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

Ven vendersleighc at
Wed Aug 25 20:56:36 EDT 2004

I haven't actually read The Lord of the Rings
since 1978 when it filled up an August  bank
holiday during which I was supposed to be selling
tickets to play golf, tennis and bowls only it
rained heavily and continually instead. (I am
rather afraid we are heading for another bank
holiday like that one, despite the optimistic
forecaster on the telly.). When I first
encountered Tolkien I was about eight. The
library lady sent my Mum home with the Hobbit
because I was ill. I thought it was "alright" but
didn't like being talked down to in the authorial
asides. When I was well I took out the first two
volumes of LOTR and was utterly blown away,
finding it one of those stories that was totally
absorbing. The third volume was out and I said I
wouldn't read anything else until I had it but
couldn't hold out for that long (two weeks). Then
I forgot all about it 'til secondary school. The
cult thing was taking off and friends were
talking about it "Oh, I've read that!" I said and
borrowed it to read again. That's the reading I
remember best, I'd forgotten so much that it was
like reading it for the first time over again. I
didn't notice the near absence of women, I
identified with Merry and Pippin anyway. I was in
love with the scope, the detail, the nobility(!)
and  Aragorn, seduced by the rhythm of the story,
(what someone called it's "rocking horse gait")
and, above all, enthralled by the landscape. I
have to admit I didn't care so much for the

Initially I made a concious decision not to
reread for a while because I had found it was
possible to suck books dry from too much
repetition and didn't want that to happen.
Latterly I think I have been afraid to, for fear
that between my own maturity and increased
reading sophistication and all the adverse
criticisms I have read -- and agreed with -- I
would find it spoilt. 

Deborah said 

<But when I read for novelistic pleasure, I'm a 
character nerd.  I want
compelling and likeable characters driving the 
story; I want events
to result from their actions and focus on their 
reactions.  Thus Jane
Austen over Herman Melville, Eddings (despite his
faith in prophecy)
over Tad Williams, DWJ over most people.  :)>

So what's not compelling and not to like about
the characters from LOTR? Granted they are
limited and for the most part don't stray far
from the templates of Oxford Dons and college
servants but I always found them real enough!


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