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  1. #16
    Illustrious Gambler saintjon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fybonacci
    lol it's more like 30 pages in
    Not necessarily, he may have a drastically different printing than you. I remember it being about 100 in myself.

  2. #17
    I am with Yobmod in that i don't think I ever read a well written book with a tragic ending which I didn't like because of it. Of course tragic endings also can be badly written and cheesy, if that is what you ask.

    I love ending of Romeo and Juliet for the same reason I so much like ASOIAF - I love being surprised. Unexpected twists are for me one of the basic joys of reading stories. Funny thing with ASOIAF is I really think it has too little tragedy. Yes, some heroes come to grisly ends, but they aren't usually the most important ones and their way of passing causes rather shock and anger than sadness. I prefer the way Erikson handles tragedy. MBotF has more heartrendind scenes than ASOIAF, IMHO.

  3. #18
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fybonacci
    What if a book sets up a happy ending and gives you a tragedy instead? Take even Romeo and Juliet for an example (I hate that play by the way, mostly because I hate Romeo). I suppose I should put a SPOILERS for ROMEO AND JULIET.


    The set up is that Romeo and Juliet will quite happily and peacefully run away. Instead they kill themselves from sheer accident.
    Hmm, interesting. Actually, I don't think Romeo and Julia sets up a happy ending. First off, Romeo and Julia is a pretty conventional tragedy. I'd have to read up on staples to be precise, but I'm pretty sure very few attendants of the premier expected a happy ending. One of the staples of tragedy is the setting up of a false hope. (That's something some of the moderns might get wrong; if your world/plot is ALL bleak the tragedy degenerates into fatigue/frustration; the thwarting of hope is what gives tragedy the power. In most of Shakespear's tragedy there is a point where everything could work out fine.) The presence of hope, to me, is not yet a setting up of a happy ending; just as the presence of a threat isn't the setting up of an unhappy one.

    Of course, whether one thinks a book sets up a happy or an unhappy ending isn't always clear. (And some don't set up any sort of ending, btw.)

  4. #19
    If he isn't even willing to trust an author to tell the story they want to tell, why bother? If he's going to decide for himself what's too much for the hero to go on and not let the heroes themselves decide, why bother?" (Don't get me wrong. You have every right to stop reading a book whenever you like. It's part of the author/reader relationship. It just seems that you leave those heroes out to dry pretty easily
    I think you put it well - the author is telling the story THEY want to tell. It might be an incredible, timeless classic. But it might not be the story I want to read. And isn't that the only thing that matters if you are reading for enjoyment?

    It's weird - I've read most all of the fantasy classics. In plenty of them, some of the heroes die, some of them are tortured, have their friends/true loves murdered, etc. I can't put my finger on why the two books I mentioned were too intense for me (maybe the writers were that good?) and why in others, I eagerly read on. I do have a particular sensitivity to women and children being hurt; I know that's why Martin's incident hit me particularly hard.

    *** MINOR SPOILER ***
    I thought of another example where I feel the hero does something from which he cannot recover. In Thomas Covenent, when he rapes the girl about 50 pages in, I set the book down and haven't picked it up since - and that was 20 years ago. I no longer cared if he saved the world; a conflicted rapist has no interest to me, even if he is a great sterotype-breaking anti-hero.
    *******************

    Thanks for the replies - without giving anything away, I will use your information in choosing my next book!

  5. #20
    Some nice things have been mentioned here: setting up of an ending, wasted potential, what an author wants to write I don't necessarily want to read...

    At this point I feel I can make a distinction between accidental tragedy and inevitable tragedy.

    **** happens. Random bad things happen - deus ex machina bad things. Resolution could have been good but isn't. This is stuff like Romeo and Juliet. It is accidental and rather sad.

    On the other hand there is tragedy that is there at setup. Given the characters with their flaws, values and motives, and the circumstance in which they find themselves, there is really no possible good way the story can end. Here I will place Hamlet, anything by Dostoyevsky, Carmen, and since we speak of fantasy, stuff like GRRM and Tigana.

    I think I like inevitable tragedy is more satifying for me than accidental. Accidents seem like a rather cheap trick.

  6. #21
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fybonacci
    I think I like inevitable tragedy is more satifying for me than accidental. Accidents seem like a rather cheap trick.
    This sentence of yours has made me realise something about my reading habbits.

    First, I have nothing against accidental tragedies. Up to a point, I like them. Accidental things happen in life, too, so why shouldn't they in fiction? I'm not opposed to Deus ex Macchina (or, Daemon ex Macchina, for that matter ) devices, as long as their used with care (cliché; "I'm not against X, as long it's used with care", holds true for just about any "X", for me.) Now, this I've always been aware of. What I've now realised is this:

    If I read, say, 10 short stories in a row, where accidents don't happen, I will get edgy. I will get the feeling that something's wrong. I then go on to read story # 11. Again, no accident happens. I then go on to project my discontent onto story # 11, because that's where I noticed it. I say, I don't like #11 because it's so predictable, drab, overconstructed etc. But, in effect, that's not true. Had I read something different before #11 I may well have enjoyed it.

