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My problem with LOTR

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message 1: by William (new)

William (acknud) I haven't tried to read The Lord of the Rings because of the vocabulary. I guess I have OCD and I get hung up on the language. Then the problem of word pronunciation takes away from my enjoyment of the story. Anyone else see it this way?

message 2: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments quite the opposite... it's all part of the worlds he's created. I enjoy that aspect of his work.

message 3: by Mike (new)

Mike Todl (miketd) | 3 comments It is tough for me in some cases, but the books overall are fantastic. The one thing I find strange is that Tolkien supposedly created a whole new language(elvin I think) for these books to make it seem more real. I don't know the whole story, but it seems a bit obsessive to me.

message 4: by Muzzlehatch (new)

Muzzlehatch | 168 comments I dunno. I read "The Hobbit" when I was 11 and LOTR for the first time at 12; I've re-read it complete at least 4 times since. I don't get the language/vocabulary problem -- to me it seems pretty straightforward, a very easy read. But I've read a LOT of fantasy, a lot of difficult literature, and I'm very interested in prewar British literature and culture, and have a smattering of knowledge of Old and Middle English.

I think it's one of the great novels of the last century, and I love it more each time. To an American in this century it seems both profoundly progressive (in its environmental/back to the land attitudes) and conservative (Monarchist, traditionalist) at the same time, and that's one of the hallmarks of its genius. It's a much more complex work than a lot of the snobby genre-hating lit critics give it credit for.

The films, though entertaining, are a pale imitation.

message 5: by William (new)

William (acknud) I'll try it again.

message 6: by grantonio (new)

grantonio | 24 comments I just cannot get into any of these, and I've tried three times, I think. Not snobbery here; it just doesn't click with me for whatever reason. Not sure why.

I haven't read much fantasy though. Some David Eddings, which I liked, the Dune series, Narnia, the Shannara series and a few more. I think I liked all of those better than LOTR, but obviously most disagree with me. What am I missing? I like to think I have decent taste in literature, but maybe I don't.

message 7: by Ragallachmc (new)

Ragallachmc | 8 comments I think the problem some people from our generation and later have with LOTR is that they read more contemporary fantasy and say 'What's the big deal?'

The big deal is that he basically created a literary genre single handedly. Many of the conventions and forms that seem commonplace in modern fantasy were originally put forth by Tolkien. Although it's not my favorite series in the genre, I can't dispute the genius of Tolkien.

message 8: by Frank (new)

Frank Hays (logicalfrank) | 40 comments What I don't like about it is two things. First, the good and evil dichotomy is way too simplistic no matter how you count it. Hobbit, men, elves and dwarves are good. Orcs are bad. You never, even for a second, get a chance to doubt Frodo is going to accomplish his goal even when he wavers. It is just a little ridiculous to me. Furthermore, Tolkien sticks w/ one section of plot arc for just too damn long. If you are going to write three hundred pages about two pygmies tromping through the mountains, at least break it up some.

message 9: by Dodd (new)

Dodd | 127 comments I want the "laughing and clapping" smily from RB for Frank's post.

message 10: by Claude S (new)

Claude S | 200 comments How is the good and evil dichotomy simplistic? Some of the major characters in the series are conflicted... such as Boromir, Bilbo, Gollum and Frodo himself, being the bearer of the ring. Gollum is probably the best example, as somebody that is completely corrupted and taken with evil... yet serves a goodly purpose in the end. Gandalf corrected Frodo when he said Gollum deserved death:

Gandalf: "Sméagol's life is a sad story. Yes, Sméagol he was once called. Before the Ring found him… before it drove him mad."

Frodo: "It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance!"

Gandalf: "Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo?"
Gandalf: "Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise can not see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill…"

(Not sure if this is the exact text... got it from the first site I found... from the movie.)

And Frodo didn't accomplish his goal. He chose not to accomplish it at the very end. If not for Gollum, Frodo wouldn't have destroyed the ring. And by this Tolkien was commenting on the power of evil over our lives, and the internal conflict we all deal with.

As for the orcs, I think they are are a species based on corrupted elves and men (I believe). As are the nazgul.

message 11: by Muzzlehatch (new)

Muzzlehatch | 168 comments Bhops sums up the good/evil thing nicely. We have to remember that Tolkien was a very conservative, believing, and knowledgeable Catholic; and we also have to remember that the strongest single source on his good/evil conception, on the origins of Middle Earth and the struggle for supremacy within and without it, it Milton's "Paradise Lost". Tolkien's characters ALL embody good and evil; they are all "fallen" in a sense...only Gandalf after going through fire and death becomes something else, which of course is a Christ-figure. Perhaps this is a limitation of the series; though I'm not a believer myself, I don't have a problem with it and in fact think it lends a cohesivness to the good/evil problem that tends to bedevil most "high fantasies." Tolkien at least has a REASON his evil characters are evil: they gave in to temptation, the lust for power; they are corrupted. An awful lot of more recent popular fantasy series like Brooks' Shannara series or Goodkind's Sword of Truth don't develop their protaganists and antaganists half as well.

I can understand people's problems with the pacing, the asides for the songs, etc -- those seem out of place I suppose given the way most fantasy novels have been written since. But Tolkien didn't set out to write a fantasy novel the way we think of them now, in fact he didn't really set out to write a novel at all: he set out to write an updated medieval romance. His methods have more in common with Chretien de Troyes, Thomas Mallory, Edmund Spenser -- and his immediate antecedents and fellow lovers of the medieval, ER Eddison and William Morris -- than they do with contemporary fiction or genre fiction. There's no love story; there's no single protaganist; there's little attempt at psychological realism. One has to adjust one's expectations and the tempo of one's thoughts, get into Tolkien's rhythm, become part of an older, folk and faerie-tale world, to really understand his mastery.

message 12: by Frank (new)

Frank Hays (logicalfrank) | 40 comments How is the good and evil dichotomy simplistic?

I see what you are saying here and you're right, the characters are conflicted, but the nature of good as portrayed in LOTR wasn't interesting to me. I would just be more into it if, say, Frodo had to make a choice between destroying the ring and causing a thousand hobbits to die or having to continue to bear the burden of owning the ring and saving those thousand hobbits but allowing the possibility that Sauron could once again come to power through him. That is just me though.

And just in the interest of equal time, I certainly don't hate LOTR (I actually have a copy of The Silmarillion I'm going to read here in not too long) and rather enjoy the linguistic elements especially. I think Tolkien did an admirable job of making Middle Earth an interesting and engaging second reality but I just found myself really disappointed in it.

message 13: by Frank (new)

Frank Hays (logicalfrank) | 40 comments I guess a better way to put it would be to just simply say that while the characters were complex, their choices, however they went, were simple.

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