February 18, 2005

More Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM), Tolkien Division

It turns out that the oldest Llama-ette seriously whiffed a quiz on The Hobbit in school this week. I cannot believe that a child of mine would do this! My own flesh and blood unable to answer some simple multiple choice questions about the adventures of Mr. Bilbo Baggins! Horibile dictu! It is obvious that I've got some serious work ahead of me to rectify this situation.

As I understand it, the gel's teacher has been reading the book during lunch. She insists that the reason she did so poorly was that he told her to concentrate on eating her lunch, not on listening to the story. I've no doubt that she got these instructions backwards, but I've also no doubt that she truly believes what she tells me. This particular Llama-ette is of a personality type that, once she gets an idea in her head, however cockeyed, there is no shifting it short of using high explosives.

The good news is that all is not lost. In the first place, there is plenty of time. I had never even heard of The Hobbit until I was in high school. Someone had given a copy of it to me as a Christening present, but my mother - whose literary knowledge and sophistication far surpass my own - has never been a fan of what she calls "little green men" literature, and consequently did not read it to me. Her suspicions may have been deepened by the fact that the mid 60's represented the zenith of the popular association of Tolkien's work with hippydom. In fact, if I have the story straight, the person who gave me the book, one of Mom's faculty colleagues, was some kind of sandalled beatnik. In any event, I didn't come across hobbits until much later in life and I don't seem to have suffered much for it.

Second, the gel evidently was paying some attention to things, because as we were talking about it this evening she started saying "precioussssss......."

There's hope yet.

UPDATE: Some more good news. It turns out that the Llama-ette's class still has a long way to travel in the book - they're in the middle of Mirkwood at the moment. And the gel knows that Beorn is "that giant who can turn into a bear", so she evidently has been paying some attention. She's in a good mood this morning, so I seized on the opportunity to suggest she needs to listen more closely to the story during lunchtime. She seemed to take the advice to heart.

Posted by Robert at February 18, 2005 11:41 PM

She'll live if she never reads Tolkein.

Trust me on this one. I never did and I survived.

Posted by: Kathy at February 19, 2005 01:27 AM

"She'll live if she never reads Tolkein."

Ach! The horror! Technically, Kathy, you're right. But that's a bit like saying "she'll live if she never recovers from her coma": True in a sense, but far from ideal! ;)

The good news is that it's not too late for you. Tolkein is just as enjoyable to read as an adult. (And by the way: He was a devout Catholic, and his books -- the books of the trilogy, at least -- contain many Catholic themes.)

Posted by: Matt at February 19, 2005 09:13 AM

Matt, LoTR is NOT a trilogy: it is one book that the publisher released over time as three volumes. So how's that for Tolkien pedantry?


Posted by: Dave J at February 19, 2005 11:20 AM


Believe me, I've tried to read Tolkein. I have four brothers, and two of them are obsessed with his works. For one of the obsessed, LOTR is the only work of fiction---by any author---that he voluntarily reads. The other tries to get away from Tolkein, but eventually winds up coming back. The pathologically obsessed brother actually keeps copies of all three of the books on his nightstand---and has since he was fourteen or thereabouts. He's forty now and he's a complete and utter geek. They both tried to get me to read "The Hobbit," when I was a kid and I just couldn't get into it. I tried three or four times to read that thing, and it just bored the hell out of me. Don't get me started on LOTR: the obsessed brother handed it over and kept checking up on how I liked it, hoping beyond hope that I'd pick up where my other sisters had failed. Didn't happen. As such I'm a disappointment to him to this very day ;)

Now the husband has joined the cult following, and wants me to read them. I refuse to do it. Contrary to popular opinion, you can get along just fine without having read Tolkein. Head injury or not ;)

Posted by: Kathy at February 19, 2005 11:33 AM

I wish I had read them as a younger person, but I didn't read them until my 30s. But I'm in love with the Rings books and plan to reread them soon.

I'm trying to encourage my roommate's kid to read The Hobbit - no go so far.

Posted by: jen at February 19, 2005 04:10 PM

I read them when I was 16. School librarian handed "The Hobbit" to me and said, "read this!!" I did. He was right. My life was changed [cue majestic towering soundtrack]

Posted by: Ith at February 19, 2005 04:50 PM

Have you started her on any Wodehouse yet? That's the real question. My son handed me some Wodehouse when he was two and demanded to be read to out of it. He sat through about a chapter at the time and amused us for weeks by saying, "By Jove!"

Posted by: Jordana at February 19, 2005 05:09 PM

Jen, I don't remember: have you tried reading the Silmarillion yet? It's not an easy read, especially the first time, but it throughly richens and deepens the experience of reading LoTR.

Posted by: Dave J at February 19, 2005 06:38 PM
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