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-   -   Did JRRT encourage new ME stories? (http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?t=13905)

Sauron the White 05-01-2007 08:10 AM

Did JRRT encourage new ME stories?
 
A question for the experts here. I have seen mention in several places that in a letter JRRT expressed a desire that others would take up his mythology of Middle Earth and add to it in writings and other artistic expressions.

Is this true? And if so where can I find the actual JRTT words on this?

davem 05-02-2007 12:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sauron the White
A question for the experts here. I have seen mention in several places that in a letter JRRT expressed a desire that others would take up his mythology of Middle Earth and add to it in writings and other artistic expressions.

Is this true? And if so where can I find the actual JRTT words on this?

Its from a letter to Milton Waldman of Collins

Quote:

"But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story....I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.
Note - he specifies 'paint, music, & drama' - not new tales.

Estelyn Telcontar 05-02-2007 03:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by davem
Note - he specifies 'paint, music, & drama' - not new tales.

Now that's a very interesting point, davem! We have talked about those lines from the Waldman letter often enough, taking them as a justification for fan fiction and RPGs, but I can't recall ever having looked that closely at the exact words.

According to that point of view, he should have approved of the movies - after all, they are 'paint', as in visuals (admittedly one of the movies' best assets); 'music' - and we all agree that Shore's score was brilliant; and 'drama', or a dramatization at least, whether we like the changes or not.

The musical also includes those elements, so could be considered a legitimate 'Leaf' on Tolkien's Tree.

The many excellent artists who have illustrated Middle-earth would be unquestionable contributions - not only the pros like Howe, Lee, and Nasmith (I'm not quite sure about the Hildebrandt brothers though! ;) ), but the ones whose paintings are not (yet) as well-known, like Anke Eissmann.

Music - We know that JRRT enjoyed Swann's music to a number of his poems. I assume that more modern ones could be considered variations in taste, though I have my doubts about the metal scene which used Tolkienish ideas as a basis for some pieces.

But what about the high quality fan fiction/RPGs that fill the empty spaces in Tolkien's spirit? Non-canonical stories could be rejected, but would the good ones still be valid?

William Cloud Hicklin 05-02-2007 01:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar
But what about the high quality fan fiction/RPGs that fill the empty spaces in Tolkien's spirit? Non-canonical stories could be rejected, but would the good ones still be valid?

He was violently opposed. When one reader wrote him with an outline of a proposed fanfic 'sequel' to Lord of the Rings, he called him a "young ***" and referred the matter to Allen & Unwin's lawyers. Tolkien very clearly felt that he was the only qualified 'historian' of Middle-earth.

Legate of Amon Lanc 05-02-2007 01:25 PM

Oh! Really interesting, had no idea about that!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar
Music - We know that JRRT enjoyed Swann's music to a number of his poems. I assume that more modern ones could be considered variations in taste, though I have my doubts about the metal scene which used Tolkienish ideas as a basis for some pieces.

I guess the Prof wouldn't be much happy with the black-metal-type bands, although, who knows, he might be content and say: "See? That's what I meant Melkor played at the Music." :D But seriously, I think even the metal bands, if they hold to the canon - like Blind Guardian, for example - should be ok with that. I don't see any reason why they shouldn't. However, the bands who only include the words "Sauron, Saurooon, Mordor, Mordooor" in one of their songs without any logical connection to the rest of it, should be hardly even thought of.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar
But what about the high quality fan fiction/RPGs that fill the empty spaces in Tolkien's spirit? Non-canonical stories could be rejected, but would the good ones still be valid?

Good ones? Surely. For example your "Time", without questions ;)

But all in all, the trouble is that peoples' opinions are different from person to person, look even how some people regard the Hobbit, and if there were suddenly fifty thousand fan fictions, which some would glorify and some would burn. Example: I like Star Wars films, but I "don't believe" or how should I call that, the expanded universe the books and video games created. For me, having another Sith Lord or even greater threat after the death of the Emperor is completely devalving the main plot. But there are many many people who read it and are all happy when a book describing what happened between the scene 4 and 5 in Episode II appears.

The main point is, when you have one creator, the work is consistent. With several more people, you have the "broken light", and one likes green, one likes yellow and one likes blue. It may be good or may not. But if all of it were cannonized, I would for example like the "green", but not "yellow", and I'd find hard to accept that in my Middle-Earth there actually are Entwives living in the Shire, just because Arry Otter wrote a fanfic on it.

Child of the 7th Age 05-03-2007 11:06 AM

Yes, Davem is right. Tolkien approved of artistic and musical adaptations and certain plays, but never included stories in print.

On the other hand, I read something interesting a few weeks ago. I believe it was in one of the early society publications (not the main Tolkien society). (Those early fan publications include some interviews with JRRT, articles by certain members of the Tolkien family, etc....tidbits of information not available anywhere else.) One of the other members of Tolkien's family actually did a fanfiction tale based on either Hobbit or LotR. Possibly a teenage son, but don't hold me to that identity. Of course, it wasn't called "fanfiction". Tolkien incidentally said he was delighted with it.

