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Old 09-01-2004, 02:08 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril Tolkien and Parody

On the discussion of the Hobbit parody The Soddit, a general discussion on the nature of parody and its validity (or lack of it) was begun. So as not to overload or hijack that thread, I'd like to place the most pertinent posts here so that the discussion can continue. Please do remember that posts, while allowing for broad generalization on the topic, should still be as Tolkien-related as possible!


(I can't copy individual posts from the original thread, and I don't want to split that one, since it would lose coherency, so I'm copying the contents of relevant posts here and acknowledging the members who wrote them.)


Bęthberry's post:

What is it about parody that attracts some and not others? I might direct this question to Estelyn as well, who bought and talked about this particular book during our meetings in London and who of course is known to dabble occasionally in parody of her own.

Why do some fans enjoy parodies of what they like and others not? This is not to say either perspective is right or wrong, but simply to consider some of the things we look for and value when we read. Does parody allow us some gentle distance from something that we might otherwise become obsessive about or does it suggest somehow a critique of its original? Is parody an inferior genre in that it clearly "depends" upon a precursor text? I don't think there is, in theory at least, a hard and fast line between parody and satire, but do general readers make such a distinction?


Saurreg's post:

Hmm, Webster's states that both parody and satire are the same. A "spoof" of the original. Maybe you can tell me what's the difference Bęthberry because I'm afraid of misinterpreting your post.

I know two types of people who like parodies; the first are people who are acquainted with the original work the parody is based on and would not mind viewing the work in an askewed perspective for a good laugh or to view the original work in another angle as additional food for thought. These people like the original work but are generally casual and easy-going over it. Not "too-into-it" and "taking-it-easy" are the orders of the day here.

The second group of people are more disturbing because they did not like the orginal work and hope that the parody likens the work to their point of view (courage in numbers maybe?) and reinforce their prejudice. Such people are rare but they do exist.

Similarly I can think of two types of people who distain parodies. The first group are fervert diehard royalists of the author or the ideas pertaining in the original work. They are so completely enamored/enticed that they view any askewed or even slightly different interpretation of the work as "sacrilegious blasphemy" because it threatens their own convictions in their beliefs and ideas on the work. Such xenophobic attitude may stem from fear of being "wrong" in their current thoughts and also perhaps the desire of keeping what little self-solace one can derive from such beliefs and convictions.

The second group of people are what I term as "chivalrists" They believe that it is morally wrong to take the work of another and twist it either to insult or make fun of. These chivalrists are either traditional in mindset or are generally compassionate and sympathetic. Alternatively, chivalrists could behave they way they do out of cowardice or insecurity. If it could happen to them, it could happen to you. So let's strike first.
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Old 09-01-2004, 02:21 AM   #2
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Lalwendë's post:

I wouldn't say parody and satire are the same thing, although sometimes they can be combined. "The Soddit", "Bored of the Rings", "Barry Trotter", these are all straight parodies as they're based on a pre-existing work. Another example might be where French & Saunders take off famous films. A true satire is a comment on something in history or society, such as Kurt Vonnegut's novels or "Gulliver's Travels". Comedy shows such as The Day Today combine both - parodies of characters and TV formats with satirical comment.

Now, I find parody quite funny, but I also find it gets tiresome after a while, and I start to wonder why the writer or comedian could not come up with their own original material. For that reason I've been really wary of the Tolkien parodies, I suspect they would be kind of...unsatisfying, although I wouldn't say an absolute no to reading them.

When certain comedians take off LOTR it can be funny. I found the Avid Merrion sketches quite funny - although obviously not written by someone with real knowledge of the books or films. And I like the Orange cinema advert with Sean Astin. All in all, I think the best parodies are the briefest ones.


davem's post:

I suppose Lalwende has said it all. Generally I find parody boring & unconvincing, but most of all its cheap. I distinguish it from satire, I suppose, which I usually understand to be more subtle.

Its Tolkien parodies that don't interest me specifically, as they are almost never well done. Of course, there are always exceptions!

At Oxonmoot two years ago we were presented with The Reduced Silmarillion, which was hilarious, because it was written & performed by people who knew the book. Its difficult to give a true flavour of the thing, but all the parts were played by men (Luthien Tinuvial being played by a guy in a blonde wig was something to see), Ulmo was a three foot high inflatable penguin, & in the Last Battle Morgoth's dragons were paper aeroplanes. Farce, yes, but deeply moving in its own way (& to be repeated at Tolkien 2005.) Though, to be honest, what I especially liked about that was that it depended on the audience having a real knowledge of the book.

I suppose my position is that I'm not against parodies as such, they're just not my thing.


Mithalwen's post:

I did like Bored of the Rings - with the proviso that not being American or quite old enough... some of the jokes missed their mark ...whereas the French and Saunders and Dead Ringers skits made me howl with laughter as did the online secret diaries ..... I bough the Barry Trotter but couldn't get past the first few pages so I didn't go for the soddit.... However I must admit that I have indulged in parody writing in my time


Hookbill the Goomba's post:

There are two types of Parodies, a direct parody, and an indirect parody. The Latter is a humorous take on a particular genre, where as a direct parody is what it says, directly parodying a single thing, Book/ TV program/ Film ect.
I think it’s fairly obvious which one this is...

Apparently the Sellamillion (Sell a million, w00t! Just noticed that!) Will not be as a direct parody as the others were. Although there will be a parody of Beren and Luthien. The rest will be made up gibberish I expect.


Encaitare's post:

Anyway, it's true that most parodies are done pretty poorly. But I have read a few that have made me laugh hysterically, my favorites being a monosyllabic version of FotR and the "Gat Gandizzle" parody over at stupidring.com which makes everyone act all "gangsta." I can see, though, why some people are against such parodies, as they are pretty much belittlement of the original work.
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Old 09-01-2004, 02:29 AM   #3
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Bęthberry's post:

Wow, many interesting 'takes' on how we should/can respond to a book which makes fun of one of our favourite books. Thank you everyone for responding.

dancing spawn of ungoliant, my response might have been premature, but I don't think it is off topic. It follows from considering what kind of book The Soddit is, and how we feel about books which ridicule those we hold dear. I think it is central to the kind of book it is to ask how we feel about that kind of book, and I think several Downers here have suggested interesting ways to think about parody.

Quote:
Webster's states that both parody and satire are the same. A "spoof" of the original. Maybe you can tell me what's the difference Bęthberry because I'm afraid of misinterpreting your post.
Saurren, that is what I was suggesting, that "in theory", that is, in definitions and in literary theory, there is not much distinction made between parody and satire--or rather, the lines are inconsistent. However, I thought that among general readers we often make a distinction, that parody is 'gentler' and 'satire' is harsher. There is, after, quite a vast range of comic works which "imitate" some original. There are travesties, burlesques, mock-heroic, Menippean satires, just plain old satires, farces, and plagairisms. I particularly am intrigued by davem's point about parody being "cheap" and wonder if that inherent quality helps readers place or determine how valuable such a book as The Soddit is.
What I also wondered about was how the reader's attitude towards the original (Tolkien's The Hobbit) might influence their thoughts about The Soddit. Is The Soddit funny if people don't know The Hobbit? Or is it outrageous if people dearly love The Hobbit? Do we come away thinking more highly of The Hobbit after reading A.R.R.R. Roberts' book? Hookbill the Gomba discussed some of these points, whereas Lalwendë raised a point I had not thought about at all, the length of the parody. I know that when I was writing Saladriel and Celery for the first Revenge of the Entish Bow, I thought our salad jokes had a dressing which wilted them fairly fast, but Orlando L'Oréal Bloom had stronger hair spray.

