This post is in response to Troy's post about this goal for the reread. I've been thinking out this myself, so although I am shamelessly stealing his idea, I defend myself by saying that I had planned on writing a post along these lines all along.
Anyway, I've previously read the following books by Tolkien:
- The Hobbit - many times, since I was approximately 10 years old. At least 6, maybe 7 times. I've also seen all of the Peter Jackson adaptations (once only), and I even own the rather bizarre Rankin & Bass animated version.
- The Lord of the Rings - many times, since I was approximately 15 years old. Probably more than 5. I've also seen all of the Peter Jackson adaptations, a lot of the additional material, and I own the extended editions.
- The Silmarillion - once only, and it was a struggle.
In addition, I've listened to several of the Corey Olsen podcasts related to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, & The Silmarillion. I've dipped into the Unfinished Tales, but only the Third Age stuff because I'm obsessed with Rohan.
So, my goal with this process is to integrate my understanding of Middle Earth into a *more* coherent whole. To understand the references backwards from The Hobbit to The Silmarillion, and forwards, from The Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings, and to bring in the whole of legendarium into my understanding of LOTR, which, to me, is the peak of Tolkien's work and world. It isn't possible to be completely coherent, because, while Tolkien was a master of retroactive continuity, there are discrepancies. He was constantly evolving, rewriting his mythology, and wasn't always able to make everything match perfectly.
I intend to skip nothing. There've been times when I've read The Hobbit and LOTR and I've committed the grave heresy of skimming the songs/poems. Not this time. I will focus on them, and try to pull them apart so I understand better why they are there. Tolkien did nothing by accident, and he edited, and re-edited, and revised, and edited again, and the fact that he put in a song, or a poem, is important to the whole story.
So, I'm going to try to experience it as a whole, if such a thing is possible. A journey begins.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.