But the real question to me is this. If the Legendarium constitutes a myth rather than mere contemporary novels/poems, then won't we reach a point perhaps years down the road where others try their hand with it? Even now, CT's work with Hurin suggests this. When is an editor more than an editor....perhaps, when he makes a decision to publish a stand-alone story where none existed before, even if leaning heavily on the author's own words.

For the Legendarium to be "successful" on Tolkien's own terms of creating a myth, then don't others have to read it and be inspired to retell it in their own way. Sometime in the misty past, individuals came up with the ideas to form the germ of the Arthurian tales, but those tales have now been told and retold in a hundred different ways. The same holds true for the Illiad and Odyssey. In an age of printed books and computers, we are unlikely to "forget" the orginal creation by Tolkien. Still, five hundred years from now, will we be better off with only the original tales frozen in ice or with a continuing chain of creativity? There will be drek, just as exists for the Arthurian legends but won't the best ultimately come to the surface?

Macalaure 05-04-2007 01:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Estelyn
But what about the high quality fan fiction/RPGs that fill the empty spaces in Tolkien's spirit? Non-canonical stories could be rejected, but would the good ones still be valid?

Quote:

Originally Posted by William Cloud Hickli
He was violently opposed. When one reader wrote him with an outline of a proposed fanfic 'sequel' to Lord of the Rings, he called him a "young ***" and referred the matter to Allen & Unwin's lawyers. Tolkien very clearly felt that he was the only qualified 'historian' of Middle-earth.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Child
One of the other members of Tolkien's family actually did a fanfiction tale based on either Hobbit or LotR. Possibly a teenage son, but don't hold me to that identity. Of course, it wasn't called "fanfiction". Tolkien incidentally said he was delighted with it.

I think I would (rather unqualifiedly) say that the difference between the two is the same difference that lies between 'sub-creation' and 'creation'. The one tries explore the possibilities within the given limitations, while the other tries to impose new things upon the whole. Of course J.R.R. Tolkien was opposed to the latter, especially when it concerned his own work. What he would have thought of works with the intention of sub-creation, and of high quality, is debatable I guess.


Quote:

Originally Posted by davem
Note - he specifies 'paint, music, & drama' - not new tales.

But he also doesn't mention sculpture. Does that mean he was opposed to it? I would doubt that.
Quote:

Originally Posted by the letter quoted by davem
The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.

I think the important matter here is not the specification of paint, music and drama, but the question what this "scope" includes and what it excludes.


(sorry for excessive quoting)

davem 05-04-2007 02:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Macalaure

But he also doesn't mention sculpture. Does that mean he was opposed to it? I would doubt that.I think the important matter here is not the specification of paint, music and drama, but the question what this "scope" includes and what it excludes.

I think Tolkien is pretty clear - he doesn't object to depictions in other media of what he's created. He's careful to exclude other minds & hands adding to the stories. In fact, the only person he's ever authorised to add to or alter his work is Christopher. Raynor Unwin even stated in an interview that 'One did not edit Tolkien' - or words to that effect.

And I would also add that in that letter Tolkien is attempting to 'sell himself' to a potential publisher, & perhaps is being overly careful not to come across as too 'precious' regarding his work.

narfforc 05-05-2007 04:18 AM

Hope is where the Heart is.
 
I do not wish to lower the standard of this wonderful thread, I have kept up with the various statements and find it enthralling. However all I can say is I wish he had said ' In written form also', I have been ardent in my believe that someone if not some others could write a sequel within canonicity. If my poor skill as a wordsmith was somewhat greater I am sure that I could work with another to bring forth a credible storyline. I have said before on this site that I have already done this thing, however it was for myself and some very close friends, I do not believe I made any mistakes although you would be asked to make some great leaps of faith, but they wouldn't be absurd. I am not sure of this new story, I am positive especially if the person I was working alongside had been a Christopher Tolkien, another who I feel could do this thing is the very learned Alex Lewis, maybe working with Tom Shippey and Charles Noad, what I am trying to say is that it would not be impossible to write a very good story, as long as the reader would not approach the finished result with any bias against it on the basis of negativity due to the idea that Middle-Earth is sancrosanct, of course the world would be split on this one.


Niggle wants some help to finish...............................something?

.

The 1,000 Reader 05-05-2007 12:06 PM

You could capitalize your name.

narfforc 05-05-2007 01:56 PM

My name starts with an invisible and silent A, a capital one :) ;) .


.

William Cloud Hicklin 05-06-2007 07:51 AM

I doubt it would really be possible to fill Tolkien's shoes. To write new M-E stories might be possible, even if one expects a standard rather higher than that of typical pulp fantasy; but to reproduce the magic? Tolkien was Tolkien precisely because he was an intimidatingly intelligent and learned man. Who else could remotely reproduce the story-mould of that utterly unparallelled mind? It's like those computer programs that can spit out a "Bach" fugue: technically correct, but lifeless. The hand of the Master is missing.