Quote:
Farce, yes, but deeply moving in its own way (& to be repeated at Tolkien 2005.) Though, to be honest, what I especially liked about that was that it depended on the audience having a real knowledge of the book.
davem has I think made another important point here. This must have worked much the same way that the stage play, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged, works for me. Knowing the originals and seeing how silly and ridiculous the abridgements are is the whole point of the fun.

I hope I haven't intruded on what you wished to say about The Soddit, Sleepy Ranger. Does The Soddit make us appreciate The Hobbit all the more or do we leave with a distasteful mouthful of ridicule which cannot stand up to the original. Most Downers here are seeming to imply the latter I think.


Saraphim's post:

Quote:
I know two types of people who like parodies; the first are people who are acquainted with the original work the parody is based on and would not mind viewing the work in an askewed perspective for a good laugh or to view the original work in another angle as additional food for thought. These people like the original work but are generally casual and easy-going over it. Not "too-into-it" and "taking-it-easy" are the orders of the day here.

The second group of people are more disturbing because they did not like the orginal work and hope that the parody likens the work to their point of view (courage in numbers maybe?) and reinforce their prejudice. Such people are rare but they do exist.
Ah, but there is a third kind. The group who love and respect Tolkien (or any original work, really) to the degree that nothing anyone says or parodies can possibly matter to thier idea of the original.

Perhaps I am merely projecting here; creating a group of one (which is technically not a group at all). But personally, I found The Soddit and Bored of the Rings to be very funny, especially to one who knows the original and can get the allusionary jokes and gags, which may not be funny entirely on thier own.


Fordim Hedgethistle's post:

As usual Bethberry you pose a question to which I do not have an answer, and yet feel compelled to give one.

I do not like parodies or spoofs, and darned if I know why. I think that the answer would have something to do with the fact that they seem to be 'easier' than creating something new or entirely one's own. It's so easy to be negative and pretend that one is cool or smart by doing so. So much harder to respond to something with a positive affirmation of what is good about it, coupled with reasoned, constructive criticism of its shortcomings.

Mind you, I am not saying that people who write or enjoy reading spoofs are wrong or uncreative and negative, I'm just trying to explain why I feel the way I do. It just seems to me that parody is all about how smart and witty and wonderful the parodist can be, while trying to cloak it as an homage to somebody else's abilities.

I do love a self-parody. The few times I've seen William Shatner parody himself I've been doubled over with laughter and my opinion of the man has gone up. Tolkien was not adverse to self parody as well, from time to time, usually in his Letters. I think what I find attractive in self-parody is the capacity that it demonstrates for self-analysis and realisation. It shows that the artist is willing and able to step outside his own creation and apprehend it from a different point of view.

I should add that I've never read the book in question, nor Bored of the Rings -- perhaps if I did, my opinion would change.
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Old 09-01-2004, 02:34 AM   #4
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Diamond18's post:

Edit: This post was written without seeing Fordim's reply.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurreg
I know two types of people who like parodies; the first are people who are acquainted with the original work the parody is based on and would not mind viewing the work in an askewed perspective for a good laugh or to view the original work in another angle as additional food for thought. These people like the original work but are generally casual and easy-going over it. Not "too-into-it" and "taking-it-easy" are the orders of the day here.


I’d fall into that category, methinks. Though I’ve never really felt the urge to read Bored of the Rings or others. Really, the only Tolkien parodies I’ve read were threads or links posted in Mirth, that “What if LotR had been written by someone else?” thread in Books, and Esty’s Entish Bow RPGs.

I think there’s a third definition missing here: the spoof. As I see it (in my own little world) the spoof is the gentlest form of mockery – instead of making any judgements or copying the general storyline, it includes element(s) in a wink wink nudge nudge fashion. For instance, “Shrek” parodied and satired many fairy tale archtypes, but I would say the scene where Fiona channels Trinity is more a spoof of the Matrix than a parody. It’s just one element that pops up unexpectedly, and it’s rather affectionate to its source material.

When I write in the REB RPGs, I see it as a spoof of LotR (among a rather lot of other things). I have a half-elf who blithely spouts the worst poetry in the galaxy, but that doesn’t mean I think Tolkien’s Elven poetry is bad. Quite the opposite. I just thought it was be a way to turn LotR on its head.

I’ve written spoofs, parodies, and satires of my own original work, incidentally. I’ve also written s/p/s’s of general story types. I see it as a way to just keep it real. That said, I have to be in the right mood to appreciate the merits of mockery, or I too can just shrug and wonder what’s so clever.

Lame parodies/satires are just sad, really.


Estelyn's post:

I like parodies, satire, and spoofs! (For those who have noticed my Fiona avatar, or may even have read the notorious ‘Entish Bow’ RPG, for which I am the chiefly responsible culprit, that may be stating the obvious, but I do want to make sure my standpoint is clear!) I’m pretty sure I have an old paperback copy of ‘Bored of the Rings’ around somewhere, and while plundering English bookshops recently, I purchased ‘The Soddit’ (along with both ‘Barry Trotter’ books, parodies of You-Know-Who). I’ll give a brief opinion on ‘The Soddit’ in a later post, since writing this one has taken up the time I have for now, but let me add my comments to the general discussion on the worth and nature of parodies which Bęthberry started.

First of all, there are good parodies and there are bad ones. Should you have started off with one of the poor examples, it could make you think that parodies are a bad thing. But those that are well-written and well thought out are wonderful! I’ve found some examples of this category on the Flying Moose site, which hosts the Tolkien satire pages, in a very few of the best ‘secret diaries’, and in the finest moments of the ‘Entish Bow’.

I would see differences between the categories spoof, parody, and satire. ‘Spoof’ would seem to me to be the lightest-hearted of them and could be used generically. ‘Parody’, I think, refers more to a humorous version concentrated on a single work and contains the element of turning things around to show their funny, often ridiculous, side and using specific characters and places. ‘Satire’ is more general and can be sharper, more bitter and pointed in its humour; it can be based on real life situations such as politics.

Why parody? (I’m using the word in a general sense, so much of what I say can apply to both other categories as well.) Parody is play. It is playing with words, plot elements, and characters to give them a new twist. For that reason, people who are not into playing with language probably don’t appreciate it. That’s fine – there are other variations of language usage that I don’t appreciate, so fair enough!

‘Shrek’, to take an example dear to my heart and mentioned by Diamond above, plays with fairy tale concepts, turning them around. The dragon should not be killed – it could be your ally later (and it just might be a female!). Your true love is not necessarily the handsome prince. What you consider ugly could be real beauty.

Most parodies play with the characters’ names (and those of places), using close equivalents that are comical, either because they are words with a different meaning or perhaps brand names. The latter is one of the reasons that much parody is dated after a few years – or why the jokes don’t work in a different country. (‘Bored of the Rings’ is an example of the former – some of the references are no longer funny, since they are now unfamiliar.) As Mithalwen said:
Quote:
not being American or quite old enough
Good parody can only be written by one who loves the work being parodied, in my opinion. As Diamond wrote above:
Quote:
it’s rather affectionate to its source material
Why bother to play with something one doesn’t like? (Unless blatant commercialism is the reason for writing it… ) This is where I’m with Saraphim:
Quote:
Ah, but there is a third kind. The group who love and respect Tolkien (or any original work, really) to the degree that nothing anyone says or parodies can possibly matter to their idea of the original.

