Jan Van Quirm wrote:
See - still no JRRT! Aren't I good!
But it's much
more fun to be bad and this thread needs bumping anyway
I think I'd have to toss a coin between Pterry and Tolks as to who was my favourite author and actually I'd then have to do a knockout toss between the winner and Jane Austen who was, had the typewriter been invented, possibly the greatest (consistent) writer this country's ever produced... But it wasn't, so sorry Janey - I really
wish you'd been born in WW2, lived in LA (or possibly in San Francisco 1st wearing a flower in your hair) because you'd have been a truly kickass screenwriter/director - maybe that's an idea for another thread actually: What if XXX author had been born in the 20th Cent (or whenever).
And already I digress!
OK we know Pterry's a huge fave of mine, but JRRT Tolkien is as well to the point of and way beyond obsession. And now I'm going to contradict myself kind of because I freely admit I haven't read all his books or even half of them, and what's more I don't intend to either, because TBH they're a pain in the bum to read. I'm still convinced that The Silmarillion
- as a book to curl up in bed with - is in fact the sovereign cure for insomnia (actually it isn't but that's just me
). And the Sil's Gone with the Wind
compared with such potboilers as The History of Arda - Morgoth's Ring
:roll: or - gods forbid - The Children of Hurin
(I want to shake Turin to death for being the
most boringly annoying gung ho prat ever and drown soppy Nienor a lot earlier because she's so erm... wet
) I actually own a deluxe HB edition of TCOH
- but that was for the illustrations (Alan Lee is a brilliant artist).
However, this doesn't matter because The Sil
etc aren't supposed
to be for reading for pleasure - they're lore... In fact it's not even lore for the die-hard Tolkien geeks - it's 'canon' as in 'canon law' (yes that's law
) - because what the Prof (or the Master as some people prefer
) wrote is in fact gospel truth
and woe-betide you if you dare to question such mysteries as -
'did Balrog's have wings' (answer no - or if they did they didn't use them to fly much since they always got killed by falling off tall buildings or places with predictable regularity) or
'was it really Meriadoc Took who killed the Witchking of Angmar on the Pelennor Fields' (and not Eowyn who simply chopped his block off...' (answer - who cares, the legend is 'no man' could kill the nasssty Nazgul so probably it was a team effort) or
'what happened to the Entwives' (answer - who cares, period)
The officers of the lore will angonise and argue the toss over a period of days, if not weeks or months, over burning issues such as these on the plethora of fan forums out there, and that is why LotR
and the Sil
, with Unfinished Tales
and the History of Arda
are like the four bastion tenets of Middle Earth fandom and all within them are reverently analysed minutely and generally treated like the Holy Grail of fantasy literature. That and the languages (Sindarin (very Welsh with a smattering of other Gaelic mutations) Quenya (god knows – some germanic influences as it has a lot of umlauts) for the Elves; Saxon the Rohirrim: and for the baddies Black Speech - actually a derivative of barbarian Goth and Varangian...
) make JRRT's literary oeuvre completely compelling for people from all walks of life, for a variety of reasons.
Part of the allure is that all this canon lore isn't in fact set in stone, because the guy who wrote and developed it all was constantly changing his mind - like originally there was no Frodo
or indeed Legolas
characters in LotR (possibly a killer for box office options) - or recycling bits and pieces like the Balrog killings (Gandalf's duel on the Bridge was in fact a re-gurgitation of not 1 but 2 earlier fights during the Fall of Gondolin where Glorfindel did for one on a mountainside and Ecthelion killed 3 of the buggers on top of a tower... and none of these fire demons could glide or flap those wings if they had them, see!
Me, I just like a good story and that is mostly what LotR is - on a grand scale. When you sit down and analyse this though, it's full of holes and if you haven't read the Hobbit (I read that afterwards) it’s really frustrating and you keep having to look at the prologue or appendix to find out who the hell Gil-galad or Elendil were and still get confused when they're yelling Elbereth Gilthoniel all the time, thinking they're two heroes when in fact you find out it's actually just more names for an angel-like deity (female) called Varda who 'made' the stars - it's enough to drive you nuts but it all seems to coalesce into this gorgeous mythic miasma that really is a kind of fascinating magic. I fell in love in other words on that first reading, even though there was tons I didn't understand - and when I finished it I went straight back to the beginning and read it all again - five times in a row in the summer of 1969. The Hobbit
to be frank was a disappointment when I got around to it, not because it is for kids (although like Terry's 'young adult' work it's fine for grown ups too) but because the characters in common (except Bilbo who's great in both books) like Gandalf and Elrond are completely different to how they are in LotR - Elrond's an ‘Elf friend’ for instance, instead of the Half-Elf Lord (with a bit of Maia in there) in the later book.
See - it's completely mesmeric the more you go into it and this is why it has achieved and continues to attract a huge cult fanbase. It really is another world with its own creation myth, geography (The Atlas of Tolkien's Middle Earth is currently my favourite reference book), history spanning 10,000 years or more, cultures and languages. Tolkien was an uber-geek in fact. Call that geek an academic and you have the key to JRRT's obsession with his own creation and you're already halfway to realising why you've fallen in love...
Terry has said that the Discworld (aside from being a disc not a globe) is Middle Earth 500 years on and at the start of an Industrial Revolution. He's right I think - well he would be wouldn't he?
If you add 'with a sense of humour' onto that theory then it certainly holds water
Tolkien's work isn't original (it has many derivations and sources including Nordic myth and Arthurian and Atlantean legend), so much as deeply developmental, and so his books on Middle Earth deservedly became much-loved classics. Very different to Pterry's work, but they both achieve a inner life of their own inside the reader’s mind with a very keen sense of integral reality once you're hooked into them.
The places and people become solid and attractive or repellent and take on a life of their own. I would love to be able to live in Middle Earth as my main Tolkien RP character (Janowyn the elf) - but I'd take my holidays on the Discworld I think! (maybe not as an elf though…)