J.R.R. Tolkien


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hey does ne1 else think dat frodo & sam r gay?
oh and tolkien rox.

>>By eyesonlyplease   (Wednesday, 29 Oct 2003 14:38)

It's getting hard to refer to anything on this page, there's so many loose ends I would like to reply to ...

As for Tolkien versus Rowling, I prefer Tolkien for several reasons.

Tolkien is more than mere entertainment. I am not going to go into the language and mythology thing yet again, but I completely agree.

Tolkien actually knows language inside out. He knows it from the oldest root upwards, but his literary love is poetry. That makes a fabulous combination. Elitist and difficult language? Let me paraphrase J. Winterson on this: It's not art that has to come down, it's the reader who has got to make a little effort to enjoy the view up there. Otherwise you can better watch television.

Rowling's easier and shallower and, let's NOT forget: UNORIGINAL. I'm sorry for the fans, but read Anthony Horowitz' books about a school for wizards (can't tell you the English title, read them in a Dutch translation as a kid) and you will find a wittier, sharper and far more funny version of the same idea outdating Rowling by at least ten years. I'm surprised nobody ever noticed.

In Rowling's work magic is missing. Or perhaps I should say: Magic is missing. We get to know everything about spells and potions and brooms and ghosts and exactly this process makes it explainable, understandable, almost 'normal'.
In Tolkien the Magic is everywhere. The Elves seem to be made of it, old places and impressive landscapes couldn't exist without it. But nobody can tell you exactly what it is. It's in the soil, the land itself is alive. Magic is not some simple thing that can be put into a formula and taught in a school. That's what makes HP sound shallow to a lot of people. Magic is best left untouched and unexplained, but allowed to do its work.
Let's quote the master himself on this. In his famous essay 'On Fairy-stories' J.R.R. Tolkien writes the following:

"A 'fairy-story' is [a story] which touches on or uses Faërie [this is the Elven Kingdom, Aywin], whatever its own main purpose may be: satire, adventure, morality, fantasy. Faërie itself may perhaps most nearly be translated by Magic - but it is magic of a peculiar mood and power, at the furthest pole from the vulgar devices of the laborious, scientific, magician."

To me, that's HP and Zweinstein all right: the laborious, scientific magician. Add a cheap detective story and throw in some evil influences, stir and pour into easily-toned language. A recipe for succes. And isn't that what books are judged by nowadays? Rowling was a huge commercial success almost right away, Tolkien has been loved and enjoyed, but enjoyed rather privately, like one would enjoy the Classics, by a wide circle of mostly anti-commercial people. (Until the films, that is.)

And to close off (otherwise this text gets too long and nobody will bother to read it):
The way Peter Jackson makes the Magic come alive in his film is very well done. Light, colours and shading, music: sincere congratulations. It's the human actors who sometimes fall short, according to me.
I had imagined Aragorn far more unpleasant and grim. (He's about FIFTY, remember, he's been living in the woods for decades! But he comes from a line of men who live almost twice their natural span.) But Mortensen is so dedicated to the part that I gladly accept him. Arwen was most disappointing for me. Not the Elves as such, only her. I really lack this extra touch of unearthliness in her. She's just a pretty girl in a beautiful dress whispering softly. But hey, that's just my opinion. To some of my friends Arwen was great but Frodo was far too young (correct, too, in fact).
On the whole Tolkien fans cannot complain about the film. And even if there are some lacks or mistakes (I almost fell off my chair when the Elf army marched into Helm's Deep) this whole thing has been done with such love and such respect for the original that it can only be applauded. It's the first film based on a book in which the book has really been done justice.

>>By Aywin   (Wednesday, 5 Nov 2003 16:24)

or is it too much to ask???....

>>By CALI2COLORADI   (Thursday, 6 Nov 2003 03:18)

Correction: it's 'Hogwarth' (hope it's spelled right) instead of 'Zweinstein'. I accidentally used the Dutch translation term. The argument still stands, though.

>>By Aywin   (Thursday, 27 Nov 2003 19:41)

HI From NZ. Great to see the level of discussion here. Can't comment on Rowling, haven't been there. First read LOTR in 1964 at 13, and at least 10 times since then. Was immediately captured by that depth of his creation. Coloured my imagination for years, even my local landscape was admired if it seemed "Like Middle-Earth." Who would have believed nearly 40 years later it would be used in the film? I even signed up with an agency to be an extra, but I never got an offer, must be cos I'm too old & can't ride!

