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  1. Jrr tolkien style

    {DISCLAIMER} This is my N00B opinion on the style of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings .{this is only my opinion so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I am referring to the books not the movies in this post.Sorry if this is a little jumpy.}

    (side note:Mostly everyone here knows a lot about Tolkien's writing and many know more than me so I would like to hear from you as well.Thank you.)


    Lets start with Tolkien's writing style in The fellowship of the ring in relation to the landscape and environment.

    Tolkien is very descriptive in his examinations of the world he wants you to enter. The catering to detail and historical significance is quite complete while still captivating the casual audience and giving the "Historian" plenty of delicious "nuggets of lore". For example when he speaks About Bilbo's 111st birthday he speaks of how the whole Shire and the surrounding areas are in an "uproar". He then speaks of many of the"Baggins" family offshoots and all relatives and the roles they play in relation to the story. Very few writers can go into story detail as great as Tolkien does and still keep as exciting as a story as he does. Each character has his/her complete personal autonomy throughout the story and you can magically feel the emotion and travel along with them and be one with them at the same time. Not only do you see the point of view of the person being described but you feel it yourself as if it was your own. Tolkien knows how to create a spark, fan it, let it grow and make it into a flame then let it sit for a while till you almost forget the passion then will strike it back to a roaring inferno at any given second. Most of the very beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring is rather slow and lighthearted giving air to the jolly lighthearted life in the shire. Shortly after it loses some of the jolly atmosphere when Bilbo makes his speech.That of course is the intended result. The party is a perfect entrance for the cousins Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took. The entrance of these characters is very important to the fellowship and while they do not play the biggest roles they do have a large amount of story dedicated to them and the exploits they achieved.Tolkien wanted to introduce lighthearted and cheerful characters into the book to counteract the dark and hopeless feeling witch is prevalent in most of the story. I think one of the most depressing parts of the story is when Sam has to get rid of bill the pony in Moria. Tolkien definitely knows how to play with emotions,fear and apprehension. When you first discover about the nine riders it is in the beginning in the ring statement "nine rings for mortal men doomed to die" it alludes to them at least. When Gandalf speaks to Frodo of the nine mortal men who through corruption joined Sauron and became "The Nine". What does all this come down to? you ask.Well for a condensed version, The One Ring of Power Forged by Sauron. The entire Lord of The Rings trilogy is about the path to figure out what to do about it witch leads to the process of destroying it and the destruction of evil in middle earth. Let me speak of Moria Khazad-dûm in Dwarven. A huge underground Dwarven set of cities comprising of vast chambers and mines many dwarves once found a home there. It is now a black pit filled with goblins and other foul creatures. Many travelers who know the history of that cursed place steer clear form that wretched place and take for the gap of Rohan to get where they want to go. look at this I started with the writing style analysis and now a rambling on about side story. Sorry.


    Now to THE TWO TOWERS

    Tolkien continues along on the seemingly endless amounts of poetry,music and histories of the places visited by the main characters yet somehow keeps the audience thrilled and invested in the story.There are many important parts in this story and I do not want to give any more spoilers to anyone who happens to stumble upon this and has not read all the books. As unlikely as it seems it is possible. So
    Tolkien continues with the character development throughout the story of the fellowship and the eventual big problem the fellowship faces near the end. The true character of Merry and Pippin is tested and also Borimir makes a bad move but redeems himself in the end. Throughout all this Frodo and Sam's friendship is growing and Sam proves his loyalty to Frodo many times. The pace has picked up a few notches in this book and new enemies arise and fall. Rohan is collapsing and needs to set itself straight. Saruman raises an army. Things get crazy.An ancient force awakens near Isengard. Tolkien writes in a more rushed style in this book. Not rushed to the point of compromising any crucial or even small details but you get the feeling that there is a clock somewhere out there and it is ticking.He keeps a feeling of dread slightly kindled. This part of the story is dark. You get the feeling when reading Tolkien that even the happy and light parts have a undertone of darkness. Sadness is natural in the world and Tolkien knows that and lets you feel it in the characters and the plot.

