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  #101  
Old 09-29-2019, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Ellis Dee View Post
All three of them?
A king and his subjects sure seems like a society to me.
  #102  
Old 09-29-2019, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Simple.

LOTR was a book franchise.

SW was a movie franchise.

More people go to the movies than read books.

LOTR was a very successful book series, but fewer people have read it than the number of people who have seen Star Wars. By the time the LOTR movie came out, SW had been a well merchandised phenomenon for almost a quarter of a century.
When I went to college, 50 years ago, LotR was ubiquitous. Everyone read it, everyone knew who Frodo was. See Bored of the Rings. I even have LotR jigswa puzzles.

But I wouldn't call it a franchise. There might be a bookshelf full of LotR related books, but there is a bookstore full of Star Wars books. If LotR was a franchise there would be an Orc Hunters series and set of movies, there would be Gandalf the early years, there would be something about Bilbo's early adventures, there would be something about Bilbo's grandfathers early adventure, and there would be sequels with Sam fighting off leftover orcs. And video games. And theme parks.
At least we have something to be grateful for.
  #103  
Old 09-29-2019, 03:28 PM
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And video games.
To be fair, there have been a number of successful Middle-Earth video games, including the long-running Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG. But, point taken.
  #104  
Old 09-29-2019, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Telperion View Post
A king and his subjects sure seems like a society to me.
If you're saying that three guys qualifies as a "society" I'm thinking my original impression of "deliberately obtuse" was spot on.
  #105  
Old 09-29-2019, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Crossbreed View Post
Science fantasy is a hybrid of science fiction & fantasy. Its sci-fi aspects are expected to be technically feasible/rationale. (That inherent limitation calls for more clever solutions to a problem.)

Straight fantasy relies more on magic and succeeds "just because" with little to no attempt to justify its results. For fans of the former, that is too deus-ex-machina (and lazy).
I would disagree on a number of counts.

1) All but the hardest of hard SF basically uses magic. It's dressed up in the trappings of Sufficiently Advanced Technology, but when you get right down to it, it's magic. Faster-than-light travel is possible because something something dark matter something engines, say. Or laser-swords end in a discrete point rather than the light beams continuing into infinity because shut up, it looks cool. How is a lightsaber really any different than a magic sword? That being said...

2) Just because a story has explicit magic doesn't mean things happen "just because" or that problems get deus-ex-machina'd away. Yes, there are lazy fantasy authors-- and lazy sci-fi authors, and lazy romance writers, etc-- but the good ones work hard on making an internally-consistant world. There are fantasy writers whose magical systems are more scientific than anything in Star Wars-- not in the sense of relating to physics and chemistry, but in the sense of foundational rules that are used in an understandable way to build the whole system. Brandon Sanderson exemplifies this approach, especially in Mistborn. Fans were able to figure out what some of the metals did that even the characters didn't know, because it all followed a logical progression.
Speaking of Sanderson, Sanderson's First Law is "An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic." In other words, if your magic system is rigorously defined and the Hero finds a clever way to use magic to save the day, you have a clever hero. If your magical system is vague and mysterious and the Hero uses magic to save the day, you (often) have a deus ex machina. Vague mystical magics are better employed as a source of problems rather than solutions.
  #106  
Old 09-29-2019, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
Not that I should argue Middle-Earth semantics with someone named Telperion, but...

All of those things were foretold to happen in The Lord of the Rings, as the Third Age transitioned into the Fourth Age (a.k.a. the "age of men"), but by the end of The Return of the King, none of them had entirely occurred *yet*.

The elves had been leaving Middle-Earth for many years, and though the final chapter of The Return of the King showed two of the most powerful remaining elves (Galadriel and Elrond) finally departing, there were still elves left in Middle-Earth. Cirdan the Shipwright appears in that scene, but he was said to have planned to be on the last ship to sail for the West, at some point early in the Fourth Age.

