On re-reading Lord of the Rings

I’ve read to my son every night for as long as I can remember. Usually between 7:30 and 8, depending on how quickly we get the bedtime routine done, sometimes for longer if it’s a good book and I’ve got the bit between my teeth! We vary the choice, so we don’t end up reading all the Harry Potters in one fell swoop. Anyway, it’s a brilliant chance to read stuff that I would never have thought of reading myself e.g. Treasure Island, which we did late last year and which was absolutely brilliant.

We are deep in LOTR at the moment, the first time I have read it in over 20 years. I am managing to get the voices to sound reasonably close to those in the film, and I am quietly proud of my Gandalf!. What is amazing is the sheer quantity of stuff that didn’t make it into the films – much if it (to be fair) detailed descriptions of the landscape in which all the action takes place. Much of the dialog verges on the unspeakable; if I had a pound for every time I have said (or should that be uttered?) ‘whither’ and ‘hither’ I could retire. ‘Hewn’ is also very popular. Fortunately the Hobbits themselves speak in more down to (Middle)Earth language. There is surprisingly little humour present – or perhaps the stuff I found funny at 17 no longer amuses e.g. Gimli and Legolas’ running joke about how many Orcs they’ve each managed to kill.

There are also very few women (something the films redress a little) and worse than that, the strong sense that there are no women involved because women don’t really matter. This is undoubtedly due to Tolkien’s very Conservative Roman Catholic point of view, as is the constant (and rather racist idea) that humanity race is dwindling as the ages pass, a mere shadow of some finer, ancient race.

Well, at least Rowan is enjoying it (Rowan, son of Steve, son of John, son of John, as Tolkien would have put it!) and experiencing the book before he sees the film.

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