Without A Legendarium

Rachel Port

Active Member
I've been going over old episodes kind of at random. In several places Prof. Olsen talks about putting yourself back in 1954, reading the books for the first time. Well, I didn't read them in 1954, but in 1966, soon after the second edition was published. (I had my old Ballantine paperbacks until a few years ago, when they just kind of disintegrated when I picked them up.) I hadn't read The Hobbit, so all that I knew was the world in LOTR and the more story-like appendices.

So what was it like?

It was like entering a new world, as opening a good book always is. And it was a very vivid world, with a lot of interesting people in it, and some very exciting things going on. I didn't care that when Gandalf tells Frodo that Aragorn is one of the race of the old kings from Westernesse I had no idea what that meant. It was another piece of information for me to keep track of as I went on and learned more about this new world. Like Frodo and Sam, I was on a journey into unknown places. It was exciting and scary and romantic and kept me riveted. For the time I was reading it, I lived in this new world. I could figure out some of it, I was less interested in some things than others, and if some things remained mysterious to me, that was okay. If I wanted to, I could imagine what was behind these mysteries.

That's what reading fiction is. I was 18 when I first read LOTR. When I was around 10 and read Anne of Green Gables for the first time (which has been mentioned in this class), I thought Prince Edward Island was an imaginary place. And for me, growing up in the south Bronx, it was. The imaginary worlds of Middle Earth and Prince Edward Island existed for me inside books, and that is magic.

Jim Deutch

Well-Known Member
My experience was very similar to yours. I was fifteen when this edition came out in 1973:
and I still have the remnants of all three volumes, but they are not really readable anymore. Half-decent copies sell for hundreds of dollars now! How many times I paged through them is hard to estimate, but it was certainly multiple dozens. Favorite passages even more times than that: the Hall of FIre, Lothlorien, Ithilien. . . The only appendices I didn't read as avidly as the main text were the linguistic ones: I'd have been such a disappointment to the Professor, had he known!

I still think we should adopt the Shire Calendar. It just makes so much sense...