Long Term Plan?

I was just doing some number crunching for fun. The result was less than fun....

According to the internet, LoTR has approx. 450,000 words (more, depending on whether you include the forward and appendices). Last week we spent roughly 70 minutes in actual discussion, on a single slide with 113 words.
At that rate, it would take a grand total of more than 3,900 episodes (76 years, assuming we never take a break). Adjusting for the shortness of the episode takes it down to maybe 65 years. So, what's the long-term plan? I love what we're doing but my life expectancy won't take me THAT far. We're only up to number 221.

Looked at another way, we have covered 14.4 chapters, at an average rate of about 15 episodes per chapter. The work has 62 chapters (I think), which works out to only 930 episodes and a total of 18 years. But there's SO MUCH poetry still to come, and a "rate by chapter" is thrown off by our incredibly hasty reading of the first two chapters. On the other hand, we spent over a year longing for lunch with Bilbo during the Council of Elrond. I didn't object (it's my second favorite chapter), but do we really expect to get through Lothlorien, Helm's Deep, or the Pelennor Fields any faster?.

In any event, 18 years is preferable to 76. How can we help the professor keep this within our lifetimes? For me, there have been a lot of diversions: Should Glorfindel be held to 21st-century liberal standards of animal husbandry, or should he have saved the Black Riders' horses at any cost? Can we redeem Galdor for his parochial comments? (Personally, I found both of those questions to be a failure to engage with the text on its own terms). Prof seems to want to set things up for the future - like the payoff he's looking forward to with Sam's interactions with Gollum - but does all the 'remembering ahead' mean we'll just end up covering the same ground twice? What is the payoff if it's 20-30 years in the future and we've forgotten anyway?

Bringing all this up because as much as I love the idea of a close reading, I don't think I can "catch down" to this pace forever. I'm hoping we can find ways to increase efficiency somehow.

Bruce N H

Active Member
There are alternatives. Mythgard academy covered FotR in 6 sessions (!), TT in 10 sessions, and RotK in 9 sessions. Or for audio Corey's Tolkien Class from Washington College is under his Tolkien Professor channel on Apple Podcasts - they cover Silmarillion, the Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings in 40 hour long sessions (along with some of the shorter works like Smith of Wooton Major and Niggle) - you'll have to scroll back to the spring of 2010 to find those. Or there are other read-throughs out there. E.g. the Prancing Pony podcast is 244 episodes in and they're at the point where Frodo and Sam are talking to Faramir, so they're going at about 4 times the clip that we're going in Exploring.

I do get the frustration. I love the close reading, but worry that sometimes in reading too closely we lose the thread of the narrative. But, OTOH, I just see this as a couple of hours a week to meet with friends and talk Tolkien stuff. So if we never finish in this lifetime, I'm cool with that. That said, I'm looking forward to meeting all of you under Niggle's Tree in the great beyond. Then maybe we can get Tolkien himself to join the chat and we can finally figure out the origins of orcs.


Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
Tomorrow is my 74th birthday. I once said I hoped to live to see the cure of Theoden. But as we've gone on, I wonder if I'll just get lost in Lorien. How long do you think we'll spend in Moria? It's not a question any more of how many classes per chapter, but how many per slide. I think we're proceeding in elven years.

However, I'm enjoying this microscopic reading, and the community here, and every so often I give my thoughts about something like what happens at the Cracks of Doom just for the hell of it. If there's an afterlife, I'll probably continue listening in, and who knows who I'll be able to continue the discussion with out there?
Yea, I kinda get the journey vs destination idea. And I DO like doing a close reading. I've done the PPodcast and Tolkien Prof things, they're good, I'm just hoping we can keep this conversation on the shorter timeline (18 years) vs the longer one (76). A journey with an unreachable destination just holds less appeal for me personally.
Forwards and prologues can go with Fellowship, and appendices can go with RotK. Unless you want to get really ambitious and have a separate class for those. Maybe on alternate Fridays. :cool:

Kimber Nelson

New Member
I also love the close-reading journey, have been listening to Corey weekly since before Mythgard, will be reading LOTR the rest of my life, and simultaneously think we lose something by reading so slowly that the book takes us 3-6 decades. I think we lose ability to tie together different parts of the story, ability to produce a website/text/etc that distills our discoveries for other and future readers, and many of us literally die in the process. I think some incremental changes could help us get in 1.5 hrs of discussion rather than 1 hour (plus the field trip), maybe getting us back to a 15-20 year timeframe which better meets those goals. Holding announcements to 5 minutes, since so many people involved are here every week and also in other Signum/Mythgard streams. Starting closer to on-time as Corey's kids grow up. Or could an admin do announcements prior to Corey arriving? A psychological approach to structuring a class could also be to put one more paragraph per slide (or intend to cover 2 slides) - humans tend to fill the time given with talk, regardless of how much material we are given, so setting forth a slightly larger chunk of material per class could help us cover more without any risk of rushing. Also, do we outlive the usefulness of field trips at some point (or every week vs monthly) - will have to see if the game makers keep producing more areas to explore?? Just some ideas for the hopper. I'm at Mythgard twice weekly and not going anywhere :)


Staff member
'Fieldtrips' will only last as long as LotRO does, and I would be shocked if that still existed in 18 years.