- Nov 1, 2004
I loved the Three Investigators! I was the only kid I knew in the UK reading them (but couldn't have been the only one as I always saw them at book sales).I was about 7 when my older brother Jim (who was 14) started reading me the Hobbit. My mother had been reading me Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books (I loved Jupiter Jones). She wanted all of her children to be readers. We had just finished book 4 (out of 12 or 13 at the time) when instead of my mother, Jim came in. I had 2 older brothers, Jim and Steve (the oldest) but Jim was my hero. He told me he had a special book with a wizard and a dragon and armies but the hero was a little person. I could not have been more hooked if it had been heroin. He talked about LotR and so did my mother but neither would read them to me. I had to read them for myself (which I did around 10 or 11). I never stopped reading.
This is a lovely story, than you for sharing it.I am not sure I should admit this (aloud). At least not in this thread, or anywhere else in this Forum, come to think of it...
I have never read The Hobbit or The Silmarillion.
<ducks and awaits first blow>
And I was terribly, embarrassingly slow in discovering The Lord of the Rings. I first read that one when I was 35 or something.
If you grew up in the 60's and 70's in the Netherlands, reading the Lord of the Rings was kind of a cult thing, among students. My oldest brother (having studied biology) had the 3 books of the Ring in his bookcase. I don't know if he had actually read them, I never heard him talk about it. The weird thing is, from my 16th onwards I have been a fervent SFF reader, but reading Tolkien never seriously entered my mind. Somewhere, somehow the books looked boring to me.
I was about 18 or 19 when I made a remarkable and life changing discovery. Not all the books in the world got translated into Dutch. Be it published in English, French, Chinese or Alpha Centaurian, it mattered not, a translation was not something you could blindly count on. It needed a publisher who reckoned it would be worthwhile, financially. Which is always difficult in a relatively small market like the Dutch speaking community.
So I made a, initially slow and careful, switch to the English section and - Lo and behold! - suddenly the amount of titles to choose from had doubled, tripled, quadrupled! And as a bonus, English books were decidedly cheaper than the Dutch versions.
And then, finally, probably around 1988, I encountered The Lord of the Rings in one volume, complete with Index and Appendices, published by Unwin Paperbacks for GBP 8.95 (though I must have paid for it in Dutch Guilders) and consisting of 1193 pages.
I have this weakness. The more pages a book has, the more likely it is I will fall for it. Some people have this with covers, the title or the blurp on the backside, with me it is the size. And 1193 pages totally did it for me.
I took it with me on my holiday that year, which would have been in July I guess, but needed until October to finish it. The story dragged somewhat here, there and back again. And the prose was archaic, not what I was used to. But I fell in love with it, with the book but mostly the language. I learned a lot from that reading experience (patience, among other things).
So, for me it wasn't so much about discovering Tolkien, but discovering a love for English. It did however not make me go and read Tolkien's other books.
<slips quietly out of this thread>
My experience of English literature is that any book studied cannot be read for enjoyment purposes again; in fact (in my opinion) it is better to study a book that you have no liking for, because then you can be quite impartial when taking it apart . In fact whilst taking 'A' level English lit - and for some time after - I found myself dissecting books rather than reading them for a pleasurable experience.I was in my 2nd year at comprehensive school (1976), and was confronted with The Hobbit, in English Lit.
I read it, and gnawed my right arm off with the narrative tedium of it all.
Hated the book then, and hated the book now! And don't start me off on the film version!
Thank the Lord for the LOTR and The Silmarillion
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