• Will Sherwood

New Tolkien Reading Project!

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Over a long series of posts I will be sharing my reflections and musings from my re-reading of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and the corresponding volumes of The History of Middle-earth (ed. Christopher Tolkien).

Why now? Why The Lord of the Rings? In this unprecedented time of unease that has upset my teacher training and many other aspects of my day-to-day life, I need something to anchor me in routine and normality. Perhaps what has risen to become the most oft-quoted lines from the book (thanks to the film adaption and Howard Shore's emotionally-charged music) is enough to explain my motive:

'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.

'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.' (p. 51).

All I can control is my own pocket of the world and besides helping my community by staying in-doors, I can support my own mental well-being by immersing myself in the literature that brings me the most joy. The Lord of the Rings has always been a source of comfort for me and Tolkien himself commented on his aims with the story in his 'Foreword to the Second Edition':

The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them. (p. xxiii).

It is indeed a delight to come back to the book. However, this time I will be reading it differently. I will be reading it in parallel to the related volumes of The History of Middle-earth. These are volumes 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12: The Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard, The War of the Ring, Sauron Defeated and The Peoples of Middle-earth. From this I aim to achieve a few things:

1. A deeper insight into Tolkien's creative process

2. Further ideas for my developing PhD proposal

3. New revelations and reflections that I will be documenting

4. Bringing to my audience information from The History of Middle-earth

5. Initiating a discussion with my readers on The Lord of the Rings

'All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.' (p. 51).

I hope you enjoy my blog!


Tolkien, J. R. R. (2007). The Lord of the Rings. London: HarperCollins.

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