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?
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I likes the movies better than the books too. Like you I tried the books after seeing the movies and was disappointed they're so slow. And there are so many songs. I hope this time around things are better!ReplyDelete
I'll be honest, I'm only skim reading the songs, or reading them as poems rather than songs. I'm about 200 pages in at the moment and enjoying the book so much more the second time.Delete
I read them when I was in high school. I did enjoy the story, but I agree -- very slow moving at times. I read them in a row -- which might have been a mistake -- although there are so many characters and places, if you wait to long, you will forget. I would like to read them again sometime, from an adult perspective, but honestly I don't know if I will ever invest the time. The movies are so good, maybe that's all I need! Good luck! Hope you enjoy.ReplyDelete
Annette, I read them in a row the first time too but this time I plan to space them out between other books. I'm pretty familiar with the story, so hopefully I won't forget things. The movies are awesome :)Delete
These are among my all-time favorite books, but I understand why they're not everyone's cup of tea. I've read LOTR several times now, and one thing I've found is that once you know something about Middle-Earth, the slow parts seem less slow and pointless on each subsequent read. The first time through, I did get impatient with those parts, but I loved everything else so absolutely that it didn't matter in the end. But now after reading it five times or so, I love those slow parts for the richness they add. I hope the experience is the same for you. Good luck!ReplyDelete
Teresa, I'm about 200 pages in and I think I understand what you mean. Because I already know what is going to happen, I don't mind taking the leisurely route and getting to know more about the characters and history of Middle Earth on the way. I am getting impatient to get out of the Shire now though!Delete
I think I read the books before the films, so I liked them a LOT but the films are kind of extraordinary, so it's like... if I'd seen them first, I would have definitely been like 'book, why you so sloww? And why all the songs?' (my advice: Skip the songs). But yeah, I still sort of loved them, but then again I've never felt the need to re-read them that urgently either, so... maybe not that much?ReplyDelete
I wish I had read them before the film, but honestly don't think I could have done it without seeing the films first and knowing the story, I would have given up. I am skimming the songs but not skipping them entirely, lets see how long that lasts!Delete
Oh, and I hope you enjoy your re-read! Hopefully they'll do more for you this time :)ReplyDelete
I'm reading them for the first time as part of a group read. I'm on the 6th chapter of the third book. Honestly? They do NOTHING for me. One of those obligatory reads, I'm afraid.ReplyDelete
Have you seen the films? The books did nothing for me until the films introduced me properly to the story. Some books are not for everyone though, it's a shame you are doing a group read so you can't just stop.Delete
I have never read Lord of the Rings, which is just an absolute embarrassment for someone who claims to love fantasy. I've read and loved The Hobbit so I'm not sure why these books scare me so much. I didn't love the movies and don't even know if I've seen all of them. I think, like you, I might find them too slow moving or too fantastical for my liking. One day I will find the courage and commit myself. Happy re-read!ReplyDelete
I'm glad you enjoyed the Hobbit as I'm going to read that after finishing the trilogy (I know that's the wrong way round but I need to take it slowly by doing a reread first!). On this reread I'm actually enjoying the slow pace, I think my expectations were just wrong on the first read as the films are rapidly pace and I just assumed the books would be the same.Delete
I was 11 or so, when the first film came out. I loved it, saw it multiple times, couldn't get enough. I got my hands on the books (in English, no less) and got to reading. At the time I enjoyed them but did find them fairly slow. Within a few years I reread them in Danish. Same impression.ReplyDelete
Since then I've aged and my perspective is different when I reread books. I can't even get halfway through the first one now. It feels poorly written, boring and even childish somehow. The 3 films are by far my favourites over the books - the only books that have ever been beaten by the films IMO. However I really enjoy reading the Hobbit, and am much looking forward to seeing the 3(?!) films Jackson is making.
Iben, I'm looking forward to the film of The Hobbit too, I'm sure it will be just as awesome as Lord of the Rings.Delete
Sorry the rereading hasn't worked out for you. I'm actually enjoying them a lot more this time round as I'm expecting it to be slow and all the extra information actually makes the book richer for me. I know where events are going, so I don't mind the leisurely pace as much. But, different strokes for different folks!
Great post! I read the books right before all the movies came out, and I'm so glad I did. Yes, Tolkien does ramble on a lot, and about things you really don't need to know. But still, the books tell such a powerful story. I especially like the Return of the King where you really experience Frodo and Sam's slow, plodding, painful journey. Yes, it takes forever but that's part of the experience.ReplyDelete
I can see where the movies are better but there's also some cheesiness in the movies you don't get in the books. And the characters of Eowyn and Faramir are developed more.
I think the Hobbit has much less of the distractions of Fellowship and goes at a much faster pace. I'm having a hard time seeing how they're going to turn the book into three movies, but I trust Jackson knows what he's doing.
I really love the Lord of the Rings and I wrote a post about it just yesterday. If you have a little time you might want to read it, it is certainly enthusiastic and perhaps it helps you get along with Tolkien a little better.ReplyDelete
My adult son recently bought the Rings Trilogy movies on Blue Ray, so I know her really liked that collector's edition of the Lord of the Rings so many years ago.ReplyDelete
My mother read The Hobbit to me as a child and I wasn't that impressed so I didn't read LOTR until just before the movies came out. The movies are beautiful and I love them - but the book is special. I wish I had read it sometime maybe in my teens and had grown up with it.ReplyDelete