11 January 2022
I’m sat at my writing desk, with the biggest mug of tea imaginable (it must hold around at least a pint!) to one side of me, and my copy of The Lord of the Rings on the other. Elsewhere in the room, a pink rhubarb and pear wax tart is melting in the burner, infusing the air with the scents of orchards and vegetable plots and the harvest…all very apt as we begin our journey through Middle Earth in the Shire. To add the final touches to the scene, the soundtrack to The Fellowship of the Ring is playing softly(ish) in the background. And now I feel I’m ready to proceed with this week’s Tolkien Tuesday…
The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts
Funnily, after proclaiming which edition of The Lord of the Rings I would be using for this reading journey, I actually started with a different one:
This is a single volume of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien, paperback, large format, published by HarperCollins, 1996. It is beautifully illustrated by Alan Lee. And much easier to hold than last week’s featured edition 😉
This week I read: the Foreword and the Prologue, and made a start on Chapter 1, which I will discuss next time. I’m pleased to report the slow reading is going well so far, and I’ve noted that I currently seem to be reading with a writer’s eye…
There was much for a writer to take away from the Foreword, most notably that Tolkien wrote to please himself not a market, and his enjoyment of his own imagination and creation is clearly evident in his prose. Also, the book took as long to write as it needed, which is indeed encouraging for those of us who feel the pressure of writing to meet (self-imposed) deadlines. So perhaps we should let them go, if they cause more consternation than aid productivity…
As for the Prologue, I would highly recommend any (would-be) writer of fantasy to study it. Here is set out, neatly and plainly, and in a manner that is easy to follow, for both the author and the reader, the all-important foundation of the book. We are given a summary of who and what Hobbits are, where they live, how the Shire is ordered, how they fit into the wider-context of the world and how they perceive that world and the other folk in it. It is a brief history, a character analysis and the background for the story to come, all in one, not-overly long chapter. To write such a chapter before beginning on a story would no doubt help in keeping story facts and world rules consistent and ordered in the subsequent storytelling, if one usually have trouble with such things.
Middle Earth Musings and Meditations
This week’s musings were primarily focused on the nature and personality of Hobbits as Tolkien outlines them in the Prologue’s “Concerning Hobbits”. I came away thinking of them as being merry, joyful in spirit and prone to smiling and laughter. Quite simply, they are, on the whole, perceived as good-natured. I’ve decided, in this respect, I need to be more hobbit-like 🙂
After that, and inspired by the same passage as the previous musing, I began pondering on occupations and work in the Shire, quickly followed by handicrafts. Hobbits are described as skilful and adept at crafts but not fans of machinery – quite like me then! And when Tolkien mentioned hand-looms that got me thinking that I would like to take up weaving again.
I am a very crafty person (you can find my sporadically-updated craft blog here) – I knit, crochet, sew, cross-stitch, make books and jewellery, draw, paint and design. I have done a little weaving in the past, most recently when I learnt stick-weaving which is thought to be one of the earliest forms of textile creation (a lot of my crafting is often inspired by history and archaeology). As for loom weaving though, I have done hardly any, only making three coasters or mug rugs:
So, inspired by this week’s reading, I am setting myself a challenge to complete in 2022: to weave a scarf. I’ll share updates as I go a long…
I’ve still yet to decide how I want to “stock” my “Tolkien and Middle Earth” shelf on Goodreads (links to my profile can be found in the sidebar). However, I have started to add books that I already own to it, which would be included regardless of my final choice.
Also, I’ve spent some time flicking through David Day’s Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia. Much of the artwork included is quite different from the artwork often seen regarding Middle Earth.
The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:
Are you looking forward to the Amazon Prime Lord of the Rings series which is set for release in September 2022?
In a word, no. I could write at length as to why as I have a few misgivings, but one thing above all others makes me nervous, and it is that one which I will mention here. I fear it being no more than A Game of Thrones set in Middle Earth. If this series doesn’t match the tone of the books – the tone Tolkien carved out for these stories – I think it will be a terrible thing.
I do hope I’m wrong. I’ve seen some of the amazing names on the cast list which raises my hopes for the series and I can easily imagine them being perfectly cast for these roles, but ultimately, it will be the type of story, the style of storytelling and above all, the tone of the content that will make or break this series, for me.
Note: I have no problem with A Game of Thrones. Having read the books and watched the series, I enjoyed them both well enough. What’s worth pointing out is this: the tone and content of the series matched the tone and content of the book.