Hobbits and dwarves are still, apparently, thriving, and interacting with men, at the end of the book, even as it had been foretold that they would eventually fade from view. Presumably, the ents are still continuing their fruitless search for the entwives at that point, but, too, are fated to fade away.
So, I don't know how many non-human humanoids there are in this world (and I'm only part way through, and trying to avoid spoilers) but the world clearly has a history of non-humans. Giants helped build the wall. A treaty was made between the first men of Westeros and the Children of the Forest. The carvings the Children made are still present, all over the place, in most every godswood.

Humans didn't see a lot of non-humans in LotR, either. And as someone pointed out, the other types were going away at the end of the story.

I mean, if you are just saying that you prefer fiction where the POV characters are all human, sure, that's a difference between GoT and LotR. But if you are arguing that the worlds are somehow different, and GoT isn't in the tradition of LotR, I have to strongly disagree with you.

(Oh, and the others/white walkers aren't all that different from the wraiths in the barrow downs, if you want to look at the bad guys.)
  #107  
Old 09-29-2019, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Ellis Dee View Post
If you're saying that three guys qualifies as a "society" I'm thinking my original impression of "deliberately obtuse" was spot on.
We don't know that three is the entire number of giants in that world, just that three is the number of giants we know of. The fact that they appear to have a complex social structure certainly suggests they'd be part of a larger society. But I guess you're the kind of person that requires every single thing be spelled out to them.
  #108  
Old 09-29-2019, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Telperion View Post
We don't know that three is the entire number of giants in that world, just that three is the number of giants we know of. The fact that they appear to have a complex social structure certainly suggests they'd be part of a larger society. But I guess you're the kind of person that requires every single thing be spelled out to them.
We know it's only three because
SPOILER:
the army of the dead drove every living thing south of the wall with Mance Rayder's army, except of course the ones they killed outright and conscripted. We saw Mance Rayder's army had three giants.

It was kind of the whole point of the Night King story, and the whole reason for Mance Rayder's existence in the story: The dead killed EVERYONE north of the wall. That's how they formed their army, and that's also why it took so long to head south. We know this because Hardhome is way out of the way; the dead wouldn't have gone in that direction unless they were clear-cutting every breather north of the wall.


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Originally Posted by puzzlegal View Post
So, I don't know how many non-human humanoids there are in this world (and I'm only part way through, and trying to avoid spoilers) but the world clearly has a history of non-humans. Giants helped build the wall. A treaty was made between the first men of Westeros and the Children of the Forest. The carvings the Children made are still present, all over the place, in most every godswood.
The show never established that the Giants helped build the wall, but let's grant that.

The people in the show say the wall was built 10,000 years ago. The children of the forest are also thousands of years old. Saying that the carvings are still present and therefore GoT depicted that society is like saying cro-magnon and neanderthal societies are depicted in a story where we see modern day people discover cave paintings. Such an assertion would be absurd.


Remember, the point was not that non-humans never existed in the GoT universe. The point is that part of the Tolkien legacy is DEPICTING non-human societies. We meet the hobbits, and learn all about their houses, social interactions, and society as a whole in loving detail. We meet the dwarves. We meet the elves.

