Or should you?? Today I’m looking at the September meme from the Classics Club which is as follows:
Rereading a favourite classic at different stages of your life gives you different insights with each reading. Is there one classic you’ve read several times that also tells a story about you?
I like this question. It made me really think. I’m not totally sure whether I came up with anything revealing but here goes…
I’ve read a few books more than once or even more than twice. I’ve certainly read Rebecca a number of times and also a few of Austen’s and Dicken’s works but I’m not going to use one of those as examples because I think I only had a few years in between each reading. I did read Lord of the Rings when I was about 15 and apart from the fact that I loved the story and the writing I also had a total girly crush on Aragorn – although according to the book he’s not exactly easy on the eye. I don’t care, he’s a ranger and he’s hot (in my mind). I then reread this very recently as a group readalong and I think if anything I actually liked it more. I don’t know whether that’s anything to do with the age difference, the fact that I just love the story or because I’ve watched the films (quite a few times). Yes, I still liked Aragorn – and you can all go swooning over Legolas in the movie but Viggo Mortensen is my favourite, but I think I enjoyed the writing a lot more this time and the dialogue – which the film has kept surprising close to!
I think when I originally read this I was hooked on the adventure, and, as I mentioned I did have a bit of a crush going on. More recently I think I was able to enjoy the quality of the writing and feel a little in awe of what Tolkien achieved. I admit, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I read one blogger, who was not a fan, saying ‘if you like to read a description of every leaf on the tree then give it a go’. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that but, and even as a fan, I can see where that person is coming from and I appreciate description isn’t for everyone. But, reading this again a few years later certainly didn’t detract from the experience for me. I also think I took my time a little bit more, admittedly that could simply be due to the fact that I wasn’t racing to the end to see how things wound up or it could be because I’m more patient now! Even if I’m not more patient I think the real difference is that I’m more prepared to read into things now than when I was younger when I was much more about the swashbuckling, swords and sorcery.
Did this have any lessons for me? I think I could appreciate Gandalf’s words of wisdom more this time around – particularly in relation to the fact that Bilbo had shown Gollum pity rather than killing him when he had the chance – he after all plays a big part in the journey. So perhaps the lesson is ‘fools rush in…etc, etc’!
Which leads on perfectly to one of my favourite lines:
“Fool of a Took, throw yourself in next time and rid us of your stupidity!”
This week seems to have completely run away from me. I’ve had a few days off from work and so was expecting to get lots of reading done and for this part of the read along to be a breeze but the best laid plans, etc, etc. So, I’ve only just caught up! I’ve not checked out everyone’s comments yet but will do so shortly – didn’t want to be influenced before I’d sorted my answers. Thanks to Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings for providing the questions this week.
1. The Glittering Caves of Aglarond; Fangorn Forest: Which of the two would you be most excited to visit once the war was over?
I actually like the sound of the caves but I think I would not like to be under the earth for any great length of time and so I would definitely prefer Fangorn Forest. I like the idea of exploring Fangorn, even though it’s very strange, creepy and old it still sounds fascinating. I love the descriptions of the forest not to mention the moving trees – you would go to sleep under a tree and wake up in the morning and it would be gone – you’d just be totally lost. (Well, maybe being lost isn’t such a brilliant idea – better remember to take lots of provisions!)
2. How did you like the reunion of at least part of the fellowship at Isengard? Did any part of it stand out to you?
I personally enjoyed the ‘part’ reunion at Isengard although I thought it was more low key than I anticipated. That being said I thought all the bits with Merry and Pippin smoking their pipes and foraging for food added a really good injection of humour. Yet again, I really like the way that Tolkien manages to make you smile. I think his ability to add humour is one of the big pluses of this book for me and stops it becoming too dark.
3. What are your thoughts about Galdalf’s confrontation with Saruman?
Again, I found this particular scene strangely low key. I think there was a decent build up of tension with everyone being warned beforehand about how to act in the face of Saruman but somehow I think I would have liked more flash and fireworks between the two wizards, although I suppose on reflection, they had already had a face off earlier on in the novel. For me, I think I would have liked to have had the satisfaction of Gandalf kicking some wizard butt (although I knew that didn’t happen so what am I going on about here??) Gandalf is clearly a lot more grown up than me!! And, he just took it all in his stride.
4. We learn a great deal about the Palantir in this section. How do you feel about Saruman given Gandalf’s speech about the use of the Palantir? Would you, like Pippen, be tempted to look in to see what you could see?
I think Saruman showed a surprising lack of common sense throughout the novel not to mention a huge amount of arrogance. The very notion that he was going to side with Sauron is just naïve to the maximum given all his years’ of experience and what he knows of the enemy and also there is this element to his behaviour where he actually believes he can get the better of Sauron which again just seems unbelievable. It makes you see though that not only Boromir succumbed to the power of the ring after all. I think I would be tempted to look into the Palantir but I don’t think I would have had the nerve to go and take it from under Gandalf’s nose! But, in the end, Pippin’s mistake probably turned out more helpful than harmful and also saved Gandalf from a potentially dangerous confrontation.
