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  1. #1

    On first looking into 'The Lord of the Rings'

    A question to keep us all busy while the client loads . . .
    What where when and how did you first encounter the works of our good professor?
    My experience:
    November 1968.
    I was 10 years old, at boarding school in the north of England.
    I came down with measles and was quarantined in the school sick-bay for a week.
    The headmaster's wife suggested I might enjoy 'the Ring books' as she called them, to stave off boredom.
    The spell was instant and long-lasting.
    Most potent memory? Looking at the chapter headings at the front of FoTR after a day of reading and being entranced by titles like 'Lothlorien', 'The Ring Goes South', 'Farewell To Lorien' and wondering what wonders the story had in store . . .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    1,645
    Mine was ~1982. I was at college and boarding, with 4 other students, in a house arranged for us by the company we worked for. One of the others had a Sinclair Spectrum and we all got together in the evenings to play it and I thought it was great, especially a game called Dungeon Master which I fell in love with; so much so that when I got back home I persuaded my father to sign for finance on one (I was 17 at the time so couldn't get finance myself) so I could have my very own. Not too long after getting it I came across The Hobbit text based adventure for it and bought it. The game came with a copy of the book boxed with it which I ignored for some time not really being a big book reader at the time.

    After I got bored of playing the game I eventually looked at the book and decided to read it at last. I thought it was a good book but meant for children so I didn't really bother to pursue a search for other works by Tolkien. It wasn't until quite a few years later that a partner I had at the time got a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring and raved about it so, when they'd finished reading it, I took it up. I was immediately hooked! I proceeded to get and read all the books of the Lord of the Rings and then went on to The Professor's other works - Unfinished Tales, The Silmarillion, The Lays of Beleriand, etc. - and loved them all. My favourite by far is The Silmarillion; I love reading all the history of Middle Earth in that book.

    From there I went on to read many other books of similar types by other authors so The Professor's works were responsible for me becoming a "reader" of books where I wasn't before (at least not fiction, I did read a lot of text and factual books).
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  3. #3
    My very first contact was in the last 90's, when I picked up Fellowship at a bookstore to check the summary on the back cover. I immediately put the book back down, thinking it all sounded quite silly.

    A few years later, in early 2000, I was in the hospital for a little while. There was a tiny collection of books there, among which was LotR. I'd vaguely heard that someone was making a movie out of it so I picked it up out of curiosity, but mostly because it seemed to be the least atrocious book available. I really wasn't expecting much from what sounded like a simplistic children's tale. But I was in a place of great pain and grief at the time, and I'll always wonder if that's why it made such an deep impression on me - even though I was reading the absolutely atrocious french translation.

    I kept reading it when I got back home and a few months later I bought the original english version and LotR became the first book I read entirely in english. To this day I can't figure out how I found the sheer obstinacy to go through it from cover to cover. Let's just say that my english-french dictionary became my second most treasured possession right then.

    I then tackled the Silmarillion, translated in french. Also horribly translated, accompanied by the wrong maps, and with swapped characters' names to top it all off (let's just call Turin Hurin half the time, for extra fun!). I had to draw my own maps and tape handwritten family trees next to my bed to figure it all out. And when people warn me that so-and-so author is hard to get into, I'm just like "I read a badly translated Silmarillion. BRING IT ON."

    My most potent memory is not of the text per se. Back when my boyfriend and I were still living in different countries, I gave him my LotR books to bring back home at the end of his second stay at my place. This, to me, was more meaningful than a piece of jewelry or all the promises in the world to let him know I was gonna stick with him. And when we finally moved in together after years of waiting, he handed me my copy of Fellowship of the Ring and we read in silence for a while.

    And I'll always remember that moment I dismissed that ridiculous book, back in that bookstore.
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  4. #4
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    Aug 2010
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    Plymouth , UK
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    Guys I must say that your stories are amazing. I feel bad because my memory isn't quite clear on my first look, its all jumbled for some reason(and I'm still in my twenties, better start writing things down).

