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Are you … A Tolkienist or a Ringer?


Tolkienist = an individual who studies, and is a fan of the works of J.R.R Tolkien

Ringer = an ardent reader of The Lord of the Rings – but more specifically, a fan of the films

A few days ago, I came across a post on an online forum with reference to my blog. The user kindly linked A Tolkienist’s Perspective to the post, under the heading “… very interesting Tolkien blogs”.

However, the user also went on to say about the blog:

“I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call yourself a tolkienist when you are so enthusiastic about the films”.

I have nothing against this individual whatsoever – and am thankful he or she posted the link to this blog. I also think there’s nothing wrong with what was written.

However, what confuses me is: why does someone have to be either a “tolkienist” or a “fan of the films”? Why can’t they be both?

I admit that it is thanks to Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings that I am here, right now, writing this post.

Without seeing The Fellowship of the Ring back in 2001, I would never have picked up a book (let alone a set of Tolkien books filled with thousands of pages of material, strange names and unimaginably-complex storylines).

It is perfectly possible to be able to separate  the books from their adaptations. I’m both a film fan in general and an ardent reader.

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About the Author: James Moffett

James has been an avid fan of Middle-earth after witnessing its cinematic creation in The Fellowship of the Ring, back in 2001. He currently runs the blog ‘A Tolkienist’s Perspective’: delving into the intricacies of Middle-earth and trying to understand Tolkien’s intentions, aspirations and influences. At the same time, he also posts about the author’s more academic works and aspires to write his own recognised contribution in the field of Tolkien studies.

  • Tolkienist for me 🙂

    • TroelsForchhammer

      I dislike the word “fan” as applied to myself – and I have seen comments from self-identifying “ringers” that clearly suggested that their ardour is for viewing films, not for reading books.

      For myself I would suggest someone who arduously studies the life and work of J.R.R. Tolkien and exhibits great enthusiasm therein. I don’t know what you’d call that with a single word 🙂

      That said, there is of course nothing in the two definitions proposed above that is mutually exclusive – it is just that in actual experience, almost no people are both, not that it must be so. The vast majority of people of this world are, of course, neither, and couldn’t care less about the life and works of professor Tolkien … and that is probably just as well 😉

      • James M

        I think the term “Tolkiendil”, apparently common among French-speaking Tolkiendili, is better 🙂

        1. Its meaning is clear, even though it is somewhat irregularly formed.
        2. Its form recalls that of authentic Quenya words such as “Elendili”
        3. It is free of the “low” associations of the word “fan”.

        Shippey, Pearce, *et all.* may be “Tolkienists” – I’m just a lover of the legendarium and (on the whole) of the PJ films of TLOTR. IMHO, the Sil is even better than TLOTR – it’s a work of genius, “and then some”. (Not that TLOTR is not, of course.)

        • Elvenstar

          > ‘IMHO, the Sil is even better than TLOTR – it’s a work of genius, “and then some”.’

          I never thought I’d hear/read another person – other than the one or two I have been friends with for aeons – even hint at this. While I do read The L.R. much more (>= once a year) (and even HoME and of course there is Hobbit and other works still) I really, really like The Silmarillion; as you say it is a work of genius: besides that it’s the mythology that he started out with and never quite finished himself but The L.R. references it in several places; and besides that it’s about elves – my all time favourite fantasy race (and as a Tolkienist I have to say I much prefer Tolkien’s elves than what you had before – and indeed after – his elves). Can’t say I love the films although they do have some nice aspects and the effects are nice (I love the Nazgûl screech/call and there is even an example of Black Breath though not where it happens in the book – and in the film one of those characters is there when he didn’t come later .. and then it was only he who was affected by it; I also love that they spent a lot of time getting elvish right – even if they didn’t get the language of Rohan right).

          I can’t say I agree with your suggested word but I admit point #2 is clever!