5. What are your thoughts about Smeagol/Gollum in this first part of his journey leading Frodo and Sam? For those of you who’ve seen the film, are you hearing Andy Serkis in your head when you read Gollum’s lines?
Strange as it may seem I can’t help but like Gollum. He certainly has a one track mind and pursues his own goal relentlessly – it’s a pity he’s such a strange and lonesome little critter – he could really be quite helpful to have on your team, he virtually doesn’t need to eat or sleep, he’s dedicated and he’s an adept tracker! I also can’t help just reading all Gollum’s lines in the voice of Andy Serkis. I think he just made the role his own and it’s now impossible for me to imagine this character in any other way. Again, I like the way that Gollum manages to add quite a bit of light heartedness with his little songs, his sulking and his comical dialogue – ‘give me fish now, and keep nasty chips!’
6. Sam and Frodo are not traveling in the most picturesque part of Middle-earth. Which would you find worse, the seemingly impossible to leave mountains or the Dead Marshes?
No thought necessary for this one – I would find the mountains the worse. I don’t have any head for heights and the notion of having to peer over the edge of a cliff or scale down it brings out the goosebumps for me! Give me the marshes any day! Plus, imagine having to sleep on the side of a mountain – I’d probably roll over the edge during a dream or something. Terra firm is definitely my choice, boggy and full of dead people and strange lights or not!
7. Tolkien introduces us to a lot of places in this section of The Two Towers, many just getting a mention in passing. What do you think of Tolkien’s place names (Minas Morgul, Isengard, the Emyn Muil, and on and on)? Do any stand out to you? Are there any that you don’t care for?
I think Tolkien did a great job of naming such a lot of places – I genuinely don’t know how he did it because I think it’s not as easy as it sounds coming up with random names. Also, I feel that his name places quite often give a strange sense of what the place is going to be like – although I would say that because I’m already familiar. But, just by way of example, the Shire, you imagine this to be farmlands, rich and green with cottages, Rivendell – lots of water and falls, Fangorn – just sounds creepy as though the forest has teeth (I know I’m being overly simple here!!). But, I think Tolkien does a great job of not just conjuring the places but also naming them – he makes it look easy.
Thanks Carl for the questions this week.
Other blog conversations can be found at:
Finally finished Book No.1. Really enjoying the experience of rereading this, particularly with all the discussion. So, I won’t do a recap because I’m already so late with this post!!
This time the discussion starter points were conjured byAndrea at the Little Red Reviewer. Other discussion posts are at:
Stainless Steel Droppings
Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
The Written World
Sorry if I’ve missed anybody off or if the link is incorrect – let me know if so. Ta!
Gandalf and the Balrog, just Wow. Just a short scene, but oh so intense! With their mentor gone, how will the group go on? Even when they do reach Lothlorien, no one seems to know how to get where they are going. They had been dependent on Gandalf making the decisions, and now he is gone.
I really though the whole Balrog scene was brilliant – even though it obviously ends on such a sad note. Gandalf is brilliant – it’s only a short speech but it made my pulse race ‘I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udon. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass’. Couldn’t help that! Back to the point. After Gandalf was gone I felt like the group really floundered. They were full of sorrow and just so unsure of what to do next, even Aragorn seemed at a loss and I felt that continued until Frodo reached his own decision at the end. It’s sort of a sad note to end on really because I like reading about the Fellowship and the rest of the book obviously takes a much darker turn.
Galadriel and her Ring. She knows the Ring of power must be destroyed, but with it’s destruction comes the de-powering (is that a word?) of her Ring as well. The Elves must leave Middle Earth or forget who and what they are. For her, this is a no win situation. Frodo’s success effectively means the banishment of the Elves in Middle Earth. I wonder if that makes him more likely to do everything in his power to succeed, or less?
It’s a tough one. There are no easy choices in this book. Somebody always seems to be at risk but I suppose with the Elves this was never really their true home and though they were sad to an extent I also felt they would be glad to return to their own people. I loved the scene with Galadriel and I’m almost dying to quote my favourite of her lines but best not! Except this one – ‘I pass the test, I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel’. So basically with the destruction of the ‘one’ ring she is losing her power and it was only really her power that was keeping her here? Never thought of it like that before!
Boromir – I didn’t trust from way back at the Council at Rivendell. His conversation with Frodo at the end of Fellowship made him look like a know-it-all with a world view of colonialism and imperialism. Is this Tolkien taking a shot at the old fashioned British world view, or am I reading way, way too much into it?
Mmm, Boromir, what can you say. In one respect I feel sorry for him and in another I could shake him. He’s just too stubborn and blinkered. That being said, his little rant at the end did eventually help to push Frodo into making a decision!
