1. MERRY "TALK LIKE A PIRATE" DAY! ARR!

Amph The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, Battle of the Five Armies

Discussion in 'Community' started by -Courtney-, Nov 25, 2006.

  1. MrZAP Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 5
    I'd say it's more like a history or a religious text than an epic in the vein of Beowulf, personally, which is of course why I love it, as a scholar of history and a lover of mythology. But it is absolutely a dense read and the glossary in the back is an absolute necessity to get through it. It's still the most amazing tale I've ever read, by far.

    I've said this before and I'll say it again: if you start reading LotR after reading The Hobbit and expect the same thing, you're going to be disappointed. The same if you're going from LotR to The Silmarillion, or LotR to The Hobbit, or The Silmarillion to anything (though seriously who reads that one first?). All three of them are very different in style and have very different purposes behind them. The Hobbit wasn't even originally intended to be part of Tolkien's mythology, and it shows. It's a children's adventure book, pure and simple. It's something you can read (or be read to) as a kid and enjoy the hell out of because it's a fun story with an endearing whimsical style. Then you have LotR, which is much more like an epic in the line of Beowulf (but oh so much bigger) than The Silmarillion. That was written originally for adolescents and young adults (though really Tolkien wanted it to be read by everyone to help further this idea of an English mythology). And then you have The Silmarillion, which I honestly can't think of any way to describe it more apt than it's a blend of the Bible and the Norse Sagas and Eddas. If you're reading that book, I'd argue that you'll get the most out of it not if you're reading it as a piece of fantasy, but as a scholar reading an ancient and honored text. Because it's really NOT just a simple work of fiction, and Tolkien didn't intend for it to be one.

    So all three of these books really have to be approached differently to get the most out of them, and all three of them are great works for entirely different reasons because they rely on different strengths. I do have to say the if you liked LotR you'll probably find The Silmarillion interesting, but it will certainly be a hard read the first time round because you really do have to read it as though you're studying it, and not purely for enjoyment.

    On a semi-related note this brings up something that has got me worried about the Hobbit films. Not about the films themselves, but more about audience expectations. I'm quite worried that general audiences are going to go there without knowing about the tonal differences between them and LotR, and that it will ultimately hurt sales, because people going to see Lord of the Rings Before Lord of the Rings are going to be greatly disappointed when they find out it's not remotely like that. That was touched on by one of the reviewers about how it's the problem with prequels. I disagree with him on it being like The Phantom Menace, but it will certainly be a much more childish tale and I don't think most people going to see it are going to expect that. All of us know better, sure, but we're not the normal moviegoer. I think we can all acknowledge that.:p
  2. Random Comments Game Winner

    Game Winner
    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2012
    star 5
    I've said this before and I'll say it again: if you start reading LotR after reading The Hobbit and expect the same thing, you're going to be disappointed. The same if you're going from LotR to The Silmarillion, or LotR to The Hobbit, or The Silmarillion to anything (though seriously who reads that one first?). All three of them are very different in style and have very different purposes behind them.
    ----
    [face_laugh]

    And I have to say that I agree with your statement, as well.
  3. Everton Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2003
    star 10
    White Council clip.

    Exposition central... but still... do you want to watch it? How's your self control? Mine? Non-existent. :p
    Merlin_Ambrosius69 and MrZAP like this.
  4. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    Children of Hurin was probably helped by the fact that another person ultimately was the one who put it together. :p You gushing so much makes want to actually read it. So I can say it's awful.
  5. MrZAP Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 5
    Neither is mine. And they should listen to Olorin! He learned from Nienna! He knows what he's talking about.:p
    You know it's true. Anyone who reads The Silmarillion first is very, very odd.

    The story in The Children of Hurin is recounted in The Silmarillion as well. Still compiled by Christopher though...
    Last edited by MrZAP, Dec 6, 2012
  6. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    It's not the full Children Of Hurin in The Silmarillion, iirc.

