July 29, 2011

The Others - J.R.R. Tolkien

Who hasn't heard of Tolkien and his hobbits? Who hasn't watched the Lord Of The Rings trilogy? It's safe to say that both the author's name and the famous book title will sound very familiar to even those who don't read that much. While some might have resorted to simply enjoying his work on the big screen, others might have decided to actually read the books after watching the movies. And then, inevitably, there are those who realize that Tolkien is one of the best known fantasy authors out there, but were never brave enough to either read or watch his hobbits in action. That would be me.

Tolkien was not only the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Silmarillion, which form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda, and Middle-earth. What many don't know is that he was also a poet, philologist, and university professor too, yet to the general readership he is viewed as the "father" of modern fantasy literature with his epic trilogy. Immensely popular in the 1960s and the trilogy remained so ever since, ranking as one of the most popular works of fiction of the 20th century. And his popularity is not limited to the English-speaking world alone according to sales and reader surveys.

Apropos sales and reader surveys. I remember that some years ago I felt the need to read the Lord Of The Rings books, so I bought the book set and put it on a shelf. It stood there for quite a while. Years to be honest. About as many years as Tolkien needed to write his epic novel (more than ten years). Somehow I never managed to make myself grab the first volume, open it and start reading. Too many people had already voiced that the books would be wordily and lengthy descriptions of hobbits dancing and singing through the woods, which sounded pretty boring to me. I realized there had to be more to it and thought that maybe I could watch the first movie to see whether the story itself had more going for it than I feared it would. Let's just say that the movie almost made me fall asleep and I decided to sell the book set. While I'm in no way opposed to epic tales or the fantasy genre, Tolkien turned out to be one of those must-read author's I never got to know better. That's not to say his books are bad, who am I to claim such a thing without having read them? Maybe I also shouldn't have listened to all those voices telling me about the "ordeal" of reading the trilogy which made me rethink my decision to read and judge for myself.

Either way, I know there are lots of Tolkien fans out there. And in the end tastes differ and to each their own, right?


  1. When I started reading this, I thought 'I'm going to have to disagree with her', then I read a little further. Count me in as one who has never read the books. I've seen bits and pieces of the movies because Erich, of course, is a fan. When I went to a 'new' school in 4th grade, all my old friends were all about hobbits. I didn't get it. Still don't.

  2. I'm sure there are people out there who'll be shocked to read all this (except for the two of us at least), but not everyone can be a hobbit like Erich ;-) !