September 29, 2010

Multimedia Tolkien

What I’m Reading Today: More wonderful The Lord of the Rings.

When you find an author you love, in addition to reading everything they ever wrote, do you search out everything about them? I look for bios but also for audio and video and images. I recently reread The Hobbit, and now I’m rereading The Lord of the Rings, so I looked up John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.

Everyone called him Ronald ~ though he apparently was John Ronald at school and JRRT or Tollers at other times ~ and he had a day job like the rest of us. He worked as a college professor and philologist (linguist) at Oxford. Then he took what he loved ~ creating languages and worlds ~ and created this complex and timeless work of art.

An aside: That’s one of the things I love about being a creative writer. You get to follow your passion. This isn’t something you get to do in many areas of your life, and some people never get to do it at all. Not something to take for granted. You get to write about whatever the heck you want to. It may be a terrible freedom to some, in that there are too many possibilities, but I find it incredibly freeing. Whatever strikes my fancy.

So, I looked up Tolkien, and I thought I’d share some of what I found. First of all, there’s the wonderful Wiki bio on him. Here's an excerpt:

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973), was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature there from 1945 to 1959. He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.

After his death, Tolkien's son Christopher published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about an imagined world called Arda, and Middle-earth within it. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings.

While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the "father" of modern fantasy literature—or, more precisely, of high fantasy. In 2008, The Times ranked him sixth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". Forbes ranked him the 5th top-earning dead celebrity in 2009.
But I've found so much more!  Lots of images. 

This is my all-time favorite image of Tolkien because it was on the back of my copies of his books (image from here).

I love this one too ~ because it makes my heart ache for the young man who will have to go to war (image from here).

Have you ever wondered about the inspiration for Rivendell?  Apparently, Tolkien went on holiday to the Alps, and here's his image and a photo of the place in the Alps that inspired it (images from here).

Finally, this is my favorite image that Tolkien painted of his world.  (I love the fact that he painted images of it, and I love his style.)  It's of Bilbo in The Hobbit riding a barrel to escape the wood elves.

There is a bunch of audio of Tolkien reading from his books and also speaking Elvish and singing.  Isn't that great? Here he is reciting the ring verse.

Here he is, singing a troll song.

Here he is reading Elvish.

There was even a vinyl LP of Tolkien reading his work. You can go here to listen to some of it.

Finally, there are actually videos of Tolkien from interviews. The first (which I cannot embed) is a 1968 interview broadcast in 2007, and the second (below) is subtitled and he talks about his life.

Enjoy the multimedia feast!

Questions of the Day:  Who do you research and track obsessively?

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