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Minas Tirith Forums » The Ivy Bush » Why are Tolkien's works so great to you? (Page 2)
Author Topic: Why are Tolkien's works so great to you?
longbow
Soldier of Gondor
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Tolkien grew up in an age and culture where such virtues were valued. I think that duty, honor, friendship are values that trancend time. They are human values. If a person can live a life by these ideas then happines in the end will come to you. By duty I mean your duty to treat other people with respect. A person also has a duty to do the best for his family. Frodo felt honor bound to go on the quest,for his family(Bilbo), and for the sake of the Shire. To protect their way of life.Also he felt it was "his" quest.
I do not know how mature I am but I am old.I am glad to see so many young readers here.Makes me feel better about the future.

From: Indiana | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Bethberry
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*Bethberry gives a sudden start as the fire flares up after the addition of the new log. She looks down and finds the kind gift of the stool to rest her feet and realizes that here indeed are faithful readers of Middle Earth*

Many thanks, Mad Uncle Rupert, for attending to my cares. I guess I must have dozed off and not heard you enter! *G* (OCC--ack! RL intrusions.)

I think you are right in saying that the best values of Fellowship transcend race, nationality, creed, and culture. It is so fitting that Tolkien wrote his characters as elves,hobbits, dwarves and men, who needed to come together to face down evil. Do I understand you to imply that these values are more important now after the events of last September? (Speaking of bridging cultures, you are from the warm Pacific, are you not? And I am in the far North.)

longbow, do you think that Tolkien was attempting consciously to preserve and promote those values for new generations, to pass them on in a world made barbarous by war, machinery, and efficiency experts?

*wipes her eyes and finds that the tiredness has evaporated under the stimulation of good hearts and good conversation*

Bethberry

[ 12-13-2001: Message edited by: Bethberry ]


From: the Bonfire Glade in the Old Forest | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Mad Uncle Rupert
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Sorry to startle you, ma'am.

*flicks a few errant coals back into the fire*

I don't mean to say that these values are more important than they ever were, just more accepted in the mainstream of American life. It wasn't long ago that the term "flag-waver" was equated with "neo-facsist" in popular culture, and when someone mentioned honor, it was considered outdated and out of fashion. The event of September last simply made people review their opinions and realize that those trends were wrong. All virtues are as valid and valuable now as ever before.

And yes, I do live in the warm Pacific, on the beautiful Garden Island of Kaua'i. I did, however, spend my youth in Anchorage, Alaska, my birthplace. I spent my adolescence in Europe and the Middle East, and most of my adulthood bouncing from one warzone to another. Kaua'i is my promise kept to myself and my daughter.

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
Keep Minas Tirith Clean

"My dignity...she is gone..."


From: Playing softball with the Nazarenes | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
longbow
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Yes I think in his way he was trying to teach his readers that good CAN win in the end,with the help of all types of people. Elves,Dwarves,Men,Hobbits,Ents ect. All very different cultures but hold the same basic value system. When you strip away all the excess we have in our society, and get back to basic emotions I think they are all reflected by the people who make up Middle Earth. As in real life good people seek out the company of other good and caring people. There is great evil in his world but the good is, in the end, stronger because of the moral strength of the simple Hobbits. They are not distracted by the false gods of their society. The Hobbits that like engines and gears are not thought highly of. Neither are Hobbits that are greedy. What they value in life is tranquillity, and peace. Not a bad world to work tword.
From: Indiana | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Thorondor
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*Stepping out of the shadow wih glass in hand...he interrupts in a quiet voice...*

Our friend longbow has again put the point just right. When asked what makes these stories so great, many have correctly pointed to the deep sense of history and culture in them...But what makes them so long-lasting is the deep sense of meaning in them, and the timelessness of that meaning.

*...stepping back into the shadows alongside the fireplace...*


From: The Vale of Silicon | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Nyneve
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Pulling a chair closer to the hearth, Nyneve joins the small group gathered around the warmth and coziness of the fire. Straddling the chair and resting her arms across the back she gazes into the fire reflecting on longbow’s words…


Peace and tranquility, some would call the search for that a fool’s dream in this fast paced world we live in. But I have faith that it can be found, if only one is willing to look for it in the right way, just as the Hobbits did.


From: The Lady of the Lake | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Bethberry
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*brings from the kitchen tankards of hot mulled cider spiked with rum and a platter of shortbread cookies for the assembled guests*

*wonders if Mad Uncle Rupert, having led the life of a rolling stone, is now able, like Gandalf, to 'gather moss' in a most Bombadil-like setting*

Do you think that it always takes momentous, profoundly threatening events like Saruman's search for the Ring to make people realize the worth of spiritual values?