    One of the unclear things is whether I read the books before the movies or the movies made me read the books. I also remember borrowing 'The Hobbit' and 'Farmer Giles of Ham' from my friends who were reading passages from them for their English elocution exams. I remember being scolded by the teacher for spending the whole of my time in the class reading those books instead of the passages from my own assigned book. Next comes getting membership of my country's largest public library just so I can borrow a very old volume of the trilogy, a leather-bound three-in-one that was almost falling apart. That book was so thick I it was very difficult to read without breaking the old bindings. The problem is I don't have a clue about the order these things happened in. Which book got me hooked on the professors work or was it the movies?

    I also found a copy of 'Sir Gawain and The Green Knight' in my school library, the only tolkien book there. I remember taking a look but was less interested since it was in verse.
    [i]"Aurë Entuluva!"[/i]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Land of Entrapment (come on vacation, leave on probation)
    Posts
    347

    Cool

    Great accounts indeed. I was introduced to Professor T's works in the Autumn of 1974. I was 13 years old, in the 8th grade and competing in a speech tournament. One of my opponents in the dramatic interpretation event chose for her scene the scene from The Two Towers (in RotK in the movies) where Samwise, armed with Sting and "the Lady's star-glass" faces down, injures and drives off Shelob.
    "Now come, you filth!’ he cried. ‘You’ve hurt my master, you brute, and you’ll pay for it. We’re going on; but we’ll settle with you first. Come on, and taste it again!"
    I was so moved by that scene watching that girl perform it that I determined then and there that I would get those books and read them. I told my mom I wanted them and she gave them to me for Christmas and from the first page to the last I was enthralled and enamored with Middle-earth. I turn 52 in a month and not a year has passed from then until now in which I did not read the trilogy at least once and many years I read them 2 or 3 times. When I discovered the Silmarillion, in high-school, reading that became part of my yearly ritual as well and a friend of mine I called Rockin' Dave nicknamed me JR in honor of my love for the works of the good Prof.
    "Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn." -C. S. Lewis-

  6. #6
    Great stories from everyone, thanks for sharing! I feel that mine is a little more lackluster, but I’ll share it anyway. It was about 5 years before PJ’s movie trilogy was made, and I was around 12, when my brother got a copy of The Hobbit. When he finished with it I dug into the book, and liked it a lot. In fact, in school that year we were allowed to choose our own book to do a novel study on, so it was the easy choice for me. I recall making a poster-board size ‘Shire Times’ newspaper LOL.

    Shortly after reading The Hobbit, we got our hands on the LOTR books. My brother would read the book first and then I would read it after he was done, and my Dad read them after me. I remember having read faster than my brother through one book, and then being very annoyed at having to wait a week for him to finish with the next one (a whole week – the nerve!). Reading LOTR really made me fall in love with Middle Earth — I marveled at the detailed history, places, and sheer depth of material that JRRT had created, not to mention being brilliantly written!

    Now I’m very happy to have found LOTRO and to be able to explore this vast world in a new way.
    "I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend," Faramir in TTT by JRRT.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by BCamlost View Post
    A question to keep us all busy while the client loads . . .
    What where when and how did you first encounter the works of our good professor?
    My experience:
    November 1968.
    I was 10 years old, at boarding school in the north of England.
    I came down with measles and was quarantined in the school sick-bay for a week.
    The headmaster's wife suggested I might enjoy 'the Ring books' as she called them, to stave off boredom.
    The spell was instant and long-lasting.
    Most potent memory? Looking at the chapter headings at the front of FoTR after a day of reading and being entranced by titles like 'Lothlorien', 'The Ring Goes South', 'Farewell To Lorien' and wondering what wonders the story had in store . . .
    Fab thread. Interesting a few of you read it when sick...so did I and then in subsequent years whenever I end up poorly, I reach for the book...

    1985 for me, was off school (sick) and my mum nipped into town to pick up some shopping. She brought me back a second hand copy from Ashton Flea Market - for 50p. The dust cover has long since perished but I still have the 1971 copy and it's my favourite to read - even next to the 50th Anniversary one and box sets I have been given as gifts over the years.



