It’s been close to 20 years since I last read The Lord of the Rings. Today I finished The Return of the King again … and am maybe more impressed now than all the times before. Okay, except the first.
The last time I read these books I was still working as a machinist, hiding the paperbacks in a drawer of my toolbox because reading while the machine ran was forbidden. Since then I have earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, held numerous jobs in the writing field, become an English teacher, and published several of my own books. So I came to Tolkien this time with a wealth of knowledge and experience I didn’t have before.
Wow. The Shakespearean influences really jump out, as do the flavor of the great “northness” that Tolkien and C.S. Lewis so loved. But also I saw Tolkien’s racism against Arabs and Asians.
And, more than anything, re-reading the books make me see again just how much was cut and changed for Peter Jackson’s films. I love the films, but the books are where it’s at. I’ll never understand why Jackson left out the scouring of the Shire.
If you’re a lover of fantasy fiction and haven’t read The Lord of the Rings you’re just a poseur.