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It has been about 46 years since I first read those initial ten words. Tolkien was still a figure of the “literary underground” in 1976 – none of my friends or classmates knew of him – and I was only ten years old.
Tolkien’s name is now a household word, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings now appear near the top of every all-time bestsellers list of books in English, and Peter Jackson’s film franchise based on the books is one of the highest-grossing in history.
The books are still the same today as they were when I first read them, but I am not.