My Favorite Austen Heroine (Classic Remarks, Guest Post by Michael @ My Comic Relief)

Classic Remarks


Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.


Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)



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Why Lizzy Bennet is my favorite Austen heroine

It’s always exciting to write a guest post for one of my favorite blogs and today – as I take over hosting duties on a Classic Remarks post (!) – I get to write about something truly iconic. Jane Austen is an author with legions of fans through the ages. She has her own category at the PCA/ACA conference on popular culture every year. There’s so much to her and to her work. Getting to chat about my favorite Austen heroine then is stepping into vast and sacred literary waters. I’m excited! Are you excited?! I KNOW. Let’s just jump right into it.

Who’s my favorite Austen heroine? Lizzy Bennet. She’s in Pride and Prejudice. Have you heard of that? I read the book. I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, too. And I’ve seen the Keira Knightly film a lot, but I’ve never watched the Colin Firth one because it’s a miniseries and that feels like too much of a commitment.

Now, you may be rolling your eyes because I’ve picked arguably the most widely known of all Jane Austen characters from the most widely known of all Jane Austen novels. You may even be wondering if I wrote this piece the day it was due – with ideas flowing from my mind immediately onto the typed page before being emailed to Briana and Krysta. Both of those presumptions would be true. But Lizzy’s still my favorite and I’m ok with that. And here’s why.

It’s a pretty iconic story. Plucky young heroine has to chose between security and following her heart. She makes the bold choice, throwing aside societal convention, and love finds a way! Happily ever afters all around! It’s so good it’s the inspiration for like seven different Hallmark Christmas movies (one involves pets (and I think a pet hotel (but, full disclosure, I only see the parts that are on when I visit my parents (or brother (or aunt (or cousin (or Grandma when she was alive (or anyone/everyone else in my family who watches Hallmark Christmas movies nonstop from October through the New Year (so while I’ve not seen any from start to finish I’m kind of a tangential expert on Hallmark Christmas movies (and nested parenthesis (not to brag))))))))). Pride and Prejudice is a classic for a reason. Lizzy Bennet is a classic for a reason. And I dig the story and I dig her character.

I think though, as the internet has allowed us to find large pockets of fans who share our obsession about the things we love, making the minutiae we adore seem more mainstream, sometimes we feel bad about liking the main character (or maybe I’m projecting). It can feel like loving the most minor of side characters with a passion that yields an encyclopedic knowledge of them somehow proves you’re “a real fan,” or at least a better one. And that’s simply not true. Don’t get me wrong – I love the deep dive. I can still name more He-Man characters than I can algebraic functions (Mech-a-Neck! Stinkor! Teela!). I absolutely respect (and am kinda in awe) of the knowledge how the kid at Little Caesar’s puts me to shame with his knowledge of Doctor Who, both Classic and Nu. And I MAY’ve bought collections containing dozens (and dozens :8) of Harley Quinn comics once I watched her animated show on HBO Max and decided I wanted – nay, needed – to know more about her. So I love all that! But encyclopedic knowledge of side characters and minute plot points doesn’t prove my love of something. It just shows I’ve read a lot of it…or that my brain remembers cartoons more than math…or both.

All this is to say, in a room of diehard Austen fans and seasoned Austen scholars, I could feel a bit intimidated to say Lizzy Bennet is my favorite Austen heroine. Or, I could feel a bit intimidated to say Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Austen novel – and that it’s the only one I’ve ever read. But I shouldn’t be! I’m not claiming encyclopedic knowledge. I’m just saying I read a Jane Austen novel and Lizzy was my favorite character.

Plus, I’d argue this is how it should work or at the very least Jane Austen would be stoked to hear this. To say I love the main character best is another way of saying the author did their job really well. I’ve identified with the main character! I relate to them! I’m inspired by their journey!

And Lizzy Bennet is fantastic. And she’s inspiring. And I love her for it. I think many of us stay in relationships we shouldn’t because they’re safe. As a result, we sort of coast by. We settle. We’re happy…but never as happy as we could be. Things could be better. Our needs could be met with greater attention. Yet, looking for all that can be scary. Why walk away from something that is good enough? Why walk away from something stable? Why give up the dream of the married-with-kids-in-a-nice-house that culture tells us is the real goal? Why risk all of that just to follow something as mysterious and potentially ephemeral as our heart?

