Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Fellowship of the Ring

I just finished rereading FotR in my annual(ish) reread of LotR. I finished it in the bath, actually, an incredible feat given that our water was mysteriously switched off this afternoon and was disgustingly muddy when it finally came back on.

I must say that this is, in many ways, my favourite volume in the series (though I'll probably say that about them all). While I'm all for considering the entire work as a whole, as I understand Tolkien did, they are divided into the three volumes and I've already considered the work as a whole.

I love this volume. I love the descriptions of the landscapes. I love the hobbits. I am a hobbit in many ways (though I do wish I could enjoy both cooking and gardening in a slightly more balanced, continuous way, rather than the off-and-on way I do now). I would probably fit in very well at Rivendell as well, devouring all those stories (I sometimes see myself as Sam, being tutored by Bilbo and getting completely wrapped up in tales), though no one would ever mistake me for an elf.

I find many parts of the book beautiful, occasionally sad and frequently wistful. There's an autumnal quality to this first volume, particularly as you enter into Book II with the death of Gandalf, the twilight nature of Lothlorien (don't ask me to explain that, because I can't) and the eventual breaking of the fellowship. It really does seem to be the ending of an Age (and, really, it is the beginning of the end of the Third Age of Middle Earth) and that is probably why I always turn back to it in Autumn.

This is probably the volume I reread most, particularly the beginning (except for the Tom Bombadil chapters, which I frequently thoroughly despise and skip without reservation) with the apparently idyllic Shire (how I'd love to live there) and the adventure and excitement of setting out - both on a perfectly lovely walking trip and on an Adventure. It appeals to me in every respect. If only dear old Carolyn Stewart (whatever happened to her?) had given me this instead of The Hobbit, I'd have been happier and Tolkienified (I just made that up, can you tell?) much earlier. I particularly enjoy rereading this after watching the movie (definitely my favourite of the three, almost without comparison [I'm very attached to the sections on Rohan in TTT movie]) as the depth and intricacy is so much clearer after that pale reflection.

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