October 13th, 2000, 10:48 AM
October 13th, 2000, 02:22 PM
A servant of Lord Arioch
Although i think such discussions are futile because to each his own... i do agree with Saruman about many Tolkien fans being biased about Tolkien, but what is really bothering is that, ok, i like many other authors more than Tolkien but i can understand that some people like Tolkien the best, but it seems that many Tolkien fans can't understand that somebody doesn't think Tolkien is the best.
And about deeper subtle nuances, Tolkien himself said that he was just telling a story and all the high analyzing people did on The Lord of the Rings are not at all what he was thinking about.
October 13th, 2000, 03:43 PM
FitzChivalry and Saruman - you are missing my point. If you would read the ENTIRE post, you would see that I distinctly stated that I DO NOT consider Tolkein to be the best fantasy writer ever. However, you need to give his work the respect it merits for what it is, groundbreaking fantasy. Just because you or anyone else prefers another writer over Tolkien doesn't negate that fact. Endless comparison to the Death Gate books won't change that fact either.
October 13th, 2000, 03:43 PM
Guarded by the Moon
I don't know, it's pretty strange, but true - there is no other writer who would have as many fans all around the world as Tolkien. And I have such a feeling that lots of people like Tolkien, because the majority likes Tolkien and considers him the best. I don't want to offend anybody and I don't mean that people in here say that Tolkien is the best because somebody told them so. But if look objective Tolkien has lots of flaws(as characters,for example), and most people say that the bad things can be written off because Tolkien was the first. I don't think it's right, like you wouldn't drive the car that was made in 1920, just because it was one of the first? The thought was alread there, but I didn't see anybody answer it:
WOULD YOU LIKE TOLKIEN AS MUCH IF HE WOULD WRITE LOTR NOW, AFTER SO MANY BOOKS IN THIS GENRE IS WRITTEN? WOULD HE STILL STAND OUT?
October 15th, 2000, 05:53 AM
I know Tolkien got good critizism from the reviews back when he wrote the book and even today but do you think those reviews could speak for the avg 18yr old? I dont mean to change anyone's opionion on Tolkien but if you guys go back and read other threads that delt with best authors or best series you'd see just how unfair people are to modern authors compared to Tolkien. The only reason why I compare LoTRs to Death Gate is it's the fantasy I read right after LoTRS. I know Tolkien was a English professor and all that and could command the language but where was the Humor? I mean not one charactor to me was actually "funny" In Wizard's first Rule I could actually take the wizard's first rule and take that into use in everyday life. In Death Gate cycle they touched on several aspects of religion. All I ask is that people try and judge others authors without having to say "Was he better than tolkien?". Thats like trying to judge Babylon 5 by comparing it to star trek (babylon 5 was better), or The Exorcist to Scream. Just judge the book on an individual basis and i'm pretty sure you could appreciate them more.
October 15th, 2000, 08:27 AM
Saruman, I don't really want to get into this argument, as I don't want to be seen to be biased towards any author. I am not that lituary minded, as in all the nuances etc ( I did not pass my ENG Lit O level!!!). However I do like LOTR best. BUT PLEASE do not say that I (and others) don't give other authors a chance. I love new fantasy and there are a lot of very good authors new and old out there
October 15th, 2000, 02:21 PM
I take the point about Tolkien fans failing to accept that other fans of fantasy may not admire Tolkien as highly. And fair enough too. All to their own. I myself maintained throughout high school that shakespeare was just another hack who wrote plays to pay for the rent. The fact remains, however, that shakespeare is a great playwright. I don't like his work, but I acknowledge that he set the benchmark for all future writers and that is what makes him great. (I hate to admit that! ) Tolkien created a whole new genre. Other authors have followed in his footsteps, and some have taken the fantasy idea and re-worked it to put new spins on it. There are fantasy authors whose work I enjoy reading as much as, if not more so, than Tolkien. All the same, there is no one who will revolutionise the genre in the way JRR did. You may quibble over how his LOTR would fare if released today, and may discuss his merits all you like, but the fact remains that no fantasy author has the mantle of greatness draped over their metaphorical shoulders as convincingly as Tolkien. I wonder how many of todays fantasy authors would have ever written fantasy without the works of Tolkien to inspire them, or without an existing fantasy genre that publishers would feel comfortable enough to take the chance on?
Tolkien is to fantasy what Ali is to boxing, what Star Wars (part IV) is to SF movies, and what coca cola is to fizzy drinks. Maybe Lennox Lewis could beat Muhommad Ali in a fight today, and he is the world heavyweight champ, but is Lennox Lewis as great? Will his legend endure the way Ali's has? I say no. Likewise, Tolkien will always be the benchmark for fantasy authors to measure up to. And I think it's a legitimate measure.
October 17th, 2000, 04:08 AM
High Priest of Cainism
Well, I guess I've joined this thread pretty late, but for all its worth, here's my two bits' worth.
When I read a novel, I usually analyze it for its literary value, whether it will stand the test of time. Of course, I do read books for funs' sake, for pure entertainment, but the few books I read again and again are those that, IMHO, have true literary merit. They are not necessarily written in high-flown prose, nor have complex plots, nor a total absence of action. Instead, they have a certain feel, a certain je-ne-sais-quoi... i guess perhaps there's an undercurrent, a more intense involvement with the characters than usual. They usually aren't strictly plot-driven, and the characters are usually more fleshed out. These are the books to be read again and again. And, it is usually posterity which judges who is great, not book sales, popularity, critics, or, indeed, you or me. Based on these criteria, Tolkein certainly qualifies. Which other writer has stood the test of time. Who else will be read 20, 30, or 100 years later... tolkein for sure... but who else? That is the question.
