As I look forward to beginning another semester of PhD work, I decided to attack another series of books as I did with the Chronicles of Narnia in January. This time, our journey will take us to Middle Earth. We are going through The Lord of the Rings in six weeks. Each one of the three volumes is divided into two books, so we will spend one week on each book.
I was first introduced to The Hobbit in fourth grade. Our teacher read it aloud to us from a large, illustrated edition that I immediately fell in love with. Something about the world of Middle Earth spoke to me in that story, so after we completed that in class, I wanted more. Naturally, The Lord of the Rings turned out to be my next step. They are rather lengthy books for a child in middle school, but I devoured them. Keep in mind that this was even the year before The Fellowship of the Ring debuted on the silver screen, so it was not like there was pop-culture pressure if you will to read the books before I saw the movie. The movie did not exist at that point in the way it does now, so I was really reading the books because I wanted to continue the journey after The Hobbit.
I was trying to remember how many times I have read through this series, and I believe it is at least four or five. I definitely remember four, but there might have been one more I am not remembering right now. Either way, I have been through them rather often in the approximately 16 years since I discovered them. I find something new every time I read through, and in the posts you are about to read, there are things that stood out to me this time I literally never thought about before. In fact, the final post of this series based on The Return of the King which you will read in six weeks hopefully brought something up I had never thought about before and now want to research again the next time I read.
If you want to read along with me, you’re going to be reading somewhere between 150 and 200 pages per week. I don’t think it is that crazy of a reading pace, and I would love to have you come along with me. I will warn you that the first 50 pages of The Fellowship of the Ring are the toughest because it takes a little while to get the story actually moving. It is important background information, so you’re going to need it to understand the rest of the story, but I just mention this so that you are aware.
Also, I tried to write my pieces in the order of the story, but there are going to be some spoilers even on the first day of the week at times. Therefore, if you don’t want surprises, make sure that you read the entire book for the week before my Monday post. When I wrote about Narnia, you will remember that I focused a lot on individual quotes that were particularly powerful. That is not how I wrote these posts. They are more embedded in the narrative. You need to understand the story of The Lord of the Rings to see the power rather than have it all condensed into one powerful quote or passage.
For the rest of this week, I am going to delve a little bit more into how we’re going to be interpreting The Lord of the Rings as literary apologists. That is important to understand.