(I might as well throw in the elegy (almost certainly by Ford) which Norton insisted on including in its latest Shakespeare anthology, even though a blind mule could tell the Bard never so much as spat upon that piece of turgid dreck).

narfforc 05-06-2007 08:20 AM

Yes William you are right, anything written would be like Celebrimbor trying to recreate the Slimarils, I for one would marvel at a jewel he made that maybe glistened at times yet I would discard a lump of dead glass created by Melkor. It would be unfair to say that no-one will ever be born that would or could not recreate the magic, never is a long time.

davem 05-06-2007 08:46 AM

I can see someone with a knowledge of M-e equal to Tolkien's coming along one day. I can also see someone with his genius for storytelling coming along one day. What I can't see is that they will ever be the same person.....

It strikes me that a true creative genius would want to create their own world, not simply take up someone else's.

That said, Tolkien in his Will authorised Christopher to continue his work
Quote:

’Upon Trust to allow my son Christopher full access to the same in order that he may act as my Literary Executor with full power to publish edit alter rewrite or complete any work of mine which may be unpublished at my death or to destroy the whole or any part or parts of any such unpublished works as he in his absolute discretion may think fit and subject thereto’
So its entirely possible that Christopher will do the same. In other words, a continuation or addition to the mythology is not entirely out of the question - JRRT actually gave Christopher the right to do just that. That Christopher did so little 'completing'/re-writing is a testament either to his respect for his father's work - or an acknowledgement that he was not up to doing more than he has.

Either way, Tolkien himself clearly was not opposed to Christopher adding to the Legendarium.

narfforc 05-06-2007 09:01 AM

If I am not mistaken Davem did not Tolkien write to Christopher almost pleading with him to try his hand at writing, and if he could not find his style why not try his (fathers) own. I have always looked at this as Tolkien wanting Christopher to expand on his own writings, knowing in some way that the vast legacy he would leave behind was unpublished. Imagine working on something that took most of your life and seeing it rot in the garage, I think Tolkien may well have had the foresight to involve Christopher in his work, however it took two lifetimes to achieve what we all love today, and left no time for Christopher to find his feet.

Rikae 05-06-2007 10:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Davem
I think Tolkien is pretty clear - he doesn't object to depictions in other media of what he's created. He's careful to exclude other minds & hands adding to the stories.

Hmm. Doesn't this go a bit against the use of the phrase "leave scope"? The possibility of stories merely being interpreted in another medium can't really be concieved as requiring any kind of "scope" be left at all; a strict, literal interpretation in another medium would not necessitate any awareness of the "majestic whole",but only a dogmatic adherance to what is written, and furthermore, something merely "sketched" cannot be completed without some degree of storytelling involved, whether it be in flim, paint, or what-have-you.

Bêthberry 05-09-2007 10:13 AM

There's a fair bit of irony involved in Tolkien's appropriation of authorial "ownership", although I suppose it can be understood as his business practice in defending his right to income from his "intellectual capital."

Still, as the writer of a mythology and as a profoundly inspired reader of the ancient mythologies, Tolkien would have been very aware of how mythologies take on a life of their own, a narrative existence not limited by copyright, etc. He must have been torn by his own niggling over 'getting it right' and his understanding that stories evolved and change focus and direction depending upon the social and cultural climate that gives them life.

Stories, like languages, change.

Child of the 7th Age 05-11-2007 02:30 PM

The point I want to make does not pertain directly to JRRT, but does touch upon Christopher and the estate in terms of their views on LotR RPGs. John Rateliff makes his living working with videogames, developing guides and such. By all accounts, he has the blessing and approval of CT for his two-volume work on the Hobbit. In fact, the way it's generally been described is that the estate asked him to do for the Hobbit what CT was already doing with LotR and the material for Silm.

The interesting thing is that Rateliff is the author of a guide for a LotR RPG. See here. Admittedly, an RPG of this type is not a fanfiction or a piece of straight writing. It is a videogame. Still, it's interesting to me that Christopher felt comfortable with Rateliff, given this aspect of his background. I believe that at the time their relationship started Rateliff was working in the Marquette archives and was in graduate school. He took over the Hobbit project from an older colleague who unexpectedly died (and took many, many years to finish it! :D) As far as I know, Rateliff's relationship with CT has continued to be cordial. Isn't Decipher a licensed product that grew out of the movie? Still, it's interesting that Rateliff's involvement with a videogame/movie has not posed a problem for the estate.

davem 05-11-2007 02:58 PM

I'm not sure CT sees the games as having anything to do with Middle-earth - actually this is pretty much the reason he didn't include the early drafts of TH in H0M-e.