Perhaps I am merely projecting here; creating a group of one (which is technically not a group at all). But personally, I found The Soddit and Bored of the Rings to be very funny, especially to one who knows the original and can get the allusionary jokes and gags, which may not be funny entirely on their own.
Make that a group of at least two – and I know that there are more of that kind out there!

Playing with a work I love (either as a reader or writer) gives me a different angle on it, enables me to see it in a new, fresh way. And the element of familiarity which is so essential to understanding parody is given, since I know the work well enough to catch the references – or write them, if I’m doing it myself. Good parody must be based on a thorough knowledge of the original source! As davem says:
Quote:
it depended on the audience having a real knowledge of the book
That also answers Bęthberry’s question as far as I’m concerned – I don’t think a parody is enjoyable to a reader who is not familiar with the original work on which it is based.

Yes, in some ways writing a parody is easier than writing an original, Fordim, since one has the given story on which to base it, but consider it a form of sub-creation, then it is justified in a Tolkienized sense! And without some kind of originality, it’s a poor parody.
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Old 09-01-2004, 02:37 AM   #5
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Saurreg's post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saraphim
Ah, but there is a third kind. The group who love and respect Tolkien (or any original work, really) to the degree that nothing anyone says or parodies can possibly matter to thier idea of the original.
I shall play the Devil's advocate here just for further discussion's sake. The following is by no means intended to insult or provoke anyone.

If one should feel very strongly for a piece of work or for the creator of that work, so much so that he holds it in idolatry, I would presume that emotions hold that person in high sway. It is hard to believe that such a passionate individual would not be susceptible to external provocations that challenges his favoring of the said piece of work or the above-mentioned creator. His "faith" is not unshakable.

It is not my intention to divulge into the human pysche since I am obviously no student in this field of study, but I should think that every reaction that stems from provocations of such nature, are emotional responses of varying spectrums of different people from either the first category who like parodies (the casual reader) or the first group who dislike parodies (the diehard loyalist). Most probably the second.

Take for example, yours truly translates this discussion thread into an experiment. I start a new thread insulting Tolkien to the lowest and post rude and irrelevant parodies/satires. Chances are the thread would be bombarded by hordes of second category people (the diehards or the chivalrists, whatever) eager for my blood, that is their emotional response - to take me down before my provocations propagate. But there will of course be those who read the contents of this horrible thread, shake their heads and remark to themselves,

"This chap has obviously fallen out from his tree, but my faith or point of view is still there so I will not be bothered,"

By weaving such a mindset/thought, those calm folks have already felt the effects of my provocation. The only thing that seperates them from the above-horde that wants my blood is the degree in which they percieve the threat posed by my provocation and their corresponding emotional response. And in this case, the latter choose to take solace in their "faith" which is only but a fail-safe mechanism to deal with the effects of my provocation.

P.S: Rest assured I will not attempt forum suicide by initiating such an experiment.


Sleepy Ranger's post:

As for me parodies and the actual thing are placed in different categories. I enjoy parodies but the real book always remains a masterpiece. And I only read parodies if I like the original work.


Lalaith's post:

Few things are too sacred for parody, IMO, as long as the parody is a. funny and b. short.
I like the parodies on Dead Ringers and French and Saunders, because they were sketches that made their point, and then the writers went onto something else. But if the parody goes on for nearly as long as the original, then unless it is exceptionally well-written, the joke begins to wear rather thin.


Lalwendë's post:

I've been thinking again about parodies/spoofs, and I've definitely come to the conclusion that it's hard to find a truly great parody. I think it depends upon the knowledge of the writer/director/comedian has of the source material. An example in point might be Kill Bill, which obviously parodied Kung Fu movies - it was obvious that Tarantino knew his genre inside out or he wouldn't have maintained the quality of the films for that length of time (and that's a moot point with some). Another good example, perhaps better, might be Spinal Tap.

But, when you think of the Austin Powers series of films, they began humourously, but then declined in quality as they became more elaborate and strayed from the original idea. There's a temptation to extend a profitable parody beyond its lifespan as a means of making more ŁŁŁs, unfortunately.

So, IMHO, to be a good parody, the understanding of source material must be excellent, and the writing must be tight and focussed. Of course, there's also only so far the joke can be taken.

Thinking about it, I find film parody much more entertaining, but maybe I've read some really poor literary parody! As for finding parody/spoofs offensive, I'd only think this if they were really badly written. Now, if someone who is into literary parody could recommend the absolute best, then I might like those!


Mithalwen's post:

With the Dead Riners things it was almost another variant ..... some were not parodying LOTR but used the fact of the outline of the story bein familiar enouh (sorry the keyboard is refusin to type theletter between f&h in the alphabet!!!!)
to most listeners to use it as a basis for topical humour ... the route of the quest bein a tactic to avoid the London conestion charge .....


Encaitare's post:

A parody should not be pushed too far, otherwise it just gets campy and distasteful. As Lalwende said, Austin Powers is a good example. They're all funny, but the laughs are cheap and the same jokes over and over get tiresome. I think that a really great parody is something -- if I may even use this word to refer to a parody! -- original. It should play off the original but not rely on it or follow it word-for-word. I have read some parodies which are crossovers with LotR and usually a comedy movie, and it's just not funny after a while because the author simply replaces the names/places in the original movie with those from LotR. The jokes aren't funny anymore and it only serves to drive one ballistic!
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Old 09-01-2004, 03:21 AM   #6
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I was just thinking (forgive me if this has been said, I've only been able to skim the latest posts in this thread) that perhaps my problem with Tolkien parodies is that too many of them seem not to be poking fun at the books but at the readers, which I suppose I take seriously - we're just sad geeks, only fit for these 'sophisticates' to laugh at. Perhaps its 'mockeries', not parodies or satires, I have a problem with.

(Paranioid? Who me? Why are you saying that???? )
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Old 09-01-2004, 05:00 AM   #7
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Smart you for setting up a new thread Esty, I am now free to float further ideas about parody and Tolkien.

I said initially that I don't like parodies or spoofs, and I stand by that, insofar as I don't like books that make fun of other books. I do, however, like satiric parodies in which a book or a movie makes fun of a human foible, weakness -- or a particular political/social aspect of the human world. I satire because it can be entertaining while fulfilling a social purpose by commenting directly on the world in such a way as to seek change or redress shortcomings.

This is perhaps why satire and Tolkien (or satire and fantasy) are incompatible. Fantasy is already a form of commentary on the world (my comments in the "Real" thread notwithstanding ) that exists at an oblique angle -- the primary world is already tweaked into different shapes in order for the commentary to take place. There is, then, no need or place for satire in a fantastic work.

Satire and fantasy, at their best, do the same work from different ends. Satire criticises the world with the idea of transforming it; fantasy transforms the world in such a way that implies criticism. In either case we are given a view of the world transformed, and a hint of what things could or should be like. This difference leaves a profound imprint on the finished works. A satiric work like Swift's Gulliver's Travels attempts to re-imagine humanity by shrinking people down to the size of toys, or blowing them up to giants so that we can see humans in all their deformity and flaws, and then act to change those in ourselves. A fantastical work like LotR attempts to re-imagine humanity by shrinking people down to the size of hobbits, or inflating them to a towering figure of perfection like Aragorn so that we can see what human nature is capable of becoming.

