The date of the 25th of March is known to many Tolkien fans as the day of victory, the day the Dark Lord Sauron was vanquished, however this date has taken an alternate significance; International Tolkien Reading Day.
Since 2003, enthusiasts from around the globe have gathered to share their passion for the works of Tolkien; Year after year, flocking to events to cultivate the public’s interest in the world of Middle Earth.
Since the publication of The Hobbit in 1937, the wonders of Middle Earth have brought joy to generations of children and adults alike. A unique creation unlike any the world of literature had seen, Tolkien’s universe breathed new life into the fantasy genre, captivating readers with a sense of wonder and intrigue. The lore of his universe spans over decades of writings, from the widely recognised Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, to works such as The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and the collective writings of the History of Middle Earth.
With such a wide breadth of accounts, enthusiasts of Tolkien, however, often find the origins of certain characters and traditions to be shrouded in mystery. These mysterious topics of debate often form the basis of Tolkien reading discussions, thus was apparent in the 2016 Tolkien Reading Day theme of Life, Death and Immortality.
Among the many stories relating to this topic, the focus of the Brisbane Tolkien Fellowship’s reading days on the 19th and 20th of March, centred around questions of Gandalf’s ‘resurrection’ and Arwen’s choice, among many readings involving characters such as Beren and Luthien, Idril and Tuor and the descendants of Numenor.
Our own Peter Kenny led this discussion, using his extensive knowledge and research to bring light to some of these more controversial topics. Opening with the origins and genesis of the world, Peter led the audience on a thrilling account of the First Age of Middle Earth, from the creation of Arda (the Earth) through the song of the Valar, to the feuds between the elven kindreds and the Dark Lord Morgoth. Accompanied by stunning visuals by renowned artists such as John Howe, Ted Nasmith and others, the intricate web of Tolkien lore was woven.
Within this account of the ages of Middle Earth, questions concerning mortality and immortality as well as life and death arose. Referring to The Letters of Tolkien, extracts from the Return of the King Appendices and the unfinished chronicles of the History of Middle Earth, these questions were answered.
From writings to publications, from publications to the screen, no stone was left unturned. The complex lineage of Arwen and the Half-Elven was explored, as well as her relation to the Line of Kings and the choices granted to the descendants of Earendil.
The origins of Gandalf were examined in full, from his life as the Maiar Olroin, to his doings as Gandalf the Grey and finally his ‘resurrection’ into Gandalf the White. Further, the tragic recount of the Luthien’s Choice was told and the true price of immortality revealed.
Received by an enthusiastic audience of all ages, through the means of this Tolkien Reading Day, the flame of passion was passed into the hearts of all in attendance, marking the month of March, as an essential and joyous period for enthusiasts of the renowned author’s works, once again.
Contributor: Brianna Merriman