Wikipedia has
Quote:

When Christopher Tolkien began publishing The History of Middle-earth, a twelve-volume series documenting J. R. R. Tolkien’s creative writing process in the creation of Middle-earth, with texts dating from the 1920s to the 1970s, he made a conscious decision not to issue a volume detailing the creation of The Hobbit. According to him, The Hobbit was not originally a part of the Middle-earth universe and was attached to his father's earlier, far darker legendarium only superficially, although the existence of The Hobbit forever altered the legendarium. The tone of The Hobbit is much lighter and more appropriate to a children’s tale than that of J. R. R. Tolkien’s other writings.

As Christopher Tolkien was not going to embark on a published study of The Hobbit, the task was given to Taum Santoski in the 1980s. Santoski had connections to the Marquette collection of Tolkien material, which is where the original manuscripts reside. He died in 1991, and ultimately the task passed to John Rateliff. Although Christopher Tolkien did not work directly on The History of The Hobbit, the work will be in a very similar vein to the "literary archaeology" of his History of Middle-earth.[4]

Rateliff submitted a finished draft of the book to Christopher Tolkien, who, approving of the work, gave The History of The Hobbit his personal blessing to be published in association with his father’s other works.

William Cloud Hicklin 05-12-2007 09:01 AM

Ironically, JDR's thesis (with condiderable supporting evidence) is that The Hobbit was always tied to the Silmarillion universe.

It's probably accurate to say that CRT doesn't feel animosity toward those who work on (legal) projects which are not to his taste. Alan Lee's involvement with the movies (which CRT loathed) certainly didn't prevent CRT's specific request that Lee illustrate The Children of Hurin. In JDR's case the only issue was whether his scholarly abilities were up to snuff- and as Mr Baggins has received the nihil obstat and imprimatur they plainly were. Whether on his own time an author attends comic conventions wearing furry hobbit feet is his own business.

davem 05-12-2007 10:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by William Cloud Hickli
Ironically, JDR's thesis (with condiderable supporting evidence) is that The Hobbit was always tied to the Silmarillion universe.
.

Well, I'm up to the point where the party leave Rivendell, & I've read a lot of Rateliff's 'evidence' & I have to say I'm not convinced. Of course, its clear that Tolkien drew on the Legendarium for background for the story, but its set in a 'fairy tale' world &only touches the Sil world tangentially - its hardly a part of the Legendarium. Yes, there were references to Beren & Luthien in the first version, & references to Gondolin survived, but there were also references to Shetland ponies, the Hindu Kush, tinkers, & 'policemen on bicycles'. Clearly the original version Tolkien set down had no stronger links with the Legendarium than Roverandom did.

We also have Tolkien stating in one letter that
Quote:

“I don’t much approve of The Hobbit myself, preferring my own mythology (which is just touched on) with its consistent nomenclature – Elrond, Gondolin and Esgaroth have escaped out of it – and organized history, to this rabble of Eddaic-named dwarves out of Volüspá, newfangled hobbits and gollums (invented in an idle hour) and Anglo-Saxon runes.”
I think its clear from this statement that Tolkien, even in 1937 when TH was complete, didn't consider it part of the Legendarium - & hardly even to be set in the same world as The Sil - Elrond, Gondolin & Esgaroth, to Tolkien's mind, didn't belong in the world of TH, but had 'escaped' out of the Sil into it - as had 'Faerie in the West' into Roverandom.

Rateliff puts the case for TH being part of the Legendarium, but doesn't offer the counter argument.

In short, I don't see that TH is 'tied' all that strongly to the Legendarium itself, merely that it makes use of some characters & places in order to give 'depth'.

NoahDesclian 05-18-2007 07:41 AM

Links
 
I'm not sure if the section of letter quoted above is evidence to say that Tolkien thought of The Hobbit as not being a part of the Legendarium, though I've never read the full letter and there might be more hints. The Hobbit might not have been a large, massive part of the full legendarium, but I don't see why it would be as unrelated to the Silmarilion and Lord of the Rings as Roverandum, or any of his other stories. From Sam and Frodo's chat about stories before they descended into Mordor (among other places), we can see how deeply important Tolkien felt continuing tales are. The Hobbit was a link within the larger story of Lord of the Rings (if we take the first of the wars of the ring as part of that story). Most likely Tolkien, charactaristically, was unhappy that he had not made everything fit together perfectly. Also, since he began to write it seemed as if Tolkien was constantly changing aspects of his stories, and the only reason he couldn't have gone back and tweek The Hobbit (or rewrite it all together) was that it was actually published. Who knows how many times he smoothed things over in his head, or on paper, but who knows how much he did the same for Lord of the Rings.

So, what I mean is that while The Hobbit is a children's story, and possibly just a "foot-in-the-door" for Tolkien's other writing, I can definitely see it being part of the Legendarium, at least as it's published now. Maybe Tolkien had something else in mind, but what he's given us is a step the Ring took before it ended up with Frodo.

