Posts Tagged ‘tolkien’

Tolkien’s Writing

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Stories tend to get out of hand– Tolkien

Reading Humphrey Carpenter’s wonderful J.R.R. Tolkien – A Biography.  The story of his early life and evolution of his stories is fascinating. Some quirky influences on Tolkien’s writing:

  • The toddler Tolkien attacked by a terrifying tarantula in South Africa (1895)
  • Tolkien’s teacher trained his dog to lick its lips with the command “smakka bagms”
  • His fellowship of young writers which is broken by the Great War
  • The inspiration of the Kalevala mythology of Finland
  • A ‘nasty’ holiday on which he wrote a poem about a slimy cave creature named ‘Glip’
  • His friendship with C.S.Lewis, on whom he based Treebeard’s ‘hrooming’ voice

lotr

Link to all the Lord of the Rings covers.

From Seuss To Smaug

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Five years old, terrified on my first day at school. I sat on the hard mat and the teacher read Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr Seuss. I became so engrossed I didn’t notice my mother slip out. Horton the faithful elephant helped me get through that day.

Six years old, and absorbed in a cowboy adventure, Calico the Wonder Horse by Virginia Lee Burton. Gripped by this image of the Stewy Stinker crying in remorse for his wickedness – aware of my own naughtiness perhaps.

Seven years old, and Tintin was my role model for courage and integrity. The stories introduced me to sci-fi and humour, history and politics.

Eight years old, and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster opened the world of word-play to me, an addiction that remains today.

Nine years old, and I devoured Willard Price books as pulp adventures with erupting volcanoes, balloon rides and killer anacondas. I wanted to write books as exciting.

Ten years old, on the ultimate journey with a small hero facing the monstrous Smaug. The Hobbit kindled my imagination more than any other book. It was, as Tolkien said,

‘an escape to a heightened reality- a world at once more vivid and intense.’

Here’s the 1966 version that I owned, with a cover drawing by Tolkien himself (link to all Hobbit covers).

Reading is Empathy

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Research shows that far being being a means to escape the social world, reading stories can actually improve your social skills by helping you better understand other human beings. – Keith Oatley (The Psychology of Fiction)

Likewise, Tolkien believed that fantasy “offers not an escape away from reality, but an escape to a heightened reality”. When we read fiction we enter an imagined world, perhaps far from reality, but it’s the characters that we attach to. It’s this emotional connection with characters that provides an understanding of real life interactions. Children begin to develop true empathy for others from four years old and onwards – hearing and reading fiction enables them to walk in another’s shoes. An example for older children is Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor which shows the young reader something of what it was like to be a black child growing up in the 1930s; an incredibly moving story of hope despite hardship.

While reading, we can leave our own consciousness, and pass over into the consciousness of another person, another age, another culture. – Maryanne Wolf