    Most potent memory? On that first day of reading, I scooted off about three hundred pages and couldn't put it down. Prior to this, the only book I had ever voluntarily read outside of school was Robert Leeson's "The Third Class Genie" so it was a big step that changed my life in many ways. I was suddenly 'a reader' and would devour anything with swords and dragons in it. Problem is I'm a fussy wotname so after Tolkien, I was very critical of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books - Mills n' Boon Fantasy - and only the Drizzt Do'Urden books appealed to my boyhood nature as being any good.

    Thank the lord for Terry Pratchett which are a class above anything else out there (serious or not) - and I doubt I would have found Pratchett if it weren't for Tolkien....

    If in danger from Red, Call Glod.....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Gallifrey. I need a Jelly Baby.
    Posts
    18,073
    High School in 1983.....

    Friend: Dude! You gotta read this book called Lord of the Rings! It's awesome!

    Me: Okay. *forgets about it*

    A couple of weeks later...

    Friend: Dude!!!!!! Did ya read it yet?????? You don't know what you are missing!!!!!!!!!!

    Me: Ok, I'll go to the library and get it. *but does it to shut friend up*

    A couple of days later in the school library......

    Me: W.T.F.??????????? Balin died in Moria??????????? *turns page to see what happens next*

    1983 until now: Read books once a year.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming "WOW, what a ride!"
    Continuing the never ending battle to keep Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in check

  9. #9
    My first encounter was actually not with the book, but the animated move the Hobbit from '77. I think I was maybe 10 when it was shown in school. Was so impressed I got my parents to get me the Hobbit book for a Christmas present, followed by the next year by the LotR. That took me 2 years to read as a 11-12 year old, but read about 10 more times since.

  10. #10
    Blame Stephen King or Peter Straub. I was reading "The Talisman" and Jack's friend Richard was going to boarding school. Jack was dismayed there weren't any fiction books, not even Lord of the Rings. I immediately went to the library to check out what in the world book could be called such. I was thirteen or so and dont' recall the year.

    since then, I read "History of Middle Earth" by Christopher Tolkien. I have most of the books.
    [charsig=http://lotrosigs.level3.turbine.com/0a20b0000000c4b15/01001/signature.png]Goling[/charsig]

  11. #11
    My very first exposure to Tolkien was my Mother reading the Hobbit to my brother and me. He would have been 7 or 8 at the time and I was almost 4 years younger, so probably about 4. I'm not sure I really understood it all that first time, but we asked her to read it to us again several times over the next few years until I was old enough to read it for myself. By then, my brother had graduated to the family copy of LOTR, and in the way of junior siblings, I demanded to read that one too. Again, at 6 or 7, I probably didn't understand everything, but I loved it anyway and have continued to reread it every few years since then. There was also a family copy of the Silmarillion which I tried to read when I was in junior high school and still too young. I didn't even make it all the way through that till I was much older.

    One of my uncles still credits his older sister (my Mother) with teaching him to appreciate reading by sitting him down with the Hobbit and making him read a few paragraphs of the opening chapter, then reading the rest of the chapter aloud to him. She once told me that she did that for the first 2 or 3 chapters till he got hooked on the story, then handed him the book and told him to read the rest of it for himself. When he finished the Hobbit, he asked her if there was anything else like it he could read, so she gave him LOTR. He told me that he could read before that, but he always thought of it as just another dull thing they made him do at school. It was reading JRRT that convinced him that there were things it was worthwhile to sit down with and read. He's still much more of a jock than a nerd (he's been a high school phys ed teacher for years), but he still reads when he can't be out on a sports field.

  12. #12
    My first "exposure" was a friend reading the Lord of the Rings in college and trying to tell us about it. we only listened enough to pick out things to use to pick on him. forward three years, I was in post-graduate school and scheduling gave each of us a month off at different times. So you weren't off when your friends were, it was too short a time to get a part-time job, administration recommended taking it easy since after this it was 2.5 more years without a break.