    Sometimes, it's unconsciously noticing a trend (in the books I'm reading; not necessarily one that reflects a market reality) that lessens my enjoyment of a story. Whether I enjoy it or not, then, is in part a result of an individual (and probably random) sequence of reading.

    It's like I'm looking at buildings, and, increasingly, I see the architect's blueprints, instead of the result. And instead of the beauty of the building, I tend to see the repetitiveness of the concepts.

    That's not fair on the stories.

  7. #22
    Illustrious Gambler saintjon's Avatar
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    Wow I wonder how many other people wind up having that sort of experience, Dawnstorm.

  8. #23
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    Question

    I disagree somewhat with fybonacci's original post.

    There are books that are so heartbreaking you don't feel you can handle any more when you're done. But usually I always, at some level, like to read sad books because they have so much power.

    But the point I disagree (or could elaborate on) is the distinction between SciFi's tragic nature and Fantasy's more lighthearted tendencies.

    SciFi is often tragic and of course our being able to relate to the characters intensifies this feeling. But I think it's not just that these people are alone with technology, which displays the bleaker aspects of their/our nature; it's more that when you have things like space travel or humans stranded on planets, you get this sense of time (and space). Of this vast, empty expanse against which man is helpless. Like in Dying of the Light; civilizations come and go, they bloom and they wither and there's nothing we can do about it. Try as we might with our ideals, our art and our rules to survive, to leave a mark, somewhere in the background there's the Inevitable. Not just death. Decay. Forgetfulness. A fading of what to us is light.

    Fantasy has this too, I think. Tolkien shows it plainly in LoTR, Kay's Fionavar was one of the few reads that really hurt and made me cry. Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun is neither fantasy nor scifi, but it has this quality too. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is not, in my opinion, that heartrending, but it too is bittersweet.

    SciFi can also be mad and lighthearted. Look at Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Jack Vance's work as well; not quite so nutty, but he pokes fun at things even though darker creatures are lurking outside (Tales of the Dying Earth).

    I think tragedy in a book depends on the author and their style. Kay is always tragic somehow, Adams was always crazy. Diana Wynne Jones is usually very lighthearted, Martin is more solemn and epic.

  9. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    If I read, say, 10 short stories in a row, where accidents don't happen, I will get edgy. I will get the feeling that something's wrong. I then go on to read story # 11. Again, no accident happens. I then go on to project my discontent onto story # 11, because that's where I noticed it. I say, I don't like #11 because it's so predictable, drab, overconstructed etc. But, in effect, that's not true. Had I read something different before #11 I may well have enjoyed it.
    I do not think that no accidents implies predictability. I don't think there are any accidents in A Song of Ice and Fire. It is completely unpredictable.

  10. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Brid14
    SciFi is often tragic and of course our being able to relate to the characters intensifies this feeling. But I think it's not just that these people are alone with technology, which displays the bleaker aspects of their/our nature; it's more that when you have things like space travel or humans stranded on planets, you get this sense of time (and space). Of this vast, empty expanse against which man is helpless. Like in Dying of the Light; civilizations come and go, they bloom and they wither and there's nothing we can do about it. Try as we might with our ideals, our art and our rules to survive, to leave a mark, somewhere in the background there's the Inevitable. Not just death. Decay. Forgetfulness. A fading of what to us is light.
    Yeah. Futility.

    In Dying of the Light there is also the lies though. I have no idea why they upset me so. I wish I did.


    Quote Originally Posted by Brid14
    Fantasy has this too, I think. Tolkien shows it plainly in LoTR, Kay's Fionavar was one of the few reads that really hurt and made me cry. Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun is neither fantasy nor scifi, but it has this quality too. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is not, in my opinion, that heartrending, but it too is bittersweet.
    I have never observed this in fantasy. There isn't this helplessness in LOTR. The characters fight. There is stuff that can be done to fight, even if sometimes it seems unlikely to work. This is compared to the movement of a planet past a sun.

    The decay in LOTR is malicious. That is somehow less tragic than unfeeling oblivion.

    Similarly, though Kay is tragic, I don't think he's nearly as tragic as SciFi tends to be (Bradbury, Dying of the Light, Ender's Game).

    I haven't read Finovar, but I will soon. So don't tell me too much about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brid14
    SciFi can also be mad and lighthearted. Look at Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Jack Vance's work as well; not quite so nutty, but he pokes fun at things even though darker creatures are lurking outside (Tales of the Dying Earth).
    I have read Hitchhiker's Guide. It was pretty funny. I don't think I've encountered too much SciFi that's like that.

  11. #26
    Member of the Month™ Ropie's Avatar
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    I quite often have days where the nihilisim of Sci-Fi is just too much to take Has anyone read 'Sirius' by Olaf Stapledon? - The story of the super-intelligent dog. The tragedy is ladelled on from the very beginning, piling up into a veritable slurry pit by the end - it's a hard book to get through.