As I work through this I'm really beginning to see more and more connections between how fantasy and satire work!!! In both, there is not an attempt to show the 'human condition' in a single emblematic character; instead human traits or aspects are split and embodied among bunch of different characters. In this sense, Swift divides the human into Hounyhyns and Yahoos, Tolkien into the Edain and the Eldar.

Interestingly enough, satire can seem to bear the weight of fantastical elements (i.e. horses that talk, people the size of your thumb, giants) while the reverse is not true. As soon as an overtly satiric element emerges in a work of fantasy, the "spell" of the secondary world would fall apart since it would become merely a mask or palimpsest for the primary world and not a separate subcreated reality. I think this is because in a satiric work, the fantastic elements are expressions of allegory (i.e. tiny people=human pretensions to greatness; giants=humanity's gross desires and hungers), and we all know that for fantasy to 'work' it must work toward or within applicability not allegory!
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Old 09-01-2004, 10:29 AM   #8
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Forgive me if this is irrelevant, but:

The way we use the word "parody" now is different from its former meaning. Unfortunately for the pertinence of my comments, though, my knowledge of the subject is confined to music--I don't know if there was ever a literary equivalent of this.

In the Renaissance, many composers wrote works called Parody Masses. A Parody Mass was a setting of the Ordinary of the Mass using an existing tune (often a secular song) as the cantus firmus, or underlying melody. These Masses were not, of course, intended to poke fun at either the original tune or the Mass itself; their intent was rather to bring something recognizable to the masses into the Mass (sorry, I couldn't resist!). In effect, the Parody Mass made the Mass more accessible to the congregants, most of whom could not speak Latin. One particular tune "L'Homme Armee" was so popular that just about every composer in France wrote a Mass on it.

I wonder if there is any vestige of that left in modern parodies--do they serve any kind of purpose in bringing some part of the original to people who might not otherwise understand or even encounter it? Or are they so insular as to be understandable only to those who already know and love the original work?
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Old 09-01-2004, 10:31 PM   #9
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So if we go by the definition given to us by tar-ancalime, then a parody is a work that is based on or derived from another existing work or theme. That would mean that provocating spoofs are usually satires just as Bęthberry had claimed. Ah, now that makes things clearer.

I agree with Fordim that one must not simply dismiss parodies or satires if they portray actual persons. It may not be just a case of being disrespectful and generating self-satisfaction through another person's discomfort or shortcomings. If we go by current forum definitions, than many a political and social commentators throughout the ages have used satires to communicate the ideas and observations when it was impossible to do so directly. From mythical Aesop to Thackeray and from Thackeray to Orwell, all these writers have written satires in one form or another to illustrate the ills of humanity and society. Such works carry great merit and are welcomed in most reading circles for the message they try to convey. Today's parodies and satires may lack the sense of urgency, importance or even relevance compared to the seminal works of old, but it will not harm to just try to read them and think on both sides before passing judgement.

Good thread Estelyn Telcontar
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Old 09-02-2004, 01:07 AM   #10
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Silmaril W W T D ?

Granted, the question "What would Tolkien do?" is facetious! But what would Tolkien think of parodies of his works? We know that he had a wonderful sense of humour from reading his works, but would it have amused him to read spoofs of them, or would he have been annoyed, feeling the plagiaristic aspect as an intrusion on his creation?

Most parodies write "unauthorized" on the front, so it is not necessary to have the author's permission or approval. We joke about JRRT turning in his grave when we read particularly cheeky parodies. (As a matter of fact, Squatter and Underhill "invented" the Travest-O-Meter (TM) to measure the RPM (rotations per minute). It is presumed to have been destroyed by overload during a recent episode of the "Entish Bow" RPG. ) So are parodists being disrespectful to the work of the original author?

By the way, the above-mentioned apparatus brings yet another term into play here - travesty. How would that be different from parody, spoof, and satire?


(footnote: I just realized that my facetious question is itself a parody! Since the original is a religious topic, I do hope that it's not offensive to anyone. I'm not sure whether my inability to resist a play on words is a strength or a weakness... *sigh* )
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Old 09-02-2004, 01:56 AM   #11
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I must admit, that, in general, I'm in line with Fordim in not liking parodies. But with a proviso - I don't like bad parodies, and almost all direct parodies, unfortunately, fall under said category. So I never enjoyed Lesslie Nilssen (sp?, and in this case I don't accept any critique, Rimbaud!) movies, per instance.

But (and a mighty weighty strong but at that):

Quote:
a parody is a work that is based on or derived from another existing work or theme
So is any other work, even the most serious and jaw-breaking of, say, existential philosophical one-ton volumes. As in Physics - cause and effect. Tolkien himself leaned heavily on all kind of existing (and not-existing, but reconstructed) works and themes. So parody is just another way of expressing one's sub-creative abilities, and art in its own right, and channelling author's personal information/experience received from preceding sources. Any activity, in fact, is. I'm able to light a match, as such a skill of mine was based/derived from that of my parents, heh. (Canonicity thread, you are unquenchable!). I can light matches in a mocking way too.

Another 'So':

Quote:
Originally Posted by Esty
First of all, there are good parodies and there are bad ones. Should you have started off with one of the poor examples, it could make you think that parodies are a bad thing. [b]But those that are well-written and well thought out are wonderful![b]
Should it be considered spam to advise you go for Terry Pratchatt for your money? Man mocks out everything in sight (per instance - and I've said elswhere that I'm a sneak and can keep anything Tolkien related - there is such a person as Gimlet the dwarf in TP's world, and a load of other references to JRRT, see Making Fun of It thread), one even can put a claim not a single one of Tp's works is not a compilation or a mix up of existing themes, and yet, and yet his art in brewing such a beer makes the cocktail highly original. (Private information for your notice - your humble servant fell off his bed once, reading Small Gods. That is, not simply fell off, but cause of laughing histerically. Another sample of cause and effect)

Driving to the point now, be patient:

For the parody to be good, in my opinion, there are three mandatory requirements:

1. The author of a parody should be a good artist himself
2. S/he should love the work s/he intends to spoof
3. S/he should know the work s/he intends to spoof

The success of the parody, good or bad, now, mainly depends on how well-known and loved is the work parodied.

Good parody bears the function of a self-analysis, helping to alianate one from one's possible obsession at times, or even see something in a new light, which would have pass unnoticed if taken always seriously. Humour generally does help see things from different angle, and widening yer horizon is a good for ye (self-spamming - see ME Jokes)

As for satire, I always thought of it as of a more negative and somehow political kind of the two, aimed not at any particular work in itself, but at the dominant idea/concept of the particular work or a society the author of the satire lives in . (So, Gulliver is a satire, not parody). Suppose someone were to create a work mocking out Tolkien's religion, or moral code, - that would have been satire, not parody.

For the satire to be good, there are also three requirements:

1. The author of a satire should be a good artist himself
2. S/he should have the dominant idea/concept to replace the one s/he mocks out
3. S/he should be very well versed in both concepts - one s/he mocks out and one s/he propagates

The success of the satire, now, depends on how many supporters both ideas/concepts have. Mentioned Gulliver would have been a failure three centuries earlier


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Old 09-02-2004, 07:03 AM   #12
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Maybe another problem is that the parodist is making money out of someone elses' work. Yes, Gulliver's Travels was a satire, but not on any particular author's work, & it wasn't sold on the back of anyone else's hard work. The difference between ARRR Robert's (& Peter Jackson's) work & Terry Pratchett's is that Pratchett's work may satirise some of Tolkien's themes & characters but it doesn't ride on the back of Tolkien's work.
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Old 09-02-2004, 07:16 AM   #13
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personality

There is a big issue with personality and parody, I think. I say this largely because I don't enjoy parody much at all, regardless of form; I am trying to remember if I have ever encountered a parody of any type that I have enjoyed.