After spending some time in Lothlorien, Sam realizes the Elves aren’t quite as scary or as strange as he first thought. I wonder if when he gets back to the Shire if he’ll realize the Hobbits in the next town aren’t quite as strange as he once thought. I really don’t think this is an overt “message” story, but I do wonder if Tolkien didn’t mind throwing in a little message of “those folks in the next valley aren’t as different as you think”.
I definitely think Tolkien used this to pass on a message and I suppose Sam was a good one to use to do so. He’s a lovely warm character and doesn’t seem to have any mean spiritedness in him at all and yet he has a very small view of the world and is quite old fashioned. But by the end of Book 1 his eyes have been opened and his horizons expanded. (I still think he’ll be very happy to get back home to his garden and his gaffa though!)
I only started reading fantasy a few years ago, and I keep running into this undercurrent of choice. Bilbo has to choose to give up the Ring. Frodo has to choose to take on the quest and be the Ring bearer. Even Boromir is choosing how he feels about the Ring and what it could bring him. In the end, this is all coming down to how we choose to live our lives from moment to moment.
On the face of it it seems really simple – a choice between good and evil – but the eventual choice will have an impact on so many people (such as the elves) and that makes it much more difficult. Personally, I would never be able to decide what to do! Not for the lack of wanting to do the right thing but simply because I would be thinking of the impact on everyone else. In that way I’m terrible at making decisions because I never want to upset anyone!
And the obligatory: what was your favorite part of this section?
This is difficult. I enjoyed the growing friendship between Legolas and Gimli (although I would have liked to have been party to some of their conversations), I love the exchange between Galadriel and Frodo but I think on reflection the mines of Moria are still ‘it’ for me. I love the description of the mines and think the writing in that respect is excellent and I love the tension that increases as you hear the drums starting to beat to the final scene with Gandalf and the Balrog on the bridge.
Thanks for the discussion points
Joined in with a reading group to read and discuss Lord of the Rings, thanks for this to The Little Red Reviewer and Geeky Daddy for coming up with this venture. I did come to this a little late but I’ve caught up now and I’m really enjoying reading LOTR again which I never would have undertaken without this Group. These are my answers to this weeks questions (if you haven’t already read the book or seen the film this may contain spoilers):
1. What was your initial thoughts of Strider/Aragorn when the Hobbits met up with him in The Prancing Pony? Did you think that he was linked with the Riders?
This is a difficult one to answer because I am of course rereading the novel (and also I’ve seen the films) so, it would be easy to act all superior and say I never had any doubts about Strider but in fact I can’t remember what my initial impressions were! That being said I don’t think it ever occured to me that he was linked to the Riders. Plus, the Riders don’t really come across as the sort to sit in the Prancing Pony smoking a pipe – they seem a lot more sly than that. They like to creep up on people in the dark, from the shadows. It’s an interesting question though because I suppose Strider could have been one of their minions!! I never thought of it like that before – anyway, as we know he isn’t.
2.What was the biggest surprise to you during this section of the Fellowship of the Ring?
Actually, I think I had a couple of moments. First, I always thought the film was very true to the book (as much as it could be I suppose) but in rereading this you start to pick up on the small differences. Like Frodo’s flight to the path to Rivendell – which he undertook on horseback alone being chased by the wraiths. Also, I had totally forgotten about Boromir’s story. I’d got myself convinced that all the people at the Council were there by invitation and this certainly wasn’t the case. So, it’s quite eye opening reading this the second time round.
3.Do you like that Tolkien goes in depth and tells the readers of the historical events of the war that is upon the Fellowship?
I like the level of detail in the book and I do love Tolkien’s writing style. I’m always interested in the history of events in a book like this, in fact I think it’s essential and without it I always end up with little niggles that I want answers to. That being said I did find some of the information relayed at the council a little bit tedious (sorry about that but there it is). I don’t remember feeling that way first time round however. Maybe I have a little less patience than I used to.
4. How far do you think you would have lasted if you were Frodo and nearly becoming a Rider?
Well, I don’t mind walking at all, in fact I really like it. But, that’s about where my resilience probably ends. Going out for a good walk in the countryside is one thing, being out for days on end, having sleepless nights and being pursued and constantly in fear – that must get a little bit much! Mind you I think I could do it (okay I couldn’t go without sleep). But if you add to that being stabbed with an evil blade and slowly being turned into a wraith mmm, nope. Also, I can’t ride so once that elven horse started galloping it’s way to Rivendell I would have fallen from it’s back in a New York minute!
5. As dangerous as the quest unfolds to become, the other hobbits want to stick by Frodo til the end. Would you sacrifice yourself and stick with Frodo til the end?
Oh, this is a dilema. Yes, of course I want to say yes, yes, yes, I would stick by Frodo to the end. But, would I really drop everything? Okay, I’m still going with yes because I like to think I would! Ah, resolution.
So, Part 2 over.