    NOW TO THE RETURN OF THE KING

    The epic finale.The true testing of good versus evil in the world and inside us.Where one step could lead to the end of the world as we know it. Galadriel alludes to this when she states "The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail.to the ruin of us all."The heat is turned up to full in this book.There is almost no openly jolly scenes and everything has a tone of darkened seriousness to it for everyone knows there is little time left and the burden of everything rests on Frodo.Tolkien puts a little less emphasis on random historical knowledge and more on the pertaining lore in direct relation to the locations discovered.I remember it seeming like the story was a slow beating heartbeat that sped up as things unfolded then slowed with each resolution eventually escalating to record speeds near the ending.


    THE RESOLUTION

    Tolkien is a brilliant man far more than I can give him credit for.He did the impossible.He created a world that was so colossal that it is still being discovered to this day.I find him to be one of the greatest men in history.He has a way of making you see things while letting you think you see them of your own accord.Pure literary brilliance.10/10.
    Last edited by Rohirrimsoldier; 26/Jul/2016 at 06:28 AM.

  2. Saranna's Avatar
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    #2
    Wow! Good start to a thread - I particularly like this line of yours; He has a way of making you see things while letting you think you see them of your own accord

    This is indeed a mark of a great writer, to make the world of the stories real, so that you feel you're walking about in it and picking up knowledge as you go.

    Many people find Tolkien's style a little old-fashioned at first, but with repeated readings it comes easier. Both through style and plot, through characters and incidents, he draws you in. That beating heart of the story you refer to is also the reader's heart starting to beat in time with the rhythm of the tale.
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  3. Quote Originally Posted by Saranna View Post


    Many people find Tolkien's style a little old-fashioned at first, but with repeated readings it comes easier. Both through style and plot, through characters and incidents, he draws you in.

    In my opinion the old style makes it so much more authentic given the setting of the story. I for one would not like to see a middle earth with a more modern writing style but then again I would not like to read it in a hobbes style or definitely not a kafka style.You can only tell this story in the exact style Tolkien used to create such a masterpeice.I could not imagine a james patterson or Jk rowling type of Lord of the rings it would be a disaster.There is only one author who could do this and he did it was Tolkien.
    Last edited by Rohirrimsoldier; 26/Jul/2016 at 04:15 PM.

  4. Eldorion's Avatar
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Rohirrimsoldier View Post
    In my opinion the old style makes it so much more authentic given the setting of the story. I for one would not like to see a middle earth with a more modern writing style
    This is very true. Tolkien touched on this topic in the Letters, no. 171 (my emphasis):

    This is a fair sample — moderated or watered archaism. Using only words that still are used or known to the educated, the King would really have said: 'Nay, thou (n')wost not thine own skill in healing. It shall not be so. I myself will go to war, to fall . . .' etc. I know well enough what a modern would say. 'Not at all my dear G. You don't know your own skill as a doctor. Things aren't going to be like that. I shall go to the war in person, even if I have to be one of the first casualties' — and then what? Theoden would certainly think, and probably say 'thus shall I sleep better'! But people who think like that just do not talk a modern idiom. You can have 'I shall lie easier in my grave', or 'I should sleep sounder in my grave like that rather than if I stayed at home' – if you like. But there would be an insincerity of thought, a disunion of word and meaning. For a King who spoke in a modern style would not really think in such terms at all, and any reference to sleeping quietly in the grave would be a deliberate archaism of expression on his part (however worded) far more bogus than the actual 'archaic' English that I have used. Like some non-Christian making a reference to some Christian belief which did not in fact move him at all.

  5. Nereruo e Ithil's Avatar
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    #5
    The purposeful use of archaic vocabulary gives off the impression of high fantasy. Tolkien was a wizard with words, and his masterful use of the English language only served to exemplify the fantastical nature of the mythos he created.

    This ancient style is what makes his legendarium authentic, as you stated.


