Monday, July 11, 2011

Re-Reading The Lord of the Rings for the First Time

I have a confession to make.

I've never read The Lord of the Rings. From beginning to end, I mean.

Now, now. Stop yelling. Let me explain.

You see, I've started each of the three books, and obviously, I've seen the films and the cartoons, and I'm pretty well-versed in Tolkien lore. I just...haven't read all of the trilogy.

But, as one astute reviewer from The Sunday Times wrote in the year of publication, "the English-speaking world is divided into those who have read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and those who are going to read them."

And people like me, of course, who have started and stopped while reading, but will one day (soon) manage to read them from start to finish.

Now, let me be clear here.

It's not that I don't like the books, or that I don't enjoy Tolkien's writing. Quite the opposite, actually, as I'll get to in a moment. The reasons I've failed in each previous attempt to read the trilogy are myriad, but they can usually be summed up by, "There just wasn't enough time in the day."

So, last week, figuring that I've literally never been busier in my entire life, I decided to pick up my copy of The Fellowship of the Ring and just start in on it.

Sure, after an initial hour-plus read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I've pretty much only had the time to read about 5 pages a night before falling asleep. But who cares if it'll take me a year to finish the books this time around?

As it's done in the past, Fellowship managed to completely engulf my mindspace from page one. I'm enjoying leaving the Shire once again and journeying ever onward.

Let's just hope it takes me less time to read all three books than it took Frodo to get to Mordor.


Khairul said...

I just ran a Google search for people in the same position as me and I came across this!

I eventually finished reading the Hobbit.
I finished reading the Fellowship on my third attempt.
I started reading the Two Towers and gave up.

My reasons are different from yours.
Although I'm a bookworm, I just DON'T UNDERSTAND Lord of the Rings (I need to watch the movies to understand it). Even after having just finished reading Fellowship, if you were to ask me to give a decent summary, I would have failed to do so.

This failure of mine really frustrates me. It's such a famous book, an essential part of every reader's bookshelf yet I cannot get myself to read it from end to end.

I feel like I have let myself down.

Flashman85 said...

Agreed! I read The Hobbit for school long ago, and I only made it to about halfway through Fellowship before calling it quits, around the point where Liv Tyler drowns the Nasty Ghouls in the Red Sea.

As you can tell, my reading comprehension is excellent.

My trouble was that there was TOO much detail; I lost track of the plot amongst all the meticulous descriptions of every little thing. Now, there's nothing necessarily wrong with that kind of writing style, essentially when you're pioneering a fantasy universe unlike any other up to that point (as far as I know).

I wouldn't be so quick to blame yourself; it's just as easily argued that this is a shortcoming on the part of the author, or that this book series simply isn't compatible with your style of reading. (I had to walk out on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for example, but that doesn't mean I couldn't wrap my head around it.)

AJG said...

Well, you are certainly not alone.

I've managed to yet again stall in my reading of Fellowship (those darn hobbits can never seem to get past old Tom Bombadil's house!).

Actually, I am a bit past that part, but I think I'll take up the suggestion to get the Trilogy on audio book.

I'm in the car for a couple of hours every day, so I can definitely finish the books faster that way.