Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I'm on a Tolkein kick

After last Thursday night -- when I had the wonderful pleasure of spending three hours with two dear friends, discussing a wonderful fable by JRR Tolkein called Smith of Wootton Major -- I decided maybe I should look into some of his lesser read stories and essays. [I have to confess that Hobbit is ok, but I've NEVER been able to really get the Rings trilogy!]

The kids and I have recently finished reading Farmer Giles of Ham and are about half through with Roverandom -- both well-worth purchasing! But I wanted to find others that might be fun to read -- either for the kids or me (or both!).

I found a wonderful website that lists all things Tolkein -- filled with reviews of (as far as I can tell) all his wonderful essays and stories. Here I found reference to Mr. Bliss, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and a book called Tree and Leaf. My public library had them and I picked them up yesterday.

What a treat!

Mr. Bliss
I read Mr. Bliss to the littles today as a change from dogs -- sled and imaginary -- and what a wonderful, silly book. It's neat because it's a facsimile of Tolkein's hand-written story with pictures that he did for his boys. It's a tad annoying because the facsimile is on every right-hand page while printed text is on every left-hand page -- this slows the story a bit, but it's still a wonderful read.

The story -- partially autobiographical -- deals with a man's purchase and use of his first car. The incidents that occur -- such as crashing into an old neighbor 's barrow full of cabbages (you've got to see the illustration!) -- are realistic but bordering on the fantastic. It's a comedy of errors type of story with Tolkein's blend of beautiful prose.

This is definitely worth haunting alibris.com or other used book site for a copy!

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (and other verses from the Red Book)

I made the mistake of trying to read this to the littles at the end of our morning -- before lunch. I was tired and didn't give the poems the "spunk" they needed and the kids were tired of hearing my voice. I'm going to re-try on Friday -- when I can really get into the drama/silliness of the poems. I think that will help the children really enjoy these clever (and humorous) stories. The volume I got from the library is illustrated by Pauline Baynes (who seems to have illustrated many of his children's books).

I'm going to search for a used copy of this one too -- maybe for the littles when they're older. The poems are that good!

Tree and Leaf

This little volume I dipped-into while the kids were at quiet time. The introduction by Christopher Tolkein sets the stage for the rest of the book. There are three parts:
  • the famous essay "On Fairy Stories"
  • the short story "Leaf by Niggle"
  • a long poem, "Mythopoeia"

All three carry the theme of trees and leaves. All three deal with fantasy and myth. All three seem to have Tolkein's exquisite ability with language. I was able to start the "On Fairy Stories" which is a wonderful lecture Tolkein gave on what makes a fairy story, the distinction between "fairy" and "faery" and other fascinating information about the world of the fantastic. This essay is quite readable -- well, until BamBam awoke!

1 comment:

The Bookworm said...

Not exactly seasonal now, but have you read Tolkein's Letters From Father Christmas? If not, then you have a treat in store for next Christmas.