Who invented the modern fantasy genre?

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at imperial.ac.uk
Mon Aug 23 06:33:22 EDT 2004

Aimee wrote:
> But such complete histories and cultures of everywhere... The 
> battle of Helm's Deep... Lothlorien... the story of Aragorn and 
> Arwen (in the appendix)...
> And Sam was always my favourite. I agree with the assessment that it's
> boring, but you hang out for the *good* bits. :)

Now, I find the battles are the boring bits :)

I dragged myself through the trilogy a couple of times as it's so influential. Then I watched the films and went back to the books again to see what had been missed out, and found them much easier to read- I think having the strong forward drive of the films in my mind made it easier to enjoy the discursiveness of the book without thinking "Get on with it!". My favourite parts now are the asides, the history bits, the landscape descriptions. I have no plans to read the 5,000 extra books of unfinished tales, though. 
Ursula le Guin thinks Tolkien is a wonderful prose writer - easy to read out loud because his sentences use the rhythms of speech. (I've just been reading a book of essays of hers, with a long one on LOTR.) I often don't notice style consciously, but next time I read the books I might look for that.

The absolute best bit about either watching the films or reading the books is that it makes you able to appreciate the Very Secret Diaries of the characters. (Probably most netted LOTR fans have seen them, but if you haven't,  http://www.ealasaid.com/misc/vsd/, reading them in order makes it funnier)

I've read so many people saying that Donaldson is awful that I've never bothered with his books- maybe I'm missing a deeply formative experience :) Somehow  Langford's reviews of the books make me feel like I don't have a large enough vocabulary to read them. ("ANSIBLE 32 is argute with analystic refulgence and beneficent mansuetude; it makes its preterite way to you in March 1983, hurled like a jerid from the gaunt, compulsory visage of DAVE LANGFORD ... There are no prizes for guessing which doorstop fantasy blockbuster your editor has recently quaffed like a sapid draught of clinquant roborant whose fulvous surquedry and caducity make knurrs come from the vocabulary out.")


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