Who invented the modern fantasy genre?

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Aug 23 16:36:53 EDT 2004


Otter remarked about LotR:

>I reread LOTR in preparation for the release of the movies.  And got
>really
>bored and annoyed.  Then, driving back and forth [and back and forth]
>between Michigan and Colorado, I listened to a complete audio version.
>This was lots better.  And I've read part, if not all, since and not
>been as annoyed.

I was seriously put out by a BBC Radio adaptation some years ago, which
started with scenes of Gollum being tortured in Mordor --  thus giving away
a fairly important plot-point well before it needed to be revealed, and
adding nothing except a chance for an actor to do some dramatic screaming.
For a long time that was all there was apart from the books, and a cartoon
film that was so panned by everyone I knew that I didn't make the effort to
go and see it.  Is the version you've got on tape simply a decent reading
of the books in the right order, without abridgement or additions?

>With me, it's more me than Tolkien, I know.  There are things he can
>do and things he can't do, and it just depends on which strike me
>harder any given time.

These days I read threads of the five books rather than reading right
through the whole lot.  I find it more interesting to follow one bunch of
people than it is to hop from party to party, now I know what is going to
happen.

Doesn't anybody else find the dwarves more interesting than the elves?  I
get fed up with all the beautiful-but-doomed business, but the dwarves
don't have the same atmosphere of immortal dissatisfaction about them.  I
like Gimli!

>[I noticed, for instance, that he does landscape pretty well, but there
>  are no birds or wild animals [with a very few exceptions] who are
>  not involved in machinations of the plot.  Definitely not a birder.]

The landscape is fine, but even leaving aside the lack of wild animals (one
fox, isn't there?) where are all the people?  Mile after mile after mile of
well-kept road (as opposed to the Greenway, which has fallen into disrepair
because it is hardly used these days) but are there any people?  Herders,
local villagers, or even a road-mender and stone-breaker?  there are not!
After leaving Bree, the hobbits meet nor even see in the distance anybody
not absolutely essential to the plot.  All that acreage and not a single
cottage, nor village, nor even a ruin such as Wordsworth would have leaned
on the gate of and written a long poem about the people who used to live
there and their sorrowful lot

(why would the gates of ruined cottages in the Lake District survive to be
leaned on when the place itself is just a tumble of stones?  but I digress
even more than usual)

Where are all the inhabitants of Middle Earth?  I know that it's all part
of the grand "this country is in the Grip Of Fear" scheme of things, but
surely *some* stubborn old shepherds would have stayed where they were
born?  And if they didn't, where did they all go?  And why?  The shadow in
the East hasn't yet arrived, and although there have been nasty rumours in
the Shire and Bree, there doesn't seem to have been any concerted
land-clearance or massacre or other reason for the deserted countryside.
Even in the settlements they finally get to, the population is noted as
having fallen dramatically from what it was in their heyday, and before
that it doesn't seem as if the entire population of the area between Bree
and Rivendell has taken refuge in either place.

I think Sauron (or possibly Saruman) has been slipping contraceptives into
the water-supply for a century or two.

Minnow


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