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

Abe Gross argross at bigpond.net.au
Tue Aug 24 04:13:09 EDT 2004




> Quoting Melissa Proffitt <Melissa at Proffitt.com>:
>
> > I'm starting to feel like a whiny outcast Donaldson character.  Didn't
> > ANYONE here love Tolkien, ever?  I swear I read that trilogy about fifty
> > times when I was a kid (except the poetry and the Tom Bombadil part) and
> > just felt so swept up in it.  (My friend swears we read it in second
grade,
> > which could be possible, but I can't believe I was quite *that*
precocious.)
> > As an adult I have to be pretty amazed at what he accomplished,
considering
> > that everyone and his well-educated dog borrowed from him to create
their
> > knock-off fantasy universes.  It's been about three years since I read
it
> > last, and in my memory I had come to equate his world with all those
others.
> > But by comparison, his expression of the idyllic past and the
idealization
> > of the nonhuman races (and I include the evil races in this) is so
totally
> > fresh that I wonder how I missed it before.  This is true even if you
don't
> > like the original--you don't have to like Lord of the Rings to notice
the
> > differences.  Terry Brooks should have been shot out of hand.
> >
> > Melissa Proffitt
> >
>
> 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.
>
> Emma :)

When I first read LOR, I was in Year 8 and between 13 and 14 years of age.
It must have been 1965, so it wasn't when it was first published. However,
the only fantasy I'd read until then was CS Lewis and Alan Garner's _The
Weirdstone of Brisingamen_. The Garner book had made an enormous impression
on me, and I have no idea whether it itself was influenced by LOR, but when
I encountered LOR, it felt amazing and fresh to me. So, apart from the
Garner, I'd never read anything remotely like it before. I seemed to me as
if a whole world opened up to me, but I also found it disturbing at some
deep level. It was partly the description of the Dark Riders, to give one
dark example, but also the whole work seemed deeply scary to me. I loved
them, though. The final scenes really moved me, I remember, also. Ursula le
Guin has written somewhere that when she first read LOR, she found the
picture of Sauron's eye on the cover frightening in a deep, numinous,
archetypal way, and that's exactly how the whole story affected me. When I
reread the books recently before I saw the films, I was struck by first, how
boring some sections were, and second, how deeply the whole still affected
me nonetheless. I found that some aspects, such as the Dark Riders and
Gandalf's death, had almost the same effect as they had originally.

Ros

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