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  6. Saranna's Avatar
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    #6
    I have no quarrel with Tolkien's style! He was probably the most gifted handler of the English language who ever wrote. Nevertheless, simply because (a) he chooses to use archaic style when that fits the characters and (b) his own natural prose is that of a man brought up in the late Victorian/early Edwardian ages, it does bewilder some new readers. That's not a major problem as long as you stick to it and gradually get used to it, which hopefully will be aided by threads like this that try to explain why the works are written as they are, and maybe what some of the less familiar words mean.
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  7. Nereruo e Ithil's Avatar
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    #7
    Agreed, Saranna! I read the trilogy when I was quite young, and I can honestly say that the complexity and choice of vocabulary is what shaped both my writing style and reading ability. Tolkien has remained my favourite author ever since.
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  8. Saranna's Avatar
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    #8
    On the other hand, look at this;

    "I am glad that you are with me, here at the end of all things, Sam.'

    Monosyllables all - but what a sentence!
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  9. Troigan's Avatar
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    #9
    I don't know, Tolkien is more of a world builder than an actual writer; and some of the inconsistencies and conflicting tones between some of the books seem to suggest so.

  10. Saranna's Avatar
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    #10
    I would say, Troigan, that very many writers are world-builders; Jane Austen builds a world, even though her world is an imagined section of her primary world. I can't quite see your meaning when you separate the two in your remark about Tolkien.

    Would love to hear more from you about the 'inconsistencies and conflicting tones' you mention, if you could detail them?
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  11. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
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    #11
    Recommendation for those interested in these matters: Brian Rosebury's highly-underrated Tolkien: a cultural phenomenon(2nd ed. 2003) has plenty of insights.
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    #12
    I think Tolkien's writing style is very different to many other Fantasy authors. Many Fantasy authors do an info dump on their reader by describing too much (Martin in my opinion is the only writer who can get away with this successfully) but Tolkien gives you just enough info for the reader to see the world. Unlike Jack who gives so little description, but it's still a visible world if you use your imagination. In my opinion I prefer Tolkien's style, it's the middle road and I try to emulate it as a writer. In the words of Goldilocks (not the hobbit) 'not too hot, not too cold, but just right'.
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  13. There are a few writings on Tolkien's style (prose or poetic) – a topic that I find exceedingly interesting, but also find my own knowledge far too inadequate to contribute intelligently other than by referring to the works of others. This I will therefore proceed to do at once

    First I'll point to an open-access discussion:
    Michael Drout, ‘Tolkien's Prose Style and its Literary and Rhetorical Effects’ in Tolkien Studies 1 (this volume is open access):
    https://muse.jhu.edu/article/176065

    Then there is the only (as far as I know) book-length discussion devoted to the topic:
    Steve Walker, The Power of Tolkien’s Prose: Middle-Earth’s Magical Style, which was reviewed positively by Richard West in Tolkien Studies 8 (2011). You can find a preview here: http://www.palgraveconnect.com/pc/do.../9780230101661

    The critical encyclopedias to Tolkien of course also cover this topic:

    The J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment edited by Michael Drout, lists the following entries under the umbrella of ‘Stylistic Elements’:

    • Alliteration (Christine Chism)
    • Alliterative Verse by Tolkien (Tom Shippey)
    • Comedy (Christopher Garbowski)
    • Epic Poetry (Julaire Andelin)
    • Frame Narratives (Verlyn Flieger)
    • Grammar (Maria Raffaella Benvenuto)
    • Humor (Michael N. Stanton)
    • Lyric Poetry (Joe R. Christopher)
    • Prose style (Allan Turner)
    • Rhetoric (Allan Turner)

    Quite a list, there, actually You can find reviews of all the entries here: http://users.bestweb.net/~jfgm/Encyc...iary/index.htm

    There are also some interesting approaches in A Companion to J. R. R. Tolkien edited by Stuart Lee. There you can find a list of contents at the publisher's web site (most of the relevant entries are in the ‘Critical Approaches ’ section – part V): http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTi...470659823.html
    and Andrew Higgins has reviewed it for the open-access Journal of Tolkien Research: scholar.valpo.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1023&context=journaloftolk ienresearch

    Finally, I will quote the two concluding paragraphs from Richard West's review of Walker's book:
    There have not been very many extended discussions of Tolkien’s writing style. Naturally most book-length critiques touch on this at least in passing (in particular, Brian Rosebury includes close reading of some passages), and Walker cites and builds on both Rosebury’s book and the few essays that have this as their focus, notably by Michael Drout, Ursula K. Le Guin, Paul Edmund Thomas, and Allan Turner. The only such essay he overlooks that occurs to me is by Dwayne Thorpe on “Tolkien’s Elvish Craft,” and perhaps one has to have heard it delivered at the Tolkien Centenary Conference, as I did, fully to appreciate its own powerful craftsmanship. I should add that neither does Walker reference an excellent essay by John D. Rateliff on Tolkien’s craftsmanship, but that was published in the same year as his study and so was probably not available to him.