That legacy of depicting non-human humanoid SOCIETIES is wholly absent from GoT.
  #109  
Old 09-29-2019, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
While The Hobbit was definitely written with a child audience in mind, I'd dispute the idea that Tolkien's other Middle-Earth works (The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion) were written for children -- they're long and dense, and challenging for many adult readers, much less kids.
I think children were different in terms of reading levels decades ago.
  #110  
Old 09-29-2019, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Ellis Dee View Post
We know it's only three because
I could well imagine them missing a few places, especially since the area above the Wall is basically the size of Canada. Besides, there's that whole other continent that's significantly larger than Westeros which also has several mentions of giants.
  #111  
Old 09-29-2019, 09:00 PM
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I think children were different in terms of reading levels decades ago.
Do you have any cites at all to show that Tolkien specifically had children or young adults in mind when he wrote The Lord of the Rings?
  #112  
Old 09-29-2019, 10:40 PM
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Do you have any cites at all to show that Tolkien specifically had children or young adults in mind when he wrote The Lord of the Rings?
He explicitly said otherwise in a 1950 letter to his publisher (Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 136): "an immensely long, complex, rather bitter, and very terrifying romance, quite unfit for children".
  #113  
Old 09-30-2019, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Ellis Dee View Post
The people in the show say the wall was built 10,000 years ago. The children of the forest are also thousands of years old. Saying that the carvings are still present and therefore GoT depicted that society is like saying cro-magnon and neanderthal societies are depicted in a story where we see modern day people discover cave paintings. Such an assertion would be absurd
Well, if we had cro-magnon paintings all over the place, and they were the standard iconography used by a major religion, then it would be sort of comparable.
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Remember, the point was not that non-humans never existed in the GoT universe. The point is that part of the Tolkien legacy is DEPICTING non-human societies. We meet the hobbits, and learn all about their houses, social interactions, and society as a whole in loving detail. We meet the dwarves. We meet the elves.

That legacy of depicting non-human humanoid SOCIETIES is wholly absent from GoT.
If you read the appendices of GoT, or if you watch the bonus features in the blu-ray disks (both of which I've done some of) you kinda DO meet the Children of the Forest and the Giants. Maybe that didn't make it into the main TV show, but it's part of the GoT universe in an important and integral way.
  #114  
Old 09-30-2019, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
Do you have any cites at all to show that Tolkien specifically had children or young adults in mind when he wrote The Lord of the Rings?
Probably "How a 5-year-old boy inspired J.R.R.Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’"
  #115  
Old 09-30-2019, 11:56 PM
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J. R. R. Tolkien discussing The Lord of the Rings (1960s Interview)

"BBC Archival Footage-In Their Own Words British Authors J.R.R. Tolkien Part 1"

BBC Archival Footage-In Their Own Words British Authors J.R.R. Tolkien Part 2
  #116  
Old 10-01-2019, 01:48 PM
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Thank you for the links. I don't have time to listen to the interviews, but while the article above notes that he didn't necessarily exclude children from being the audience for the books (and that his own children were an inspiration for the books), it also doesn't say that they were his primary audience.

I think we may ultimately need to agree to disagree on this one. As I noted earlier, I think that The Hobbit was written more in a style like a fairy tale (and, thus, more accessible to children), but that The Lord of the Rings, with its length, complexity, and dark themes, wasn't really written with children in mind as the audience (as Kimstu's quote notes).

Last edited by kenobi 65; 10-01-2019 at 01:48 PM.
  #117  
Old 10-01-2019, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
Thank you for the links. I don't have time to listen to the interviews, but while the article above notes that he didn't necessarily exclude children from being the audience for the books (and that his own children were an inspiration for the books), it also doesn't say that they were his primary audience.

I think we may ultimately need to agree to disagree on this one. As I noted earlier, I think that The Hobbit was written more in a style like a fairy tale (and, thus, more accessible to children), but that The Lord of the Rings, with its length, complexity, and dark themes, wasn't really written with children in mind as the audience (as Kimstu's quote notes).
The article shows that the books were not only inspired by his children, but that one even helped him with the content. Also, I think one of his first publishers gave the go-signal for publishing his first book thanks to feedback from one the latter's children. Finally, the interviews show that young adults were enthusiastic about it. All of these show that Tolkien had children in mind when he wrote them, and that young adults followed because that were the same kids who were moving towards young adulthood (together with the author's) as the LOTR (which started off as a sequel to The Hobbit but ended up otherwise) was written in stages across more than a decade.

About the quote, if you read the words of the letter before and after it, you will see that Tolkien was writing to the publisher, complaining about the cost of typing the manuscript and the "magnitude of disaster" because he had created something out of his control, leading to a work that is "quite unfit for children (if fit for anybody)." He continues by saying that it contains around 600,000 words, that it has become "impracticable," and that he is tired of it.