Lizzy shows us why in an example that has echoed down through the centuries. Why give up something safe and stable to seek the mysterious desires of the heart? Because we’re worth it.

The fact that Pride and Prejudice is such an enduring classic, seeing so many revisions and retellings and sequels and prequels says something. It says the story speaks to us. I’d argue part of the reason it speaks to us is because, deep down, we know we’re worth it. Lizzy’s a heroine who gives us permission to follow our hearts and offers a model as to how we do it. And for that, she has my heart and respect and I’m proud to admit it…no matter how mainstream an answer that may be ;D.

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Michael J. Miller writes and rambles about comic books and comic book movies (not to mention Doctor Who and Star Wars and whatever else randomly pops into his head) on his blog My Comic Relief. He teaches theology at Mercyhurst Preparatory School in Erie, PA – including classes on Star Wars as modern mythology and the intersection of comic books and social justice. Should it be your thing, you can also find him on Twitter @My_ComicRelief but he tweets sporadically at best because social media can be exhausting.

Tolkien Reading Day – A Shelf Tour by Between Pages (Guest Post by Rucha)

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme selected by the Tolkien Society is Hope and Courage. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts! Check out the full schedule of events by clicking here.

Tolkien Collection Shelf Tour Guest Post

Hi, I am Rucha and I blog at Between Pages. Although I have always been an avid reader, my blogging journey began only about six months ago, largely thanks to the lockdown. In the past six months, I have blogged a couple of times about Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings – each time feeling a little intimidated by the sheer scope of his works.

I am somewhat of a late comer to the world of Tolkien and Middle Earth having read the books only about 6 years ago. That was a different world, when I would spend about 2 hours travelling to and back from work, and it was a perfect time to finally pick up The Lord of the Rings. I fell in love almost instantly – and hopelessly – with Middle-earth, and till date if anyone asks me a fantasy world where I’d like to live, my answer’s always been Middle-earth. 🙂

So naturally the first on my Tolkien Shelf Tour are my very first beloved copies of the trilogy that I’d bought second hand. I nearly sold them off as my book collection started growing, and also since I recently acquired a more coveted LoTR box set, however, fortunately, I changed my mind and decided these are far too precious to let go off. I really love their worn-out spines and beautiful yellowing pages and I think someday I’d like to hand these down to my children and grandchildren.

The new collection I own is the 60th anniversary edition by Harper Collins. I bought it recently, largely out of vanity I should admit. These are hard backs with a slip case and the dust jackets feature Tolkien’s own original (and unused) designs.

I especially love the fold-outs in these books. Each of the three books have maps, and The Fellowship has a bonus foldout of the runes from the Book of Mazarbul.

This box set also comes with a Readers Companion, which is a perfect resource especially for those who wish to delve deeper into the marvelous world of Middle-earth.

And finally, almost perfectly timed for Tolkien Reading Day, this is my diary, with a stunning gold foil illustration of Frodo, Sam and Gollum at the foot of Mount Doom dated 24 March 3019. It is a special edition Moleskin that truly commemorates the epic tale of The Fellowship. 

I especially loved the accompanying (fold-out) timeline of Frodo and Sam’s journey and a guide to the Cirth Alphabet.

As book lovers, we cannot help buying beautiful books the moment we see it; however, building my Tolkien collection over the years has taught me the importance of not only mindful book collection but also cherishing and preserving old books.

Once again, I’d like to thank the lovely folks at Pages Unbound for letting me guest blog and geek out about my love for The Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth and Tolkien. It truly forms a very important part of my life and more often than not I have found myself leaning on its themes of hope, friendship and comradery whenever I’ve needed to bring some perspective in my life.

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Hi! I’m Rucha, an avid reader who loves to find inspiration between the pages of the books she reads. I created my blog Between Pages mainly to share book reviews but it has now grown into a dedicated space to share my immense love of books and book inspired experiences.

My Tolkien Collection (Guest Post by Meg)

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme selected by the Tolkien Society is Hope and Courage. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts! Check out the full schedule of events by clicking here.

I decided for this event that I will share my Tolkien collection. While it isn’t much, I still love it.  