Feanorsdoom 05-30-2007 01:50 PM

Many here read much into JRRT's letters that is certainly seriously meant, but I think the majority is overlooking a foundation of his work. Tolkien did not write the Legendarium as a man eager to create a singular, perfect opus meant to remain untouched by unclean hands. He was, practically from birth, a man in love with language and The Epic Story. He based his works upon older (and he would probably say much richer) traditions. Did he shirk from borrowing characters or plot elements from other authors? Whatever he thought about the quality of writing that is done in his Me world, I find it unimaginable that he would deny authors their creative impulse, even if that impulse led to continuing his legacy. It is an author with a cold heart (and not one I would admire) who could not be moved to acceptance of a talent equal to or greater than himself. Remember, JRRT was first a reader of myths; second, a speaker of tongues; and only third, a writer.

davem 06-04-2007 05:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Feanorsdoom
Did he shirk from borrowing characters or plot elements from other authors? Whatever he thought about the quality of writing that is done in his Me world, I find it unimaginable that he would deny authors their creative impulse, even if that impulse led to continuing his legacy. It is an author with a cold heart (and not one I would admire) who could not be moved to acceptance of a talent equal to or greater than himself. Remember, JRRT was first a reader of myths; second, a speaker of tongues; and only third, a writer.

Well, I 'd argue over your analysis that Tolkien was a writer 'only third'. I consider him to be a great writer, & a writer first & foremost. However, the real reason why no-one should be allowed to follow Tolkien & write more M-re stories has been eloquently & succuinctly summed up by Tom Simon: http://superversive.livejournal.com/49083.html

What you would get is an endless stream of over-written trilogies 'extruded' by hacks. No writer of genius would want to write other people's stories. They would want to communicate their own vision. What publishers want (as Simon makes clear) are long books, churned out as quickly as possible in order to cash in - because apparently that's what the public want to buy. No way would anyone commissioned to write a Tolkien sequel be allowed to get away with writing a story as short as CoH - they woud be expected to produce at the very least a trilogy equal to LotR - whether there was sufficient material to justify it or not. Can you imagine a writer being commissioned to write new M-e stories being allowed the 12 years Tolkien took to produce LotR? No way. They'd be told 'We want a trilogy & you've got a year. Pad it out, man - that's what the public want.

BTW Tom Simon is my new hero - check out his review of CoH if you haven't already done so http://superversive.livejournal.com/49730.html#cutid1

Lalwendë 06-04-2007 07:08 AM

Sorry but I get the feeling Tolkien would have hated people writing new stories based in 'his' created world. He seemed keen to put a stop to almost every endeavour to adapt his work (was especially filled with hatred for Disney) and while I don't doubt he might have been amused by some of the better efforts - the art in particular - I get the distinct feeling he'd have been rolling his eyes at the greater excesses of fandom.

He was none too keen on the 'obsessed' fans, especially those who rang him up at night, and as a keen reader of Sci fi and fantasy fiction he'd probably have quite liked to read some good, original work. I know I get sick and fed up with 'Tolkien wannabes' *cough* Terry Brooks *cough* myself and would quite like to see people instead put their prodigious talents into creating some work of their own. RPGs excluded of course as that's about interaction ;) but I'm not comfortable at all with the idea of people spending creative time on all that lengthy serious fan fic that Just Aint Tolkien - Aint Never Gonna Be. Humour and smut yes - as that's essentially a new creation, being as Tolkien was not known for being ribald, but serious stuff? Why not do some of your own work?

Plus he'd have been tormented to feel obliged to read all the stuff too, as he was with his letters - just like poor old Bilbo having to let all them Dwarves into his home because he was Just A Hobbit Who Couldn't Say No ;)

:eek:

Raynor 06-04-2007 08:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lalwendë
I get the feeling Tolkien would have hated people writing new stories based in 'his' created world. He seemed keen to put a stop to almost every endeavour to adapt his work

Well, davem has already quoted Tolkien as saying that (at least once) he intended to "leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama", to complete his work. More to the point in the cases of movies, he confessed in the letters that he is either "willing to play ball", if the producers are open to advice, or that he should "welcome the idea of an animated motion picture", even with the risk of vulgarisation. What he didn't like was bad art, or lack of skill/profesionalism, but that's another story. If he wants readers to submerge in his world, and delight in it, I don't see why he wouldn't want them to dream on their own.

davem 06-04-2007 11:15 AM

Now, I may be going a bit too far here, but it seems to me that those wanting more M-e novels are the same poeple who preferred the movies to the book, & who, as far as the book goes, preferred the Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli storyline over the Frodo/Sam/Gollum one. They probably also prefer playing the computer games over actually reading the books anyway. What they want seems to be to have Tolkien's world turned into a series of hack & slash sword & sorcery 'epics'.

Given the choice of reading unpublished works like The Fall of Arthur, the New Volsungasaga, or even Tolkien's translation of Beowulf or a new trilogy by some fantasy writer like Steven Erikson or Robert Jordan, full of big battles & Elven warriors & Wizards (preferably young Wizards who they could 'identify with'), they'd choose the latter. In other words, they aren't Tolkien fans, they're fantasy fans. The fact that if this kind of trash was published as a 'continuation' of Tolkien's work it would wreck any chance of him being seen as a serious literary artist by simply confirming the prejudice of the 'Literati' that Tolkien just wrote trivial juvenilia with no real depth or value, is neither here nor there to them, as they just want some cool stories about Middle-earth (preferably without the 'boring' stuff about Hobbits trudging through Mordor - 'just give us shield-surfing Elves, & stubbly heroes killing Orcs, please!').

