Who invented the modern fantasy genre?

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at imperial.ac.uk
Tue Aug 24 06:12:10 EDT 2004

Minnow wrote: 
> Where are all the inhabitants of Middle Earth? ... 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.

There hasn't been a king around to do the fertility magics...

In The Hobbitt the waste areas seem like somewhere not very inviting to move into and farm. There may heve been lots of localised menaces, like Smaug and his Desolation- the Warders seem to be pretty thinly stretched, maybe they can only cover the existing settlements and anyone who sets up a new hamlet tensds to unaccountably go missing. Perhaps monsters moved into the empty bits after the last great wars/plagues/whatever, and the population has never had a chance to rebound to a high enough level to get rid of them all and start reclaiming land?
Or maybe the elves feel it's bad enough that they have to leave Middle-Earth without having a lot of rowdy humans spoiling their last few nostalgic millennia, and they have cast an anti-glamour on the countryside?

In the film Jackson does do the Tough Guide thing of having cities with no visible source of food, and the village that gets burnt out doesn't seem to have any crops either (not entirely his fault- he had to get special permission to build Rohan in a conservation area, and promise to put everything back. I don't think they'd have liked all the flora ploughed up to put crops in.) I thought the books did it as well, except for the Shire, but actually there is a passing mention of farms in the Riddermark. They just aren't what's important to him at that point.

I love LOTR these days, too. It just took the films to get me into the books. 


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