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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Tom Bombadil
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Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 30 2012, 6:00pm

Post #51 of 88 (1788 views)
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Fair enough... [In reply to] Can't Post

However, I was not arguing for the existence of any lost scenes with Bombadil, so you were basically posting the same thing that I did--just from a different perspective.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


GoodGuyA
Lorien

Oct 30 2012, 6:33pm

Post #52 of 88 (1798 views)
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You claimed the writing style was unique [In reply to] Can't Post

I showed it wasn't. I do like the Alice stories, and much of Lewis Carrol's works, but I must ask who truly thinks that the story of those books are the main focus? It's the events and the characters, and they are so disconnected from one another that a true coherent plot is difficult to piece together. LotR on the other hand is about characters' experiences and the story being presented. You can't just go with one sort of writing style intended for a different style of story and put it in a rather classic narrative fashion. It's jarring, and in the case of Bombadil fails completely to me. Like in cinema, if you're shooting pseudo-documentary, you can't suddenly go "filmy" because you want to get in a super particular shot. These styles are integral to the works where they fit best and distractions where they don't. Bombadil for me is a distraction to an otherwise (somewhat) consistent narrative line.


Ardamr
Valinor


Oct 30 2012, 7:50pm

Post #53 of 88 (1816 views)
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Forgive me [In reply to] Can't Post

I read it as you arguing for the existence of missing scenes.

I must have misread it.

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales


weaver
Half-elven


Oct 31 2012, 1:22am

Post #54 of 88 (1778 views)
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He's grown on me through the years... [In reply to] Can't Post

I kind of dismissed him in my early reads as a side adventure, until I began to reflect on how Tolkien brings us back to Tom at the very end of the story, when Frodo sees the rain curtain he dreamt about in Tom's house...it made me realize that there was probably more to him than meets the eye, so to speak. Now, I find I really enjoy that entire sequence of the Tale a great deal....through Tom, Tolkien can enhance the story in ways he can't through other means. In that way, Tom's more like the poems than the prose in terms of what he contributes.

I like the description of Tom's home, too -- "up, down, underhill" -- it's not in our world at all, really. And the hobbits do step into the world of Faerie when they cross his threshold, I think. It's a marvelous chapter when looked at through those eyes, but in Jackson's LOTR it's a bit too fanciful to fit his sort of realistic/historic approach to the Tale.

A film maker that was looking at the story through a more fantastical/Faerie lens, though, could have a lot of fun with Tom, and a deeper sojourn into the timeless/before the fall aspects of Lorien and Galadriel, too, I think. I would love to see a filmmaker present that side of the story one day!

Weaver



Beutlin
Rivendell

Oct 31 2012, 2:20am

Post #55 of 88 (1774 views)
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Yes, Tolkien was not a professional writer. [In reply to] Can't Post

He was a philologist and university professor. His stories were created in order to set up a fictional place for his invented languages. Most people read Tolkien's books (excl. "The Hobbit") because they are brilliant escapism: there is no match to Tolkien when, it comes to sheer richness of detail, in fields such as lore, culture, myth, history, and above all language. On top of that Tolkien created some iconic characters or reinvented them for a more modern audience. On the other hand I hardly know anyone who reads Tolkien's works (excl. "The Hobbit") for its create prose - because the truth is, it is often quite terrible (and sometimes truly beautiful).

Ceterum censeo montem artis magicae atrae esse delendum.


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Oct 31 2012, 4:04am

Post #56 of 88 (1754 views)
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He may not have been a professional modern novelist [In reply to] Can't Post

But that is different than not being a professional "writer," which IMO, he was.

In my opinion, given his deep understanding of the English language, he was one of the most uniquely professionally qualified people to use the English language for story-telling!

If, however, you define writer as "someone who adheres to the prevailing trends of modern literary convention," you are absolutely correct. He is not a professional writer in that sense. But I could go on about the lit-lang debate, and will stop here. Suffice it to say that IMO, one should not divorce the two fields.

I thank God Tolkien was the strange specimen he was. Otherwise, I don't think many people would be reading his work, nevermind turning it into films.


(This post was edited by Shelob'sAppetite on Oct 31 2012, 4:05am)


Plurmo
Rohan

Oct 31 2012, 4:29am

Post #57 of 88 (1780 views)
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The nazgl made their greatest mistake when [In reply to] Can't Post

they entered the Shire and their shaddow thwarted the hobbits from taking the East Road so they plunged into the very heart of Nature inside the Old Forest. In the only hidden homely house of all Middle-earth where fear was still kept outside, the hobbits would learn that there was a power mightier than any other they would find on their journey. And that that power was closer to them because they are closer to Nature than any other of the free peoples. That power was in the pleasantness of the Shire. That power was in the smell of longbottom leaves and country flowers. That power was the side of life untouched by doubt, by fear, by pain. That power was the only one that would give strength for someone to carry the Ring of Sauron into Mordor, tough it would be extinguished by then.