    The Power of Tolkien’s Prose therefore helps to fill a gap in Tolkien scholarship. It is essentially a survey of the varieties of Tolkien’s prose, an overview touching on a wide range of stylistic components, occasionally delving deep into particular sections. It is a good start. Now I hope to see more close reading of Tolkien’s oeuvre.
    Richard West. Tolkien Studies 8, p. 134–5

    Unfortunately a fair few of the works West cite here are in books that are extremely difficult to get (at least if you wish to own your own copy), being either impossible to find or only available at insane prices ... But they should all be available through inter-library loan.
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  14. Saranna's Avatar
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    #14
    I like Martin Simonson's book, The Lord of the Rings and the Western Narrative Tradition. It's published by Walking tree which is a print-on-demand system so should be available. More about genre and 'the particular genre interaction that governs Tolkien's tale' but of course this gender interaction is signalled by style/styles.
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  15. Troigan's Avatar
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    #15
    Sorry for the late reply Saranna. Anyway here's what I have to say.

    As I said before, Tolkien was more of a world builder than an actual writer, there's no doubt he had a remarkable imagination, with good story telling, memorable characters, and even some homages to more vintage mythical fiction like Beowulf, but sometimes his writing can be very vague, and even muddled and inconstant, even discarding stuff he previously wrote; as well as adding bits that aren't terrible by any means, but probably didn't work properly, particularly bits that may not have been essential to the story.

    Ex: Why did we need a, Scourging of the Shire? Why did the the Trolls in the Hobbit turn to stone under sunlight? Or who is, Tom Bombadil really?!


    Then of course there was the Black and White affinity, with men, elves, dwarves, ents, hobbits and wizards only being good, while orcs, trolls, balrogs, werewolves, vampires, (read the silmarillion and you'll find one) and dragons only being inherently bad. I get that this was a product of it's time and implanting more grey areas was something that was never really done until a bit later into the latter half of the 20th Century; and there were some exceptions of men and wizards who sided as the antagonists, but for the most part when it came to exploring the cultures of Middle-Earth, it's the free people that are given more backstory and complexity and character growth, we don't see the orcs for their culture, nor do we even know how trolls came to be and while only three of them turned to stone under sunlight, or what the culture of the Haradrim, Easterlings, Umbarians, Dunlendings, Black Numenoreans or the people of Umbar was like in contrast with people of Rohan or Gondor; in short they are just there to be evil!

    And no, don't take this to mean that I just want to see more lowly "misunderstood" uruks who are wrongly persecuted and even have their whole families ethnically cleansed by radicalized, fascist elves and hobbits, I mean there should have been just as much context and depth to those on the opposing faction to make them feel more... well for a lack of better ways to describe... "Human!"

    I think another problem is the inconsistent tone between each book taking place in the same universe; The Hobbit was practically a children's book, with a short and simple, yet fun upbeat tone, (though not without it's own bittersweetness) The LOTR, a book that came afterwards on the other hands was somewhat more dour, grim and even explicit in some areas, not too adult of course but definitely not a simple child friendly story; then of course there was The Silmerillion and it's tie-ins, The Children of Hurrin and Beren and Luthien; The Silmerillion on a whole for the most part was especially more remorse and depressing, especially with the story of The Children of Hurin. I don't mind darker stories at all but there should have been a more consistent tone throughout so there should be a middle ground, and something that is carefully aimed for a specific demographic; like is this for kids, adults, both?!

    I don't know, I can't exactly speak for all of us, that's just my personal nit pick.
    Last edited by Troigan; 06/Jun/2017 at 05:23 AM.