The Books

LotR Book Collectino

I will start with the books, as I fell in love with The Lord of the Rings through the books. Obviously, I started with The Hobbit, and I fell in love with the series automatically. I loved Middle Earth a lot. You might not understand why Merry and Pippin were even part of the Fellowship because they caused the journey trouble. Merry and Pippin were the youngest, and they are troublemakers. Yet you eventually understand why they are part of the quest that starts in The Two Towers.  

The Movies

I started by watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy– and also loved it automatically. It was with the films that I started to pick up on parallels with one of my other favorite books, Harry Potter: spider attacks, the Ring, Sam/Frodo, Merry/Pippin, and Dark Lords. The Ring reminds me of the horcruxes, the relationship between Sam and Frodo reminds of the trio, and the relationship of Merry and Pippin reminds me of Fred and George.  

For Christmas, I asked to get to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But guess what happened: I ended up getting both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies!

The films are some of the best ways to spend a rainy day. The trilogy is incredible in many ways despite the length of the films. The music fits perfectly, and I feel emotionally connected to the Hobbits while still loving Aragon and the other characters. I automatically was connected to Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin.  

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Visit Meg at Meg’s Magical Musings.

Review: Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien (Guest Post by Kim)

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme selected by the Tolkien Society is Hope and Courage. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts! Check out the full schedule of events by clicking here.

Roverandom Review

In the summer of 1925, J.R.R. Tolkien, his wife Edith, and their three young sons went on an unexpected holiday to the Yorkshire coast. Tolkien’s second son, Michael (aged four), brought his favorite toy– a little black and white dog figurine. Michael took the dog everywhere, ate with it, slept with it, and refused to put it down no matter the circumstance. Except for the day when Tolkien and the older two boys went for a walk along the seashore. Excited to skip stones into the water, Michael put his beloved toy dog down on the beach. The toy disappeared among the beach’s white stones, and though Tolkien and the two boys returned to look for it the little dog was gone. Michael was devastated by the loss of his beloved toy, and to help make him feel better, Tolkien did what he always did best: he told the children a story about a little dog– a real dog– named Rover, who barked too much and annoyed a wizard, who turned him into a toy. Rover ended up in a shop window, where he was purchased by a woman and given to a little boy. While the boy loved Rover, all Rover wanted was to be a real dog again.

One day, the boy took Rover to the beach, and Rover was separated from him. Rover didn’t mind at first, given that he was free to do whatever he wanted, but upon realizing that being a tiny toy on a big beach presents its own problems, Rover was suddenly afraid. What if the waves got him? How would he ever get off the beach?

Fortunately, another wizard appeared to help Rover escape the incoming tide while a friendly gull flew Rover to the moon, where he encountered other dogs and began a series of wonderful adventures.

Like all J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories, Roverandom grew in the telling. From its origin in the summer of 1925, it was lengthened with new adventures and gained story elements and imagery that sharp-eyed readers of Tolkien’s primary works (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion) will recognize, though it never actually touches Middle-earth.

What Roverandom does share with The Hobbit is Tolkien’s respect for his young audience. Though many children’s stories of the time would talk down to children, use very simple vocabulary, and shy away from danger, Tolkien saw this as disrespectful to children, whom he believed were braver and more sophisticated than many other adults thought. Both Bilbo Baggins and Rover encounter mortal peril, which they survive thanks to help from friends or by their own wits. Once they have faced danger, they discover that they are braver than they thought. And both have grand adventures they never would have imagined had they stayed inside the day a wizard showed up at the front gate.

Another mark in Roverandom’s favor (at least in this reader’s opinion) is the lack of a grand moral lesson. In Tolkien’s works, the wicked do not always receive their comeuppance, Good does not always win out in the end, and beautiful things do not always last forever. But that is the nature of the world and the tales we invent. Tolkien is quoted as saying, “A safe fairyland is untrue in all worlds”, and this holds true even in the stories he wrote for children. If there is any great lesson to be learned here, it is that small people– and smaller dogs– have the courage to overcome frightening things. And also, maybe, that it is a good idea to be polite.

While The Lord of the Rings and its attendant works receive the bulk of the literary world’s attention, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a variety of stories outside his legendarium. But even among these, Roverandom receives even less attention than, say, Smith of Wootton Major or Leaf by Niggle. And that’s a shame because Roverandom has all the charm and appeal of The Hobbit and will appeal to adults and children alike.