In short, I think this is all about the desire of fanboys & Leggy fanciers for more trashy Dungeons & Dragons stuff. Tolkien was a poor writer as far as they're concerned, but came up with some decent ideas for books (preferably ones that will be turned into movies as quickly as possible after publication, so that they don't have to actually read them) by 'better' writers.

Look, the bookshops are full of enough sub standard Tolkien rip-offs to keep those who want them busy for decades to come. I don't see the point in licensing a bunch of hacks to produce another stupid Sword & Sorcery franchise.

Raynor 06-04-2007 11:32 AM

Well, I guess there are several issues at play. No one can prevent anyone from writing or publishing new books based on Tolkien's (as far as I know, at least); also, I wasn't arguing that we/I/some need more mass-produced books, of whatever kind. And I find it a bid hard to believe that the people who want more Tolkien books are those who are commercial-fantasy addicts, as there is plenty to read. I even wonder if all members of this forum have read the Silmarillion. What I tried to say in the previous post was that the professor himself would have likely approved of others continuing his work.

Sauron the White 06-04-2007 11:46 AM

davem ... in your latest post I think you perhaps over-characterized and stereotyped many people. I would love to see well written and carefully researched Middle-earth tales which fit in to the historical timelines that JRTT gve us. There are huge and chasmlike gaps that would make for very good stories.
I would like the author selected by the Tolkien Estate and would like that same author to recieve guidance and assistance to make sure the stories keep to the faithfulness of the ME that Tolkien created.

Does that make me guilty of the things you listed?

Quote:

but it seems to me that those wanting more M-e novels are the same poeple who preferred the movies to the book, & who, as far as the book goes, preferred the Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli storyline over the Frodo/Sam/Gollum one. They probably also prefer playing the computer games over actually reading the books anyway. What they want seems to be to have Tolkien's world turned into a series of hack & slash sword & sorcery 'epics'.


-- I look at the movies and the book as two different tellings of the same story. I do not compare them for quality of "which is best". I try to appreciate and love each for what they are and accept them on their own merits and terms given the constraints and realities of the various mediums.

-- as for preferring one storyline over the other, again I cannot and will not make this choice since both are integral parts of the story. Its like SOPHIES CHOICE - which kid do you want to live?

-- I do NOT play computer games be it Middle-earth based ones or any other type (D&D included) , so I am not guilty of that.

-- I have read the books (LOTR and HOBBIT) at least eight or nine times, SILMARILLION four or five times and the entire HOME at least once with portions being read several times.

-- When I discovered LOTR back in the early 70's, yes I did then try to find other books "like them" and found only garbage and watered down dreck. I have no interest in the sword and sorcery genre.

I have no interest in reading the Professors translations of other books including BEOWULF so perhaps that makes me guilty of some transgression in your eyes. I sorely wish that the time the Professor spent on that project he could have worked more on his Middle-earth tales. But thats just me.

davem 06-04-2007 12:07 PM

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Originally Posted by Sauron the White
I would love to see well written and carefully researched Middle-earth tales which fit in to the historical timelines that JRTT gve us. There are huge and chasmlike gaps that would make for very good stories.
I would like the author selected by the Tolkien Estate and would like that same author to recieve guidance and assistance to make sure the stories keep to the faithfulness of the ME that Tolkien created.

This is the whole problem as I see it. This approach sidelines Tolkien, & reduces him to the status of a provider of synopses. No-one, but no-one, can write Middle-earth tales like Tolkien did - it was his creation. Its like asking for a composer to complete a few manuscript pages by Mozart, or a poet to 'finish off' a poem left unfinished by Dylan Thomas. These stories do not exist, & to get someone to knock them up is a completely pointless exercise.

Tolkien could (& did) change his creation as he wrote - everything from storylines, through characters, to the languages his characters spoke. Tolkien could take off on the maddest tangents, & make the most extreme changes (look at 'Myths Transformed). Who could be authorised to do the same kind of thing? No, what you'd get is yet more fantasy novels.

Middle-earth is JRR Tolkien, & JRR Tolkien is Middle-earth & that's the long & short of it. This is why, however you feel about the quality or otherwise of the movies, radio series or stage shows, they are not, & can never be, Middle-earth, because JRR Tolkien didn't make them. The only thing that anyone else can produce, whether authorised by the Estate or not, is a fake. I still say that those who want more M-e stories by other writers are like those who want more Dylan Thomas poems or Van Gogh paintings & decide that as there aren't any more, they'll get someone to knock up some more. The point is, however good these new M-e tales might be, they would be fakes. This is nothing more than an attempt to remove Tolkien from M-e, to treat it as though it is something that exists external to Tolkien.

