October 23rd, 2000, 01:51 AM
Saruman you keep mentioning different books in comparison with Tolkiens Lothr..... But I (and most geezers here) are comparing authors to one another and WE (not everyone)find that Tolkien has yet to met his equal in pure talent for fantasy-writing.
And for all you people who think Tolkien was first. Here comes a shocker.....
Tolkien was greatly inspired by the "first" fantasy author William Morrison, he realesed his book "The well at the worlds end" 1896 or somthing like that. There were a couple of
others before Tolkien; Robert E Howard... C.S Lewis..
But Tolkien became the "father" of all fantasy because he had a great talent for storytelling and the knowledge (historical and fictional) to back this up.
We are all entitled to our own opinions, (thank God)and I'm not saying that I'm right... There is no right or wrong in this discussion.
But I resent the fact that Saruman keeps thrashing Tolkiens works with lame arguments like it being unrealistic..... (Frodo shouldn't be able to complete his quest because he is so small...)
Why thrash when we are all on the same side... We all love fantasy!!!!!
P.S: As a wise man once said:
The beauty is in the eye of the beholder....
[This message has been edited by Alex (edited October 23, 2000).]
[This message has been edited by Alex (edited October 23, 2000).]
October 23rd, 2000, 12:44 PM
Saruman said "The only arguement we have in this topic is our personal opionions because to me the facts are irrelevant."
What an amazing statement. If that is the case, then surely it is the weight of prevailing opinion that must count. And since almost the entire fantasy readership, and the vast majority of literary reviewers, place Tolkien as the greatest of fantasy authors then I fail to understand why you rail against this situation. Your opinion may differ but you are, and will always be, in the distinct minority.
As one of the designated geezers I acknowledge that plot is important, but there is more required of a good fantasy work to enable this particular geezer to suspend my disbelief and fully immerse myself in the worlds I read about. Believeable characters, and worlds that work provide the setting, and the raw materials, for the plot to take place in. If you can't believe that the setting is real then it diminishes the lustre of the plot. It's like watching a b-grade sci fi movie, or one of the budget martial arts movies. Action and special effects galore but no chance of being taken seriously.
October 23rd, 2000, 12:53 PM
A servant of Lord Arioch
You can't be serious about that... does it mean Britney Spears is the best singer at the moment because she is the most popular?
It's all personal opinions if you want to explain why you think Tolkien is the best bring your own reasons, and don't base it on other people's opinions even if they are the majority.
[This message has been edited by FitzChivlary (edited October 23, 2000).]
October 23rd, 2000, 08:31 PM
High Priest of Cainism
OK, maybe I won't get "Senior Member" status with this post, but I couldn't resist.
I have always noticed that admirers of any art form fall into two different categories. (Actually it could be more than 2 but for the purposes of this post 2 will suffice)... Those who read books, or watch movies or listen to music for the sake of pure entertainment, as an escapism maybe or perhaps as a diversion. For them, it is to be read, enjoyed and then discarded... Not really to be thought about. Such people tend to go for "popular" stuff... Stuff that is written for pure entertainment... (what is sometimes derisively called candy-fluff) The fact is that Britney Spears or Van Damme action movies or Sidney Sheldon or some other "popular" writer's novels are entertaining, if somewhat shallow devices. That is a perfectly acceptable point of view. On the other hand, some people feel that art should be appreciated for art's sake. For example, and I'm in the minority here as far as my friends are concerned, I would rather read something more profound, something that doesn't yield its all at the first look or read, something that presents more of a challenge, more of a stimulus to the mind than the mere turning of the page. And once I do understand, and appreciate that book or poem or movie or song, the enjoyment and pleasure I derive is both more profound and long-lasting than anything I get from a pick-up-read-and-throw-away book. Although ear-candy like the Backstreet Boys or the teeny-boppers on the charts nowadays are light entertainment, there is something to be said for listening to a Pink Floyd thematic album which requires several times' listening to understand, or for reading Yeats' Sailing to Byzantium, a page-long poem that I have puzzling over for the last week, or for reading the more complex and challenging fantasy work of Tolkien or Donaldson.