    Although given that the estate is apparently ok with splitting a 300-page children's novel into three 2-plus-hour movies, it wouldn't surprise me if the two are exactly the same. :p
  7. Random Comments Game Winner

    Game Winner
    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2012
    star 5
    The end of your post then goes on to explain how odd we all are....
    But I started with Hobbit, in First Grade.
  8. Random Comments Game Winner

    Game Winner
    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2012
    star 5
    It tells the story in a brief form.
    And the estate can't do anything about that.
    Last edited by Random Comments, Dec 6, 2012
  9. Everton Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2003
    star 10
    I'll be honest, given the opportunity I might've considered reading "The Silmarillion" first. As it happens, the opportunity passed me by before I even knew it existed.
    Random Comments likes this.
  10. MrZAP Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 5
    Compared to casual film fans. Someone who read The Silmarillion first is odd even for a Tolkien fan. Seriously, who thinks "I have heard of this relatively more obscure and much more difficult book called The Silmarillion and I want to read it before these other two far more well-known and popular books"? Nobody.;) I mean I certainly didn't even hear of The Silmarillion until after I'd read the other two.

    And yeah the estate doesn't get a say in how the movies are made.
    Last edited by MrZAP, Dec 6, 2012
    Random Comments likes this.
  11. Mar17swgirl Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2000
    star 7
    Yes, there are, actually. :) Found them on the French Amazon, all seven of them (2 collections of short stories and a pentalogy of novels that follows them). Can't comment on the quality of translation, though.
  12. Everton Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2003
    star 10
    [face_frustrated] .
  13. Random Comments Game Winner

    Game Winner
    Member Since:
    Sep 25, 2012
    star 5
    I know what you meant. :)
    Honestly, when my dad read me the hobbit (he actually wouldn't let me read it-I think he edited the beheading) I didn't know LotR existed...
    Last edited by Random Comments, Dec 6, 2012
  14. darthcaedus1138 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2007
    star 5
    So there was a picture of Bard in the latest issue of EW.

    That was something that pissed me off in the book. Just Bard in general. I hope they expound on him (I don't see how they possibly couldn't).
  15. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Christopher Tolkien is a great editor. No doubt about that. Some people hate him. I think he's great.

    And I have to say that more people should start with the Silmarillion. It's better than both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. And it's difficulty is vastly overrated. It tells a totally linear story in a totally linear fashion. I think it's easier than The Lord of the Rings, actually, which has far less energy.

    Also, I don't buy that the reason someone likes Tolkien's prose is, essentially, because they've never read any really great prose. I've read a lot of the classics that fall outside the sci-fi/fantasy genre and I still think Tolkien is great.
    Last edited by Rogue1-and-a-half, Dec 6, 2012
  16. DarthMane2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2003
    star 4
    You may have convinced me to read teh Silmarillion. I don't think his prose are that difficult, he does tire me out though. Plus I've read Ulysses, and nearly commited sucided reading that, so I can read anything. :)

    Noticed people bashing the first hour of FOTR. Why? I don't think people realise what Jackson has done here as compared to what he did with FOTR. JAckson cut out A LOT of the stuff from the first chapters of FOTR. A LOT. With the Hobbit from what I've read from the reviews, he's basically adapted it page by page. This being of course the meeting of the dwarves and the dinner scene that we'll see in the movie. From what I've read we are in the Hobbit hole for an hour. Nothing else happens except those scenes from the Hobbit, those of which I think Jackson tries to extend so he can have his 3 hour movie. That's the major criticism of the movie so far. Basically meaning that if Jackson had for FOTR, what he had done for the Hobbit we'd have got..... Merry and Pippin leaving with Frodo and Sam from the beginning. The stop over at bucklin. The leaving of the elves(if extended edition I know). Trees attacking the Hobbits. And Tom Bombadil. Which by that time I think everyone in the theatre would have probably wanted to shoot themselves.