Based on my evaluation of current literature, I believe that the author who WILL stand the test of time is probably Stephen Donaldson... After all he has all the ingredients. To everyone his/her own opinion, but I've read Dune around 10 times, LoTR 6 times, Thomas Covenant thrice, and most books by Weis/Hickman once (the exception being the Legends)... That, in my opinion, settles the argument as far as I am concerned.
But to reiterate:
To everyone his own opinion...
Stay True, Unbeliever.
October 17th, 2000, 06:26 AM
I've been reading through the posts for this topic, and I have something to add that I think will shed a little light for everyone. Comparisions between Tolkien's work and a series like the Death Gate Cycle is an exercise in futility. Not because of the merit of one over the other, but because the scope of the works are completely different.
Weis and Hickman had an interesting idea for a fantasy world, and they set it down on paper, to entertain. They are a diversion. There's not much more background than that behind the books.
Tolkien's works are based on old legends and myths. They only seem one dimentional to the casual reader, because unless you've studied literature (or are a big John Campbell fan), you won't know that Frodo is not just a Hobbit, he is an archetype for the Hero in ancient myth. There is an accepted formula for writing of the Hero's Journey, brought down from the mists of time, from the Beowulfs and Gilgameshs of anicent stories. Almost all of our current entertainment bases its elements on ancient stories, but Tolkien's Middle-Earth followed the heart and tone of these stories much more closely than most modern pieces. And the reason Tolkien will be read for centuries to come, just as Beowulf, is because the story resonates as part of the human condition. Everyone can relate to at least a piece of the Hero's Journey, because it reflects our own journeys through life.
Are modern authors capable of writing in the epic vein masterpieces such as Tolkien did? Of course. But not everyone needs to create the epic. There is merit in books like the Death Gate Cycle; they don't teach us lessons, but everyone needs a break, and there is nothing wrong with pure entertainment. I think that is the crux of the argument that is happening here.
October 17th, 2000, 11:06 AM
frankly, I'm shoked that someone read LotR and found no greater struggles than to continue past hunger.
How about overcoming fear? Standing up to those who are greater than yourself not because you think you can win (super powerful characters from other books), but because you know you are right?
The greater themes of LotR often center on power- ultimate power, and how it ultimately corrupts its user. The desire to HAVE ultimate power is the desire to have dominion over others, and since no one was meant for such power, it ultimately corrupts the user to wiled it over those beneath them- Frodo's internal struggle was the need to give up- the inexorable urging of the ring to give in the will of Sauron, to give up this seemingly futile and hopeless quest and allow evil to rule. On the other hand, he feels the burden not only of the evil in the ring, but the good that depends on him BEARING it to its final destination.
What I read in the posts above is mainly that many people DO NOT LIKE THE MESSAGE OF THE STORY- which is the struggle of everyday people (hobbits) to stand up side by side with the great and be noticed. many people have compared this story to the historical struggles of WWII, but since professor Tolkien has debunked that theory, and most of the story was written before the war, it most likely isn't true.
"for fantasy readers of today and for the younger audience (25 and under) LoTRs just isnt as appealing."
-I AM the 25 and younger audience.
And to say that writers need to gear their works for 25 and under is silly. You're basically saying you want the writer to dumb it down, make it more like TV.
And...Tolkien fans didn't start this post, just responded to one that obviously wanted just this kind of response, otherwise it would never have been begun.
October 17th, 2000, 01:47 PM
Welcome back Wastra. Was wondering when you'd add your contribution. Weird being on the same side for a change eh?
October 17th, 2000, 02:17 PM
A servant of Lord Arioch
Well, i still think it's totally subjective.
Interpretations you can make of any work of literature and each person will probably interpet it differently.
As for background and world buildings, most ad&d worlds are just as detailed as the middle earth, with maps, history books etc. Does it mean The Dark Elf trilogy is better than The Farseer Trilogy because the world is more detailed? not really.
About lasting through time and being a classic.. the quality of the work is indeed a serious factor in that, but let's not forget that there aren't any other high fantasy series from the same time that you can compare to Tolkien which didn't last through time.. the simple fact that it was the first modern high fantasy series had seriously affected it as well.
About old legends and myths... i'd say Conan or Tarzan are more similar to old myths like Gilgamesh and Hercules than those little hobbits, i don't really think that Tolkien continues mythology, he just takes from it the parts he likes and use them.
I'm perfectly fine with people think that Tolkien is the best although i don't think so, what is bothering is that many Tolkien fans can't accept the fact that someone doesn't think he is the best...
October 18th, 2000, 04:13 AM
Wow, Giarc! You're right! I guess there's a first time for everything
Fitz- the reason people are responding and not accepting hte statement is because that is what this thread is about! Was the first post by Saruman just a ranting? Or was it meant to start aa discussion? That's what this is! He took one position, now we debate it.
October 19th, 2000, 02:07 AM
Guarded by the Moon
Well, the only problem with this topic is that we already go around with the same facts for I don't know how many times and still this discussion doesn't lead anywhere. The fans of Tolkien say that he is the best and give their arguments, then the opposite side says that its not exactly so for everybody and gives their arguments. Tolkien fans don't accept that there's somebody better than he is. The others don't accept the fact that Tolkien fans don't accept their opinion. What's the point?
October 19th, 2000, 04:29 AM