I on't mind reading for entertainment, I do it all the time. But my advice to Saruman and all others like him is: give reading in depth a try. You'll find it much, MUCH more satisfying in the long run.
PS: And before I get accused of being an old geezer, I'm 23 and am DEFINITELY NOT a literature student!
October 24th, 2000, 12:19 AM
"Geezer" wasen't a negative remark.....
And by the way I'm 20 years old.
October 24th, 2000, 01:04 AM
A servant of Lord Arioch
Shahzed, who said Tolkien has more depth than other series, Tolkien himself said he is just a story teller and that's his intention.
I mean, if you want to analyze, tell us what's the depth in The Lord of the Rings that doesn't exist in Terry Brooks's Sword of Shannara for example.
October 24th, 2000, 01:41 AM
Guarded by the Moon
Well, what Shehzad told has lots of truth in it, but that still doesn't have any facts in them. As an author who has books better than LOTR I could name Ursula le Guin, whose books are really something and definetely not a "Britney Spears type" of entertainment. Also there are others who could be named.
Yes, I will agree that Tolkien is the most well known author, but does this make him the greatest? I am not so sure...
October 24th, 2000, 07:53 AM
I didnt know I was so simpleminded Shezhad.. thanks for enlighting me . I couldnt see how a modern-day copy cat of Tolkien (Goodkind) could write a story based on the theory of democracy... I can't see how the in Sword of Truth how Goodkind trys and make you dwelve into the thoughts of religion and its meaning. I never saw Haplos inner struggle and his willingness to forgive a sworn enemey whos killed millions of his people.. etc etc. LoTRs is not the most in-depth fantasy around and inorder for your readers to dwelve into it you have to like the story. I remember a post when keyoke said she didnt read the any other book but
Wizard's first rule in the SoT series and then offered critisim on it. She didnt find it entertaining so she(::shrugs: so why dwell into detail as much as you would a fantasy you love? Regardless of what you all say you know entertainment is the most important aspect because if it wasn't entertaining you wouldn't care about its "world building" or "charactor depths".. and if you would read something not entertaining but because you wanted to dwell into all I've got to say is Life is short and too precious.
October 24th, 2000, 01:30 PM
Well, I personally try to bridge across both categories that have been mentioned here. At times I like simple escapism, and at others I prefer more intellectually demanding worlds... At all times, however, I demand entertainment. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with authors who provide the candyfloss fantasy, just that such authors can not be considered as great as authors who provide both entertainment and provoke thought. For the record, I do not consider goodkind to be in the candyfloss section. I do consider Weis and Hickman to be such. This is simply my own opinion.
My previous post was not an afirmation of Shehzad's statement. Perhaps I should have used the word absurd instead of amazing. I would have thought that anyone who actually took the time to read what I wrote would have seen that I disagreed with the statement but that if it were true, then it didn't help Shehzad's argument one bit.
As for the Britney comment, that's not a valid comparison. Britney may be big now but in 5-10 years she will be another Cindi Lauper or Kylie Minogue. It's called a fad. Tolkien's work is most certainly no fad. A better comparison would be to a singer like Elvis. His popularity has persisted through the decades and remains as high as ever. Do you honestly think Weis and Hickman's legend will persist like that? If so, well....you're entitled to your opinion but I strenuously disagree. Transient opinions are highly subjective and fluctuate wildly, and I agree that they provide no basis for an argument as to the relative merits of an author. However, the argument supporting Tolkien is based on a long-time, widespread, persistent weight of opinion over decades of time. Now, if he's not as great as the detractors say, that situation should not occur. Where there's smoke there's fire. If Weis and Hickman ever attain that kind of standing I'll gladly accept they have equal merit but until then, from my own reading of their works, I'd say it's never going to happen.
October 25th, 2000, 01:03 AM
A servant of Lord Arioch
Well, yes, i gave Britney as an example, you could even taken Pearl Jam or The Eagles, bands that were popular once and stood to the test of time, my point was that it's a totally subjective matter and if one author or music artist is more popular, it doesn't mean he/she is the best.
If you want to explain why an author is good, giving a reason like "everyone say so" is not very convincing, at least not to me. You would have to bring an actual explanation based on the books, and because none of those convinced me i disagree that Tolkien is the best author out there.