As with The Hobbit, the seed of the story of Roverandom did not come from Tolkien’s desire to be a successful children’s author or to even be published at all. Both books grew out of the bedtime stories Tolkien told his children. It was fortunate for those children, listening raptly back in the 1920s and 1930s– and for the rest of the world– that he decided to write the stories down, and then expand upon and polish them until they became the works we know and love today. The Hobbit may be the most famous of Tolkien’s books for children, but it is not the only one. Roverandom is a delightful story that deserves more recognition and will appeal to anyone, whether they are four years old and grieving the loss of a toy dog, or are much older than and looking for someone to take them on a grand adventure.

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Visit Kim at Traveling in Books.

The Power of Revisiting the World of Tolkien (Guest Post by Edith-Marie @ Short Girl Writes)

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme selected by the Tolkien Society is Hope and Courage. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts! Check out the full schedule of events by clicking here.

The Power of Revisiting The World of Tolkien

When I was a kid, my parents did “Family Read-Aloud”–every night after we cleaned up from dinner, they would take turns reading a chapter from a book to my brother and me. We worked through many a tome that way–the Chronicles of Narnia series, a wide variety of Carl Hiaasen and Cornelia Funke books, and, of course, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The first time I read those books on my own, I was in seventh or eighth grade. 

It’s been a while since then, and while I have enjoyed discussing the books with friends over the years, I didn’t seriously revisit the books until this past summer, when I was doing an internship in a remote, mountainous area. With a lack of wifi and meager cell service, I brought a crate of books (and a plethora of art supplies) to keep myself occupied. One of the books I brought along was my copy of The Lord of the Rings, which I stole from my brother at some point. Dog-eared, with food and drink spills adorning it, the book is well-loved and perused. 

It is, perhaps, fortuitous that I re-read the series during a year that was tumultuous for so many, including myself. Middle-earth is a lovely world to get lost in, and the stories found in these books are at times funny and other times poignant (and sometimes, they’re both). I have remarked to several people before that the stories sometimes read as if the characters appeared in Tolkien’s living room and told him about their lives. 

But I think the importance of these books, and why they have remained so popular, is not just how well-written they are but also how much they resonate with people. Ultimately, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a story of hope, perseverance, and change. The task the Fellowship is given–take the Ring to Mordor–would be impossible if they did it on their own. Even Frodo, the Bearer of the Ring, must be borne himself. Along the way, they take loses and face immense hardships, but they also gain new friends and have moments of heartfelt camaraderie. And, perhaps most importantly, none of them are the same at the end. Their experiences throughout the books make them all different, and at the end, when Frodo sails off with Bilbo, Gandalf, and the remaining Elves, I always feel both sadness and joy. On the one hand, it’s not easy to watch one leave their friends. On the other hand, they have changed, and so have Frodo’s wants and needs. It’s representative of the new age they find themselves in after the defeat of Sauron. 

Perhaps that’s the time we’re in now. The past year has certainly been difficult on many levels, and it has forced us all to adapt. We aren’t supposed to be the same people at the end of our personal adventures. Maybe we’re not destroying a ring of great power for the betterment of Middle-earth, but we all have our own personal Mount Dooms to climb. And I have found that, if you ever need a place to go as you climb, the world of Tolkien is always there. 

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Edith-Marie started her blog Short Girl Writes in January of 2016. When she’s not reading, writing, or writing about either of those things, she’s a college student, majoring in international studies with a concentration in global health.

My Personal Journey Reading Tolkien (Guest Post by H.P. @ Every Day Should Be Tuesday)

Tolkien Reading Event 2019

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Tolkien and the Mysterious. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts!

I am not the biggest Tolkien fan in the world.  I still haven’t finished The Silmarillion!  But it would be very hard for me to overplay how important Tolkien has proven for my life.

I first picked up Tolkien when I was very young (sometime in elementary school).  Some fantasy had come into my hands—some book or another, or perhaps the original Final Fantasy game on the NES.  My mom said, “You know, if you like that, there is a book you would like . . .”  I’m not even sure if my mom has ever read The Hobbit, which is a testament to its cultural cache.  I did not immediately acquiesce.  I was a pretentious child—before I became a man and put away childish things like the fear of seeming childish—and I initially rebuffed my mom’s efforts.  But a book is a book, and I didn’t have so many laying around in those days, so I didn’t wait long before reading it.

