What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?

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What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?

Post by Radaghast on Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:50 pm

Anybody know of Quora? I'm subscribed to it, though I honestly don't remember how Neutral 

Anyway, here's an interesting post where the author claims he has no idea why people like LotR but knows why he does and goes on to make a good case for why anyone should:

I have to admit, I've never been entirely sure why people are so enamored of The Lord of the Rings. I know why I am, but it's not at all for its nature as an action-adventure story.

f you watch the LotR movies, that's what you'd think they were about. The battle and action sequences get a lot more screen time than they do in the books. That's partly the nature of the medium, but I think that's what a lot of people see in the books as well, and I just don't.

http://www.quora.com/The-Lord-of-the-Rings-books-movies-and-creative-franchise/What-is-so-great-about-The-Lord-of-the-Rings?__pmsg__=+MGN6aWFENFJHYkd3WjVuTUN2bEI6YS5hcHAudmlldy5wbXNnLmFsbC5Mb2dnZWRJbkZyb21MaW5rOltbMzg0ODkzNTZdLCB7fV0*

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Re: What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:35 pm

Sorry Rhaddy, sounds interesting but too much faffing, signing, having to pick 6 other subjects that interest you, just to read one post!  Mad 

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Re: What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?

Post by Radaghast on Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:41 pm

Oh, I guess you have to sign up to read them. I assumed you had to sign up to post something. Also, I'm signed in when I click on the email link and I'm not sure how to sign out  Question 

Anyway, I'll just paste it here:

Joshua Engel wrote:I have to admit, I've never been entirely sure why people are so enamored of The Lord of the Rings. I know why I am, but it's not at all for its nature as an action-adventure story.

If you watch the LotR movies, that's what you'd think they were about. The battle and action sequences get a lot more screen time than they do in the books. That's partly the nature of the medium, but I think that's what a lot of people see in the books as well, and I just don't.

Here's the way I'd put it: the amazing thing about The Lord of the Rings is what Tolkien called "secondary creation". It's the idea that the writer isn't just making up a story and asking you to suspend your belief in the real world so that you can tolerate the fact that it's not real. Rather, Tolkien wants to create a world so rich and deep that you don't have to suspend disbelief. You instead come to a secondary belief in his secondary creation.

Tolkien's world is self-complete in a way no author before or since has ever been. LotR is only the tip, a little piece of that world that pokes up to where you can see it. Even if you never read another word of Tolkien outside of the pieces published in his lifetime (LotR and The Hobbit), you can feel that the rest of the other world is out there. There are passing, unexplained references to Turin and the Silmarils and literally thousands of other names dropped in such a way as to make you realize that there's a fully-worked out story behind it.

And during Tolkien's lifetime, you never did. Some of it is published in The Silmarillion, which he never completed. Few people will ever read it; it's even denser and harder to read than LotR. Reading LotR isn't about actually knowing all of those back stories. It's about knowing that they exist, and that there are even more stories behind them, some of which were little more than notes jotted onto scraps of paper. Tolkien created and revised his world obsessively, and that's what makes it so riveting.

Flipping through LotR the other day I noticed that just the index of the list of songs and poems goes on for several pages.  These are poems and songs in dozens of styles and even languages: Hobbit doggerel, poems in both Quenya and Sindarin, fragments of epic verse, different styles of Mannish poetry in Rohan and Gondor... on and on and on. It feels like what it's supposed to be: hundreds of authors contributing separately over thousands of years. But it isn't: it's the secondary creation of one man who created thousands of characters to populate his world.

And then there's the languages. This is the crown jewel. Tolkien created two separate but related Elvish languages, and it can be said that he wrote the whole world in order to give these languages a place to be. Languages need stories; they need myths. The stories are part of the language as much as the words are.

Language is history: nobody knew that better than Tolkien. He was an expert in the history of English, and spoke several English ancestors fluently. The only Gothic poetry in the entire world was written by Tolkien. The language of the Rohirrim is based on Old English, and even if you don't know that, you can feel it. (Actually the culture is more Gothic than Old English, though few outside philological circles would know that.)

Tolkien's secondary creation is so deep that you crave to know more. You can look in the Appendices, and if you like them, undergo the Mount Everest that is The Silmarillion. But even if you don't, even if they were never published, they are the reason that The Lord of the Rings is so utterly brilliant.  There's more beyond that, for the reckless and foolhardy. You can spend a lifetime reading his back stories. It's as though he managed to genuinely fill a world, all by himself.

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Re: What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:45 pm

Thanks Rhaddy, I entirely agree with them.

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Re: What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?

Post by Ringdrotten on Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:56 pm

Very well put, and he nailed it for the most part. There are other things I like about LotR as well, but this is the core of it, I guess. What he describesis what makes LotR stand out, why you compare every new fantasy series you read to LotR even if you don't intend to. It's a bitter-sweet thing, really; knowing you've (probably) read the greatest fantasy story ever written leaves you with the knowledge that there will (probably) never be one quite like it Smile

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Re: What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?

Post by Bluebottle on Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:08 pm

The basic point reminds me a bit of that quote by Christopher Tolkien.

They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25.

Just said with different words. For me what they clearly did with adapting the books was limit them to action adventure stories. Though they are still epic romantic action adventure stories because that is what the basic story in the books is. But the movies have certainly been limited in relation too the books.

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Re: What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?

Post by Ringdrotten on Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:25 pm

"They eviscerated the book" - CT

I don't agree with this, but that's an epic thing to say Very Happy

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Re: What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?

Post by Radaghast on Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:28 pm

I happen to agree with that epic statement Very Happy

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Re: What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:28 pm

I agree absolutely.  Nod 

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