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Old 01-30-2008, 09:38 PM   #1
Laurinquë
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The First LOTR Fans

As we all know, Lord of the Rings has varied in popularity though time, it caught on in the 1960's and 1970's, slowed down, then caught on again when they made the movies. What I would like to know is how many of you on here are old-time fans, the ones who first brought the books into popularity. If so, then I want to here all your stories of what it was like back then, when there were no movies and few people had heard of the books. There was no barrowdowns.com then, how did you meet other fans? What was fan culture like back then? How were you introduced to the books? I want to hear it all.
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:26 PM   #2
Ibrîniðilpathânezel
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Sheer luck, to begin with. I first read LotR in 1964, and at the time, the only other person I knew who'd read it was one of my older brothers (and I read it because of him; I wanted to know what was so fascinating for him). I was all of 11 at the time, and though I loved the book dearly, the next person I met who was even vaguely familiar with it was my English teacher during my sophomore year in high school. My best friend put up with me telling her about it, but she was put off by thick books at that time (she did eventually read it, but it was years later). The first fan of LotR I met was during college, and that was by pure luck. I was sitting in some hallway in one of the campus buildings, embroidering the White Tree onto a black shirt for a costume party, she happened to recognize what I was doing, and we got to know each other. She knew a couple of other people who were LotR fans, and they knew a few others, and within a year or so, there were enough of us to start that university's first science fiction/fantasy club. She happened to know about SF conventions in the region, and those were where I first met a LOT of LotR fans. The convention circuit was the easiest way for fans to meet and get to know one another, but it was nothing like things are today. The concept of being able to meet and talk with other fans on a daily basis wasn't even a pipe dream; we were lucky if we were able to meet anybody outside of town more than a few times a year. I know there are some "oldtimer" fans who long for those good old days, but personally, I like today's ease of communications a lot more. Yes, there's little meeting face-to-face, but there are so many more people, from all over the world, that it's vastly more fascinating.
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Old 01-31-2008, 01:13 AM   #3
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Wow...That is really, really, amazing. Think! People not knowing what LotR was! I cannot imagine that, but then I am very young and cannot even remember a world without internet! I can see that it would have been nice to actually get to met some of these people, instead of just guessing what they are like. Conventions! That would be awesome.
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Old 01-31-2008, 01:17 AM   #4
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Well, I didn't discover it until 1970 or 71, which was after the first Big Wave, but I hadn't heard any of it, living on a little Army base in Germany. I had checked The Hobbit out of the library many times, but since it was a First Edition there was no mention of a sequel. I don't remember how I learned of the LR, but when I did I had to special-order it (the original ugly Ballantines).
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Old 01-31-2008, 05:25 AM   #5
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I found Tolkien as a young teenager in 1961.
My younger brother brought The Hobbit home from school; I read it; I was hooked.

I quickly moved on to LoTR, borrowed from my local library, and then bored all my friends with my enthusiasm for the books. None of them were in the least bit interested.

The long wait for the publication of The Silmarillion was many years of torture.
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Old 01-31-2008, 08:26 AM   #6
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Back in 1973, my boyfriend gave me the four books (Hobbit and LotR) and said I simply had to read them. I've always been an avid reader, and though fantasy was a category which did not yet exist for me, I had read some science fiction (because of a brother who gave them to me and said I had to read them!) and lots of fairy tales, so I was quite willing to start.

It's a good thing I had finished all major projects for that semester because, aside from the bare necessities of life, I did absolutely nothing but read for the next three days. I was enthralled, and I know I didn't pay very close attention to the poetry and merely skimmed the battle scenes, because I was eager to continue. Can you imagine my disappointment when, all of a sudden, the book was finished?! I thought I still had half a volume to go, and there the rest of it was appendices and index! I'm not sure - it's very possible that I reread the whole thing immediately, just to get back to Middle-earth.

For Christmas of that year, my boyfriend gave me the Ballantine's red box with all four volumes, Tolkien's heraldic emblems on it, and Tolkien's illustrations on the covers, and Tolkien's words on the backs:
Quote:
This paperback edition, and no other, has been published with my consent and co-operation. Those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it, and no other.
That was the answer to the Ace publication.