I was already a reader, but The Hobbit threw gas on the fire.  I blew through it and tore into The Lord of the Rings.  Rereading it as a busy adult, I can see why the slow start throws people off.  But I loved every word as a kid.  I reread it many times, burning through all three books in a day sometimes.  It was a joy and an escape.  My brother died when I was 11.  My memories are hazy, but I was fiddling with The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Game rpg that week.

I grew older and read many more fantasy books.  I left for college and then moved across the state to work.  I read much less, and more of that non-fiction or non-speculative fiction.  I perhaps would have left fantasy behind entirely, but for Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and a new book in The Wheel of Time every couple years.  It was the resumption of The Wheel of Time, when Brandon Sanderson took over for Robert Jordan, that pulled me back in.  I started reviewing books on Amazon.  Four years later I started my SF book review blog, Every Day Should Be Tuesday, and began reading fantasy and science fiction much more broadly.

One might ask if Tolkien retains any relevance.  Perhaps I and speculative fiction have moved on?  I had let my copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings grow dusty for many years.  I may not have even reread them since before Jackson’s movies.  Returning to Tolkien’s work this past summer showed me Tolkien still has very much to teach me.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings remain as entertaining as they ever were, and I found also a depth I was better able to appreciate as a man.  I chose The Hobbit to read to my daughter in the womb (and out of it, since I wasn’t quite able to finish).  I effectively read it three times last year—out loud to my daughter, in the usual fashion, and dissected and annotated in John D. Rateliff’s The History of the Hobbit.  It did not suffer from the repetition.  I still think it is as close to a perfect fantasy book as you can get, and as slightly exceeding The Lord of the Rings.  The prose is both simple and poetic.  The story silly and scary.  Queer Lodgings and Flies and Spiders are maybe the two best consecutive chapters in English literature.  And, yes, the older, busier me can see why the dilatory start to The Fellowship of the Ring throws people off, but good things come to those who wait.  It deserves its place in the fantasy and English language canon.  It is pulp enough people can attempt to mock it as entertainment for 12-year-olds and literary enough that the International Congress of Medieval Studies hosts an entire track on Tolkien.

But as I returned to his work, it was Tolkien the man who made a bigger impression on me than his work.  My daughter was born as I prepared for my summer Tolkien 101 blog series, and I had just started a new career in academia.

Tolkien chose to live his life as a certain kind of man.  He came from and re-entered the upper middle class.  He held a chair at the most prestigious university in England for 34 years and published two landmark works in his field (his edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and his lecture Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics).  He of course came to international fame with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

But he chose to live a “middle-class, conventional, well-regulated existence . . . because he believed it was the right way to live.”  He learned respect for working class Brits “in the trenches” of France and maintained “a deep admiration for ordinary people—butchers, police officers, mail carriers, gardeners” throughout his life.  For all his success as a writer of scholarship and fiction he was infamously dilatory in completing projects—perhaps because he attended Mass daily and wrote elaborate Christmas stories for his children.  The views reflected in The Lord of the Rings—with its heroic, deeply admirable working class Sam and its esteem for nature and the simple life—were reflected in his personal life.  (All quotes from The Fellowship by Philip and Carol Zaleski.)

Tolkien’s life, then, offers lessons for me as I attempt to balance seemingly endless demands among reading and commenting on fiction, family, faith, and work.  It is within our power to choose to live in a way we believe to be right.

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About the Author

H.P. is an academic, attorney, and “author” (well, blogger).  He blogs about speculative fiction at Every Day Should Be Tuesday.  Every Day Should Be Tuesday featured a blog series on Tolkien, Tolkien 101, over this past summer.

Tolkien’s Tales of the Elder Days (Guest Post by Linda White)

Tolkien Reading Event 2019

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Tolkien and the Mysterious. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts!

Elder Days Tales

You may have some familiarity with The Silmarillion and seen these newer works being published that are part of it. But maybe you are not sure where they came from, or how they fit in to the larger work. Here is the scoop: you can pick up any one of the three separate works from The Silmarillion that have been released as standalone volumes and enjoy it on its own. They are The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, and The Fall of Gondolin. Some say the reading order should be publication order, but you would not be wrong to read Beren and Luthien first.

