Tahlequah Daily Press

January 3, 2013

A celebration ‘Lord of the Rings’

Wednesday was J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday, and local residents weighed in on what they enjoy about the author’s stories.

By ROB W. ANDERSON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Jan. 2 marked the day when John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in January 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Tolkien was a writer, poet, philologist and a university professor who most have come to know through his fictional works of fantasy known as “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion.”

Fans have also been drawn into Tolkien’s world through the feature films “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and most recently, “The Hobbit.”

As suggested by The Tolkien Society, which is an international organization registered in the United Kingdom, fans around the world are invited to raise a glass of their favorite spirit today and toast the noted author and all that is Tolkien, who served in the British Army during World War I and  was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1972.

Local resident Jett Swatsenberg first became acquainted with Tolkien and “The Hobbit” through the animated depiction of “There and Back Again” that was often shown on television and in libraries. She said Tolkien’s works were required reading when she was in school

“They’re not easy books to read. It’s been awhile [since I’ve read them]. It was like high school when I read them, but they don’t read like normal novels,” she said. “They’re more like history documents, basically. But what started my love was the old cartoon of ‘The Hobbit’ that used to be on TV on the weekends. I’ve owned that DVD for awhile, and I just love it. When ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies came out - I loved all of those. I have the extended editions of all of them but ‘The Hobbit’ was always my favorite. Now that the movie’s out, I’m excited, and I’m excited that they’re turning it into a trilogy.”

Nathaniel Riley first saw ‘The Hobbit’ with a friend and noted enjoying the battle scenes.

“I’ve seen it once with my friend,” he said. “I like fighting movies, and liked the action.”

As a philologist, Tolkien studied the history of language and the comparisons of languages, and created his first system of words for communication when he was 7 years old, according to online history about the author. The language heard spoken by the elves and orcs in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”  is Tolkien’s creation.

Tolkien had a goal to write a mythology for England, and his ancient and fictional story of Middle Earth depicts a mythical quest that includes a hero returning an object, which in his tale is a ring that belonged to the main antagonist known as the Dark Lord Sauron, to its source instead of obtaining an object as is the common element in western mythology, like the Golden Fleece in the allegory of Jason and the Argonauts.

A close friend and teaching colleague of C.S. Lewis, who readers know through the fantasy-novel series and movie The Chronicles of Narnia, Tolkien is said to have help convert Lewis to Christianity. Both were Oxford professors sharing interest in literature and both were authoring fictional stories that presented basic Christian themes and principles.

“Many critics believe that Tolkien based his ‘Hobbit’ books on man’s struggle against sin and Satan’s power over the world,” said Wayne Atchley.

“Some literary scholars believe that the ring represents sin and its effect on men. They write that Gandalf represents a Christ-figure; he guides the protagonists on their journey to destroy the ring, and he dies and is resurrected.”