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Tolkien Reading Day

March 25th marks the annual Tolkien Reading Day, which is criminally not a bank holiday in the UK (it is, however, noted on the official Tolkien calendar at least!). It was founded by The Tolkien Society not to commemorate the date of his birth or death, but the day that Sauron was finally defeated and the One Ring destroyed in The Lord of the Rings. (On March 25th, 3019 of the Third Age, if you want to know.)

Spoilers.

I’ve never bothered to make a special note of this day in the past. I think it all sounded a bit too much for me, but considering I just happen to have that day off (as I write this at least. Who knows whether that will be the case on the day…), I thought it might be a good chance for me to really see what it’s all about. As the name suggests, it’s a day on which people… read Tolkien. They certainly chose the right name then. However, there is a little bit more to it than that.

On this day there are various events held online and around the world. Japan is not totally up to speed with its Tolkien, so I doubt I’d be able to find anything locally, particularly one that I would be able to appreciate quite in the same way. So to the Internet I look for what is available to me. Maybe next year I’ll suggest it to the Nagoya Writers Collective. We’ll see.

The Tolkien Society official website has information on what type of events are held each year. This year is apparently on the theme of ‘Love and Friendship’, which does play a dominant role in much of Tolkien’s writings. They certainly chose the right theme then. Participation in these events is far from mandatory; they like to encourage people to just enjoy Tolkien’s works in any way they can: podcasts, audiobooks, real books, etc. and share with others. It sounds awfully like a religion, but I suppose that’s effectively what it is. (Did you know that thousands of people a year visit Tolkien’s grave and leave flower and letters? It’s endearing in a way, but also a little creepy. I certainly have visited it myself. Ahem.)

For those who do organise events, they have various activities that involve writing and the creation of characters in Middle-earth which can be found on their website here.

But it’s not all just Middle-earth and The Lord of The Rings. Tolkien may be most famous for his works set in his legendarium, but he was also a medieval English literature professor and put his hand to other work such as translations of literature from that period, such as Sir Gawain and The Green Knight, which was released in cinemas last year.

I’ll admit I fell asleep watching this, but that was just because I was tired! I will watch it again.

One of his much lesser known works is The Lay of Aotrou & Itroun, which was released as a book edited by Verlyn Flieger. It’s sat on my bookshelf for quite some time and has barely been touched, so Tolkien Day will be the perfect opportunity for me to blow off the dust and finish it. It’s quite short, so I imagine I’ll be able to finish it in a day no problem. I might even get a few beers and go sit in the park while I’m at it! I surprise even myself with my level of culture sometimes.

In Britain’s land beyond the seas

the wind blows ever through the trees;

in Britain’s land boyond the waves

are stony shores and stony caves

The opening to The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun

This book is a commentary on Tolkien’s lay (poem) that was published in The Welsh Review (a literary magazine) in 1945 and until 2017 had been long out of print. The story follows a lord (Aotrou) and lady (Itroun), childless, who suffer tragedy after seeking the aid of a ‘corrigan’ (malevolent fairy). After they successfully have twins, Aotrou must choose his fate when the corrigan returns to retrieve her fee. Will he betray his marriage or lose his life? Let’s hope that beer doesn’t make me too emotional.

This will be my first step into exploring poetry as well, which although I have a genuine interest in, haven’t really made any proper attempt to get into or appreciate with the exception of a poem I wrote when I was bored in a free period at school a few years ago. It was terrible really, but very much of the moment. I’ll dig it up sometime.

There has been increased controversy and discord around Tolkien recently with the upcoming release of Amazon’s The Rings of Power and I hope that this negativity won’t spill over into Tolkien Reading Day. While I’ve been caught up in some of the dysphoria in the fan community as of late, I will use this day to step away from that and inject some enjoyment and appreciate what cannot be changed: his writing.

This is a day for people to nerd out a bit and I’d love to hear how people will spend their Tolkien Reading Day, so do feel free to comment!

2 Comments »

  1. Very interesting, thank you. Our Tolkien Day involved a visit from the plumber to install new tv?ttst?llsblandare (mixer tap). She was very small (for a Swede) with long purple and green hair and a gentle demeanor so could well have been from Middle Earth. ________________________________

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