“Real Time”?

LOTR RA (Lord of the Rings Read-Along) will be a primarily, but not exclusively, UChicago event starting during Spring Break 2017 and continuing to Spring Quarter 2018. Over the course of this time, we will read through all three volumes of JRR Tolkien’s seminal fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings in “real time.” For a more comprehensive overview of the project see the About page.

Concerning Dates

Middle-Earth, the fantastical setting of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, was always conceived by Tolkien to be part of Earth’s history. The Hobbits’ calendar (the Shire Reckoning) contains 365 days and 12 months (almost) exactly corresponding to our own. Throughout the text of the books Tolkien conveniently “translates” dates into our own months and so the journey of Frodo to destroy the One Ring can be traced day by day. Here are some major events; the years given are that of the Third Age (TA) of Middle Earth:

  • April 12 (3018)* – Frodo learns about the ring from Gandalf
  • Sept 23 (3018) – Hobbits leave Bag End
  • October 25 (3018) – Council of Elrond in Rivendell
  • February 26 (3019)- Breaking of the Fellowship of the Ring
  • March 25 (3019) – Destruction of the One Ring

*For example, this actually corresponds to our April 13, 2017. For more info on dates see the Calendars page.

In ‘The Tale of Years’ the years TA 3018-3019 are referred to as the “Great Years,” and the primary action of LOTR takes place during April 3018-May 3019. Between April 13, 2017 AD and May 2, 2018 AD, I will send updates concerning the events of the corresponding day in TA 3018-3019. Preceding material will be read during Spring Break 2017 and the concluding chapters will be read in May 2018.

To see exactly how the dates correspond, and a full reading schedule, go to the Calendars page; to get an overview of Tolkien’s various calendars, consult Appendix D to Return of the King.


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