  16. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
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    #16
    You have to keep in mind that Tolkien was not alive when The Silmarillion, The Children of Hurin, and Beren Luthien was published, so do we really know if he wanted those tales published anyways?

    I'm of the belief that he wrote more for himself, rather than for a commercial audience. He was not, for instance, a Stan Lee type that willingly allowed adaptations of his work to be created. He declined many attempted adaptations of his work because he feared it would detract against his canon. He also wanted to create a mythology, to fill in the void of English mythology (i.e he also translated Sir Gawain the Green Knight). Why do you think we have items in the plaza like the Imladris Convention or the guidelines in Shadowed Lands posts? One of the reasons is to maintain the spirit of Tolkien, that we tread carefully to enrich, not necessarily completely alter works, no matter if we write it as fan-fiction or not.

    I understand your nitpick, but you have to keep in mind that a mythology has inconsistent tones throughout its history. There are times of silliness, and times of seriousness; times of comedy, and times of tragedy for mythology in general.

    I think you'll understand why Tolkien put The Scouring of the Shire when you study more on the themes that he is trying to create throughout the story. He subtly hints throughout the beginning of FOTR that even The Shire is not a safe place to be during the War of the Ring. It finally and really hits home to the reader just how widespread and contagious the evil was. I think I'll let another person expand more on the Scouring part though.

    Edit: Just look at the summary of Letter 210 to see an example of how Tolkien nitpicked adaptations: http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Letter_210
    Last edited by Rivvy Elf; 06/Jun/2017 at 06:38 AM.


  17. Troigan's Avatar
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    #17
    I thought you might bring that up.

    Yes, Tolkien did want to create a mythology for Britain, since Britain never really had a mythology since the Romans wiped out all the Druids thousands of years ago, so he went out of his way to make his own based on previous documented mythologies as well as well as Victorian fairy tales and other folklore, (again Beowulf in particular being a primary influence) and that's great-- and I don't care! Because I'm not reading these NOVELS just to see how creative the writer is or how terribly clever the author's homages are in his writing style, or in this case just write things as a conjuncture to old archaic storytelling, I'm reading these novels that were written in Modern Times, or even the 'Then-Modern Times' when they were published.

    (although to be fair Tolkien was not alive when The Silmarillion, The Children of Hurin, and Beren Luthien was published, so do we really know if he wanted those tales published anyways)

    Some other people might bring up that he was just writing these stories for himself and not a commercial audience (hence why he was nit picky or even precarious about adaptations) to which I say... if he was just writing it for himself... why did he publish them for everyone else in the first place?

    I don't know, I can't exactly speak for all of us, that's just my personal nit pick. Let me just try and be clear with why I brought this nit pick of mine up in the first place.

    Tolkien's stories are still good and I still enjoy them to this day, I'm just approaching his work with my own fair and honest criticism with my bias and learning experience as an aspiring writer myself as to how a story can be told.

    That's just my minor critique and you're free to disagree with me.
    Last edited by Troigan; 22/Jul/2017 at 03:43 PM.

  18. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
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    #18
    :O, I knew I should've 'accidentally' spammed cats pictures and claimed photobucket hacked me for money! How did you know that it would be me that would bring it up rather than... I dunno, Wedgie or somebody else?

    Your criticism then isn't for JRR, but for his son Christopher Tolkien. Because JRR was nowhere near done with his legendarium by the time he passed.

    If you take away The Silmarillion, Children of Hurin, and all the other stuff that was published posthumously, leaving only The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the main 2 works, your criticism on the inconsistency becomes weaker. Because in The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien transitions from the silliness of The Hobbit to the seriousness of The Lord of the Rings through The Fellowship of the Ring. Just like how a symphonic piece transitions from each weaved theme. Then based on those 2 works, you could say that he was more of a writer than a world builder because those two works both had beginnings and ends, motifs, themes, character development, and a lot more.

    Also much of the rest of your argument implies that Tolkien's legendarium was finished by the time he passed. When it was the exact opposite, the world was incomplete and Tolkien literally spent much of his last days, when he could, revising and revising.

