Rejoice fellow Hobbit nerds, we can have our burning questions answered!
(When I read The Hobbit in grammar school, I wrote my book report in runes. I might admit, even, to having a rune font. Now. As a grown-up.)
When I was in the 4th grade there were three of us in my class that were reading far beyond the 4th grade level (standard tests had me reading at college level…I read everything. Breakfast table? Back of the cereal box. I went through three sets of encyclopedias cover-to-cover). Our teacher dealt with us by…giving us BIG Grown Up books to read. (it kept us happy and entirely out of her hair, and still stretched our reading skills.)
She gifted me with “The Hobbit” (but second after Sharon got to read it first…she was her favorite 8-P ) I devoured it.
MUCH later in HS I had an English teacher who basically ran her class as a ‘book report mill’ We were required to read like three books and write 5 page reports on them for the semester, and she provided a large cardboard box full of assorted paperbacks to choose from.
After week two, when I’d finished my semester of reading+ book reports, I got to…read just for the fun of it, and the Trilogy was in that box full of books 🙂
For years afterwards I re-read LOTR almost every year.
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OK, BDR, we musta been pals in school; that is almost exactly my story. I gave away my Trilogy to a friend who was a bigger nerd than me, when she was suffering from ovarian cancer.
True fact: I’ve never watched the movies because I was afraid they would wreck my memory of the books.
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[takes deeeeep breath]
Well I was a huge film nerd in HS too (my best friend had a button “Stanley Kubrick Is God” in 1974 ) so your MMV. Here goes my take:
The films are not worshipful word-for-word transcriptions of the books, but Peter Jackson is probably a bigger Tolkein nerd than you or I…AND is a masterful filmmaker.
The films faithfully and engagingly tell the LOTR story within the confines of a modern movie.
Tolkien fundamentalists will rail against the movies because liberties ARE taken, but those liberties (IMO, of course) make for a better story in the context of a film versus a book.
I thoroughly enjoyed the filmed LOTR Trilogy, cognizant of what was left out, and what made it in.
(Mainly: the entire Tom Bombadil story from the trilogy is poof gone as if it never existed, and the Scouring of the Shire was reduced to a transition montage between two scenes, and many other things are glossed over which makes some things not entirely clear. )
There’s actually a discussion of this in the extra features on the discs (my set is six DVD disks) where Jackson, Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens (the writers) discuss the wrenching process of deciding what to cut and what to keep.
Tom Bombadil was easy (it feels entirely like a bunch of pages stapled into the first book to meet a page count requirement ) IMO the Scouring of the Shire was a greater loss, because it is the recapitulation of defeating evil at the final end where it was the smallest, but closest to home.
But Jackson rather cogently explains that it all happens AFTER the triumphant Final Battle is won which is the natural ending point of the cinematic trilogy. Leaving it in would make the movie worse.
Film and Print are two deeply different mediums with different storytelling conventions. I think that Jackson bridged them about as well as anyone could have done with the material and the expectations of the fans.
Now the “Hobbit” film trilogy is a completely different kettle of fish…but The Hobbit itself isn’t nearly as serious as LOTR (and so, neither were the films, but Billy Connolly as a Dwarven Chief riding a war pig was worth the admission right there 🙂
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When I was in the UK on business, one of my colleagues took me to Oxford College (and he made sure I knew he did go there) and we walked around and went to a pub that was built into the side of a hill with a round-ish door, and the ceilings were low,I banged my head going between rooms and I’m not that tall; it was allegedly the oldest pub in continuous operation in England. As we were sipping beer (mine was “London Pride” and it was very Very VERY strong), I noticed that * someone * had carved ‘Tolkien’ into the table top a long time ago.
I know it probably doesn’t mean anything, but I like to think it does.
Reading The Hobbit in my grade school years not only made me fluent in reading and writing the runes from that book (which was just the Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet), but also led me on to reading the Trilogy. Once, my mother asked to borrow my trilogy for a co-worker of hers, and I never got it back; out of remorse, I got a replacement copy for a Yule gift that year, and, like brucedesertrat, got in the habit of rereading it on every winter break from school.