    As a matter of fact I have just bought my first fantasy book to try and relieve the darkness, but it's 'Elric' and I'm not sure it's going to have the desired effect by the sounds of the other posts...

  12. #27
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fybonacci
    I do not think that no accidents implies predictability. I don't think there are any accidents in A Song of Ice and Fire. It is completely unpredictable.
    My point wasn't that I think that no accidents imply predictability. What I said was:

    Quote Originally Posted by me
    I say, I don't like #11 because it's so predictable, drab, overconstructed etc.
    The words "predictable", "drab", "overconstructed", are just there to serve as examples. Which words I'll choose will most certainly depend on the story in question. However, my point wasn't that lack of accidents in a story creats the impression of - for example - predictability. But that lack of accidents in a lot of stories read one after the other may make me subconsciously wary and give me the feeling that something is wrong, when I read another story. I think that in the past I've often misinterpreted this "edginess" as an incompatibility between what the story offers and my tastes; whereas infact it might be possible that I'm just getting tired of a certain style; I need a break, and then I can enjoy that kind of story again.

    In short: I think my answer to "What kind of tragedy constellations do I enjoy?" would be: a good mix.

    Sorry for not being clear.
    Last edited by Dawnstorm; July 19th, 2005 at 01:16 PM.

  13. #28
    Inter spem metumque iacto Julian's Avatar
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    WARNING: SOME SPOILERS REGRDING LOTR AHEAD!!


    *******

    Good grief! What a lot of thoughts here that I disagree and agree with in equal measure!!

    It seems to me - to perhaps get back to basics - that there are a quite a few different possible perceptions of "tragedy". You might, for example, take it to mean simply something "bad" (causing great suffering or the like). An event, in other words. Alternatively, you could take it to mean some sort of story - an interlocking series of events, if you will - with each part (whether individually happy, sad, incongruous or whatever) inevitably leading to some momentous downfall or disaster.

    For me, the term "tragedy" always suggests the latter. It's the more or less "literary" approach, I confess, as it's what what tragedy is generally considered to be in literature, from Greek plays onwards to, say, Sophie's Choice.

    Given this view, I am frankly at a loss to understand how an individual "bad" thing happening in a book (like the boy being dropped at the beginning of A Game of Thrones) could be considered "tragic", horrible though the event is. Equally, I find it difficult to understand how someone might not find Tolkien's Lord of the Rings tragic, in spite of all the wonderous, humourous and downright uplifting things that happen during the course of that great tale.

    Tragedy certainly forms a part - an important part - in Martin's series; but it does not start to raise its truely awesome head until somewhere further along, during A Storm of Swords. (And then it does so with a vengeance. Actually, I rather suspect this is one of the reasons for Martin's difficulties in continuing the series; after this, what next? Rather in the same way, Erikson seems to have some problems really picking up on the Malazan sequence after the momentous ending to House of Chains. However, that's another topic, I suppose!)

    Alternatively, tragedy runs right through The Lord of the Rings like a terrible shining thread. The ending of the Third Age - the age of elves, dwarves and wizards; of magic - is set against the bravery and determination of Frodo. But Frodo fails, at the end; it is only through Sam and Gollum (each, in their own way, an antithesis of what Frodo represents) that the task can be achieved. And even so, when returning home the Shire is ravished and there's nowhere to go but away.

    I suppose it depends greatly on what sort of fantasy you read - and perhaps on how you read it - and certainly on what sort of fantasy you like, but I would myself feel that tragedy is at the heart of that genre. I would certainly not feel it is symptomatic of science fiction, though! And it does strike me that the examples of "tragic" sf mentioned here - like Dune, or Martin's Dying of the Light - derive their "tragic" characteristics from the very fact that they are akin to fantasy.

    Hmmm. This post is getting a bit long, isn't it? Guess I better shup up for now. Might get back to Kay, Moorcock, M. John Harrison, Hobb etc. later, though.

    If I do, don't say I didn't warn you !

  14. #29
    The Spacy One Insedia's Avatar
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    Cool

    I personally believe that certain the certain things that effect whether a book is "tragic" or not completely rely on the person.

    *****!!!!! Spoiler for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince !!!!!*****
    in the Harry potter series, Dumbledore and Snape were my favourite characters, and in this newest book, Snape KILLS Dumbledore! I almost stopped reading right there! Meanwhile, some people actually suspected. it! :O

    *****!!!!! End Spoiler !!!!!*****

    It's completly dependant on the reader.


    ~Insedia*

  15. #30
    In my posts I may have placed too much emphasis on universality or at least possibility thereof. I do believe that some things might be, and that is interesting.

    However, the hidden deep down purpose of this thread for me is to know myself. I want to know why some things break my heart and some don't, though objectively similar things have happened. I cannot easily place which events, values, images, and which implications of them have saddened me. It seems that it's important information about me for me to have.

    I would hope that you, reading this forum and maybe writing to it, might have a similar goal for yourself. I would hope that a sharing of reading experiences and reflections upon them will be fruitful.

    So please, tell us yours!
    Last edited by fybonacci; July 21st, 2005 at 12:04 PM.

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