In response, the publisher suggested that the two books (i.e., including The Silmarillion) be divided into three or four volumes, a point that the author addresses in a letter written a few days after. No point was made by either about unsuitability for children due to the content. It seems that their concern was the sheer length of the project, worries about typing and even revising, and how to publish the material.

Finally, this is a difficult point because one can always redefine the meaning of a child, what is suitable or not (too dark?) for children, etc. Given that, if one's standards are high enough, then even a work like LOTR (compared to several of the European myths and oral literature that inspired it) can be considered for adults only.

Last edited by ralfy; 10-01-2019 at 10:19 PM.
  #118  
Old 10-01-2019, 10:59 PM
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One thing is star wars was a light in what had become a very dark era in America .... One that wouldn't be over until after a sequel that was dark its self

I mean if you ask someone if there were any cultural bright spots in the 70s and you'll get Americas bicentennial and star wars ......
  #119  
Old 10-02-2019, 01:54 AM
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One thing is star wars was a light in what had become a very dark era in America
What was so dark about 1977? Disco, certainly. Anything else?
  #120  
Old 10-02-2019, 03:24 AM
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The article shows that the books were not only inspired by his children, but that one even helped him with the content.
I think there's confusion here that stems from your lumping "the books" together as a single unified creation, when Tolkien's correspondence and interviews over many years show that they were quite different strands of his lifelong "Middle-earth" worldbuilding, emerging at quite different times.

To summarize very briefly: Tolkien began constructing his imaginary languages and a mythical realm for their context during his late adolescence. This was the background that ultimately grew into what was published posthumously as The Silmarillion and all the other supporting "tales" of Middle-earth. Nothing about it was originally intended for children: in fact, Tolkien was rather fiercely antagonistic to the Victorian notion that "Faerie" or fable containing what we now refer to as "fantasy" should be relegated to kiddie-lit.

According to Tolkien himself, when he spontaneously started the story of The Hobbit in deliberately "kiddie-lit" form as a family man in his thirties, it took him a while to figure out that it could actually be part of his far more complex and erudite Middle-earth storyverse:
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But the beginning of the legendarium [i.e., the whole Middle-earth corpus], of which the Trilogy [i.e., LotR] is pa[rt] (the conclusion), was in an attempt to reorganize some of the [Finnish saga] Kalevala, especially the tale of Kullervo the hapless, into a form of my own. [...]

I went on after return; but when I attempted to get any of this stuff published I was not successful. The Hobbit was originally quite unconnected, though it inevitably got drawn in to the circumference of the greater construction; and in the event modified it. It was unhappily really meant, as far as I was conscious, as a 'children's story' [...]

Since The Hobbit was a success, a sequel was called for; and the remote Elvish Legends [i.e., the core material of The Silmarillion] were turned down. [...] Anyway I myself saw the value of Hobbits, in putting earth under the feet of 'romance', and in providing subjects for 'ennoblement' and heroes more praiseworthy than the professionals [...]

All the same, I was not prepared to write a 'sequel', in the sense of another children's story. [...] As I had expressed the view that the connexion in the modern mind between children and 'fairy stories' is false and accidental, and spoils the stories in themselves and for children, I wanted to try and write one that was not addressed to children at all (as such); also I wanted a large canvas.

A lot of labour was naturally involved, since I had to make a linkage with The Hobbit; but still more with the background mythology. That had to be re-written as well. The Lord of the Rings is only the end pan of a work nearly twice as long which I worked at between 1936 and 53.
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Originally Posted by ralfy
All of these show that Tolkien had children in mind when he wrote them
This is only partly true, in that Tolkien had children (especially his own, along with a received idea of what a "children's story" should be like) in mind when he wrote The Hobbit. He began the overall worldbuilding of Middle-earth decades before The Hobbit, and did not have children in mind as a potential audience at all. He originally attempted to get these earlier legends published as his proposed sequel to The Hobbit. And he completed LotR decades after The Hobbit, deliberately choosing to make it "not addressed to children at all".

