Absolutely surprised I was, when during the first corona lockdown, I sat down, and started reading Tolkien’s Hobbit, and immediately thereafter The Lord of the Rings, almost without significant interruption, in days to the end. The Hobbit only on the Kindle App. The Lord of the Rings in the 50th anniversary edition of Houghton Mifflin.
I was always reticent to start, because I had viewed some pieces from the movies. I was afraid it was more of some fantasy war stories.
Yet it gripped my intention as a kind of bildungsroman, as a path through life, going through difficult periodes in life. And all with great attention to feelings, thoughts, misery and happiness, of the surrounding earth, friendship, and especially for the feelings of others. Most of all struck me of course Frodo, the young one, with all his doubts, fear, and still going on. And of course Sam, the best of friends.
I have read from youth much of the great world literature. As in all those novels there are human and social relations which belong to other times than ours. This book is written in its own time, by Tolkien has been, in his time.
And I think to feel constantly the horrors of WWI and WWII, even as this is not the attention of the author.
I read first the Kindle edition. That’s fine for making notes and quickly rereading the most beautiful and memorable passages.
But after that I read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in the beautiful 50th anniversary edition of Houghton Mifflin. Because I thought this is a book that was made for reading with all the senses, with the beautiful black cover and the golden text of front cover and spine. The light brown pages are gentle for the eyes and for the mind. It was part of the same feeling, the beautiful gentle book in my hands and the wandering with these wonderful friends, especially when they were wandering through their natural world, of trees, flowers, animals, and human beings.
I was reading as I did as a child, in an easy chair, with all other senses away from the rest of the world, completely living in a wonderful world of nature, flowers, plants, mountains, travelling, fear, horror, cold, but above all human heroism and human friendship.
It is wonderful story, because Tolkien recreates his own world, and shares it with us. Tolkien, Frodo and Sam and Merry and Pippin…