I remember seeing a Tolkien calendar in a shop some time that summer, IIRC, and not liking the images, because they did not fit in with my own mental pictures. I've often wondered who the artist(s) was/were? I don't remember. Anyway, shortly thereafter I came to Germany, and over here no one had ever heard of Tolkien - even Lewis' Narnia books (which I had come to read about the same time) were unknown. I'm not sure just when the first translation of the books appeared in Germany. I became a lone closet fan, rereading the books occasionally (LotR more often than the Hobbit - I've come to enjoy it more in recent years than I did back then), and not talking to anyone about them.

The boyfriend faded out of my life, but the books stayed with me. When my children were growing up, I never read the books to them, because we spoke German at home, and I only had them in English. Later, when I found the translation and tried to read it, it could never measure up to the original, so I let it be. I was very excited when the Bakshi movie came out and was shown here - dubbed, of course (always a disadvantage!), but still, it was hyped to be state of the art animation technique. I went to see it, did enjoy it at least somewhat, and was again very disappointed when what I thought was only a break turned out to be the end of the movie! I can remember protesting that the story wasn't over yet! I never did get around to seeing the other two (RotK and Hobbit) animated movies, except in bits on YouTube these days.

Then, more years later, the Peter Jackson movies came out; I was in the States visiting family there, and went to see FotR with my siblings and several family members - nine of us altogether, to be exact! I very much enjoyed it, got out the books and reread them, talked to my family about it, read every magazine article I could get my hands on - and soon everyone around me was bored with my attempts to tell them what I thought and felt!

Somewhere I got the web address of a site that listed the best LotR websites; after combing through several of those, I checked out one of the "community sites" on the list. That was the Barrow-Downs; I started with the main page before discovering the forum - when I found the discussions there, I was hooked! Finally there were other people just as interested as I - as a matter of fact, even more interested and knowledgable! That was six years ago, and though many of the discussions that I found most fascinating date back to the "good old days", I'm still here and still enjoying it! I have been incited by the discussions to read the Sil, Letters, and many, many other books both by and about Tolkien, learning a lot from the books and the people here.

Meeting real life fans and being part of an internet community do not exclude each other. I attended "Tolkien 2005" in Birmingham, met Barrow-Downs members and members of the German Tolkien Society there as well as other international fans, and generally had a wonderful time! Then I decided to join the German Society to have that opportunity more often. Now I'm preparing (for the second time) a serious lecture for our annual Seminar, have sewn costumes for the casual get-togethers, attended Oxonmoot once, and met over a dozen Downers on my various national and international trips.

Dear me, I'm rambling like a geezer, aren't I?! I guess since you asked for "it all", you got it! For those who are interested in more tales from the olden days, I invite you to read the "Tolkien Coming of Age Club" threads 1 and 2. Over five years ago, I invited all Downers whose acquaintance with Tolkien's works goes back at least 18 years to join in reminiscing there, and though I have repeated my story here, many who posted several years ago have faded into memory, legend, myth even. Their tales are worth reading! Oh, and those of you who, like Ibrîn, have been Tolkien fans for over 18 years are very welcome to join us geezers there. We have plenty of rocking chairs to go around, and though things are slow, we are rather Entish beings and have long memories!
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Old 02-02-2008, 03:20 AM   #7
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That is amazing tale, how you must have suffered without any other LotR fans to pontificate with! I don't think I could have managed that, I might have "imploded" from pent up exuberance!
I would like to hear other Tolkien Coming of Age club members stories, i hope they pay a visit! I myself have been a fan for mere months, in fact I finished the less then a month ago (I read LotR first)! Really quite sad...
Oh, and no your not rambling Estelyn Telcontar, I love hearing this stuff!
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Old 02-02-2008, 04:06 AM   #8
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I'm glad you enjoyed my historical meanderings!
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I would like to hear other Tolkien Coming of Age club members stories, i hope they pay a visit!
You are very welcome to read the stories for yourself on the two threads to which I linked in my above post - anyone can look in! We've only restricted posting (not reading) to those Downers who have been Tolkien readers/fans for at least 18 years.
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Old 02-02-2008, 03:39 PM   #9
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Do I count as 'old time' then? I first read Tolkien in the early 80s (when it was deeply uncool, and the province of D&D fans, who were also deeply uncool then). In fact it is my silver anniversary this year...