    The question now is why has Jackson let his self indulgence get away with him? I think next week we are all going to see a pretty decent film. A good kind of decent. A decent as in compared to LOTR, which is decent rated pretty highly. And one thing we'll notice is that there is a superb film INSIDE the movie already. IT's just nobody has edited the film well enough for us to see it.
    Last edited by DarthMane2, Dec 6, 2012
  17. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    The Silmarillion is awesome. :D

    Just had to throw that in... :p
  18. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    I think I'm to be avoiding spoilers and reviews until I see it, but I need to go watch Colbert, apparently :D
  19. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    If I could just dive in quickly to respond, you are conflating several unrelated concerns. In particular, your "defense" of Tolkien doesn't even correspond to the criticism I made. The fact that he made serial revisions to his work doesn't mean that it was ever well-plotted or given a tight narrative. It simply means that he was deliberate about his choices as a writer. Further how does "he gets too focused on world building" to the neglect "of the story's emotional core" really substantively differ from my earlier complaint that while his primary strength was "weaving a coherent mythology" one of his noted weaknesses was in his story-telling ability? Wouldn't "forgetting the emotional core" of what one is trying to convey qualify as such?
    DarthLowBudget likes this.
  20. solojones Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2000
    star 9
    I think I actually might have started with the Silmarillion. I know I certainly got farther in it than LotR. But The Hobbit was a really easy ready, so it wound up being the only one I finished (worth noting that at the time of trying to read these, I was in school as an English major and already had to read like 20 books a semester so... reading for fun wasn't high on my list :p)
  21. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    I am conflating several different criticisms. You weren't the only person who mentioned criticisms of Tolkien's work. I was responding to more than just your post.

    Also, you did say explicitly that Tolkien's stories weren't "carefully crafted." The fact that he made serial revisions and was incredibly deliberate does in fact correspond directly to that remark. Unless I misunderstood what you meant by "carefully crafted."

    And getting too focused on world building while forgetting the emotional core of the story is different from being a straight up bad storyteller. For one thing, his focus on world building rarely takes the focus off the emotional core of the story for more than an extremely brief period; also, much of the time when he is world building he's still hooked into that emotional core. Saying that he occasionally wanders from the main point is not the same thing as saying that he is, on average, bad at story-telling. It's the breadth of your criticism that isn't correct.
  22. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    People with "Jabba" in their screen name hate stuff. It is known.
    Rogue1-and-a-half likes this.
  23. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    lol

    I "like" Tolkien's prose. Or, at least it's not among the stuff I hate. I've read Hobbit and LOTR multiple times and Silmarillion once. I don't see what that has to do with whether it's good relative to the best English literature. You wouldn't want to put Tolkien's prose in a cage match against Robert Penn Warren's. That's all I'm saying. No one's arguing that you're going to be more entertained by reading All the King's Men.

    In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hold, and that means comfort.

    Tolkien's style meanders. The way the very first sentence is written emphasizes the word "hobbit," but the hobbit takes a back seat to a long, meandering, parenthetical-filled paragraph describing the hole. There's a hole. There's a hobbit. But let's talk about the hole. Now let's talk about the hobbit. There's nothing wrong with this approach, but it doesn't seem smooth or ideal to me.

    I've read this aloud to each of my two children, and I can tell you that parenthetical-heavy prose isn't all that great for storytelling. Also, I don't respect Tolkien's efforts to establish a conversational tone with his audience (I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us...Now you know enough to go on with. As I was saying...) It comes across as a bit patronizing to children. This may not be Tolkien's fault. He was making a conscious effort to adopt some popular conventions of contemporary children's literature. Unfortunately, it dated the style of the Hobbit somewhat. Overall, the immersive quality and ingenuity of the story more than compensates for the shortcomings of the prose style, and that's why it's considered a classic.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Dec 7, 2012
  24. black_saber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2002
    star 4
  25. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The rating may go Rotten by next Friday if it keeps declining. But rest easy: it may well be King Kong movie bad, but it won't be Jessica Biel movie bad.