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Originally Posted by ralfy
No point was made by either about unsuitability for children due to the content. It seems that their concern was the sheer length of the project, worries about typing and even revising, and how to publish the material.
I don't see how you can look at the words "complex, rather bitter, and very terrifying" in that sentence and say that it's not making a point about the content.

And if you look at the rest of what Tolkien wrote about his work (especially his letters), it's quite clear that he did consider, and intend, the content of LotR to be fundamentally unsuitable for children.

So getting back to your original claim:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralfy
Tolkien was said to have been inspired by European epics and legends but watered down somewhat for kids.
He was definitely inspired throughout by European epics and legends, and you can argue that there's a sense in which the "children's story" genre of The Hobbit is "watered down somewhat for kids". But that does not at all apply to the rest of the stories, most of which were originally conceived long before The Hobbit.

Last edited by Kimstu; 10-02-2019 at 03:27 AM.
  #121  
Old 10-02-2019, 11:45 PM
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I think there's confusion here that stems from your lumping "the books" together as a single unified creation, when Tolkien's correspondence and interviews over many years show that they were quite different strands of his lifelong "Middle-earth" worldbuilding, emerging at quite different times.
I think the confusion involves you taking a phrase out of context. If you read the lines before and after the phrase and the letter in response to that and Tolkien's follow-up, you will see that he was clearly referring to the length of the material in terms of typing costs (he even talked about how much he had spent so far) and how he had become tired concerning the whole project. In fact, you did not even provide the whole phrase: "unfit for children (if fit for anybody)".

Quote:

To summarize very briefly: Tolkien began constructing his imaginary languages and a mythical realm for their context during his late adolescence. This was the background that ultimately grew into what was published posthumously as The Silmarillion and all the other supporting "tales" of Middle-earth. Nothing about it was originally intended for children: in fact, Tolkien was rather fiercely antagonistic to the Victorian notion that "Faerie" or fable containing what we now refer to as "fantasy" should be relegated to kiddie-lit.
That's because he saw children in a special way. From the article I mentioned:

Quote:
Instead of creating a story just for children, Tolkien had a deep respect for his own children and children in general. He even let his son, Christopher, help construct the story while growing up. Further in the New York Times interview, Tolkien said, “Children aren’t a class. They are merely human beings at different stages of maturity. All of them have a human intelligence which even at its lowest is a pretty wonderful thing, and the entire world in front of them. It remains to be seen if they rise above that.”
In short, the works are meant for everybody, especially children. The claim that he did not have children or even young adults in mind is questionable.

Quote:

According to Tolkien himself, when he spontaneously started the story of The Hobbit in deliberately "kiddie-lit" form as a family man in his thirties, it took him a while to figure out that it could actually be part of his far more complex and erudite Middle-earth storyverse:

This is only partly true, in that Tolkien had children (especially his own, along with a received idea of what a "children's story" should be like) in mind when he wrote The Hobbit. He began the overall worldbuilding of Middle-earth decades before The Hobbit, and did not have children in mind as a potential audience at all. He originally attempted to get these earlier legends published as his proposed sequel to The Hobbit. And he completed LotR decades after The Hobbit, deliberately choosing to make it "not addressed to children at all".
There is nothing in the complexity of the work that makes it unfit for children, unless particular kids can't handle long works. As for dark themes, I recall one reviewer correctly point out that the works hardly contain themes concerning sex and religion, at least in contrast to much older works that inspired Tolkien.

Quote:

I don't see how you can look at the words "complex, rather bitter, and very terrifying" in that sentence and say that it's not making a point about the content.
Because I read the words before the line, the ones that came after "children," and the rest of the letter.