But of course, Bombadil is to the Tolkien readers what hobbits were to the peoples of Middle-earth. A silly thing to all, a waste of time to most, a surprisingly bucolic feature in a land full of presage, to a few. A moss gatherer. A reminder that the heart of Nature is still uncorrupted by Morgoth and therefore his Ring can also be unmade.

"and there was Tom whistling like a tree full of birds"


TheBladeGlowsBlue
Rivendell


Oct 31 2012, 7:19am

Post #58 of 88 (1782 views)
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This, absolutely... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
they entered the Shire and their shaddow thwarted the hobbits from taking the East Road so they plunged into the very heart of Nature inside the Old Forest. In the only hidden homely house of all Middle-earth where fear was still kept outside, the hobbits would learn that there was a power mightier than any other they would find on their journey. And that that power was closer to them because they are closer to Nature than any other of the free peoples. That power was in the pleasantness of the Shire. That power was in the smell of longbottom leaves and country flowers. That power was the side of life untouched by doubt, by fear, by pain. That power was the only one that would give strength for someone to carry the Ring of Sauron into Mordor, tough it would be extinguished by then.

But of course, Bombadil is to the Tolkien readers what hobbits were to the peoples of Middle-earth. A silly thing to all, a waste of time to most, a surprisingly bucolic feature in a land full of presage, to a few. A moss gatherer. A reminder that the heart of Nature is still uncorrupted by Morgoth and therefore his Ring can also be unmade.

"and there was Tom whistling like a tree full of birds"


...is saying in the most eloquent way exactly my thoughts on Tom and, at the same it says exactly why he was left out of the films.

The average movie-goer (read:non-Tokien-enthusiast) would have found Tom bewildering, while the rest of us would be enchanted.

Excellent post, my friend.

Maegnas aen estar nin dagnir in yngyl im


Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 31 2012, 12:52pm

Post #59 of 88 (1730 views)
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thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

you put it perfectly. Thats the sense of the word 'professional' I was thinking of when I think of Tolkien.


Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 31 2012, 12:56pm

Post #60 of 88 (1772 views)
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It heartens me to hear of people [In reply to] Can't Post

who change their minds about Tom, you gave him a chance to speak to you, I think you summed it up perfectly when you said they all travelled into Faerie when they entered Tom's house, indeed they had unacounted for time while they were there. Time moved strangely for them as in Lothlorien, that shows the innate power Tom had.


FlyingSerkis
Rivendell

Oct 31 2012, 2:30pm

Post #61 of 88 (1719 views)
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Fantastic post. *mods-up* // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Beutlin
Rivendell

Oct 31 2012, 2:43pm

Post #62 of 88 (1750 views)
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Clarification [In reply to] Can't Post

--- If, however, you define writer as "someone who adheres to the prevailing trends of modern literary convention," you are absolutely correct. He is not a professional writer in that sense. ---

You make it sound like modern writing has always been dictated by suberficial fads, and that Tolkien bravely stood against those "prevailing trends". By that definiton Cervantes was more modern than Tolkien. Tolkien published his books in the 1950s - "modern novels" had been written by that time for over a century. Tolkien was an expert of the English language, no doubt about that, but his interests lay in the texts of centuries long ago.

I agree with you, that Tolkien's strangeness was vital for creating his books - afterall who else created fictional languages decades before envisaging a story? Who else put so much depth into his universe? Who else created such a huge and above all coherent cosmos for his story? Which other writer of modern fantasy knew so much about myth and integrated it into his saga?

Having said all of this, I still do not think Tolkien was in any way a great writer of prose. There are some chapters which are truly captivating. I especially enjoyed the Moria story line - Tolkien really managed to built up a certain poetic rhythm in these chapters. The chapters concerning Frodo, Sam and Gollum are equally beyond criticism. On the other hand there are just awful chapters such as "The Houses of Healing" or nearly everything after the destruction of the Ring (apart from the last chapter, of course). Do not get me wrong: when I read the LOTR for the first time as a 12 year old I liked those chapters, I idolized characters such as Aragorn, Faramir, etc. But having read the book again a couple of months ago, all of those characters greatly lost their value - only Gollum, Gandalf, Sam and Frodo really remained as interesting characters. And the narration style was unbearable at times for me too. I often thought i was reading the Old Testament, Tolkien's false archaism rarely ever fulfills what it should do, and more than once is just embarassingly dull.

