Posted by: Lizzie Ross | March 25, 2011

Mathom-house Readings

Arda

Yes, I’ve done it again. I couldn’t resist another stint with LOTR.

There’s something about immersing myself in Tolkien’s Middle Earth that gives comfort, especially when work gets frenetic and fractious. This time I did it without the DVDs (they’re far away, with my child at college), so at least I don’t have the added burden of film-music ear-worms to disturb my sleep. It took weeks for those to be dislodged the last time I leapt into this fantasy world.

I know this particular escape doesn’t appeal to everyone (my parents are divided on this, with one turning in horror at every mention of Hobbits, and the other rubbing hands in gleeful anticipation of two more movies — will they ever get done?).

Also, I’m starting to find JRR’s prose a bit ponderous. He has a very light touch when it’s just the Hobbits, at the beginning and end. But once all the elves and men enter the fray, the prose becomes almost biblical. On my first reading, 40+ years ago, I didn’t notice the stylistic shift. The story was too compelling (and I was possibly too young to care). Probably not until my tenth reading did it become apparent that something more was going on than just telling a good story.

You can see the change, even in Strider’s words. Here he is, talking to Frodo at the Prancing Pony:

You seem to be coming to your senses again, and that is all to the good. You have been much too careless so far. Very well! I will tell you what I know, and leave the reward to you. You may be glad to grant it, when you have heard me.

Then, after he’s become Aragorn and looked in the Palantir:

You forget to whom you speak…. Did I not openly proclaim my title before the doors of Edoras? What do you fear that I should say to him? … Nay, my friends, I am the lawful master of the Stone, and I had both the right and the strength to use it, or so I judged.

Definitely more kingly in the second speech — Strider morphs into Aragorn, shedding the ragged clothing and mysterious ways. I can almost see him rising into his heroic stance, as he earns his kingdom and long-awaited marriage to Arwen (what a tragic tale hers is!) through strength in battle and beyond. “Strider” is gone, replaced by “Telcontar”. Too bad, because I liked Strider better.

Yet, I still love it. All the high-speech, the grand posturing and manly struggle. It’s a bit silly and outdated sometimes (the well-known lack of female characters), but still so enjoyable.

Anyway. I’ve finished all (including the Appendices), and will set this series aside for several months, until I find myself dragged in again.

Now, what do I have that’s a bit more light-hearted?

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