It's not that I have no sense of humor (although some might so accuse me)-- Tolkien in particular can leave me chuckling for extended periods of time, and so can some members of this board. Golly, I *still* laugh (even as I write) over Ewan MacGregor's eyeliner. But parodies don't hold my attention, and I wander off looking for something more interesting. I'm not sure whether it's because parodies often tend towards humor I find distasteful, or whether I feel that if I appreciate the original, I'd rather not have it tomatoed for my supposed enjoyment.

Also-- filk parodies abound; I hardly ever enjoy them (Alan Sherman being a notable exception, but I grew up with that.)

On the ComingOfAge thread, we joked for a while about an RPG blending TOlkien with Led Zeppelin. It was great fun to joke about, but once the casting began I wanted to have very little to do with it! And there was nothing offensive involved that I recall. So I come back around to the personality thing.

...all right, I did think of a particular form of parody which I have enjoyed: certain, select, old-time saturday morning cartoons. Rocky And Bullwinkle's Fractured Fairy Tales. Or Bullwinkle's Poetry corner-- also good. And another: Elmer & Bug's Niebelungenlied:
Quote:
"Oh Bwun-HIL-da, you're so WOVE-wy!"
"Yes, I KNOW it, I can't HELP it!"
The Magic Helmet... And that obese white horse.... Niebelungenlied had me gasping for air. I'm getting off topic, I guess...

But I have yet to find a written parody that holds my interest, and I have no desire to even check out a Tolkien parody. I'd rather laugh at Tolkien's own jokes, which abound within the text.

Does anybody else feel that enjoyment of parody involves a personality element that some people have and some don't?

Edit:
Quote:
The few times I've seen William Shatner parody himself
Fordim, that I would love to see.
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Old 09-02-2004, 08:03 AM   #14
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Boots

I am late for something that I helped set up! Initially I had merely wished to salvage a discussion of The Soddit from the axe, but this thread now is marvellous. Rather than replying directly to everyone, I shall simply toss out a few provocative ideas. What's a daughter of Bombdil to do but play, after all.

Quote:
Originally posted by Estelyn
Parody is play. It is playing with words, plot elements, and characters to give them a new twist. For that reason, people who are not into playing with language probably don?t appreciate it. That?s fine ? there are other variations of language usage that I don?t appreciate, so fair enough!
This is, I think, one of the crucial aspects of parody in that it looks not at the world or human foibles, as satire does, but at language, to tease out what fun, what unexpected views, what new and arresting ideas can be found in the works. To boldly go where the first author had not gone before.

Quote:
The few times I've seen William Shatner parody himself
I'm with Helen on this. I would greatly love to know whether Shatner is in fact providing a little self-reflection or is just marketing himself, as Salvator Dali did. (not that I am by any means equating Shatner with Salvator, whose names have always to me sounded a ring of truth about their work.

Quote:
Does anybody else feel that enjoyment of parody involves a personality element that some people have and some don't?
Hmm, Helen, does this mean you are coming around to one of the points argued on the infamous C-thread, to assume HeronIstarion's term? (I have to fight against the allusion that reminds me of, the C-section, although perhaps that has its appropriateness.) That the site of enjoyment/ interpretation/ meaning lies in the hands of the reader rather than the writer?

I like very much tar-ancalime's definition of parody from music and the idea that the purpose of a parody is to draw out something for an audience which was difficult to see in the original. Lovely punning on mass and Mass, tar-ancalime.

With this idea and with those of quality, which so many here seem to be suggesting is an aspect of parody perhaps more important than in the original, I wonder if we aren't into that nebulous area of intentionality. Do we like parodies in which the author did not intend to ridicule the original, but merely play with it, to bring greater delight or enlightenment to the audience? Is the hint of authorial denigration of the original something which ruins the fun or which speaks only to those who don't like the original?

I will now put myself within firing range. Those who have read our (yes, Esty, I dare to say "our" although it was your conception originally, for it has been propagated by posts from many hands ) infamous RPG serial, The Entish Bow, I ask you to consider this about my characters. I have I guess three major parodic strains there. The first was Saladriel and Celeborn, with the spinoff Vinaigrettiel, followed closely stage left by Orlando l'Oreal Bloom, and most lately by Gucyberry and Ricky Ricardillo. Who can tell what was my intention in writing any of these characters? Have I been a constant lover of Tolkien or have I been unfaithful? Did I wish to play the rebel in REB and if so, why? And were my intention or intentions consistent? Can any of you interpret what was in the author's mind?

Hey dol, merry dol. Play on, McDowners.
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Old 09-02-2004, 09:16 AM   #15
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Eye

Quote:
Do we like parodies in which the author did not intend to ridicule the original, but merely play with it, to bring greater delight or enlightenment to the audience? Is the hint of authorial denigration of the original something which ruins the fun ...
Re-considering Shrek 2, this makes sense to me.

Quote:
Hmm, Helen, does this mean you are coming around to one of the points argued on the infamous C-thread, to assume HeronIstarion's term? (I have to fight against the allusion that reminds me of, the C-section, although perhaps that has its appropriateness.) That the site of enjoyment/ interpretation/ meaning lies in the hands of the reader rather than the writer?
For Truth-- no, although certainly the perception (of truth showing Truth) is reader-dependant.

For humor-- certainly.

(Helen sits back and waits to be parodied)
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Old 09-02-2004, 01:19 PM   #16
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It's always good to ask questions! If no one else answers one, you start thinking about it yourself. So it is with my question on the difference between "parody" and "travesty". The more I reflect on the latter, the more it seems to me to be a negative kind of copy, a mockery of the original. Wouldn't the orcs and trolls be made as a travesty of Elves and Ents? Then I conclude that I would prefer to stick to the term "parody", denoting a type of play with words, friendly and fun-loving.

Still, the question remains - what would Tolkien think of the parodies on his works?
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Old 09-02-2004, 01:24 PM   #17
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I don't know if this constitutes an answer to your question Esty but Tolkien wrote what could be considered a parody of LotR himself:

"The Lord of the Rings
Is a funny old thing;
If you like it, you do,
If you don't, you go 'boo'."

Not exactly a fully developed self-parody, but it does make light of his work in a playful manner.
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Old 09-02-2004, 01:24 PM   #18
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This topic's been in the back of my mind for days now, not least as I've been thinking about what parodies I have enjoyed, and why I have enjoyed them.

One literary parody that was good was Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, a parody of Gothic Novels. Yet, much as I enjoyed this, it is still my least favourite of her novels. I much preferred the satire, her biting humour is better seen in Emma, for example, and Northanger Abbey is not as satisfying as these, it feels more...forced.

I'm not sure I agree that the purpose of a modern parody is to draw out meaning for the audience; think about films like Scary Movie, or Airplane. They are simply parody for the sake of it - or parody to make money!

I definitely do not like the sense that the author/creator of a parody is merely trying to ridicule. It smacks of playground bullies somehow - as though you're being made to feel like you ought to be seen to be laughing. And this is generally the main feature of a bad parody. Now if the parodist can come up with a new take on things, a twist that makes you go "aaah, I see", and they are clever, then the parody does work. Other parodies which work are those which gently play on something - like Shrek!

