I wonder if it’s being around my family where the women are Democrats, the men Republicans that has made me less inclined to write about politics. To be sure, when we do get together, there is often much political banter, though others might use a stronger word to describe our exchanges.
Just over five years ago, during all the hoopla over the release of the Lord of the Rings movies, my passion for the story (and its surrounding mythology) was rekindled (well, it had never been extinguished). I re-read the trilogy, the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales while exploring the various volumes of his notes, drafts and sketches.
I bought the box set of The History of the Lord of the Rings even as I had previously perused the volumes, thought I would never read them as they were merely his original drafts of the story, never fully fleshed out. When I was cleaning my apartment at the beginning of 2007, I decided to give these to a local thrift store, given that I already had the hardcover editions.
Well, a few weeks ago, while browsing in an LA bookstore, I chanced upon the first volume, I chanced (if chance it was) on the first volume of that set, The Return of the Shadow, and started reading. I was fascinated both by how much of the original story was there in Tolkien’s original drafts, yet how much of the tale’s essence had yet to emerge. I wanted to read on.
Feeling I owed something to the bookstore for allowing me the pleasure and privilege of perusing their treasures, I decided to buy the book and have been hooked ever since. Normally, I read the trilogy (or listen to it in my car) every year or so. This reading will be a bit different as I’ll be reading the drafts rather than the final version.
What an amazing story–how it stands up over time. Much like the great myths that I have been studying in my graduate work.