There was certainly no internet then. I remember my first 'go' on the net was sometime around 1996-ish when my mate sneaked me into the University computer rooms because "this internet is brilliant and you've got to have a go on it, I reckon you can find anything on it, honest" I looked up Stereolab, F1 and... Tolkien. Even then there were silly numbers of sites. I didn't get home internet until about....oooh....2000? And that was considered luxuriously 'high tech'! How times change...
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Old 02-02-2008, 04:48 PM   #10
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I have previously discussed at length my early and later experiences with being a fan of LoTR http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthr...019#post531019
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Old 02-03-2008, 06:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurinquë View Post
That is amazing tale, how you must have suffered without any other LotR fans to pontificate with! I don't think I could have managed that, I might have "imploded" from pent up exuberance!
If it wasn't for me then you wouldn't be a Tolkien fan... You would've barely even gotten halfway through the Fellowship, if I hadn't made you finish it... And for me it's all you know who's fault(I won't say her name online) for making me want to read Tolkien.
On another note, I wasn't even born before some (okay, most) BDers discovered LotR... I'm young and haven't even come up on my 1 year anniversary on reading LotR...
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Old 02-04-2008, 03:40 AM   #12
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I certainly don't qualify as one of the first LotR fans and not as an early Tolkien fan either, but as I became a LotR enthusiast before the films came out and before I discovered internet, or at least before I discovered discussion forums, so I feel like I have a "right" to ramble here...

I was introduced to Tolkien's work in 1996 when I was only six years old. I saw the Bakshi animation and TH and LotR were read aloud to me, later followed by Sil and UT. I did not know any other people who liked Tolkien except myself, my father (who introduced me to it), my sister (who also became a fan) and a friend of my mother's. It really didn't bother me, I was so small that I didn't care about discussing about LotR deeply (only things like "who's your favourite character" and those could be well discussed with my sister) and I could always immerse myself in ME by playing ME with my sister. I also introduced several friends of mine to LotR - means I told them about the races and the places - and then we played ME together. My friends didn't totally grasp everything it was about, but they thought it funny and some even read LotR.

Mostly my classmates thought I was a bit odd. It maybe is no wonder as when they read those "I just learned to read"-books with big font and less than 50 pages, I read LotR. Later, too, they considered my fascination with LotR (and history and other stuff they thought strange) as something odd and abnormal and I didn't meet any fellow enthusiasts.

When the movies came out, everything changed. Everybody knew what LotR was about and suddenly it was much easier to convince people to read LotR. Not only did I either meet my current best friends or more or less managed to make them Tolkien fans back then, but I met other people of my age who liked LotR. I soon became disappointed, though, as they were mostly just interested in Orlando Bloom and had never read the book.

Then, some years later, I had become more interested in and accustomed to the internet and my English skills had developed into a satisfactory level. So, when I came across a certain forum, I registered - first just to ask a question that had troubled me - became hooked and have met lots of awesome Tolkien fans since then.

And I don't know if it's because the people who I socialise with are older, or because I hang around in certain sort of places or because the movies have raised LotR awareness significantly, but it seems I really meet/discover fellow Tolkien fans far more often than before in RL too.
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Old 02-04-2008, 08:48 AM   #13
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When I graduated from college in '71 I was sick and tired of reading only non-fiction as my major was political science and my minors sociology and history. I had just gotten married and my wife bought me a bunch of books to read over the summer and HOBBIT and LOTR were among them. I had a good friend who had read them and I would call him to discuss the latest chapters I had read. He kept saying that as good as I thought it was, it only kept getting better as the book developed. And he was right.

About the same time I worked as a recreation director for Dearborn Michigan and became friends with a guy named Tom Tataranowicz. We were both Polish Catholic kids with similar backgrounds and he was interested in both LOTR and antimation. He ended up working for Bakshi on a few films including LOTR and sent me a couple of hobbit cels.

I never went in for the societies or academic groups, but kept rereading the books every five to seven years. Bought SIL the first day it came out and read a bit of it in the car on the way to a Frank Frazetta convention in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania --- at least thats how I remember it.... it could have been a World Fantasy Con... who knows anymore?

