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Old 05-10-2014, 06:44 PM   #41
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Welcome to the Downs, demnation!

I agree with your comment about Rune calling LotR more a mythology being 'rather a compliment' to the author.
But thanks for the warm welcome! I do like it here. I think I'll stay!
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Old 06-23-2014, 10:14 PM   #42
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I first came across The Lord of the Rings as volume one of the Ace paperback edition. I was in my final year of high school and was very much into books of sf and books of mythology. And here was this book on the stands in a drugstore which I had never heard of before. This book called itself The Fellowship of the Ring, was about three times the thickness of a normal Ace paperback, and cost 75¢ when Ace paperbacks normally cost 25¢ each.

A glance through the book showed I had to have it. The killer was when I happened to turn to the page where Frodo first saw the ring inscription and Tolkien had printed it out in the text in strange characters.

Starting through it at home, I realized almost at once that this was a sequel to children’s book called The Hobbit which I had read and enjoyed years before. But after reading a few chapters I realized that this was indeed a magnificently told tale and that I was going to have to read it correctly. So I put the book aside and rushed off the closest public library to take out a version of The Hobbit so I could refresh myself for a proper reading.

After reading The Hobbit I started again on Fellowship, still determined to read this book right. I am normally a speed reader, but for this book I was determined to read it aloud and not to speed read. It took me about two months to finish, and I found every page wonderful. Then I came to the end of Fellowship with the story obviously still incomplete. Puzzled, I looked through the publisher’s blurbs and discovered to my joy that this was only the first of three books in a series, and that I had still two more books of hopefully the same amazing quality to read!

I had previously read some modern fantasy works, but nothing that had come close to impressing me like Tolkien had.

I have since met many who feel the same, and many who cannot stand Tolkien.

One case occurred a number of years ago when a local fan named Debbie, whom I did not know, decided she would finally read The Lord of the Rings and review each chapter on her website as she read it, with comments by those who wished to comment, the comments being previewed by a friend who would remove any spoilers. The reviews were wonderful, even when she was not in synch with standard opinions. Though an avid filk-singer, she for quite a time had difficulty with the hobbits’ propensity to burst into song, until others pointed out her own love of singing. She also took somewhat of a dislike to Gandalf. Then, remarking on the upcoming chapter on Moria, she naïvely remarked that she was aware of Moria’s reputation but didn’t think much of it because she knew no-one was going to die there or anything like that. So she was completely devastated by Gandalf’s apparent death, realizing suddenly how much and how unknowingly she had come to care for Gandalf.

Another friend tried to write the same sort of reviews on the same site and failed miserably. He would get bogged down with terms like “eleventy-first” for “111th” trying to find out what Tolkien meant by this slender jest. He would ask questions about Frodo’s occupation which were admittedly slid over by Tolkien and other questions that were answered and then was forced to admit that he had skipped that part of the story because it didn’t seem important. Finally one of the commentators wrote a long comment indicating that the story was obviously just not for him, because he just couldn’t or wouldn’t be concerned with what Tolkien was concerned about and of course he couldn’t even understand the story when partially reading it in those terms. This second friend seems to have realized he was messing up badly and stopped posting.

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Old 08-13-2016, 09:27 AM   #43
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I find is rather amusing how LOTR books are declared "annoying and boring" by many people we see on the web.

I have a couple of questions that I believe needed no separate thread to be answered.
1). Why would one believe Tolkien was a poor writer (and thus over-rated by the 'fans of the books')?
2). Why would people think the story doesn't move anywhere?
3). Why would people think characters do not evolve throughout the book?
4). Why would someone state PJ does a better job in storytelling than Professor did? (Kill me!)
I have come across these points again and again all the time and have found those who state the above mentioned points quite ignorant.

