  LOTR was and still is a huge part of my life.

    Interestingly my mother was a linguist and scholar specializing in philology (like Tolkein).  I tried to get her to read him; she simply said it was too derivative and couldn't be bothered to.

    Maybe it is rebellion that I have now passed well beyond my hundredth reread.  I also have both versions of the books on tape; used them extensively when recovering from a long and problematic hospitalization.  There and back again, indeed.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 02:30:59 PM PDT

  •  We all wrote notes in dwarvish runes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorinda Pike, RiaD

    and had elvish names...I am still Halafiriel and my friend is Beruthiel - because of her pooties.

     I still write very private things in my journal in runes !!!

    Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be artists.

    by Dvalkure on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 03:07:59 PM PDT

  •  thank you crose (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorinda Pike, Caddis Fly

    stunningly wonderful -diary- essay.
    it's as if you read my mind. it is so. hard. to come back from middle earth, oh so very hard.

    with Tolkein it is true.....

  •  I sit here in a house full of books (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caddis Fly, Lorinda Pike, Ellid, RiaD

    and the Lord of the Rings is probably my all-time favorite.  I first read it in 65 or 66 and have read it multiple times a year every year since. In fact I'm due for a reread (hmmm it is going to rain this weekend - wonder how much the Kindle version is).

    It took me a long time to realize that Sam was the hero not Frodo. And the first time through, I was put off by the scouring of the Shire which has become one of my most favorite parts. It was the one thing I missed in the movies.

    My favorite quote though is from Fellowship:

    "You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin - to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours - closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo."

    I always considered that passage to  be the very definition of friendship.

  •  crose (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I know what it is, to long for Middle Earth. I longed for it before I ever read about it. Tolkein knew what he was about.

    Thanks for the beautiful diary.

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