    So I decided to check out some of these book series that I'd always heard of and never had time to read because of school. I read all that month, but mostly recall the Trilogies - the Dune Trilogy, the Foundation Trilogy, the Lord of the Rings "trilogy". Dune and LOTR really impressed me. But I think it was the second reading years later after I was done with school and reading the Silmarillion that really hooked me.

    I'm pleased to say, that when someone asks my oldest son what was his first exposure to the Lord of the Rings. he will tell them how in the summer of his 12th year, I read the LOTR outloud to him. it took all summer. he was certainly old enough to read and enjoy it on his own, but I wanted to be able to explain some nuances when they came up. We finished a few days before school restarted. Maybe he would have had a different take on it, if he'd read it on his own, but we both fondly remember that and he is a fan to this day .

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Wow folks...you've got me time traveling.

    1968. I was doing a short stint in a foster home. The "dad" was an English professor at the local college and the family had a large book shelf of various paperbacks.

    I was 13/14 yrs old and had always been a reader. Mostly The Hardy Boys and stuff like that. I had never heard of any Fantasy lit. I had experienced a little bit of science fiction, but I don't remember what it was. HG Wells probably.

    I was perusing through the book shelf one bored afternoon and saw a title that caught my attention. Lord of The Rings.

    I pulled the worn paperback out of the tightly packed row and looked at the cover. I don't remember exactly what I saw, but it enticed me to look at the back cover which had a few snippets from various reviewers.

    Then I started into the first chapter. I think it was a Saturday and the "dad" was home. He noticed that I was looking at his books and asked me to show him what I was looking at. He said that it was probably a bit over my head and that ... I don't exactly remember what he said, but I remember having the feeling that he thought I should put the book back into the stack and go do something else. Don't get me wrong. These were really good people and took care of me at a time that I was really in need of good care.

    I put the book back and wandered off to do something else. But the bug was planted. Deep in my ear.

    It was probably 5 years later when I found the books again. For sale at some big-box book department. I didn't have much money back then so I had to be sure what I was spending money on was not wasted, so I scanned through the cover notes and figured out that there were 3 books. And that there was a sort of prequel.

    So I kept looking and finally found The Hobbit.

    Short story, long.... I have read aloud The Hobbit and most of LOTR to all three of my wives, my two sons and intend to do the same for my 3 grandchildren.

    To this day, my favorite thing to read aloud to a munchkin is The Mewlips.
    "Just like Mary Shelly, Just like Frankenstein, Break your chains, And count your change, And try to walk the line"

  14. #14
    I was 7 or 8 so that puts it sometime in 1981 or 1982 when I had my first look at it. I had read the Hobbit after having seen the animated Hobbit and Return of the King. Naturally I moved on to the Fellowship. I bogged down on that probably a hundred pages in and dropped it, probably more due to my own maturity level at the time than anything else. I came back to it at age 12, probably early 1987 right before my 13th birthday and I just devoured it. After which I ate up the Silmarillion, which is one of the only "tragedies" if you will that I've ever really enjoyed. I've read them all at least once a year since then.

    Most potent memory? The Ride of the Rohirrim. More specifically, the rooster crowing at the dawn that could not yet be seen and the horns of Rohan riding in answer. My skin shivered, I felt a tingle up my spine and in my scalp. I hurried very quickly through the Stonewain valley sequence to get to the Rohirrim PoV where they charge and there found the fulfillment of my expectation.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulkfather View Post
    Most potent memory?

    I'll tell you my most potent memory. Balin was my favorite character in The Hobbit and when I reached the chapter of the Council of Rivendell when the subject of Balin going to Moria popped up, I got really excited.

    When Gandalf and Co. finally made it to Moria I was wondering when they would catch up to Balin. Well of course they did but not the way I wanted. I remember being 16 years old reading that part in my school library and being devastated. It was like losing a real friend.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming "WOW, what a ride!"
    Continuing the never ending battle to keep Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in check

 

 

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