Archive for March 13, 2007

On Tolkien

March 13, 2007

The Troth

Like so many people THE HOBBIT was my first real brush with fantasy. I remember listening to my father read it aloud when I was about ten or so, and a few years later I sought the book out and was enthralled once again.

I’ve probably read THE HOBBIT and LORD OF THE RINGS, oh, a dozen times since then. As I’ve matured and received an education, I’ve come to appreciate certain themes and concerns that occupied Tolkien.

One of those themes is the “graying of the world.” Tolkien believed that the golden years lay behind us and that good and evil are mingling; light and dark are merging into shades of gray.

Another narrative structure in Tolkien is the notion of leaving home and returning once again only to find one’s self homeless — too changed to ever be at home again in this world.

With THE PURLOINED BOY I tried to work with these themes a bit because I think Tolkien has told the truth but only partly. More can be said.

What if the golden years lay ahead and silver ones behind and one finds one’s self in a dark and merciless age? How would knowledge of such shape one’s outlook and where would such knowledge of a brighter tomorrow come from?

What if a person was homeless to start with, found a way to his true home, but only went back again to where he started because it would be heartless not to?

If you combined those notions into a single story — how would you tell it?

That was what I tried to do.