>>By flamencoprof   (Saturday, 29 Nov 2003 17:56)

ever read the silmarillion?
Awesomeness to the max is that book!!

>>By Fiesty_Gothik   (Saturday, 27 Dec 2003 05:49)

I have to say that magic is not really magic if you need to use a wand to get at it. I totally agree with Aywin there about how HP is a bit shallower. Perhaps if the wizarding folk worked past their need to use implements to use magic I might be more impressed.
Have to say I love Tolkein's works, have not read all, but have read silmarillion, LotR trilogy, Unfinished tales and the Hobbit (the only one my parents would let me read until I was 11). I enjoyed all of them, the ones written by Tolkein himself more (because Christopher Tolkein gathered the information for the other books from unfinished pieces from J.R.R.)
Anyway, love reading fantasies, g2g now, late where I am, need to sleep, dad at point of losing temper.

>>By just_slightly_insane   (Sunday, 28 Dec 2003 12:55)

Ok, this may come across as a bit contentious, but I'm not just saying this to annoy. I really don't agree that Tolkein is such a fantastic writer. A lot of people here are saying that he is a brilliant writer, the best author in the world, etc. but I cannot agree. His prose is leaden and I find the characterisation for the most part is wooden. With the relationship between Frodo and Smeagol there is a lot of depth, he seems to explore shades of grey, but for the most part (Boromir excepted) everything is depicted in black/white, good/evil terms. And good is virtually always fair, and evil is dark, hence the spurious allegations of Tolkein being sympathetic to far right philosophies.

Where it does really achieve though is the breadth of his writing. Tolkein created a richly detailed world, with a scope and vision beyond any successive fantasy writers. To call Weiss and Hickman a gem like Tolkein is seriously deluded. Tolkein was attempting to construct a myth for England, like the Nordic myths, something to underpin our culture. In this he didn't succeed immediately, but as his influence grows, and more people read his work, the more likely he is to fulfil this. The roots of the books are in the roots of European language and culture, which is why it feels so alive, he distilled our mythic past into something new. This is the point of the Silmarillion, to deepen and entrench his mythos.

I think that any comparison to Rowling is entirely incidental and does them both a diservice. The only reason they have been compared is because of the films coming out at the same time. Tolkein helped create a genre that Rowling operates under, but no more. Rowling is good for what she is, but not great. If you want great contemporary childrens literature try Phillip Pullman's Northern Lights trilogy. He creates a new mythic universe, and beyond, which may be compared to Tolkein, though in a more scaled down way. Or go back to the original schoolboy wizard in LeGuins Wizard of Earthsea. That has true depth, and pain and humanity.

Again I will say that I don't want to upset anyone, but does it do anyone any favours to elevate the good to the status of the great.

>>By Dibs   (Monday, 29 Dec 2003 16:39)

To each his own.

>>By ameliadawn   (Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 00:19)

I happen to agree with Dibs, it would be very hard to classify Tolkien as a great writing talent. Not sure I would classify his writing as "leaden" or "wooden" but it does fall short of excellent. Definitely, definitely has its flaws, but that takes nothing away from the story itself, which is amazing.

And the good vs. evil with no middle ground (save gollum and frodo's turmoil) isnt exactly isolated to Tolkien, that is a commonly repeated theme (flaw!) throughout literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

>>By Distrust   (Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 03:55)

Perhaps leaden and wooden were overstating it. I agree about the lack of moral grey areas being a flaw throughout literature. For me truly great literature can address this, and it's largely what will make a novel great. Fantasy and sci-fi can be hugely guilty of moral absolutism, maybe because it tends to have a less mature target audience, but more probably because it is still a relatively young genre. It is changing. Apart from established authours like Phillip K. Dick you have newer writers like Jeff Noon and Iain M. Banks who have pushed the moral boundaries of fictional universes.

>>By Dibs   (Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 12:37)

Too few, too few, but when you find them!