Middle-earth is not a 'mythology'. Middle-earth is the vision of a man, who had specific experiences, lived in a specific time, believed specific things, a ferocious intellect who created a visionary masterpiece. 'Let's get Fred Bloggs to knock up another trillogy for the fans.' misses the point by a very, very long way.

William Cloud Hicklin 06-04-2007 12:36 PM

Ay-men, Brother!!!





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No one can prevent anyone from writing or publishing new books based on Tolkien's (as far as I know, at least)
Oh yes they can...

Elmo 06-04-2007 01:02 PM

When does the copyright on Lord of the Rings run out? When it does, wouldn't that open the floodgates?

Sauron the White 06-04-2007 01:28 PM

davem ... the overwhelming weight of my post was in response to yours as a stereotpyed characterization of people who want more Middle-earth tales. I thought then, and still do now, that you set up these people as weak strawmen and then you dealt with them with derision and sarcasm. I thought that was unfair. You are obviously an extremely well informed Tolkien scholar who has very well thought out opinions. For my two cents, you stand on much more solid ground when you deal with the actual issue at hand rather than attempt to unfairly stereotype people with ideas different than the ones you hold.

Lalwendë 06-04-2007 01:59 PM

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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hickli

Oh yes they can...

Too right. I think the day the Tolkien estate allows 'novelisations' is a long, long, long time off - if ever. Tolkien will be no 'Virginia Andrews'!
;)

Seriously, this stuff is great for fun, or if you do something completely different - some humour, satire, parody, smut, incorporating aspects into wholly new creations blah blah...but if you have the talent to spend hours writing fan fic, why not take the leap and write some of your own stuff? Even fan fic is OK in comparison to some of the 'serious' or 'scholarly' attempts to rewrite and so forth - a certain TS member is alleged to have browbeaten one of the family into allowing a certain rewritten book to be published but even then they only allowed a print run of something like 50 copies, and it's a long way from being accepted! These fans are probably the ones wasting talents more than anyone. Please, get out there with your own work! It's not that the Tolkien written work is not good (on the contrary so much of it is wonderful) but it will never be officially sanctioned and I often lament about the original books that will never be written. :(

It's worth noting Tolkien envisioned art, music or drama to enrich his writings - isn't there enough there to be getting creative with?

davem 06-04-2007 03:25 PM

The whole problem is in the way people who want continuations of Tolkien's stories are looking at this. Its as if they see Middle-earth as equivalent to Ancient Egypt . A Historian writes a series of books on the history of Egypt, but leaves gaps in the narrative. Unfortunately he dies before he can complete his project, but some readers are so fascinated by the period that they demand other historians take up the baton & complete the story. And that's possible because Egypt has a history, & the truth about it can be discovered & made available.

Now, Middle-earth in not like that. The gaps in the story are there because Tolkien never invented anything to fill them. There is nothing to be discovered. The fact that Tolkien failed to fill the gaps, while at the same time focussing on other parts of the story to the extent that he re-wrote them over & over, tells us a great deal about the man who invented the world. To 'fill' those gaps is effectively to create a false impression of the creation.

Look. its like an American fan wishing that Tolkien had visited the US in the 50's to promote LotR. The fan decides that in order to satisfy his desire he will invent a promotional tour by Tolkien, including meetings with prominent American fantasy & Science Fiction writers, & attempt to get this included in a reprint of Carpenter's biography - why not, if its a good story, well written, & serves to entertain other Tolkien fans?

Well, because its not true. Tolkien never went to America in the 50's. Just as Tolkien never completed his Legendarium. But its incompleteness is part of its nature. To add new stories by new writers just to 'fill in the gaps' is equivalent to deciding to stick arms on the Venus de Milo. Of course you could get a decent sculptor to knock up a pair of arms & attach them in order to 'finish the thing off' - in fact, that at least could be justified in that the statue did have arms at one time.

But look at this, an unfinished work by Michelangelo http://www.ablemuse.com/premiere/bho...unfinished.htm

Should we hire someone competent to finish it off? Read the accompanying poem. If we got someone to finish off the sculpture, what, exactly would we have gained, in comparison to what we would lose?

Its the very fact that the Legendarium is incomplete that adds to the poignancy, the feeling of what might have been, if only...

Its a metaphor for life ;)

Raynor 06-04-2007 03:41 PM

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Originally Posted by davem
The gaps in the story are there because Tolkien never invented anything to fill them.

While this is valid for issues like Bombadil & co, I doubt we can safely generalise this for all the gaps. From what can be seen from CT's comments in various places, in many cases Tolkien simply forgot to close gaps.
Quote:

Look. its like an American fan wishing that Tolkien had visited the US in the 50's to promote LotR. The fan decides that in order to satisfy his desire he will invent a promotional tour by Tolkien, including meetings with prominent American fantasy & Science Fiction writers, & attempt to get this included in a reprint of Carpenter's biography - why not, if its a good story, well written, & serves to entertain other Tolkien fans?
However, can we equate writing fiction with presenting false events (the tour) as being real?
Quote:

Originally Posted by davem
Should we hire someone competent to finish it off? Read the accompanying poem. If we got someone to finish off the sculpture, what, exactly would we have gained, in comparison to what we would lose?