I am almost dreading a parody film of LOTR coming out, something like Scary Movie, as it would be based on the films of LOTR. I suspect it would play heavily on stereotypes rather than knowledge of the work, something which is very easy to do, yet hard to pull off without being tasteless.

Speaking of taste, I agree that personal taste is a huge part of comedy and what people like. I can quote half the lines in The League of Gentlemen ("this is a local shop..."), but I sat through Dumb and Dumber with a face like thunder!

OK, seeing as others have had a go, here's some ideas for rules for good parody:
Have a good knowledge and understanding of what you are basing your parody on.
Do not resort to mockery or cheap humour.
Be playful or clever.
Don't carry the joke on once you get to the punchline.

What would Tolkien have thought of parodies? I'm sure he'd have read them - he had a famously good sense of humour, but he would only have liked the good ones, of course.

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Old 09-02-2004, 07:27 PM   #19
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Did some major skimming...now to jump in!

I love parodies for the most part, I don't much like such things as "Bored of the Rings" or "Star Wreck" because they're just stupid. Not to say stupidity can't be a good thing, it can be quite amusing, but in small doses. The highly concentrated stupidity in some parodies gets mind-numbing and slightly nauseating. Monty Python is on the borderline of "too stupid". Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams I love, and I spend most of my time on this forum in Mirth, which is mostly about parodying LotR. (New Movie Script, Crazy Captions, Crazy Scenes, LotR Road Trip...the list goes on and on)
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Old 09-02-2004, 07:45 PM   #20
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Tolkien

What makes a difference between Shrek and what I've heard about parodies such as Bored of the Rings, movies such as Monty Python, that one parody of Star Wars that I don't remember the title of, is this:

Shrek makes fun of how unreal fairy tales are (honestly, what princess falls for an ogre -- basically it's telling you, "Hey! Looks don't matter you silly little girls!"). Parodies like that don't bug me because it's giving everything a dollop of reality.

I have never read Bored of the Rings, but the very name alone seems to be twisting what Tolkien wrote. To me, Tolkien's works has its faults, but it's noble and good, and there's not much to be made fun of...it's not stupid, is what I'm trying to say. And that's usually how I see parodies: twisting something that is good.

I'll use Monty Python and the Holy Grail as an example:

To me, it's making fun of the nobility of knights, twisting it into a caricature that is, in a word, stupid.

And I just don't see how that is good...

I guess these are my rules for parodies:

1. Make fun out of something that's stupid or blatantly unreal (the happy ever after fairy tales for example).
2. Make sure it's well done...
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Old 09-03-2004, 04:05 PM   #21
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Quote:
I have never read Bored of the Rings, but the very name alone seems to be twisting what Tolkien wrote. To me, Tolkien's works has its faults, but it's noble and good, and there's not much to be made fun of...it's not stupid, is what I'm trying to say. And that's usually how I see parodies: twisting something that is good.

I'll use Monty Python and the Holy Grail as an example:

To me, it's making fun of the nobility of knights, twisting it into a caricature that is, in a word, stupid.

And I just don't see how that is good...
Here I, at least, disagree heavily. It does not twist the words Tolkien wrote, it is trying to make some light fun out of his work. It is not, in any way, changing anything Tolkien wrote - merely making fun of his style. Though I haven't read the whole thing, yes, it seems pretty stupid. But it isn't trying to make Tolkien's work look stupid. Nor is it taking stupid things from Tolkien's works and making fun of them, it is putting Tolkien's work into a stupid setting. (Mostly, at any rate.)

On Monty Python, that is a wholly different story. For one thing, knights weren't always nice. The knights in the various Arthur-legends are perhaps, but in reality I doubt many of them had as high ideals as they are made out to have.

For another thing, the point of their movie isn't to make knights look stupid - that had been pretty stupid. (At least that isn't their sole purpose. ) They take a character (in this case a knight) and try to surprise the watcher by making this character do something that is untypical for him/her (see Brave Brave Sir Robin ) thus creating a surrealistic/funny situation - or they go the other way: making a character do something that is arch-typical for him/her but putting it into a setting where his/her actions don't fit or are misplaced because the character misjudges the situation (for example Sir Lancelot going to save the fair maiden locked up in a tower forced to marry by her father - only to find that it is a guy, and a rather ugly one at that) which gives the same effect.

It's late up her and I'm pretty tired, so if there's much non-sense/many inconsistences/big spleling mistaks in the above please point it out.
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Old 09-04-2004, 07:05 AM   #22
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In the context of this discussion (and I enjoy reading all of your posts!) I was reminded of a parody I wrote in justification of parody on the 'Entish Bow' RPG's discussion thread two months ago:


Mytho-Bow-ia

We RPG and libel it just so,
(for parody it is, the Entish Bow);
we write a post and read with smiling face
one of the many major wastes of space:
a sword’s a sword, some metal in a sheath
compelled to speak or to condemn to death.
Amid the serious, canon, lofty tales,
here, influence of moderators pales.

At bidding of a Plot, which we do bend
(and must), we only dimly apprehend;
the Itship marches on, as Game unrolls
from dark beginnings to uncertain goals;
and as on screen ‘tis written without clue,
with letters green on background black in hue,
an endless multitude of posts appear,
some grim, some frail, some wonderful, some queer.

The REB is not compound of lies,
but draws some humour from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long enstranged,
he turneth in his grave, and every change
the faithful Travestometer doth see;
we hold in honour creativity
and splinter from the true LotR
our many hues with no intent to mar
the memory of him who’s now decayed.
We write still by the model which he made.
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Old 09-04-2004, 09:54 AM   #23
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Boots *bows to the Mistress of the Bow*

Estelyn, I still think you penned that out of a guilty conscious!

As to the question of what Tolkien might have thought concerning parody, we have a parody of his own to consider: the Introduction to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

He has a bit of sport with the dry, staid, sombre tone of much academic analysis of early oral literature. It must have been a hoot for him to treat his light-hearted verse so formally. In order not to repeat myself (and surely not out of the vanity of linking to my other posts), here is a longer consideration of the Introduction which I wrote for Encataire's [The Mewlips thread.
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Old 09-04-2004, 09:56 AM   #24
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What a great thought, Bb, Tolkien himself as a parodist! I wonder - can we find more examples of that in his works?
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Old 09-04-2004, 12:58 PM   #25
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Shippey makes the point that in Giles Tolkien is effectively parodying some of the sources he knew well -' the 'Brutus Books' of Sir Gawain, of King Lear, & indeed of the Old King Cole of nursery rhyme, all of which are referred to'. He writes:

Quote:
Yet entirely in line with the light-heartedness, the story makes a point, & a rather agressive one. In the mock editorial 'Foreword'. a device Tolkien liked, we are told that the story is just like the histories erected on Macaulay's hypothesised Lays, ie not contemporary with the events it records, 'evidently a late compilation', & 'derived not from sober annals, but from the popular lays to which its author frequently refers'.

...the only person in the story who gets things right nearly all the time, besides Giles..., is the Parson of Ham. He is treated with a certain comedy, especially in the first conversation with giles. He insists on seeing the sword presented by the King...He looks carefully at the letters on scabbard & blade, but 'could not make head or tail of them'. He covers up with bluff, of a highly proffessional kind - 'The characters are archaic & the language barbaric'. Nevertheless he gets the answer right in the end: the sword is Caudimordax, or Tailbiter. When it turns out that the dragon has no intention of keeping his word, & though this may have been

'beyond the comprehension of the simple, at the least the parson with his
booklearning might have guessed it. Maybe he did. He was a grammarian, & could doubtless see further into the future than others'
Shippey then points out that in medieval terms 'grammar' was the same as 'glamour' (the ability to change one's shape & decieve observers) & as 'grammarye' (magic)

So, Tolkien is parodying, or satirising, or at least playing with, many old beliefs & even specific old books. Perhaps Old Nokes in Smith is a similar kind of satire on beliefs & attitudes.

