In our latest Library piece, TORn reader and Tolkien Italian Network member Gabriele Marconi explores how a 2 minute video doesn’t pay full tribute to a fans love of Tolkien.

Gabriele told TORn,  “The point is  that a 2-minute time video could not contain nor the smallest part of the reasons why Tolkien is so strongly related to Italy and the Alps, the mountains we know so well (even if Tolkien went through them only from the Swiss side).

That is also why Italy is Middle-Earth, or at least a part of it, “Gondor“, as the very one John Ronald used to say. So I choosed to speak about the famous postcards of Der Berggeist and used them as a spark to tell more about the relations between Tolkien, Switzerland and Italy. Not only the postcards: every opened issue has been deepened in the shape of Q&A”

The article is translated from Italian to English by Greta Bertani.


A contest challenges my passion for J.R.R. Tolkien: the sense of admiration

Image A – Preview - The mountains giving the inspiration for Middle-Earth
Image A – Preview – The mountains giving the inspiration for Middle-Earth


Well, it’s difficult not to participate to a contest to find out the ultimate admirer of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, when you’re the first person trying to study it in connection with the literary work it is (many prefer to say “it should be”) based upon. For sure this chance is well enough to decide to give it a try: going through the landscapes that gave Middle Earth its most famous and admired appearance, and, moreover, the possibility to participate to a private show of this third part a whole month before it comes in cinemas. The whole thing is specially tempting if you will have the chance to have a chat with the one, who, one more time, engaged himself in this adventure, bringing Tolkien on the big screen. Nonetheless, travelling around in half northern Italy has forced me to ask myself which is the real sense of admiration, that is to say why something deserves to be admired: because knowledge is priceless and never-ending. In the very same way it happens to me, it can happen to others.

So? If something is in very truth beautiful, to the extent that it is admired, you want to go and tell it in the streets, tell it to everybody. “Well, this looks like something that fits the Tolkien Italian Network!” I said to myself. I asked the editorial staff, got a positive answer and, here I am on my way to the Matterhorn. Not all people of the TIN editorial staff are fond of Jackson’s work, but we all know that this challenge can be very important for all Tolkien lovers, as it was between 2001 and 2003-04: it originated a wave from which everyone benefitted, even those who savagely criticized him, and it lasted years.

No way to conceal it, I always speak well about him. Contrary to your belief, I read Tolkien even before Peter Jackson’s movies; but I’d lie, if I denied what I owe to the kiwi director, since the very first frames of The Fellowship of the Ring were played. My comprehension of the literary work owes much to the The Lord of the Rings film, both to those parts that are closer and to those that differ from the book. This, most of all, I acknowledge to Peter Jackson: not that his plot emphasizes Tolkien’s books as they are, but that they are the attempt (of a man, the director) of reading them, and of challenging the viewers to verify how the literary plot tells an event, what it tells us, and furthermore to discover the ideas underlying it. Intentionally or as a consequence it is a strong suggestion to reading, that leads the reader to consider the text and what lies beneath, both the steps that proceed together, and mostly when the film forks for a while or definitively. In these days I’ve also had a little satisfaction: a scholar of unquestionably great stature such as Thomas Honegger has said a few words about the films; his words do not differ much from the ones I wrote some time ago.

Taking part to a Fan-Contest is a far different challenge. Those who know me a little, will surely know that “fan” is a word I’d like to erase from English dictionaries (with the hope that it will never be written in Italian ones. I am convinced that Tolkien would be in complete accord with me). Anyway, sometimes you have to compromise about language, also and especially because Jackson himself gave the contest its sense. Then, “fellowship” redeems almost every word in the title.

After watching the video that outlines so precisely the competitors, well, I claim the right to participate as passionate, that is to say, someone (according to its etymology) who let himself to be so involved by the fascination of an encounter, that he is willing to suffer for it (in this particular case, Jackson wisely puts Tolkien before his films). And which reading of Tolkien’s books and, I would add, watching Jackson’s films, could ever give joy without a considerable and not occasionally throbbing pain?

Well, here I am. I wanted to say a lot and 2 minutes is a short time: I decided time was too short not to say something really useful, something so useful it could outlive the contest and that, could, maybe, help some beginner to understand Tolkien’s work a little more. Following the outline was simple and remembering the film location was extremely unsatisfactory. In addition Jackson himself has suggested to look at Tolkien, prior to (looking at) himself. A task harder than the outline, if one considers that the Rules contain some provisions to be avoided when talking about Middle-Earth geography. It had not to be short of a certain taste of Italy.

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