Of course, it all falls down to "This is all about different tastes and you cannot force anyone to like the books if they're not interested in them."
True enough. But isn't that the thing? If you aren't getting the beauty of the books, you have to be open-minded enough to admit this. Why mention someone with far greater qualification, dedication and knowledge is not as good as you want them to be? This is offensive to say for any writer perhaps, and especially for someone who has literally poured out their heart and soul in their works. Ignorance of our generation. Ugh!
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Old 08-13-2016, 10:38 AM   #44
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The Twilight saga sold millions of books, as did Fifty Shades of Grey. Having read a single page of each and finding the dialogue stilted and monosyllabic and the characters flat and tedious, I can only say one should never be surprised by the limited attention spans and juvenile reading capacity of the general public.

But then, one should consider how modern folks have been trained via media and the internet to react to stimuli. The world is full of brief memes and cat videos that requires the patience of a gnat to view and digest. The 24-hour news cycle has rendered reporting down to momentarily sensationalistic headlines and flittering twitters within a regimented amount of characters repeated long enough for the next news item to take its place, and the song structure in popular music has been reduced to catchy hooks repeated over monotonous rhythms and borrowed beats.

Big-box, brick-and-mortar stores, the bastions of consumer spending for a century, have gone the way of the dodo because people simply do not want to disengage from the internet and spend an afternoon shopping in a crowded mall. Order the crap online and be done with it. Let someone else deliver the goods. Likewise, the education system has all but eliminated cursive writing in school, because...who writes? Putting pen to paper has become as archaic as putting quill to parchment. Affix your X to the online document and proceed with your order.

And so, the works of Tolstoy, Hugo or even Tolkien, massive, sprawling story-lines with numerous characters and much dialogue and a lack of stimulating action or violence every few paragraphs, would naturally be viewed negatively with the jaundiced eyes of the tragically hip and eternally bored. I hate to invoke the name of Peter Jackson, but he did film Tolkien's works to play to this restless audience. Insinuation, ambiguity and nuance has been deleted in favor of action, chases and violence, dangling the string in front of the cat long enough to keep it engaged and then moving on to the next toy in his arsenal of arrested development.

Alas, to be an old fart in this day and age, and watch with dying eyes the collapse of culture! I may be a cynical curmudgeon, but I don't believe I am too far off in my presentiment.
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Old 08-15-2016, 12:19 PM   #45
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Isn't is strange how Professor's use of the language holds up even now?

If he were alive today, as Professor John Ronald Reuel "I'm-so-not-immortal" Tolkien, I'd like to think he'd be proud of what we do.
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Old 08-15-2016, 04:15 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
And so, the works of Tolstoy, Hugo or even Tolkien, massive, sprawling story-lines with numerous characters and much dialogue and a lack of stimulating action or violence every few paragraphs, would naturally be viewed negatively with the jaundiced eyes of the tragically hip and eternally bored.
In fairness, we have Martin with his massive, sprawling story-lines with numerous characters and much dialogue.

This one just has numbing action and violence every few paragraphs...and a great deal of sprawl.
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Old 08-15-2016, 10:50 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Lotrelf View Post
I find is rather amusing how LOTR books are declared "annoying and boring" by many people we see on the web.

I have a couple of questions that I believe needed no separate thread to be answered.
1). Why would one believe Tolkien was a poor writer (and thus over-rated by the 'fans of the books')?
2). Why would people think the story doesn't move anywhere?
3). Why would people think characters do not evolve throughout the book?
4). Why would someone state PJ does a better job in storytelling than Professor did? (Kill me!)
I have come across these points again and again all the time and have found those who state the above mentioned points quite ignorant.

Of course, it all falls down to "This is all about different tastes and you cannot force anyone to like the books if they're not interested in them."
True enough. But isn't that the thing? If you aren't getting the beauty of the books, you have to be open-minded enough to admit this. Why mention someone with far greater qualification, dedication and knowledge is not as good as you want them to be? This is offensive to say for any writer perhaps, and especially for someone who has literally poured out their heart and soul in their works. Ignorance of our generation. Ugh!
It really doesn't do to get angry, though- better just to say, "Well, I see it differently, here's why". I realise that can difficult, if you happen to be dealing with people who don't really understand the concept of taste being subjective in the first place. (You can usually spot them by their constant use of words like "factual" and "objective" to describe their personal reactions.)