Certainly Tolkien could use irony & satire, but he does it cleverly, & his stories work simply as stories in their own right. Most importantly for me, though, is the fact that he is not riding on the backs of other writers, & selling his work by tying it to that of greater writers than himself. Another important point is that the things he is satirising are so obscure barely one reader in a thousand would pick up on the satire if it wasn't pointed out to them by someone in the know. One almost gets the feeling that he would have preferred it if none of his readers got the joke, if it remained private, & he himself was the only one who laughed.

Which makes me wonder how many other 'hidden jokes' run through the rest of his books - something Fordim touched on earlier in reference to the 'hidden' meaning of various names in the books.

I quite like the idea that there may be other books out there, which are blatant parodies of Tolkien's works, but where the author doesn't draw attention to it. Wouldn't that be wonderful - to be reading a book, & have it suddenly 'click' that you were reading a parody of something you know so well?
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Old 09-04-2004, 09:35 PM   #26
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Quoted by davem

One almost gets the feeling that he would have preferred it if none of his readers got the joke, if it remained private, & he himself was the only one who laughed.

Which makes me wonder how many other 'hidden jokes' run through the rest of his books - something Fordim touched on earlier in reference to the 'hidden' meaning of various names in the books.

I quite like the idea that there may be other books out there, which are blatant parodies of Tolkien's works, but where the author doesn't draw attention to it. Wouldn't that be wonderful - to be reading a book, & have it suddenly 'click' that you were reading a parody of something you know so well?
One of the most astounding 'coup de tonnerre' that I have ever received is to recognise suddenly correspondences and similarities where I have not previously seen them. This 'click' as you name it (do you know a book called Click which Lynn Crosbie edited?) is an incredible feeling--it mixes insight and blindness, both sides of the coin, at once. Often once I see the relationship I marvel that I had not first seen it, but all the more interesting and rewarding is to follow all the clues that I had first missed and to consider what it was that brought this new 'vision' or sound wave my way. This experience is a never ending revelation and marvel to me, the more so because of its subtlety (or what at first appears subtlety. Often afterwards, it is more like 'how could I have missed that').

I can understand this thoroughly as part of a writer's true enjoyment in playing with his audience, that ultimately there is some shared recognition. What I don't understand so well is a writer who would wish this to remain private, and not want anyone else to share it. What might prompt a writer to want to keep such things a private joke at the reader's expense? Would Tolkien have been such a writer?

I suppose part of me wants to think that every writer ultimately wishes for someone somewhere to share the communication with him--or her. "Only connect" Auden said. Perhaps this is an idealistic expectation of authors and I should consider other stances towards audience. Certainly to me this secrecy might fit the great satirists or cynicists. Perhaps I should read Les Liaisons Dangereuse. Or is there something comic in the discrepancy between an author's intention and an audience's understanding?

On the other hand, there might also be writers who wish to engage their readers actively rather than passively and who wish to help readers understand how reading literature, at its best, opens minds to new possibilities and teaches readers how to question basic, unexamined assumptions.
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Old 09-05-2004, 01:43 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethberry
This 'click' as you name it (do you know a book calledClick which Lynn Crosbie edited?) is an incredible feeling-
No, but I'll have to look out for it. this expression, that somethign just 'clicks' is a common English expression, & I thought is was common to all English speaking people - though I remember Jung referred to it as an expression the English have.

I suppose what I like about Tolkien's approach in Giles is that he doesn't, unlike the writers of Bored of the Rings & the Soddit, tell you exactly what he's satirising or parodying, so most readers will read Giles just as a story - though the odd references to old Lays might just inspire some of them to investigate further - perhaps he was doing something similar with all his references to other (unpublished) Middle earth texts in LotR.

Of course, it also helps to create the illusion of 'depth' in both Giles & LotR. but the point as far as Giles is concerned, is that the story works on two levels, or for two kinds of readers - the ones who aren't familiar with the old lays & medieval ideas/beliefs. will read it in one way (but miss a lot of the jokes) & the 'ones in the know' will read it in a very different way - just as readers of LotR who don't know the Sil will read that in one way, missing a lot of the references, & those who do know the Sil (& all the other ME writings) will have a different experience, based on what they know of the background material.

Back to Canonicity! So, what we bring to our reading of LotR (or any other book) & the way we interpret it, what it means to us, is not just a matter of the life experiences we bring with us, all the things unconnected to ME, but also on our knowledge of ME itself. I suppose this expands the debate. We can't simply ask what effect our experiences have on our understanding of LotR, we also have to ask what effect our knowledge of the history of ME itself has on the way we read it. So perhaps its a question of 'The book, the books, or the reader'.

Is Giles a 'stand alone' book. or does a complete understanding & appreciation of it depend on a knowledge of the Brutus books, the lays & medieval beliefs generally? And further, how much of an understanding of those books can we have without the other, lost, books which inspired their authors? Yet those books came out of a primarily oral culture (which also applies to Middle earth itself, I suppose - to what extent was the population of ME literatate? What other knowledge did the readers, or hearers, of the Red Book bring with them? Can we read the Red Book in the way a Hobbit would? When Men of the Fourth Age heard the stories of the earlier ages, did they understand them in the way we do, or, because of their wholly different world view & value system, did they understand them differently, & take different things from them?

All the writings refer to something, yet we all (& this also applies, within the Secondary World, to the hearers within that world) have baggage we bring with us. So should we attempt to free ourselves of that baggage, & approach the stories 'objectively'? How can we? Could even Tolkien himself do that? Yet, the thing we're interpreting & experiencing in our own way has an 'objective' existence in a sense - the accounts in the books are the same for all of us.

er... this should probably be in the Canonicity thread.
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Old 09-05-2004, 06:14 AM   #28
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Another example of Tolkien parodying older stories seems to be contained in the early drafts of the Valar. Aren't they very human, bickering and rivaling beings in the 'Lost Tales', much like the old Greek/Roman pantheon?! I'd have to reread the pertinent passages to give detailed examples, but I vividly remember thinking how different they were from the later Valar when I first read them.

Oh, and concerning Farmer Giles, the line I think is most hilariously parodic is this one:
Quote:
'So knights are mythical!' said the younger and less experienced dragons. 'We always thought so.'
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Old 09-05-2004, 03:40 PM   #29
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Quote:
Shippey then points out that in medieval terms 'grammar' was the same as 'glamour' (the ability to change one's shape & decieve observers) & as 'grammarye' (magic)

So, Tolkien is parodying, or satirising, or at least playing with, many old beliefs & even specific old books. Perhaps Old Nokes in Smith is a similar kind of satire on beliefs & attitudes.
How cool! I was not aware of that... clever, clever man, that Tolkien. I wonder what else I'm not getting in "Farmer Giles"... I'll definitely have to reread it!

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'So knights are mythical!' said the younger and less experienced dragons. 'We always thought so.'
I love that line!
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Old 09-06-2004, 01:06 AM   #30
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On 'Grammeree'

There is a folksong, The Wife of Usher's Well, about a mother who's three sons had 'died' whille at the 'Foreign School', & who attempts by an invocation of Christ to bring them back to life:

Quote:
There was a lady at Usher's Well,
And children had she three,
She sent them off to the foreign school,
To learn their grammeree.