Quote:

And if you look at the rest of what Tolkien wrote about his work (especially his letters), it's quite clear that he did consider, and intend, the content of LotR to be fundamentally unsuitable for children.
So far, I've seen only the quote you provided, but he never talks about those "dark themes" in the letter, and the entire phrase is "quite unfit for children (if fit for anybody)". The phrase continues where he states that LOTR isn't even a sequel to The Hobbit (which implies that the sequel should also be considered). In the next sentence, he states that the whole thing is around 600,000 words long, and one typist insists that it is much more (in the sentence right before what you quoted, he wrote that he had already spent around L100 for typing costs, and he could barely afford them). That's why he finds the project "impracticable" and that he is "tired." In the P.S. to the letter, he even feels sorry that "Rayner" had read LOTR, but not to the "bitter end" because he had finished the last "book" only recently.

In response to that, the publisher asks if the length of the two books might be solved by separating them into three or four "self-contained" volumes."

So, you see, you took the phrase out of context. Tolkien and his publisher were not at all concerned with the unsuitability of the material for children but that the work was too long and too tiring and too expensive for the author.

BTW, "Rayner" refers to Rayner Unwin, Sir Stanley Unwin's (the publisher) son. He served as a test reader for the publishers and gave a favorable report on The Hobbit at the age of 10. What about LOTR? They rejected it because "Unwins felt that [LOTR] had got out of hand as a children’s book and turned down the offer.". It was accepted later but divided into three parts.

So, you see, the work was never intended to be for adults only or kiddie lit. Rather, it was meant for young and old, and with Tolkien's view of children (see above). What's more interesting is Tolkien's view of the modern world, especially one where his work received a cult following, especially in the U.S. For details on that, read the article above.

Quote:
So getting back to your original claim:

He was definitely inspired throughout by European epics and legends, and you can argue that there's a sense in which the "children's story" genre of The Hobbit is "watered down somewhat for kids". But that does not at all apply to the rest of the stories, most of which were originally conceived long before The Hobbit.
To recap, the quote you gave is taken out of context. He was referring to the length of the work, and the tone of the letter implies that he was tired of having to spend on it. The context of the letters themselves (see the last article linked above) reveals that it was also the length of the work (600,000 words, and up to a million with The Silmarillon) that did not encourage the Unwins to accept the work.

There is nothing in what you presented that shows that LOTR is unsuitable for children.
  #122  
Old 10-03-2019, 12:02 AM
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FWIW, I read LotR when I was 8, and enjoyed it immensely.
  #123  
Old 10-03-2019, 08:44 AM
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Well yes, the film does veer towards being pretentious and self-important, but unfortunately any sport of quest story quickly goes that way because that quest is so important. It's. like, they're saving the world, man. Even the best-intentioned film strips away away the philosophical musings of the book, which is a complex and multi-layered work.
Most folks I know are not LOTR fans because they felt it was too much for a movie about elves and dwarves and magic and stuff. I haven't read the books but I very much enjoyed the films as I thought they did a good job of bringing Tolkien's world to life and making you care about a ring that doesn't really do anything.

However, with every subsequent viewing I start to see why others think it's a bit over the top as it feels like the less capable actors in the film (I'm looking at you Elijah Wood) are doing their best to give an overly dramatic reading of The Charge of the Light Brigade and failing miserably.
  #124  
Old 10-03-2019, 08:30 PM
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From what I remember, LOTR had a cult following among adults during the 1960s, and one Tolkien biography reports that Lucas cites LOTR as one of the works that influenced SW, although I cannot find the interview. The connections between Lucas and Joseph Campbell are very obvious, though, and Campbell's view of the hero and a journey can be seen in both LOTR and SW.
  #125  
Old 10-03-2019, 08:43 PM
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What was so dark about 1977? Disco, certainly. Anything else?
things like the son of sam .. the unemployment rate/inflation the general decay of the big cities the cynicism after watergate

there was just an air of doom and gloom throughout a lot of the country y ...
  #126  
Old 10-04-2019, 11:08 AM
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(Oh, and the others/white walkers aren't all that different from the wraiths in the barrow downs, if you want to look at the bad guys.)
The wraiths were the Nazgűl. The Barrow-Downs were haunted by wights.