Now it has been my own experience that self-identified fantasy fans do quite often dislike Tolkien. This is perhaps in part because the real explosion of epic fantasy as a genre only happened in the last few decades, so that those who make it their chief reading material are used to a more modern writing style (with, perhaps, dips into faux-archaic dialogue). And then, the very fact that it *is* a popular market means that a lot of it is pitched at a fairly simplistic, light-reading level. Nothing wrong with that, either- the point is populist writing tends to signal things like character development very heavily, because it has to allow for its readership not necessarily paying close attention.

As for "PJ being a better storyteller", I think the version of something you encounter first, if you like it, tends to seem like the "real" version, with others feeling not quite right. Though I regard the "Lord of the Rings" films as achievements in their own right, they *are* blockbusters and they adapt the story accordingly. I can see some movie fans being jarred by the difference when they come to read the book.

Basically- some people have a limited comfort zone, and automatically dismiss as self-evidently "bad" anything outside it. Obviously, since taste *is* so individual, they might not like "Lord of the Rings" (or whatever is in question) anyway, but the point is that they won't give it a chance in the first place. That mindset is not something you can change overnight. To get back to my original suggestion, calm, low-key disagreement is likely to work better than a passionate defence, since it suggests that maybe their opinions are not "objective facts" believed by all rational human beings. But you need to be patient.
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Old 08-20-2016, 01:51 AM   #48
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I do not mean to be pestering to anyone, but I'm curious to know (since my questions have been buried within for months and months) why are their arguments that JRRT wasn't a very good writer?

I wouldn't pretend to know much about writing since I truly don't. I have had my own reasons and standards to see which book I like and will read and which ones I won't or can't, and the only book I have read and found impossibly horrible is Gone Girl (ugh, it still makes me cringe!).

Professor Tolkien comes off as an ideal writer who has explored everything in his works, and apart from him I absolutely love Charles Dickens.

Just one question, if it can be answered.
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Old 08-20-2016, 07:52 AM   #49
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I do not mean to be pestering to anyone, but I'm curious to know (since my questions have been buried within for months and months) why are their arguments that JRRT wasn't a very good writer?
It varies from person to person. Good writing is in many respects in the eye of the beholder.

That being said, a common complaint about The Lord of the Rings is that it is slow to get going. That is hard to disagree with. It just comes down to whether the individual likes that or not.

People also complain that Tolkien is too descriptive of a writer. That too is a matter of taste (although I think those people are objectively on some powerful, brain-addling drug).
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Old 02-04-2017, 11:46 PM   #50
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1420!

Bumping because I had a few more comments-

Remember, these things aren't static. Until a few years ago you'd hard put to find any but the most backhanded "praise" of Tolkien's writing in the online SF&F fan community. Used to be the general view, in many areas of the net, that he was "a decent worldbuilder but a terrible writer" whose unreadable work had been heroically salvaged by Peter Jackson and whose contribution (if any) had been to come up with the crude beginnings of the genre later perfected by real writers (like Jordan or G.R.R.M). And that's when they were being nice...

Now that has changed quite a bit in recent years, I think. You still see people bashing away, as described by Lotrelf, but it seems more like individual opinion rather than general consensus- a definite improvement. Could it be we actually have "The Hobbit" film trilogy to thank for this?
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Old 02-05-2017, 08:57 AM   #51
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You still see people bashing away, as described by Lotrelf, but it seems more like individual opinion rather than general consensus- a definite improvement. Could it be we actually have "The Hobbit" film trilogy to thank for this?
Really? How would the Hobbit films have made a more favorable impression? Though I still haven't seen them, I thought the general consensus was that they were inferior to the LOTR movies. Is that opinion largely confined to book fans, or does The Hobbit trilogy just give the casual movie-fans more of what they liked in PJ's earlier adaptations?
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Old 02-05-2017, 09:58 AM   #52
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I wonder if the "good world-builder, bad 'writer' " arguments tend to come from readers of Fantasy who are used to less considered (and at times less challenging) prose produced for a mass market.