You probably wouldn't be surprised to hear that the opinion of the majority is based on hmm... the opinion of the majority. Because Tolkien is the best known fantasy author most people encounter his work first and that pretty much determines their opinion, i'm sure if i had read Tolkien first he would have been in a much higher spot in my top authors list and i would have recommended him first to a new fantasy reader that would read him first and would think the same, etc. well, you get my drift...
October 25th, 2000, 11:44 AM
Ok, this is my last post on this topic. The rationale that tolkien supporters base their arguments on has already been presented in previous posts and I have no intention of retating it all. Clearly any opinion on literature is subjective; that's a given. If you re-read what has been written here you will see that Tolkien is appreciated for the integrity and depth of his work. I will repeat this part: LOTR can /not/ be discussed without its companions... the hobbit and the Silmarillion.
LOTR is not a fad and while there may be some truth in tolkien's popularity being self-perpetuating, I do not believe that such a cycle can continue unless there is an element of greatness about the work itself. For example, when I was younger lad, Duran Duran was probably the biggest band in the 1980's. Who buys their albums today? Very few people I'd say. By contrast, beatles albums or Elvis albums still sell well. Admittedly at much lower levels than previously, and lower than Britney sells atm, but that's only because most people who like them already own the albums. The point is, opinions held over the long-term are a useful indicator of subjective attitudes. I'm not sure there is any other way to measure greatness. One thing I know in my bones is that Weis and Hickman, along with many other popular authors today, will be forgotten and discontinued long before Professor Tolkien's works are.
And that's all I have to say about that
November 3rd, 2000, 11:13 PM
Too bad I couldn't get in on this topic earlier...If you want realism in your books then you're reading the wrong genre......
First of all, like many of you have said already, people have different opinions on what they like or don't like-that's the way of things. So, what question are we asking here? Is Tolkein the "best", "first", "most influencial", "most famous", or simply the "most highly regarded" writer of fantasy fiction?
If you do break down Tolkein's work into categories of appeal, certain classifications can easily be made. First, he was not really the first writer of fantasy, but he was the first to bring subcategories or aspects of fantasy to the attention of a wide range of readers. He developed myths, exanded or detailed ideas such as elves and other beings, as well as magical artifacts, and everything else we consider fantasy to this day. Much of what fantasy is today originated from Tolkein. This is difficult to argue-and has not really been argued.
What has been contested is the idea of Tolkein being the "greatest" fantasy writer of all time. So then, how do we classify greatness? One classification for greatness would be to be the most widely known or esteemed. Is this the case? Probably. If we consider the test of time. Otherwise, maybe not.
Ok, enough of this. For me, I give all due credit to Tokein, but I do not particuarly "enjoy" his work. Yet I appreciate its value historically and in the context of literature. Sure he is an intelligent individual and a revolutionary author-I simply don't like his "style". I prefer action, realism, and characters I can identify with. This is my personal preference.
I don't like Shakespeare either, although I can see how and why he was famous during his time and how his "style" was related to the time period and what he was trying to accomplish artistically. He had a way for words, he understood and adapted a certain type of rythme, he changed the way people thought about tragedy and beauty. He was considered to be an artist in literature-and he undoubdedly thought himself one also.
Tolkein and those who "enjoy" his work likely consider him an artist also. Even if you don't "enjoy" his work, as you might not with Shakespeare, you might be doing these people a diservice if you did not recognize what they were doing and how they do it. If you cannot look beneath the layers of "cultural" pleasantries or emotional tugging that writers use, then you likely aren't considering the "how" and the "why" things are in this world (what???). If you don't work to analyze the facts you are simply "feeling" and not "thinking".
And "thinking" is the only way to determine whether one thing is better than another. So if you cannot or do not think about the how or why something is the way it is (like Tolkein's books) then how can you make a determination of its greatness or lack there of? What does this mean? I don't know. But I do know that if you want to say Tolkein is not as good as something else than you need to be able to analyze Tolkein and make conclusions about it in a comparable way to what others have done. If you do that well people will respect you opinion and you will know that your view is an educated and accurate one.