O they hadn't been gone but a very short time,
About three weeks & a day,
When death, sweet death came hastening along,
And stole those babes away'
As RJ Stewart points out in The UnderWorld Initiation, in folksong (specifically the type known as 'Magical Ballads'), 'visits to 'Spain', 'Turkey', the 'unco'land, a 'foreign land', often imply the journey to the OtherWorld or UnderWorld'.

In other words, she sends her children into Faerie to learn the 'mysteries', but they die (or get trapped) while there, & she attempts to bring them back into this world, but as the song tells, she fails in the attempt.

So 'grammerians' were believed to know 'secrets' - they were 'wizards' who had arcane knowledge unavailable to others - possibly the reason for the suspicion of 'book learning' among the ignorant.
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Old 09-20-2004, 06:55 AM   #31
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I've been thinking, not for the first time, about the similarity between parody and the art form which I actively (sub)create, patchwork. The thought came up in this discussion that parody is "easy" to do, since one works with existing material. Well, the same could be said of patchwork, and has, in the past. How silly to cut up a perfectly good fabric and sew the pieces together again! But the art is in the choice of the fabrics and colors, and in the pattern and arrangement of the pieces. Nowadays, antique quilts are prized collector's items, and new quilts and patchworks are recognized as art.

Cannot the same be true of parody? It is in the choice and combination of elements, the quality of writing that goes into a work of parody, that the skill (or lack of the same! ) of its author is shown. A good parody can bring references to highly varying previous works (and other elements) together and make us see them in a new light.

As a matter of fact, I'm discovering that in a completely different type of parody - a classical music parody! (P. D. Q. Bach, for those who are familiar with 'him' ) After hearing the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as a sportscast, (two elements that one would never associate with each other!) I'll never hear that piece the same way again! But that is not quite related to our discussion...

If a well-written parody can make me see Tolkien's works in a new and fresh light, isn't it worthwhile?!
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Old 01-18-2006, 05:08 PM   #32
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What are you laughing at?

I'm sorry to drag this one out of retirement, but ESTY sent this thread to me some months ago, having read some of my work. Subsequently we met at The 50th Anniversary in Birmingham, and I believe that she read most of The Followship of the Ring and The Two Townies (In fact she hogged the MS, so DAVEM couldn't get his hands on it). I have just sent a part of The Lord of the Grins to an agent, in the hope he can find a publisher. Having read this thread (to the best of my ability), I find a lot to be positive about. My overiding fear is that Tolkien Scholars will see this as just another attempt to cash in on the name, I can honestly tell you that is not true. I have read Bored of the Rings, and although I find it funny, For I am old enough to understand most of the references to our world of the Sixties, many of todays readers have no idea of them. When I started the book I only really wanted to update the humour, however it has grown out of proportion.
Having read The Soddit, The Sellamillion and The Sillymarillion, I can only say in my mind, mine is as good as any of them. I think where mine differs, is that I love the works of Tolkien. I am a member of The Tolkien Society, and have been reading his works since the late sixties. I have a huge collection of his works (twenty different copies of The Lord of the Rings alone). I consider what I am doing no worse than Peter Jackson, in that LotR is a room full of doors, and we have both entered it through different ways. Parody is an ability to look at something in a different way. The english language can often be turned on its head. A great hero of mine was Ronnie Barker, he to me was a true wordsmith, anyone who has seen The Four Candles/Fork Handles sketch will know what I mean, he told this once:-

Man to young boy "Go over the road and see how Old Mrs Smith is"
Boy comes back and replies "She says her age has got nothing to do with you"

Try to imagine at the point where Celeborn says in Lothlorien, "One would say at the last Gandalf fell into folly", then Pippin saying, "No he fell into a big black hole"

The main thing is, I am one of you, and it is for us and only us that this book is aimed at. It will have no meaning to those who have only seen the films, or who have read the books only once, if you haven't read The Silmarillion or The Appendices, you will be in trouble also. The hardest parts of writing this book have been where LotR get really serious, and changing the names so they all match the new story and are not just silly. So I will leave you with the true version of The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen.

I know by rights this should be in The Middle-earth Mirth dept, but it is an attempt to show how parody works.


Benny son of Barry was a working class man who fell in love with a royal. She was the daughter of King Thingy and Mullien The May I, called Lillian Tinnitus which is Frighteningwail in The Spindrawlin language of the Elves. Thingy was King of the Elves and was known as Elude Singular, Greatmangle Lord of The Thousand Cafes of Manygrowth of Doorhehath. The King sent Benny on a quest, which included him getting past the whole host of Mortcough and into the Halls of Hangbad beneath the Towers of Thatgotridofhim. Benny Chameleon returned out of the darkness (The Lay of which was written by Roy Gorge The Rotund), and wed Lillian. Their child was Dear Helovachil, whose daughter Yelling married Herenditall the son of Chewer son of Hewer and Idiot Cerebellum daughter of King Turgid. The sons of Yelling and Herenditall were Elbow the Halfman and Elroy Tru-miniature the first king of Neomanor. So it was that the line was reunited when Paragon son of Paramount, Alesser Heir of Everdulls son Evenduller King of Gondour and Another(small insignificant place in the north), wed Olwen Undomesticated daughter of Elbow the Halfman.

P.S I was only joking ESTY, honest.
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:07 AM   #33
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The Lord of the Grins

So here we are many years later, I have two books available from Amazon Kindle, The Followship of the Ring and The Two Townies. With much help from Davem, and words of encouragement from Esty and Bethberry, I am now working on The Retinue of the King part one and The Retinue of the King part two in 3D. If any of you do buy them, I hope you like them.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:09 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by narfforc View Post
So here we are many years later, I have two books available from Amazon Kindle, The Followship of the Ring and The Two Townies. With much help from Davem, and words of encouragement from Esty and Bethberry, I am now working on The Retinue of the King part one and The Retinue of the King part two in 3D. If any of you do buy them, I hope you like them.
Unlike Narf (congratulations by the way, Narf), I never published my parodies, particularly because I have infringed on nearly every copyright convention imaginable. But the satires are, nevertheless, award-winning and recognized in fan-fic circles for their general silliness, literary pretensions and good grammar:

Monty Python's The Hobbit

Monty Python's Fellowship of the Ring

Monty Python's The Two Towers

The parody only made it halfway through the Two Towers due to the intervention by United Nations Peacekeeping Forces and sanctions against several of the major characters.
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:51 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by narfforc View Post
So here we are many years later, I have two books available from Amazon Kindle, The Followship of the Ring and The Two Townies. With much help from Davem, and words of encouragement from Esty and Bethberry, I am now working on The Retinue of the King part one and The Retinue of the King part two in 3D. If any of you do buy them, I hope you like them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
Unlike Narf (congratulations by the way, Narf), I never published my parodies, particularly because I have infringed on nearly every copyright convention imaginable. But the satires are, nevertheless, award-winning and recognized in fan-fic circles for their general silliness, literary pretensions and good grammar:

Monty Python's The Hobbit

Monty Python's Fellowship of the Ring

Monty Python's The Two Towers

The parody only made it halfway through the Two Towers due to the intervention by United Nations Peacekeeping Forces and sanctions against several of the major characters.
Peter Jackson beat both of you to the punch.

Anyway, nice work to both of you. I can't imagine having the attention span to write an entire book.
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