But what are they, and how did they get here? And why are some more complete than others? Here we’ll take a look a little bit at what I have come to understand as the evolution of the Tales of the Elder Days.

JRR Tolkien worked on the stories in The Silmarillion for years. He worked on the individual stories, and he worked to bring the entire opus together into his long-sought mythology of England. But after the success of The Hobbit, his publishers wanted “another hobbit story” and not a deep epic about elves and men. So during the years from the publication of The Hobbit in 1937 to the publication of The Lord of the Rings in 1954, his attention veered away by necessity more towards hobbits, which he strived to bring into the story of his larger mythology. However, this took much longer than he thought it would, and he was not able to spent time to pull together the pieces of The Silmarillion into a definitive arc. After the unbelievable success of The Lord of the Rings, he worked on The Silmarillion in bits and pieces, in between interview requests, answering fan letters, and the other demands of his sudden fame.

His publisher, Allen & Unwin, did not seem to be interested in anything other than the stories surrounding The Hobbit. They did not want Farmer Giles of Ham, and they didn’t want any pieces of The Silmarillion. So it was that his original stories, his magnus opus, was not published during his lifetime. The Silmarillion was finally published in 1977 as a total, but not quite completely polished, work.

At this point, his son Christopher was the literary executor of his estate, and seemed to share an affinity for the stories. He certainly had grown up knowing about them, if not reading them. After the publication of The Silmarillion, there seemed to be nothing left to do. But wait. There were mounds more of papers, sketches, snippets on scraps of paper, and different versions of some of the tales. More than had been included in the published edition of The Silmarillion.

Ultimately, it was decided that the most complete, and arguably, pivotal tales in the saga could be published in their most complete forms, and in the case of Beren and Luthien at least, along with little snippets of the story that differed somewhat from the most complete form of the tale.

Eventually, there would be three stories published, in separate editions over a period of years. These can be collectively called the Tales of the Elder Days, as Christopher Tolkien refers to them in his Introduction to the first one, The Children of Hurin. This one was published in 2007, and it is probably the most complete of the three that would be published as a stand-alone book.

Even though it refers to other stories that occur in The Silmarillion, much as The Lord of the Rings refers back to events in The Silmarillion itself, The Children of Hurin can be read as a complete story unto itself.

The next book to be published was Beren and Luthien in 2017. This particular tale is presented as more fragments, with commentary interspersed from Christopher Tolkien. Imagine trying to sort through all the papers and snippets, and make them into some kind of coherent whole. And yet, Christopher knew how important this story was to Tolkien. After all, Tolkien had the names carved on the tombstone of he and his wife, he Beren, and Edith, always, his Luthien. It was one of the first tales he had written after returning from the Battle of the Somme in 1916, during his convalescence the following year.

Soon after the publication of Beren and Luthien as a standalone, the world received The Fall of Gondolin in a similar lovely volume. As this seems to be the final episode in the First Age, and since Christopher Tolkien has retired as Director of the Tolkien Estate, it seems unlikely that we will get anything further in this series. However, since he retired in 2017 – and at 93 who can blame him? – and was known to be notoriously tight with rights to Tolkien’s works, it is highly likely that there will be more adaptations, more ways to enjoy the work that exists. The first inkling of this is the upcoming Amazon series, for which Amazon Prime is doling out teasers in incredibly maddening tiny tidbits.

Yet, it is unlikely that we will see any really new work. Christopher Tolkien had an understanding of and familiarity with his father’s work which is unlikely to ever be equaled. We still have The Lost Tales, which are the very first versions of these stories. And there are more Tolkien scholars delving deeply into every aspect of the work of Tolkien. But whether there will ever be any other tales taken from the larger works, expanded and edited, is doubtful.

Still, it is incredibly satisfying to have these three volumes to read, each of them a standalone and yet part of a whole. Each of them includes information pertinent to that particular story, and is the furthest one can delve into that part of the history of the First Age.

*This post is comprised of knowledge gleaned from many sources, and I can’t specifically cite segments, as I have integrated what I know and paraphrased most of it. These sources include The Letters of JRR Tolkien, Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth, and various articles and posts online. The quote about the publisher wanting “another hobbit story” is from somewhere in The Letters of JRR Tolkien.