Have read all the HOME and love the Jackson movies and am looking forward to the next ME films. I am lucky to have first US editions of HOBBIT and LOTR and lots of stuff from the films. My prized possession is a signed JRRT record album - POEMS AND SONGS OF MIDDLE EARTH which I bought from the collection of a rather well known New York city collector.
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Old 02-04-2008, 09:36 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lommy
I certainly don't qualify as one of the first LotR fans and not as an early Tolkien fan either, but as I became a LotR enthusiast before the films came out and before I discovered internet, or at least before I discovered discussion forums, so I feel like I have a "right" to ramble here...
Ooooh do I have a right to ramble as well? I was but 4 years old when I fell in love with LotR. Surely that counts?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lommy
When the movies came out, everything changed.
Indeed. I didn't take it like you did, though... I thought it annoying that LotR, that had been MY personal oddity until then, was suddenly known to all. I found it disgusting that all the boys in my school were suddenly playing Aragorn or Legolas in Helm's Deep, and pretended to know so much about LotR. I hated it. (Have mercy, I was, what, ten years old...)

I never really minded not knowing too many other fans. It was sufficient for me to have my sis (and her friends, and my dad and that friend of my mum's, for that matter) to talk about LotR with. Some of my friends have read it, most have not, and with those who have we rarely discuss it.
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Old 02-04-2008, 10:53 AM   #15
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I thought it annoying that LotR, that had been MY personal oddity until then, was suddenly known to all.
Oh yeees! I had exactly the same feeling (and I was older than you ). These silly newcomers just were not worth of Tolkien's world! (as if I had any more right on it than them) It even moved me to leave Tolkien's world behind for some time... and I returned to it only very recently, before coming to Barrow-Downs.

Concerning other fans, I am not also of the bunch who have the right to talk here, but I can say even in the 90's it was not easy to meet other fans around here. I did not meet many, but it did not bother me. And maybe it was for the best: I felt that I AM the authority among my friends who had some knowledge about Tolkien and that was a thing I liked
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Old 02-05-2008, 05:22 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenie
I was but 4 years old when I fell in love with LotR. Surely that counts?
Yes, you were 4 years old, all too small. You always said it was scary and wanted Dad to stop reading when it became interesting... (On a slightly more serious note, I think a very amusing occasion was when our dad was reading the chapter The Stairs in Cirith Ungol and she was scared and asked Dad to stop reading just a little while before Frodo says: 'You and I, Sam, are stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: "Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read anymore."' It was amazing.)

Quote:
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And maybe it was for the best: I felt that I AM the authority among my friends who had some knowledge about Tolkien and that was a thing I liked
Now that is a familiar feeling... I loved both telling my friends about LotR and seeing them starting to like it but never rivalling my enthusiasm and I also loved to brainwash my sister to like stupid races or characters - it was so annoying if someone had the same favourite as me, because they were my favourites.

Besides, now I even recall about half of the girls in my class playing "Gollum-tag" in our school yard. The chaser was Gollum and other people were fish and one person was The Ring and Gollum tried to catch them all, but especially The Ring. The rules really didn't make any sense, but hey, I was probably eight or something when I made it up and I'm quite proud of getting so many people playing it with me. And my poor best friend, she was always laughing so much at my Gollum-imitations that I caught her pretty often...

This thread seems to be turning into an unofficial nostalgia thread...
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Old 02-05-2008, 09:58 AM   #17
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I think a very amusing occasion was when our dad was reading the chapter The Stairs in Cirith Ungol and she was scared and asked Dad to stop reading just a little while before Frodo says: 'You and I, Sam, are stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: "Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read anymore."' It was amazing.
Being the dad mentioned I do agree with your verdict Lommy. Hilarious indeed.

But you were scared as well at least in the beginning Lommy. Do you remember when we read the part where the hobbits leave old Maggot's table and are getting nearer the Brandywine crossing... and then there's the smog and the approaching clatter of a horse... A Little Green was not the only one who was screaming...

~*~

My father started reading the LotR to me in the beginning of the 70's when it was translated to Finnish but he never finished it so I read it by myself a little later (after first reading a translation of the Hobbit which was heavily abridged and turned into a children's story with funny names etc.). I quess I was something like 9 then when I finally read the LotR, that being in the middle of the 70's.