Bethberry

[ 12-07-2001: Message edited by: Bethberry ]


From: the Bonfire Glade in the Old Forest | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Virgil
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Ok, I'm of the vintage set, I'll admit it.
LotR is truly a place of unbelievable depth where one can go and totally unwind from the day. It grabs you in and does not want to let you go!
I wish to confirm the sentiment that it is a "kinder and gentler" type of tale. Much like, for example, The Three Musketeers" with Gene Kelly. Do not be tempted by the 70's and later versions of the movie. No, my Precious.
Good old fashioned heroes, bad guys are reeeaally bad, and beautifully crafted literature.
That's about enough for me!

From: Carlisle, PA, USA | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Orofacion of the Vanyar
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Even though I am strongly against the Vietnam War ever happening in the first place, Longbow I bow low do you and wish you good health and a merry life to you and your family. You indeed are a noble man of great stature in my eyes.

Tolkien believed in ME, and this shows through in all his writings. He brought us a whole completely new world, not very different from ours, evil and all. The landscape, the characters, and the events are all feel so very real. It's so easy just to get lost in ME and become a fanatic like everyone here. Any sets of books, ink on paper, that can bring together such diverse and wonderful people as there are at MT and other sites, in-turn making another family for me, is a testament to quality and wholesome value of his Tolkien's work. He put a sense of humanity in an otherwise sci-fi genre. His work isn't just about elves, dragons, rings of power and great beings beyond the sea, there is true to life human emotion, desires, fears, and triumphs in his books. It's the detail, the sense of a true ancient world, the depth of, well, everything and the brutaly honest human characterization that makes each and every one of Tolkien's work so very umbelievable to me. The moving effect it has on people to drive them to create so many other works supporting him, his own work, and other readers is remarkable. This is why i love it.

<FONT SIZE="1" FACE="Verdana, Arial">[ 12-08-2001: Message edited by: Orofacion of the Vanyar ]
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[ 12-08-2001: Message edited by: Orofacion of the Vanyar ]


From: Cincinnati, OH | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Snöwdog
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Hmm... um and cider, a fire, and talk among the elder Tolkienites of Middle Earth! I'm pulling up a chair!

First read Hobbit in 1976, Lord of the Rings in 1977, and the Silmarillion when it came out. Being the stoner I was then, it really helped shape some virtues in my life that I was lacking at the time and instilled into my son (of whom he got me tickets to the movie!) The world of Middle Earth is constant about me and I live there at least part time!


From: In the Shadows of Annuminas | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Adanedhel
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Tolkien's works are so great to me because they take you to a another world. He creates this images in your head of the fair fields of rohan, the wonder and might of gondor and the lovely rolling hills of Hobbiton. But there is also the bad side, the infinite darkness of Moria, the darkness and evil smelling mordor with it's hundreds upon thousands of orcs crawling around like ants. But it gives everyone (not the same image) an image of what ME looked like, even the characters would have looked different to everyone who has read it. He made an intricate story line that every time you read it you find a new connection between one subplot and another or the main story. The world he created was so real, with languages, art, politics, etc, etc, that you could almost believe that it was real that this world existed somewhere in a distant planet. Tolkien created a history of this world and a creator (much like our own God) and a story of creation. The silmarillion is sort of like a bible (not in the religious sense) of middle earth. It has all the stories and myths and legends of ME. Same with UT, it is like that as well.
All in all Tolkien's works are purely magical and every other fantasy writer aspires to be able to create what he did, but sadly i don't think it could possible be accomplished. Tolkien set the standard for fantasy writers and they strive to live up to it.

Just my two cents

Adanedhel at your service


From: Hithlum (Dor-Lomin) | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Thorondor
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This thread reminded me of something I read in Tom Shippey's recent book of Tolkien analysis (Shippey is Tolkien's successor at Oxford, so he has a unique perspective). He describes a system for categorizing literature developed by Northrop Frye. Frye describes "five very general literary modes, defined only by the nature of their characters". In Frye's system, characters in a story (and therefor the story itself) rank from the mythic to the ironic or comedic (with three grades in between).

Shippey points out that LOTR qualifies for all five of Frye's "modes", because the unique range of characters. That a single, coherent story, can include mythic characters, immortal beings of great power and wisdom, along with low, often comedic characters like the Gaffer, Gollum, and sometimes Sam, with all ranks of character in between, is something remarkable.

Tolkien actually mingles these disparate characters; god-like wizards, angelic elves, kings and princes, warriors, the adventuring sons of noted families, and a 3 foot tall gardener. Moreover they are all wonderfully drawn, real and believable, which is especially difficult for mythical beings so removed from our everyday experience.


From: The Vale of Silicon | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Bethberry
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Thorondor,

You are suggesting that it is not necessarily the complexity and detail of Tolkien's sub-creation which captures our imagination, but also the range of his generic achievement, right?