>>By Distrust   (Tuesday, 30 Dec 2003 18:25)

Actually, yeah, I have found some flaws.
All the heroes seem to be guys (excepting Eowyn [who reminds me of Allanna from TP books]) and all the while, Arwen sits there, concerned for her Aragorn, that he's going to die. I can't see why she worries so much. If worse comes to worse, she could have gone and fought along side him, it's possible.
Middle earth seems to be a bit sexist, and all the women that stand out are branded troublemakers (gals such as Galadriel and Eowyn). But, that doesn't stop me from enjoying the fantastic books that they are.

>>By just_slightly_insane   (Thursday, 1 Jan 2004 13:14)

Ok, now to reply to some other comments.
I have to agree that HP does seem to be for kids, but where was it when I hungered for more than just Goosebumps and Baby Sitters' Club books (age 7-9).
I needed deeper books and finally, when I was 11, I found it.
HP had only just come out in my country and my friends were talking about it so much I had to read them.
But then I went on to other fantasy books. I was hooked.
And then I found The Hobbit, followed by LotR. Of course, being 12 at the time, I struggled through some bits and sped through others. My friend had seen the first movie, which I had not seen, and leant me the books. Fairly soon, I was hooked and now have read the silmarillion, unfinished tales, FotR, TTT and RotK once each, and know practically every line in the first movie, half the lines in the second, and have not yet seen the third, but am still laughing over the fact that the Witch King thought he was invincible.......only to be killed by Eowyn (A WOMAN!). That sure showed him that he should have said no person can kill him, not no man.

>>By just_slightly_insane   (Thursday, 1 Jan 2004 13:35)

Yes, I have read the Silmarillion.

>>By just_slightly_insane   (Friday, 9 Jan 2004 12:34)

I know this is suppose to be about the books which i never really read but i saw the movies and i have to say the the third movie is awesome the animation and they way the portray the stories is facinating and i love the story behind it!

>>By Jackthepumpkinking   (Friday, 9 Jan 2004 22:50)

Yes well........I have to admit the Silmarillion bored me to death the first time I read it...........
To Jackthepumpkinking:
I strongly advise you to read the books......they are an awesome read, not to be missed....anyhow, the hobbit is also a good book.
All the LotR books are extremely good, they do get boring at the council of elrond, but things quickly liven up as the fellowship leave Rivendell....there is just that lull there, the quiet between two havocs.
I borrowed the books off my friend before I saw the movie........books are way better, because you see the character portrayed in more depth....I love movie Gollum/Smeagle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

>>By just_slightly_insane   (Saturday, 10 Jan 2004 14:10)

Yes i wanted to read the books but i just never got around to it my life is just so busy lately

>>By Jackthepumpkinking   (Sunday, 11 Jan 2004 21:33)

Reading Tolkien can be experienced as boring because he uses such very lofty language. Don't forget he lived inside Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian mythology all his life, and if you'd read those, even in translation, you wouldn't find a nice tempo there either.

About the all-male thing ... Part of Tolkien's way of experiencing friendship in his personal life was put into the books. His wife was the person he loved most in the world, but all of his literary and worldly pleasures were shared with men. But again this is very consistent compared to ancient mythology, where sisters and daughters were given to a neighbour king because of some quest for honour or the purchase of a few ships. Women were no warriors then, they were hardly more than noble cattle. Tolkien just continued the tradition, though with a lot more love and respect for women than they usually received from our ancestors.
Besides, some women do escape their traditional role. It's not because Galadriel doesn't take up a sword that she is unimportant. In the Silmarillion Luthien and Nienor refuse to sit at home but follow the one they love into darkness. Female strentgh isn't about fighting, it's about weaving magic webs in a way that influences the world. The power of love can be victorious when put into a song or a hiding cloak.

>>By Aywin   (Monday, 12 Jan 2004 10:14)

Peronally, having read the books and seen the films i just think Tolkein isnt a very good writer. its a good story line and i enjoyed the film but the book just doesnt flow properly. i m a fast reader but it took me ages 2 finish them coz i kept having 2 read sentences more than once. As `a writer JK is much better, no matter what her topic, coz she maikes the sentences link on from one another and it flows better. she is also not always confusing me by bringing in random characters without introducing them 1st.

>>By fish4ever   (Sunday, 18 Jan 2004 13:12)

I didn't say that Galadriel wasn't important...I referred to her and eowyn as being branded as trouble makers....Eowyn because of her desire to fight alongside the men and Galadriel because, well, she's a bit strange....and powerful...she rocks!
I laughed when I read that bit where Eowyn kills the Witch king and he's shocked because after all no man shall kill him...imagine the shock on his face when she lifts her helmet! A WOMAN!!!!!!!!!
Only the silmarillion was a bit boring, because my mind was on other things and I tend to speed read anyway.

