I have read The Lord of the Rings multiple times; five I think. During my most recent read through I read one chapter then read the corresponding chapter in The Lord Of The Rings: A Reader’s Companion; the equivalent of reading an annotated copy of The Lord of the Rings.
However, other folks saying The Silmarillion was a difficult read instilled trepidation in me. I let this keep me from the book. I reflected for a moment and said now is the time.
I had read three translations of Beowulf, including Tolkien’s. Three translations of The Odyssey. The The Iliad and The Aeneid along with several other epic poems. I’m gearing up for a read aloud of Milton’s Paradise Lost. I had also read A Clockwork Orange and The Wake; stories that bend and play with linguistics. In other words, I’ve read many “challenging” books.
I started and committed to reading a chapter at a time; maybe two depending on length.
, I finished the chapter on Beren and Luthien. I adore the hubris, magic, covetousness, and loss; the tension between oaths sworn and living. But most, I loved how Beren fulfilled his oath. Another reminder of the bending of mythic oaths and wishes.
, I’ve struggled to read books. In years past I typically read between 20 and 50 books. , I think I have read three or four. I’ve instead spent time leaving one job and joining another while continuing my exploration of digital note taking and Lisp.
I’ve also shifted my working hours to better align with the Pacific timezone. And I’ve found my current job consumes all of my online interaction energy; I can’t bring myself to play Role Playing Game’s online.
All of which is to say I am a bit adrift. And know that I can use reading to find my place on this present journey.
I think to Bilbo’s admonition:
It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step in to the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.
I spend a lot of time at home with my dogs. We go on walks and play frisbee in the yard. The once regular stream of work-related trips is now a dry creek bed with few journeys much past my front door.
And the online games, once a source of adventure, became undesirous; in part because I found myself again confined to my home.
Enter these very human tales of adventure; all building up to the tales of a handful of humble hobbits. There is no hubris, nor oaths sworn; simply those rising to their occasion.
Having both the tales of the Noldor and of the Hobbits within the same mythology provides point and counter point; of vanity and pride versus humility and curiosity. Both move and shake the world and bring their own dooms.
I feel we all need less biting and bashing of shields, less load proclamations of oaths, and more fellowship and humility. I know I’m guilty of hubris, which I seek to ever keep in check.
Which brings me to Beren and Luthien; Beren chose to complete their oath and with it sealed their doom. They could have retreated to a pastoral life; one amongst the hills and dells. But instead chose to honor that oath. First at the cost of a hand. Then in accepting the entwinement of the Noldor’s possessive lust of the Silmarills, at the cost of life.
There are symbological echoes of The Lord of the Rings and Beren and Luthien; which is expeted and required of a mythos. I found these tales, laid together, further enrich insights into my understanding of the human condition.