Tolkien (was Re: Who invented the modern fantasy genre?)

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at
Mon Aug 23 20:46:35 EDT 2004

--- Emma Comerford <emmaco at> wrote:

> Quoting Melissa Proffitt <Melissa at>:
> > I'm starting to feel like a whiny outcast
> Donaldson character.  Didn't
> > ANYONE here love Tolkien, ever? (snip)> 

> I was wondering the same thing - I loved Lord of the
> Rings when I was a child! I found it enthralling and
> moving. But this gives me the same problem someone
> else (sorry, I'm not on my usual computer so don't 
> have my downloaded messages!) mentioned - I can't
> assess the books subjectively because my original 
> impressions are so strong. Although I have to agree
> with Melissa in still appreciating what he achieved
> - it's 
> been such an influential piece of work. It would be
> interesting to hear from someone who read it when it
> first came out, who doesn't have horrible rip-offs
> in the front of their minds when they read it.

While I can't say i read it when it first came out
(I'm not that old) I did read it at the height of the
Tolkien boom of the 1960s, a  decade before anyone was
imititating him, and I doubt if I will ever read
another book that so awakens a sense of wonder. After
each movie came out i reread that volume and that
sense of wonder is still there. 
To get back to the original topic of this thread I
doubt if any would dispute that JRRT has been the most
influential author as regards modern fantasy, and to
argue over who "invented" the genre is really
splitting hairs. I would guess that the second most
influential author was Robert E Howard. I terms of
subsequence influence on the genre I'd probably go for
Brooks and Donaldson next (for reasons I've already
mentioned - you'll note that the list has nothing to
do with the merit of their work). The next biggest
influence was probably someone who has never written a
significant novel - Garry Gygax for his game Dungeons
and Dragons - how many fantasy authors write in
recognisably Dungeons and Dragons worlds (even Andre
Norton did one) and Lin Carter's role as an editor for
Ballantine books is also important.
After that - the delluge.


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