>>By just_slightly_insane   (Monday, 19 Jan 2004 09:12)

I know this is a discussion on tolkein's books, but has anyone read Bored of the Rings? It's very funny, even though it is a parody of Lord of the Rings.
The Harvard Lampoon were a bit mean to the elves, though, making them sound like sex-crazy maniacs who like molesting squirrels.
Still funny though.

>>By just_slightly_insane   (Monday, 19 Jan 2004 09:17)

Anything to say about the links between Beowulf and Tolkien? I just found out that Tolkien's translation and subsequent analysis are considered to be very important to current scholars dealing with Beowulf.

I tend to think Tolkien borrowed only in imagery and tone, changing the basic premise and meaning.

>>By Patterson   (Wednesday, 4 Feb 2004 19:49)

Bored of the Rings? That would be a strange book to read.

>>By Rajiv   (Wednesday, 3 Mar 2004 07:54)

Well, First of all I must say I´m not an english speaker, so excuese me for my grammar and ortography. I had read almost the half of this discussion, and lot of points jump to my head... I had read both, Tolkein and Rowling (LOTR, Silmarillon, The Hobbit, Mr. Bliss (not of Middle Earth), and for Rowling, the first three books)... I like very much both of them, at first I didn´t want to know anything about them, as I thought that they weren´t good writters (I thought that because of the movies they have reach such popularity), but then I realized that they have lot of fans not for the movies, because the movies were done since they have fanatics... So, I drank Harry Potter books like whater as the story is fun and easy for read, maybe it isn´t as it is the best book or revolutionary, but continues being fun... Then I read LOTR and I must say that I like it very much (so I continue with the reading of other books of this writter), but I don´t plan to read it again for a while because it´s reading is a little "heavy", but I most say that specially the third book is wonderful! (The Return of the King)... What else? Ah, yes, I want to ask about what do you thing of LOTR´s fanfics? Have you read them?

>>By Kirei Gabrielle   (Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 16:45)

Ah, and about the relation about Frodo and Sam, yes it seems a little strange...

>>By Kirei Gabrielle   (Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 16:48)

ok first of all they arent gay you fruits. The whole series is about there relationship its based around WWII i dont care what Tolkien says the fact is its kinda hard to miss. Frodo and Sam are the epifiny of war buddies and just if you didnt catch this the first time you may try reading it again (if you can bring yourself to do it i know i cant) with the knowledge that its about Sam not Frodo but Sam. It may make the war theme alot more odvious especaily in the end.

P.S. for all of you who havent read the Hobbit spare yourselfs it the only book that has literally put me to sleep.

>>By Billy Pilgrim   (Friday, 5 Mar 2004 06:15)

I think a lot of people find LOTR the book hard going because of the language. The basic premise of the book is that it purports to be translated from an old book (The Red Book of WestMarch), so he has deliberately made the language archaic in vocabulary and phraseology. Personally I think it adds to the atmosphere and mood of the tale.

>>By flamencoprof   (Sunday, 7 Mar 2004 18:35)

To anyone who's interested in Tolkien and would like to have some more background as to how the books were created, why they're hard to read and what the author intended with them, I can warmly recommend Tom Shippey's 'JRR Tolkien, Author of the century'. It's a good book written with a lot of insight. Shippey's a philologist like Tolkien and he can bridge certain gaps from his field of expertise to us. Really worth it. Legibly written, too. Another book of his, 'The Road to Middle Earth', says nearly the same things, but is written for an academic audience and in a more scientific tone.
What I like most about Shippey is that he is a) an academic himself, b) likes Tolkien and explains why and c) doesn't object to criticism as such but does object to the empty angry criticism TLOTR has received from so many conservative critics. At last someone intelligent who knows what he's talking about when it comes to these books!

>>By Aywin   (Tuesday, 9 Mar 2004 16:19)

Many of you are unaware or unwilling to accept one fact about mr. tolkien; he was a devout Catholic who wanted to portray the depths of the Faith in his writting.

>>By pass   (Friday, 19 Mar 2004 17:18)

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