Saturday 4 August 2012
On Rereading Lord of the Rings
The first book I am going to read for the Classics Club is J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, first part of Lord of the Rings (I know technically it's all one book but I am counting them as three because I can!). This will be a reread for me, the second time I've read it and I'm hoping to enjoy it a lot more than I did the first time.
My history with Lord of the Rings started when I was about 10 or so. My Mum is a reader too and she recommended that I try The Hobbit, as she enjoyed it as a child. Her previous recommendations of classics had led me to some of my favourites, A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, so I was excited to try it. But I just couldn't get into it. Over the next few years I kept checking it out of the library every now and again, hoping to finally get what all the fuss was about, but I would always get about fifty or so pages in and then be defeated.
I think part of the problem was that The Hobbit was my first try at fantasy. I never was into big, world-building epics as a child so the book was completely out of my comfort zone. I also was conscious that it was an 'important' book and felt a bit guilty for not immediately liking it or being able to read it, which didn't help. Eventually I stopped trying with The Hobbit and thought that was the end of my experience with Tolkien.
When the films came out, I didn't go to see them or get caught up in the hype, I just assumed they weren't for me. But then when I met my boyfriend (now husband) at 17, I soon found out he was a big fan of the films. After much nagging and stalling, I finally watched all three in the extended version and was completely swept away by them. It took me some time to get used to the world building and different creatures (I still didn't read fantasy then) but I just loved the story behind them. I've seen the films countless times now and think of them as perfect comfort watching.
So it was with high expectations that I started Fellowship of the Ring the first time I picked it up. And coming from the films, I was honestly a bit disappointed (don't shoot me, Tolkein fans!). I found the book frustratingly slow moving and didn't appreciate the passages about nature or the history of the different creatures - I just wanted action! I finished Fellowship, and indeed the whole trilogy but my overall impression was underwhelming, I think I have them all as a 3 out of 5 on goodreads. If you asked me what was better, books or films, I would have said films.
So the time is ripe for a reread. I'm changing my expectations as I go into this book, I know it will be more slow moving than the films, and having read a lot more fantasy since my first try, I'm looking forward to reading more about Middle Earth in general rather than just the central characters. I don't mind a bit of meandering. Unfortunately I will never be able to picture the characters as anything other than their film versions but I'm hoping to experience the wider scope of the books properly. Wish me luck!
I know these books are special to a lot of people, what's your experience with Lord of the Rings?