Its the very fact that the Legendarium is incomplete that adds to the poignancy, the feeling of what might have been, if only...

The "Legendarium written by Tolkien" will remain incomplete, no matter how many books, written by others, appear to complete it; it is a truism. Your analogy does not hold because if we attach arms to Venus, it will most likely destroy its unicity; same with the Michelangelo's work. However, the unicity of the Legendarium will remain, no matter what other books of fiction appear; it cannot be affected.

davem 06-04-2007 03:49 PM

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Originally Posted by Raynor
While this is valid for issues like Bombadil & co, I doubt we can safely generalise this for all the gaps. From what can be seen from CT's comments in various places, in many cases Tolkien simply forgot to close gaps.

I was referring to the untold, or unfinished stories - like the fall of Gondolin & the War of Wrath, or Beren & Luthien.

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However, can we equate writing fiction with presenting false events (the tour) as being real?
We can in this case, as the fiction, in a real sense, is the man.

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The "Legendarium written by Tolkien" will remain incomplete, no matter how many books, written by others, appear to complete it; it is a truism. Your analogy does not hold because if we attach arms to Venus, it will most likely destroy its unicity; same with the Michelangelo's work. However, the unicity of the Legendarium will remain, no matter what other books of fiction appear; it cannot be affected.
Why the desire for other writers to tell new M-e stories then? The generally expressed reason is that people want to know more, to have the gaps in the Legendarium filled for them. They're using that letter to Waldman to support 'other hands' taking up the story & continuing it.

Feanorsdoom 06-04-2007 04:35 PM

Davem, I understand your belief in the importance of keeping Tolkien's work distinct from that which might be done in his name; no one here wants to see Disney's The Hobbit II. But Tolkien's world is very much like the historical Egypt before modern archaeology. There are minds every bit as creative and subtle as the Master's, however you may idolize him, and some of those minds will not be content to let the beauty of Middle-earth languish in dusty volumes. Arda began as a thought in one man's head and that man is gone, but Arda is not. The Silmarils are still waiting to be found, and some day, they will be.

davem 06-04-2007 11:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Feanorsdoom
Davem, I understand your belief in the importance of keeping Tolkien's work distinct from that which might be done in his name; no one here wants to see Disney's The Hobbit II. But Tolkien's world is very much like the historical Egypt before modern archaeology. There are minds every bit as creative and subtle as the Master's, however you may idolize him, and some of those minds will not be content to let the beauty of Middle-earth languish in dusty volumes. Arda began as a thought in one man's head and that man is gone, but Arda is not. The Silmarils are still waiting to be found, and some day, they will be.

No they won't. Never. Some hack may make up a story about how they were found. And some hack may make up a story about how Turin & Nienor didn't really die, that it was all a trick to escape Morgoth's curse. Any mind as creative as Tolkien's will do its own thing, not flog stolen goods. Arda is Tolkien & Tolkien is gone. All the rest is lies & fakery. Sorry, I know you want it to be true that there is some genius waiting in the wings to take over, but reality isn't like that. The universe throws up geniuses every now & then. They blaze & pass.

This desire to have reams of fake Tolkien to read when there are so many works by other artists out there baffles me.

There isn't any more genuine stuff. Anything else will be fake.

I can't fathom why this is so difficult to understand. I know you wish there was more stuff. I understand the regret. But wanting more doesn't work like a magic spell to make more appear. Life isn't like that.

That's actually what LotR is saying - things come to an end. They stop, & there isn't any more. The Elves have gone. Sorry, but that's life.

Lalwendë 06-05-2007 01:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Feanorsdoom
Davem, I understand your belief in the importance of keeping Tolkien's work distinct from that which might be done in his name; no one here wants to see Disney's The Hobbit II. But Tolkien's world is very much like the historical Egypt before modern archaeology. There are minds every bit as creative and subtle as the Master's, however you may idolize him, and some of those minds will not be content to let the beauty of Middle-earth languish in dusty volumes. Arda began as a thought in one man's head and that man is gone, but Arda is not. The Silmarils are still waiting to be found, and some day, they will be.

Well those minds must be content to let their own visions of Middle-earth either exist in their own heads, find another art form (like painting, music, crafts etc) or face the fact that their writing will remain a fan pursuit. The Estate keeps a tight ship on written work and rightly so - I've said it many times before and I will continue to say it, that Tolkien's work will not and must not end up cheapened and diluted like the Universe of Star Wars and many others.

Sorry to say but if someone really does have the same genius as that possessed by Tolkien then they will also have the genius to create their own visions of other worlds. There are geniuses out there today and that's what they are doing right now. Gaiman for one. Pullman for another. That's part of the inherent quality of genius - you do not ape others, you go and create something of your own which astounds and confounds.


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