I also became fluent in reading and writing the elvish alphabet, and in high school wrote my class notes in English but using the Tengwar letters. Finally, in my college years, I dived into the study of the Old Norse language and literature, which put me nose-to-nose with a lot of Tolkien’s sources for his writings. I have an Icelandic translation of The Hobbit, and I have tried to maintain my knowledge of German by periodically reading a translation of the trilogy in that language – since I know the story so well, I can infer the meaning of unfamiliar words from context without having to resort to my dictionaries.
In my collection I have the slipcased editions of LOTR & The Hobbit, and also have a British edition of the trilogy in a single volume with the royal seal of Gondor embossed on the cover in gold leaf. I used to have a complete set of the Ace paperbacks (that’s the unauthorized version, which would command a considerable sum as collectors’ items), but they got lost in moving over the years. As part of my college education, I acquired and read quite a few of Tolkien’s scholarly books as well.
I guess that for some of us, Tolkien’s writings were a deep end we were all happy to dive into. I feel lucky to live in the same city as Marquette University, where the library houses the collection of all of Tolkien’s papers, drawings, manuscripts and first editions. Every now and then, there is a public exhibition of portions of these items, and I once had the privelege of being allowed to peruse the archive room where the complete collection is stored.
P.S.: I currently have fonts for Elvish Tengwar script, Dwarvish Angerthas runes and the Hobbit runes as well as for all of the historic Viking, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon runic alphabets.
Send the names of the fonts, please.
Asking for a friend.
Please keep any questions about Gimli and Legolas’ relationship tasteful!
(Ugh. I could never get beyond three pages of anything written by Tolkien. Not my thing!)
Like Dune for me. I loathe it to this day, but I will say that when I violently chucked it up against wall heater in college, the heater worked from then on out.
One Hundred Years of Solitude
I like Dune fine, although it is very dense. But as the novels went on, they became more problematic.
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NEVER try Ayn Rand.
I am chagrined to report that I made it through about a third of the Hobbit before I just couldn’t any more (probably age 8 or thereabouts) but managed to but [sic] my way through Atlas Shrugged except for skipping a good two thirds of that ridiculous monologue, which was far too repetitious. I think I was around 10 or 11 for that one? I’m pretty sure anyone who bought that “philosophy” would claim I just didn’t understand. But her ideas were clear enough, just delusional. The only way I could see anyone buying them was because they desperately wanted to believe they were special, and not the short bus kind of special, and Rand gave them something to hang their boorish behavior on. Still does, I guess.
Your comment on Dune sounds like my experience with Game of Thrones. Never watched, never wanted to. The first volume was pretty good, especially the part about Mother of Dragons maturing and coming into her own.
These day’s the three worst (set of) books I’ve ever read were (not necessarily in order) L Ron Hubbard’s Invasion Earth decology, Martin’s six volume tome on raping twelve year old girls and Atlas Shrugged/Fountainhead. The later, introduced as scifi noir, were the last I read in high school before dropping out of high school. In all I preserved in the conviction that I would, eventually, find something of redeeming value. I didn’t.
When the Mekons produced the album “Curse of the Mekons”, they had a friend who was Wiccan design the cover, totally written in runes. Not fake runes, actual ones. Emblazoned with a raven. Another friend pigeonholed the Wiccan, and said “did you write that curse?” “sure” “well that’s it for them, then.” “yep.” The record company refused to release the album and unceremoniously dumped the band in the middle of a shoestring tour of America.
Fascinating. So much could be said but, why?
Only quibble is Tolkien to Dune is apples to onions.
I remember reading these as a kid, but don’t remember much. I admit that I’m more a fan of the LOTR and Dune movies, but then again, I also have tons and tons of the action figures and memorabilia that I’ve collected over the years too. Hope your day is amazing! Hugs, RO
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