30 Day Book Challenge: Day Five

Book you want to live in: Lord Of The Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

As if there were any other answer. Everyone and their cousin is at least relatively familiar with the story so I won’t bore you with a plot synopsis, but I want to share some of my favorite anecdotes about the novel’s publishing history. Firstly, although it is famously known as a trilogy, Tolkien wrote it as a single tome; one part of a two volume pair, the other being  The Silmarillion. It took twelve years to write and it was the culmination of Tolkien’s “Mythopeia,” a word he coined, which basically means a fictional style in which the narrative takes place within an entirely original mythology. Tolkien was a philologist at Oxford, and he drew on his colossal knowledge of linguistics, history, religion, myth, etc. He created a mythology and an entire metaphysics. We all know about the languages he created for the Elves, but he also had a climate and astrology designed for Middle Earth. I heard one story where Tolkien had to rewrite a passage because it described the visibility of a certain body of stars that shouldn’t be observable at that time of year, according to his almanac.  The man’s mind was a universe unto itself.

Not only is Tolkien’s novel immersive and impeccably structured, it kicks a lot of ass, too. There are dragons, trolls, goblins, orcs, hobbits, elves, dwarfs, wizards, giant spiders, Ents, and the Balrog. There are cities built into, on top of, under, and inside mountains; cities built in the woods; and houses built in grassy knolls. Tolkien is always invoking the beauty and power of nature (it’s often alive, as in the case of the Ents), which is inspired by his distaste and distrust of modern technology and industrialization. His universe is spirited in the way Schelling and Hegel meant, which probably has something to do with his Catholicism.

Reading the book, you constantly wish you were a part of the narrative. You get this feeling that, if given the chance, you would leave your own world behind without hesitation just for the chance of being a some nameless soldier eventually squashed under an Oliphant’s foot in the war for Middle Earth. In my entry on Ulysses, I mentioned that after finishing it, I felt a sadness I hadn’t felt since finishing Lord Of The Rings, and I really meant that. Recently, I read about post-Avatar depression, well I’m willing to bet post-LOTR depression is common enough to be included in the DSM-IV.

check out this reading from Tolkien himself:




~ by braddunne on June 19, 2011.

3 Responses to “30 Day Book Challenge: Day Five”

  1. So have you read The Silmarillion? The tales of Tolkien’s mythology are what really have hammered home the beauty and awesomeness of his world. I’m still a little hesitant to say I’d want to live in Middle-Earth or Beleriand, because they are lands constantly besieged and full of ruin and tragedy. But of course there is so much beauty as well.

    In short, great choice!

  2. I must admit, I haven’t read it. Although, once I finish my M.A., I plan on revisiting Tolkien’s entire canon. Looking forward to it!

  3. Gawd, 8 years after watching all 3 lotr movies and reading the books i still can’t get enough of it. It does provide me with some sort of haven when i went back to reading it in times of deppression. Thank Tolkien for his books.

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