    Essentially it's like if one criticized The Canterbury Tales for being too short, or the Dream of the Red Chamber, or criticizing Beethoven's 10th symphony, for having inconsistencies in the second half of the story. That's because the creators died before they could finish it.

    In terms of commercial vs personal passion, Tolkien literally woke up one day, got bored doing his regular school paperwork as a professor, then out of the blue on a blank page he wrote the opening line of The Hobbit. Then he finished writing the manuscript, and lent it to a few friends. Then it was through one of Tolkien's friends that a publisher (Stanley Unwin) got wind of a copy of the manuscript. The publisher had his 10 year old son read it, who then wrote a very nice review on it, which convinced the publisher to try and publish The Hobbit. Then when that story became popular, the publisher politely asked for a sequel. But the creative control was all in JRR Tolkien's hands, and he could literally write whatever he wanted since The Hobbit had a beginning and end. No outside influence there.

    That doesn't sound like writing for a commercial audience to me. Otherwise his works would not have been so groundbreaking and different from other genre at the time.

    Your approach is good! Nothing is perfect, and there is always room for improvement. I suppose one thing you'll learn is to stay healthy and make sure whatever you hope to publish is complete and to your complete liking. I like how you also accept criticism as well. Quite a few writers nowadays, especially in modern American literature, do not take criticism well. By not taking criticism well, their writing no longer improves.


  19. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
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    #19
    In his early days, Tolkien thought of creating a mythology for England, not Britain. There is a big difference. See Letters p. 144, where he goes into this in detail.
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  20. Troigan's Avatar
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    #20
    I know, I got it mixed up but you should know what I mean either way. It's the rest of my critique that counts, not one minor name error.
    Last edited by Troigan; 22/Jul/2017 at 04:18 AM.

  21. Dorwiniondil's Avatar
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    #21
    Not such a minor error. There is a big difference between the English, who are relative newcomers to Britain, and whose original mythology would have been Germanic (Woden, Tiw, Thunor/ Thor etc.), and the original British, whom the English call Welsh, and whose mythology was the starting point for the multifarious Arthurian stories. The reason the earliest Anglo-Saxon literature has few remaining traces of Germanic myth is the influence of Christianity. Druids (put down more than 300 years before the English started arriving) had nothing to do with it.

    As for England lacking a mythology of its own, Tolkien's dissatisfaction was with the various stories, presumably mainly the Robin Hood corpus, which he regarded as 'impoverished chap-book stuff'. He originally wanted a coherent set of linked stories; BoLT gives an idea of the sort of thing he had in mind.
    Last edited by Dorwiniondil; 22/Jul/2017 at 08:57 AM.
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  22. Saranna's Avatar
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    #22
    Nicely summarised, Dorwiniondil.
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  23. Troigan's Avatar
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    #23
    Okay, but that said I still stand by my criticisms after that, even discarding Christopher Tolkien's influences.
    Last edited by Troigan; 22/Jul/2017 at 03:42 PM.

  24. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Elder of Imladris
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    #24
    Aah, then we are talking about The Hobbit and LOTR then. That there's inconsistencies with tone between the two of them. Am I right in thinking that you had trouble transitioning between from the happy upbeat tone of The Hobbit to the more serious tone of The Lord of the Rings, Troigan.

    Because I agree with you on that criticism. I had trouble with it too. I felt like what makes Fellowship of the Ring difficult to read before the hobbits arrive at Bree is because of the inconsistency in writing tone that was created due to the Tom Bombadil chapters. I felt the serious tone was established in the beginning, but the Tom Bombadil chapters felt out of place to me. I felt that if Tolkien were to keep the happy upbeat tone up until the Tom Bombadil chapters, while hinting towards the serious tones, then transitions after that to the serious tone that takes place thereafter in LOTR, I would've enjoyed reading FOTR more on my first full-run through. Because quite frankly, on my first and second-run throughs of the book, I skipped/skimmed the Tom Bombadil sections altogether. It was only in my third run-through that I appreciated the chapters a lot more.

    One thing to keep in mind is that like Mark Twain in regards to the differences in tone with the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tolkien took 20 years to publish LOTR. 20 years can do a lot to a writing style.


  25. Troigan's Avatar
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    #25
    That's fair and informative.

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