Wraith means 'twisted' (related to "writhe"). Gollum was partway toward being a wraith. Even Frodo got a push in that direction from the attack at Weathertop.

Wight simply means 'entity', something that exists. It's a term even vaguer than "creature." When something is so strange you can't define what it is, all you can say about it is that it exists, an "entity" (or "wight"). Tom Shippey gave some valuable insight into the terms in his Tolkien: Author of the Century book. As a philologist, Tolkien was closely attentive to etymologies, one of the things I love about him best.

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The point is that part of the Tolkien legacy is DEPICTING non-human societies. We meet the hobbits, and learn all about their houses, social interactions, and society as a whole in loving detail.
I have a doubt about classifying Hobbits as non-human. Tolkien said they are close kin of ours. I think of them as more like a human subspecies, perhaps Homo sapiens hobbitus (or floriensis).
  #127  
Old 10-04-2019, 03:00 PM
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How many kids dressed as Saruman do you see at Halloween? He looks like Gandolf.

I rest my case.

Now I'm wondering what I'd have to do to make a costume of stone-cold badass Christopher Lee.
  #128  
Old 10-04-2019, 04:14 PM
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Now I'm wondering what I'd have to do to make a costume of stone-cold badass Christopher Lee.
You just need a white suit and gold painted water pistol.
  #129  
Old 10-04-2019, 08:52 PM
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Wight simply means 'entity', something that exists. It's a term even vaguer than "creature." When something is so strange you can't define what it is, all you can say about it is that it exists, an "entity" (or "wight"). Tom Shippey gave some valuable insight into the terms in his Tolkien: Author of the Century book. As a philologist, Tolkien was closely attentive to etymologies, one of the things I love about him best.
In one his essays, C.S. Lewis wrote about talking to what was then the younger generation (just post-WW2) about teaching Christianity and discovering to his surprise that there was a substantial language barrier between how Lewis had been taught to use the English language and how common usage had changed since his school days. For example, in Lewis's day 'gravity' meant seriousness, importance; while the younger generation took it to mean "the force that pulls objects to the ground". Regarding creature, it was originally that which a creator makes- a "create-ture"; whereas the younger generation took it to mean thing, monster.
  #130  
Old 10-08-2019, 10:16 PM
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C.S. Lewis's Studies in Words is filled with philologies like that. He went into considerable depth on the word nature from Latin and its English cognates kin and kind. To be kind to someone etymologically means to treat them (ideally) like kin.
  #131  
Old 10-09-2019, 04:34 AM
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For example, in Lewis's day 'gravity' meant seriousness, importance; while the younger generation took it to mean "the force that pulls objects to the ground".
So what word did Lewis use to mean "the force that pulls objects to the ground"? It was nearly three hundred years since Newton, after all. Or is it just that, being very much an "arts" type rather than a scientist, he didn't think much about that kind of stuff?
  #132  
Old 10-09-2019, 08:12 AM
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So what word did Lewis use to mean "the force that pulls objects to the ground"? It was nearly three hundred years since Newton, after all. Or is it just that, being very much an "arts" type rather than a scientist, he didn't think much about that kind of stuff?
I vaguely remember the essay that Lumpy refers to, but it's been awhile since I read it. Assuming there's not some context he's leaving out, I'm pretty sure that Lewis meant that the use of "gravity" to mean seriousness had become far less common, so that "nowadays" anyone hearing the word would automatically think of the scientific sense of the word.
  #133  
Old 10-09-2019, 03:12 PM
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I vaguely remember the essay that Lumpy refers to, but it's been awhile since I read it. Assuming there's not some context he's leaving out, I'm pretty sure that Lewis meant that the use of "gravity" to mean seriousness had become far less common, so that "nowadays" anyone hearing the word would automatically think of the scientific sense of the word.
Ah -- thanks. This as explained by you, strikes me as a bit of a fatuous observation on the learned religious gentleman's part: but I'm biased -- that guy just annoys me.
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