I knew no one else who knew anything about Tolkien or his world. But it made it's mark to my games and fantasies. But I turned back to the works only when I was something like 15-16, in the 80's that is. Then I read the Silmarillion and later found out the UT - and I reread the LotR & Hobbit unabridged a couple of times in both Finnish and English. And there I was. Finally totally fascinated.

But I think I never made it to the "official fan level" as there were no others around to discuss it - except my then girlfriend (Lommy's and A Little Green's mom) who in the end wasn't as affected as I was. Quite the only discussions I actually had were with my mom who used to study mythologies and religions and we discussed the Silm a few times when I was a young adult (around 20 something).

Then I kind of forgot Tolkien for years going to the university and then to work to bring home the bacon for a then born family with two kids. And it was only when those kids saw a clip from Bakshi's animation that it all came back.

With Lommy and A Little Green I've myself gotten Tolkien back as well. First reding all that stuff to them as bedtimestories (yes we did read all: Hobbit, LotR, Silm, the UT) then playing table-RPG's with them after the divorce, coming up with our own ME inspired games and plays, waiting for the movies together, discussing them and eventually Lommy managing to speak me over to join the BD.

I don't know what to say. I do not consider myself a fan of anything as I find the idea of fandom quite alien to me (well, I could be a fan of goodness, joy, world-peace etc.) but I do love Tolkien's work and even more his world.

Just beware. One day I will actually find the time to read all those books over once again and not just check a thing or two from there to whatever purpose I need them. After that I will be flooding the threads...
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Old 02-05-2008, 11:14 AM   #18
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My dad's family were miners in Cornwall and then moved to the UP of Mighigan. By the time I came along, everyone had moved again down to Detroit to get jobs in the auto factories. Our family lived in a fairly tough but close knit urban neighborhood with too much crime. Families were happy if they could persuade their kids to finish high school. I remember a a lot of warm family things from my childhood but Detroit had so many problems....an auto industry starting to teeter, anger between management and labor, mistrust between people of different races and backgrounds, the riots of '67. and young people starting to rebel against the indifference and problems that were all around them.

I dealt with this situation in several ways. I was politically active but also buried myself in books by Nesbit and Lewis and T.H. White and read a lot of history. By 1961, I'd finished the Hobbit and, two years later, the Lord of the Rings. I was totally captivated, not just with the story but the original sources I could feel lurking on the edge of the text and the love of the environment that Tolkien so clearly incorporated in his writing. I read medieval history and literature with a serious vengence.

I started out as a solitary reader who had no idea others shared these passions. It wasn't until I went to college in 1966 that I discovered that I wasn't the only one who was batty about Tolkien. I attended a small liberal arts college in the midwest. As college students, we plastered Remington posters on our dorm walls, wore "Frodo Lives" buttons, baked bread from scratch and lived simply in communes, did tutoring and community work in inner city neighborhoods, marched, protested, and chained ourselves to the front doors of administration buildings on campus....a lot of good, a lot of bad, and a lot of craziness all mixed up. Somehow all these things naturally went together. I was part of the group that made JRRT scratch his head in puzzlement. We were so fed up with our immediate past that we tossed out a lot of the good with the bad, but the "bad" really needed to be cleared out.

One interest led to another and I ended up going on to to earn a doctorate in English medieval history. That would never have happened without the influence of both Tolkien and White. I managed to spend a lot of time in the UK as an au pair, a student at the University of Wales, and later on doing research at the British Museum, in the Public Records Office, and, most fun of all, in a few of the larger stately homes where there were peacocks strutting all over the lawn. (Definitely a new thing for a girl from Detroit.)