Your post makes me really interested in Shippey's book. I'll try to find it. How about we discuss the validity and applicability of Frye's classification on another thread after we've exhausted discussion of Tolkien's "On Fairy-Stories"?

Regards,
Bethberry


From: the Bonfire Glade in the Old Forest | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Thorondor
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You should have no problem finding Shippey's book, it;s quite recent. I have it in hardcover, and I'm not sure it is available in paper yet. With the interest around the film I would expect to see it widely available. I believe the title is "J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of the Century" (as you might guess, he admires him)

I liked the book, and would be happy to discuss it.


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Roll of Honor Thorondor
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..and if I understand what you mean by "the range of his generic achievement", I guess I am suggesting that (though its not an original though of mine. I read it in Shippey and liked the point he made)

Tolkien imitators have created very complex worlds for their stories, but have never made them so believable. They figured that complexity and depth are the secret, but that's only a part of it.

And most stories, at least those that are usually classified as "literature" fall into one of the classifications described. Tolkien's work is very new and unclassifiable in the context in which it was first published. Shippey is explaing why the book was critically panned at first, and why even those who admired it didn't know how to describe it. It defined it's own genre.


From: The Vale of Silicon | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gandalf the Grey
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* enters, lit pipe already in hand *

Hail and Well Met, Thorondor,

You state: "That a single, coherent story, can include mythic characters, immortal beings of great power and wisdom, along with low, often comedic characters like the Gaffer, Gollum, and sometimes Sam, with all ranks of character in between, is something remarkable."

Would you agree that Shakespeare is remarkable for the same reason?

Gandalf the Grey


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Cernunnos
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* Cernunnos enters and looks with pleasure at the warm glowing fireplace, around which a goodly company is gathered. Bows politely to sounds of welcome from fellow Tolkienians *

* Pulls up a seat and soon finds a refreshing drink put at his elbow by our thoughtful host *

I think your comment re Shakespeare is a telling one, Gandalf the Grey. One would indeed have to go far to find the same combination of the high and the low, inextricably linked. One does not stand without the other. Ironically enough, as you probably know, JRRT was by no means a convinced 'fan' of The Bard, considering him 'modern' (ie post-Reformation - too Protestant by half!). I don't think he ever forgave him for practically inventing the 'silly' miniature fairies of recent centuries - utterly unlike the tall and beautiful Eldar of his imagination.

Speech reveals character (and culture) in LotR in the same way as in the plays - Tolkien's mastery of language allowed him to set the right tone for all his actors, from the high (as the Elves), through the low-but-worthy (as the Hobbits) to the depraved (the Orcs and Saruman).

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Whereas the light perceives the very heart of the darkness, its own secret has not been discovered.


From: Perth, Scotland | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Princess Keona
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Not only is the book an escape for me, it's also something that I can connect to my real life (because I'm Wiccan, and I deal with fairies, demons and all sorts of stuff all the time)... Besides, I have a really crazy imagination, and it looks like Tolkien and I would have been good buds if he were alive. Our mind works in the same direction. I'm also a novelist, and plan on publishing a book one day...
-Keo

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Thus I live in the world rather as a spectator of mankind than as one of the species.

A sacrifice a day keeps Jesus away!

...the Mace of Keo shall strike down the nefarious Suitors of Iniquity!!! ~ Müs

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Adanedhel
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Writing is one of my passions and have been trying to come up with a feesible story line for months. I have the characters, the fictional world and the history that preceeds it. But i am having trouble getting the story right. My first attempt got to 100 pages or so before i scrapped it because it wasn't flowing

Maybe one day i'll get it right.......

*looks away despairingly*


From: Hithlum (Dor-Lomin) | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Snöwdog
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Resurrection of a beautiful thread. I do admire longbow and hope all is well with him.

quote:
longbow said:
"I found in the books all of the feelings I went through. I know Prof.Tolkien served in W.W.1 and some of what he felt found it's way into LOTR. I connected with the overwelming fear and sence of isolation that Frodo and Sam faced on their long march into Mordor. They were in a hostile land with only themselves to count on. Shared hardship and danger realy bring people close together.
Tolkien understood these feelings. I almost wrote him about the profound impact his book had on my life but sadly I never did.
When I went back to school LOTR was one thing that my fellow students and I had in common. I was 21 years old and they were 18 or 19 but we could all talk about why we loved the book so much.I was not so much an outsider. I never had the trouble some other vets had in school. I know these great works of art had a great deal to do with my fitting back into a peaceful society.
Well that is my story. I am glad I am not an old poop that let this great new technology pass him by. I am glad I found this site and hope to come back often and speak of happier times."

Good to see the Lady of the Lake Nyneve too!
From: In the Shadows of Annuminas | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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