- May 26, 2020 at 12:52 pm #3649328
Between other books I’m slowly re-reading The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Started with The Hobbit, finished The Fellowship of the Ring, currently about halfway through The Two Towers.
Anyhow, coming back to these works later in life, and especially with many miles and nights of backpacking under my belt, I’m really struck by the fact that so much of Tolkien’s work is essentially a celebration of nature…or relies upon nature to create a sense of dread and danger. I think it’s safe to say that 75% of The Fellowship of the Ring consists of nothing but wandering descriptions of the party journeying through forests, peaks, and rivers. And then there’s Tom Bombadil, living in Tolkien’s highly poetic and descriptive forest paradise on the outskirts of the Barrow Downs…
I find a lot of similar enthusiasm and energy in Tolkien’s written descriptions as I do in John Muir’s…I have to presume he spent considerable time quietly observing the outdoors as there are just so many minute details about the character of the land…May 26, 2020 at 1:22 pm #3649333
great books, I first read maybe 1966 or so. Just re-read last summer. Yeah, he must have had a lot of experiences in nature.May 29, 2020 at 3:06 pm #3649945Phong DBPL Member
Tolkien is great, and was an inspiration for not only my view of nature but to view life as a giant road from which all adventures spring. This viewpoint was really what inspired me to get out of my petty life and get on the PCT.
Some might argue modern fantasy…like GOT and Mistborn…are better but nothing has effected me personally as Tolkien.
Parents, if you don’t want your kids wandering the mountains in search of the Misty Mountains or Lothlorien…don’t let them read Tolkien!May 29, 2020 at 3:17 pm #3649951
I’m glad you see it too Phong!
Its also been an interesting metaphor in the time of COVID, especially the message that we do not choose the age and circumstances in which we live, but only how we will respond to them.
Ive been backpacking every weekend for the last month and can’t help but see my walks through the eyes of Tolkien to some extent.Jun 6, 2020 at 4:08 pm #3651377
When I first backpacked the glacial valley of Lamoille Canyon and saw small waterfalls off the sides of the canyon I was instantly reminded of Rivendell.
And when backpacking Pennsylvania’s 80+ mile Susquehannock Trail System (STS) I entered a gloomy ironwood glade and saw a mossy hand carved wooden sign that said “MIRKWOOD” with a warning to traverse it quickly to avoid the “creatures” that lurked there.
The Lord of the Rings often permeates and informs our view of Nature, whether we are conscious of it or not.Jun 13, 2020 at 5:14 pm #3652838Paul McLaughlinBPL Member
I’ve read a couple of Tolkien biographies, and am a big fan of all his books. He was a lover of nature but more specifically of rural countryside. Tolkien spent nearly all his life in England, except the first few years. If I recall correctly he may have visited the Alps once or twice but that was it as far as anything in the wild or mountainous way outside of the British Isles. It’s actually rather surprising to me, given the vast variety of natural environments he describes in his books, that his own experience of the world was not very wide. But his appreciation for nature shines through all of his works – especially trees, I think. He had a love for, and appreciation of the beauty of, trees that was very deep. There is a great photo of him leaning against the foot of an old tree that is the picture of him in my mind – pops up any time I think of him. It was either on the cover of a paperback version of one of the biographies I have read, or just one of the photos within.Jun 13, 2020 at 5:39 pm #3652843
I believe the evilness, Sauron and so forth was a metaphor for Hitler and the war was a metaphor for WWIIJun 13, 2020 at 5:45 pm #3652853MJ HBPL Member
You didn’t read his introduction, did you?Jun 13, 2020 at 7:18 pm #3652867
Okay, it must have been in the introduction:)
I’ve read those books many times. I like the maps. As I’m reading the book, go back to the map to see where they’re goingJun 13, 2020 at 7:45 pm #3652870MJ HBPL Member
The opposite. He did not like it when people saw his book as a allegory for World War II. See here.Jun 13, 2020 at 9:13 pm #3652880Tom KBPL Member
Nothing in this distillation of his life to indicate Muir-ian tendencies, FWLIW.Jun 14, 2020 at 7:06 am #3652910
Tolkien’s formative years included Hitler and WWII so that was bound to influence his books, regardless of whether he intended to be be metaphor for it
Regardless, when I read his books, I was captured and became part of the story in my head, well written.Jun 14, 2020 at 9:50 am #3652927Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
I read these books in 1965 as a teenager on a family camping trip through the Canadian Rockies. I’ve always associated those mountains with the Misty Mountains of Tolkien’s books…Jun 14, 2020 at 10:13 am #3652931Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western MichiganJun 14, 2020 at 1:32 pm #3652954jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
“Many men who are lost won’t stop and ask for directions.”
Mrs. TolkienJun 14, 2020 at 10:52 pm #3653047Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
“Tolkien’s formative years included Hitler and WWII so that was bound to influence his books, regardless of whether he intended to be be metaphor for it.”
Tolkien served in the infantry on the western front in WWI, the war to end all wars. Many of his friends died, and some came back damaged.
From Cambridge or Oxford, you can walk and get into the country and walk on signed footpaths that have been in use since the middle ages.
There also mountains in the UK, they just are not as tall and ours here in North America.Jun 15, 2020 at 8:33 am #3653087
his books seem more like WWI with trench warfare and chemical warfareJun 15, 2020 at 9:37 am #3653102Matt DirksenBPL Member
@namelesswayLocale: Mid Atlantic
If anyone is ever near the Forest of Dean in Wales, I highly recommend visiting Puzzlewood. Apparently Tolkien worked here in his youth, and may been a source of inspiration for him.Jun 15, 2020 at 3:28 pm #3653180obx hikerBPL Member
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
The Secret Life of Trees was such a revelation. Much of the same scientific information is again covered in The Overstory.
Trees are sentient beings.
Both bring Fangorn to mind. How did he (Tolkien) know?
Jun 15, 2020 at 3:53 pm #3653190
- This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by obx hiker.
Trees are sentient beings.
Both bring Fangorn to mind. How did he (Tolkien) know?
I love it. I was just having a conversation with a friend about the Ents, surrounding historical mythology, and contemporary views on the behavior of trees. It’s fascinating how much of a lag there is between our scientific appreciation of things and what many very, very old cultures have been telling us all along.Jun 15, 2020 at 5:18 pm #3653200
I like how trees communicate with each other. If one is attacked, it’ll warn it’s neighbors to prepare a defense.
But, they can’t walk around : )Jun 19, 2020 at 2:12 pm #3653968
Hmmm… well, the eagles coming to the rescue of the elves, dwarves and hobbits to me, at least, represents the Americans coming the rescue of England, and later most of Europe and Russia.
So I’ve always felt like Jerry, that his life experiences informed his writing, however subconsciously.Jun 19, 2020 at 5:25 pm #3654002Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
I read these books nearly 50 years ago. I read them for pure entertainment, nothing else. They were fun. All this interpretation removes the value for me.
Reminds me of some of the Beatles’ songs with all the dissection, playing songs in reverse, etc. Then Lennon and McCartney would say it was just making the words rhyme and be in meter with the music — nothing more. But some of their songs did have meaning, usually not hidden, allegorical or metaphorical.Jun 30, 2020 at 11:53 pm #3655619
Nick, the first time i ever even saw a Tolkien book (“Lord of the Rings”) was in 1966 in the Peace Corps in the Philippines. It was in a box of a dozen or so books some literary wonk in Peace Corps bureaucracy saw fit to include, and I’m so glad they did.
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