It seems that medieval history and lit attract a lot of folk who love Tolkien (or sometimes reading Tolkien sends them into medieval history and lit). That was true in the past and still seems to be true today. There is a conference in Kalamazoo. It's still one of the biggest medieval conferences in the U.S. I went to college in Kalamazoo when it was just getting started. I remember helping my medieval history prof set up the first panel on Tolkien and LotR back when I was an undergrad in the late 60s. That conference and the sessions on Tolkien are still going on today.
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Old 02-06-2008, 07:22 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nogrod
But you were scared as well at least in the beginning Lommy. Do you remember when we read the part where the hobbits leave old Maggot's table and are getting nearer the Brandywine crossing... and then there's the smog and the approaching clatter of a horse... A Little Green was not the only one who was screaming...
You should know I couldn't have forgotten that horror, ever. (And had you been following the Chapter-by-Chapter discussion lately, you would know I have not forgotten it... )
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Originally Posted by Nogrod
Just beware. One day I will actually find the time to read all those books over once again and not just check a thing or two from there to whatever purpose I need them. After that I will be flooding the threads...
I'm sure we're all waiting for that...
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Old 02-12-2008, 09:58 PM   #20
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I first read it in 1964 or 1965, don't remember which. That would make me 12 or 13. I read it in a bomb shelter that my grandfather had built in a small house in southern Minnesota (so basically, the middle of nowhere). I stayed down there almost continuously for several days until I finished LOTR. Read the Hobbit later. Definitely an epiphany on the first reading...
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Old 02-15-2008, 02:33 AM   #21
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I must admit that sounds very cool, a bomb shelter "in the middle of no where", and LOTR!
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Old 02-18-2008, 07:57 PM   #22
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The First Time

I was just born in the mid 60's, 65 so it was 1976 when I first read The Hobbit, and 1977 when I first read each of the LOTR books. Since then I have re-read them about once a year or so, finding them enjoyable each and every time.

I did read each of the HOME as they came out and have enjoyed the study of them. I have to say that the books are a major part of my life (literature in general is) and I have passed that on to each of my children. I guess that is not a bad legacy to leave to them.

However, Tolkien has set such a high standard for me in the realm of fantasy, that I find I am very particular about purchasing new fiction before reading it (thank goodness for the library). There's a lot of fantasy out now, since the 1960's and the 1970's, and a lot of that fantasy is badly written fantasy.
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Old 02-19-2008, 11:05 AM   #23
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I'm a fairly recent convert to the Tolkien fandom. In my childhood I'd hardly read novels; mostly comic books. Then I read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(borrowed from a friend) and that introduced me to the wonderful world of fantasy literature. Then I asked Mom to buy more Harry Potter books. One day she bought LOTR instead(not knowing what to buy) and I got ****ed since it was so long and tedious(I thought). Later I took the time to read throught it...and we were inseparable throughout the year. I then read the Hobbit ,the Silmarillion and other books. Now I have trouble pulling myself out of Middle-earth to focus on real world issues, like my studies...
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Old 02-20-2008, 10:16 PM   #24
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I've told this before here, but when I was 8 years old, my 16 year old brother read "Riddles in the Dark" to me. I was enthralled, and hooked. I devoured The Hobbit soon after. I think I had read all of The Narnia Chronicles by then, and was ready for this new, wonderful, and though similar, somehow deeper and better thing. It seemed more like our world, only centures ago.

I read LotR for the first time over a three year period, from age 10 to 13. I got stuck for over a year where Pippin and Gandalf are about to enter Minas Tirith.

I remember in 9th grade, I think it was, we had to give oral book reports in English class, and I had gotten so excited about another book that I gave an overlong blow for blow account of the plot, which the teacher finally had to "aid me" to bring to a close. The next time I was due, I was prepared to give mine on LotR, which I think I had not yet finished even then. Another student gave an oral book report on The Hobbit, so my ground was laid. So I went up there with all three (ugly 1968 Ballantine) volumes, and plunked them down on the desk as if they were monstrous tomes. The class groaned and moaned, expecting a triple overlong account of all three books. My report ended up being about one minute long. "Remember Susan's book report on The Hobbit? Well, in this three volume set, it turns out that the Ring Bilbo found is evil, and his heir, Frodo, has to get rid of it. This is the story of his quest to do so." Then I sat back down. Probably I was too short.

I remember during my high school years, at the local university, there was a pizza joint called "Bilbo's", and on the bathroom walls were scrawled such graffiti as "Frodo Lives" and "Tolkien is Hobbit forming", and so on.

I lived in my own Middle Earth world, and knew nobody else who enjoyed Tolkien's works the way I did, except for my brothers, who by then had left home for college. It was not until my senior year of high school, that along with Dungeons and Dragons gaming, a few high school buddies and I started playing an LotR board game and talking about Middle Earth for hours and hours. Those two guys are still two of my closest friends.

But the Downs has been a great place to take it to another level.
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