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About the Author

A long-time reader and book collector, Linda is also a writer and is working on her first novel. She can be found on Instagram @lindabookmania where she loves to talk Tolkien, Harry Potter, and all things

fantasy. She runs the blog BookManiaLife and a website for writers called The Publishing Bones, as well as a boutique agency, BookMania. When not reading or writing, she might be gardening, hiking or dabbling in book arts.

Find me at and and on Twitter @LindaWonder

My Journey Through Tolkien’s Works (Guest Post by Short Girl)

Tolkien Reading Event 2019

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Tolkien and the Mysterious. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts!

My Journey Through Tolkien

My Journey Through Tolkien

I will be honest: I did not read The Lord of the Rings before I watched it.

My family has always been the type that reads.  Even though I’m getting up in years now, my parents still do “family read-aloud.” Each night, my mother will read a chapter or so aloud from whatever novel we’re on to my father and me. It’s a fun time. I’ve had The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, the Inkheart books, and many other classics read aloud to me over the years.

Surprisingly, though, my parents didn’t read LOTR to me before they decided we should watch it one wintry eve when I was ten or eleven. Since I had never read the books, I was supremely annoyed at the cliff-hanger that the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, leaves viewers on. Granted, I had watched LOTR before (the creepy cartoon version, when I was seven, at school; it scared me so I tried not to remember it), but I was still upset. A few weeks later, I goaded my parents into a nearly six-hour long double feature to watch The Two Towers and The Return of the King in order to see what happened next. I remember loving Éowyn, who slays the Witch-King. She was a super cool gal, and my prepubescent self was dazzled.

Then I read The Hobbit.

I know what you’re thinking. Hold the phone, you say, you watched the LOTR trilogy and then read The Hobbit? When are you actually gonna read the LOTR books?!?

The Hobbit was another family read-aloud book, and, as a child, I liked the imagery of the maze of caves that Bilbo finds himself in, where he sees Smeagol. I liked how small the book was but how the characters could still go on such an adventure. The other problem was that my brother owned the copy of LOTR, a thick, dog-eared one with all three books in it, and he was at college.

Eventually, though, he left his book at home, and I stole it and began reading. I was in seventh grade, and I carried the thick book around in my backpack for weeks, reading during lunch, between classes, during breakfast, and before bed. The imagery was just as dazzling, the characters just as gripping. I still loved Legolas and Gimli and Frodo and all of them. Frodo and Sam’s friendship was really important to me, especially in the tumultuous time that was middle school. I claimed my brother’s book as my own and covered it in peanut-butter stains during my excited reading.

When The Hobbit movies came out, I went to see the first one in theaters, and I was a little disappointed. I wanted to see the whole book at once, but I couldn’t! My then-boyfriend was obsessed with Tolkien, and he got me a copy of the movie for Christmas. It was nice of him, but I didn’t end up seeing the other two movies. I decided to keep the magic of The Hobbit to myself.

Even though Harry Potter was my favorite book series growing up (still is), LOTR was an important part of my development. It taught me about friendship, doing the right thing, and going on an adventure. It was part of my family culture–my brother and parents and I bonded over watching/reading it. When I heard recently that there was a movie about Tolkien coming out, I was quite excited.

Of course, I’m older now, so I have to admit the flaws of both Tolkien as a person and also his writing, but his books paved the way for me to love fantasy, try and write some of my own, and to keep on exploring.

Books offer you the opportunity to go into a another world, and The Lord of the Rings series definitely did that for me.

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About the Author

Short Girl has been blogging at Short Girl Writes ( for a little over three years. As the name implies, she’s a short girl who writes. Her blog is focused largely on book reviews, but includes posts on other aspects of the world of reading and writing. In her spare time, she’s usually making music, knitting, or…surprise, reading books.

5 Favorite Quotes From Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Guest Post by Rachel)

Tolkien Reading Event 2018

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Home and Hearth: The Many Ways of Being a Hobbit. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts!  Check out the complete schedule here.


The Hobbit is an iconic book, one we all know and love. While Tolkien wrote many, many books, The Hobbit is what started such a fantastic series and fandom known as The Lord of the Rings.

The Hobbit laid the base foundation for The Lord of the Rings and is just as an important story as the rest of the tale that celebrates hobbits everywhere.

This book has great storytelling, loveable characters, and wonderful life lessons and messages. Here are my top 5 favorite quotes.

1. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

This is one of my favorites. It’s simple, it’s the first line in the book, it lays the foundation for The Lord of the Rings, and it’s well-known by everyone. This quote is a nice introduction to not only Bilbo, but also to hobbits in general. Hobbits, in my opinion, have the best kind of life.

2. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

This is the perfect introduction to Gandalf the Grey. His personality really shines through this saying and it’s a funny line. Honestly, it got me thinking. Gandalf is right. What are we actually saying when we tell someone, “Good morning?”

3. “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

I read this quote as, “Never give up.” There are times when you’re going nuts looking for your car keys, and it turns out they’ve been hanging up by the door right where they’re supposed to be. However, there are times in our lives when we’re looking for less tangible things. We’re trying to figure out what the right career is for ourselves or we’re simply trying to find out who we are. The answer is never easy, but if you keep pushing forward, you’ll find it – even if it’s not what you expected.

4. “The road goes ever on and on.”

We can all channel our inner Bilbo with this one. We’re all on our own individual journeys in life. What are the right choices to make? Where do we see ourselves 5 years from now? The road goes ever on and on, indeed.

5. “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

I find this quote to be the most inspirational and so true to life. The media and news has been toxic for quite some time, but there are good people in the world. There are good news reports that, for whatever reasons, get buried underneath all the bad. There’s still hope, even if it’s hard to see sometimes.

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Tolkien was a fantastic writer with a wild imagination. He really made a way for himself in the fantasy writing world and has easily taught us a lot about life through fantastical scenarios. I won’t be running into an Orc anytime soon or be making friends with any Elves, but I can heed what I’ve learned and apply it to my life.

What are some of your favorite quotes from The Hobbit? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author

“I’m a freelance writer and blogger who specializes in all things writing and gaming. I keep myself busy running two blogs among other things in the creative world. I’m currently working on a couple mystery books to be published in the near future. Feel free to connect with me on my Blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn.”

Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen Review (Guest Post by Samantha)

Tolkien Reading Event 2018

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Home and Hearth: The Many Ways of Being a Hobbit. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts!  Check out the complete schedule here.

Book Blurb

For the first time ever, the epic, in-depth story of the creation of one of the most famous fantasy worlds ever imagined—an illustrious compendium that reveals the breathtaking craftsmanship, artistry, and technology behind the magical Middle-earth of the blockbuster film franchises, The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy and The Hobbit Trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson.


This is the most recent Middle-Earth book released by Weta Workshop. If you aren’t familiar with Weta Workshop, they are the very talented people who created the props, design and special effects of both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. They are based in New Zealand and also worked on a lot of other big movies.

Prior to releasing Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen, Weta Workshop released 7 books about the production of The Hobbit trilogy (2 books for each movie and one special book about Smaug). But those aren’t the subject of this post.

On December 5th 2017, Middle Earth: From Script to Screen was published. On that same day, a box was delivered to my front door. A BIG and HEAVY box! Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to look at the beauty inside. The book is pretty expensive ($75 US), so I had asked for it as a Christmas present. Therefore, I waited 20 days to get it. But it was absolutely worth it!

First, the book is beautiful. The cover is embossed and there is a yellow ribbon bookmark so you never lose your place. The inside of the book is just as beautiful as the outside. The design is stunning, and it is filled with pictures from the movies and behind the scenes as well as artwork.

The content is also very interesting! For people who have read The Hobbit Chronicles books, you know those are entirely written through quotes. All the information provided in those books come from the actors, special effects specialists, etc. It isn’t the case in this book. Most of it is original text, although there are quotes included from time to time. These occasional quotes give us insight on the development process of the movies and the actor’s experience.

I personally think the book is filled with interesting details. It is divided in chapters, each chapter focusing on a region of Middle-Earth, and the events that took place there. Through the pages, we learn why some scenes from the book weren’t included, why some characters in the movies differ from those in the books, etc. I find it fascinating to learn about all the steps that went into making these movies. Whether it be the props or the sets, the amount of work that was put into making each of the movies is mind-blowing.

I know a lot of Tolkien fans would rather forget about The Hobbit movie trilogy. But whether you are a fan of these movies or not, I believe we can all admire the work that went into it. And reading this work helps understand some of the choices that were made.

I absolutely recommend this book to every LOTR fans. It’s a beautiful volume to add to your Middle-Earth collection!