For some reason this has always stood out to me as a piece of "beautiful" writing in The Lord of the Rings, from Book IV Chapter 1:
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Clear sky was growing in the East once more. The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind the sun, as they rode into the West. But here, over the desert and the reeking marshes the deep blue sky of evening opened once more, and a few pallid stars appeared, like small white holes in the canopy above the crescent moon.
It's perhaps not "sophisticated" prose in, say, the Modernist sense (although I doubt many critics would be making that comparison) but I find this kind of expression very evocative, and that's just describing the weather.
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Old 02-05-2017, 10:38 AM   #53
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I wonder if the "good world-builder, bad 'writer' " arguments tend to come from readers of Fantasy who are used to less considered (and at times less challenging) prose produced for a mass market.
You know, Tolkien knew he was writing for a "mass market", the people who had made The Hobbit a success. Yet, he could not allow himself to alter his prose to be more in line with other "fairy stories" and fantasy of the period.
He retained his own inimitable writing style, and still managed to produce something both critically and commercially successful. That's seemingly an accomplishment beyond the ability of modern writers as a whole.
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Old 02-05-2017, 10:59 AM   #54
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"Mass market" was probably a poor choice of words on my part; I was meaning to compare his writing to the kind of thing that is written to be easily digestible in a cynical attempt to have a wide appeal. By contrast I would argue that The Lord of the Rings had that appeal more naturally. Yet I think critics might find Professor Tolkien's style to be a bit too far outside their comfort zones.
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Old 02-05-2017, 02:30 PM   #55
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Well, to brighten up the discussion with what I think is a fair point on the "LOTR books are boring" score, I met a person once who thought so after genuinely attempting to actually read the books. When I asked him why he didn't like the books, he said that he really enjoyed The Hobbit (book), and was looking forward to LOTR. But FOTR turned out to be a big disappointment - as he told me, it's just The Hobbit repeated, except a lot more dragged out. After that he just lost the interest in the series. And I think it is a fair point - there is a lot of similarity in the structure of the stories, even though the themes are quite different. Not an issue for those who read LOTR first, or who aren't as attached to TH, but you can't blame that guy for finding FOTR redundant.
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Old 02-05-2017, 07:26 PM   #56
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Really? How would the Hobbit films have made a more favorable impression? Though I still haven't seen them, I thought the general consensus was that they were inferior to the LOTR movies. Is that opinion largely confined to book fans, or does The Hobbit trilogy just give the casual movie-fans more of what they liked in PJ's earlier adaptations?
Sorry, I wasn't very clear. I mean that Jackson, perhaps, no longer looks quite so much like the Messiah of Middle-earth.
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Old 02-05-2017, 08:21 PM   #57
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Sorry, I wasn't very clear. I mean that Jackson, perhaps, no longer looks quite so much like the Messiah of Middle-earth.
One would hope not. He hasn't exactly brought about universal harmony and eternal peace among Tolkienites, has he?
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Old 02-05-2017, 10:30 PM   #58
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Not an issue for those who read LOTR first, or who aren't as attached to TH, but you can't blame that guy for finding FOTR redundant.
Hmm. I read The Hobbit first and am very attached to it, but I must say personally I didn't find Books I and II of The Lord of the Rings redundant. It's an interesting point of view, just one I can't say I experienced myself. Personally when I first read The Lord of the Rings (at age 10) I found Book IV to be the most dry part.

I suppose I just think for some readers Professor Tolkien's style isn't much like what they're used to from fiction. I wonder if that's why children have been known to like The Lord of the Rings even though it's not much of a children's story – they might sometimes be a bit less set in their ways when it comes to reading.
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