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I've started to re-read The Lord of the Rings. While listening to Brad Birzer's three-part interview on the National Review “Great Books” podcast, I realized that I had forgotten a lot of things about the books.
More troubling, I had forgotten a lot of the charming things about the book. Or maybe I had never noticed the charming things since I read the books in my teens. Charm, after all, is unexpected grace or enchantment, which is something I suppose most teenagers are incapable of feeling or, if they are, of recognizing.
Two weeks ago, I read the Prologue and Tolkien's libertarian paean to the Shire. Last week, I finished Chapter One, “The Long-Expected Party.” Now I'm in Chapter Two, where Gandalf confirms his suspicions about the Ring and Frodo decides to leave the Shire.
I'm greatly enjoying it.
As of this moment, though, my favorite passage is about the hobbits leaving the huge party:
“About midnight carriages came for the important folk. One by one they rolled away . . . Gardeners came by arrangement, and removed in wheel-barrows those that had inadvertently remained behind.”