Did not Tolkien state that "The Lord of the Rings" was written by several people (a.k.a. hobbits)? I for my part consider the LOTR to be something like that. I think of it as an ancient history book, written in an old, forgotten abbey by several monks. Some of these monks were excellent writers - others not so much.

Ceterum censeo montem artis magicae atrae esse delendum.


Ardamr
Valinor


Oct 31 2012, 3:15pm

Post #63 of 88 (1726 views)
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I love Tom [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
The average movie-goer (read:non-Tokien-enthusiast) would have found Tom bewildering, while the rest of us would be enchanted.


But I still find him bewildering! Smile

"...and his first memory of Middle-earth was the green stone above her breast as she sang above his cradle while Gondolin was still in flower." -Unfinished Tales


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Oct 31 2012, 3:45pm

Post #64 of 88 (1749 views)
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It is fine for you to dislike it [In reply to] Can't Post

But I do not think calling some of it "false archaism" misses the point.


Quote
And the narration style was unbearable at times for me too. I often thought i was reading the Old Testament, Tolkien's false archaism rarely ever fulfills what it should do, and more than once is just embarassingly dull.


That archaism is difficult for many, I admit. However, I do think it does exactly what Tolkien was intending to do. He was using different modes of language, on a scale: modern - legendary - mythic, to say something about the progression of language, and meaning, through time. In short, though it may sound odd, the prose is meant to be stilted for modern ears, just as it was for the hobbits who were hearing it.

In short, Tolkien knew that the prose wasn't all that pleasing to the ear. As you say, Tolkien thought of it as a book written by a number if different people. In short, Samwise Gamgee is not a great poet, so why would he recite good poetry in the book? Smile

Quote

Tolkien was an expert of the English language, no doubt about that, but his interests lay in the texts of centuries long ago.


I agree. I just don't agree with your definition of "professional writer." I think that term is far too narrowly defined, that's all. I find his use of language very capable, and think that should qualify him as professional.

Quote

I think of it as an ancient history book, written in an old, forgotten abbey by several monks. Some of these monks were excellent writers - others not so much.


I think of it in much the same way. But what is fascinating, and brilliant, IMO, is that Tolkien was able to create such a conceit. The Shire scenes, and the Hobbit, show that he had a great ear for dialogue, humor, and vivid writing. But his main goal was to take the modern mind into the depths of space and time, not to indulge in a reader's comforts.


Quote
You make it sound like modern writing has always been dictated by suberficial fads, and that Tolkien bravely stood against those "prevailing trends".


Not my intention. I am a student of language, and literature, and do not think Tolkien was heroically defying some sort of decadent modernism (or post-modernism). On my shelf, next to Tolkien is Camus, and Kafka. I believe these authors can be appreciated by the same mind. Smile

But Tolkien did fill a gap that noone was filling, and I am glad he resisted any possible urge to appear more contemporary.


Beutlin
Rivendell

Oct 31 2012, 5:35pm

Post #65 of 88 (1753 views)
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The basic concept behind Tolkien's use of language in the LOTR is certainly impressive. [In reply to] Can't Post

 --- That archaism is difficult for many, I admit. However, I do think it does exactly what Tolkien was intending to do. He was using different modes of language, on a scale: modern - legendary - mythic, to say something about the progression of language, and meaning, through time. In short, though it may sound odd, the prose is meant to be stilted for modern ears, just as it was for the hobbits who were hearing it. ---

I wholeheartedly agree with this analysis. I am in no way a Tolkien expert (nor do I think it is necessary to be one to review his most famous book), but I concur in your statement, that Tolkien used language to show the specific differences between the most important characters such as Frodo, Sam, Aragorn and Gandalf. They all view the world in a different light and hail from different social backgrounds. They even stand by their own unique moral principles - and as you rightly pointed out, the language Tolkien uses, does reflect all of that.

So, I do not doubt that Tolkien intended the book to be written this way. Nevertheless he still writes in his foreword to the second edition (of the LOTR):

"The Lord of the Rings has been read by many people since it finally appeared in print; and I should like to say something here with reference to the many opinions or guesses that I have received or have read concerning the motives and meaning of the tale. The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them."

In other words, the main purpose of "The Lord of the Rings" was always to delight its readers - not to bore them to death. Therefore I think it is hardly possible that Tolkien intended certain parts of his prose to be unpleasing to the ear. He maybe thought of them as more archaic, more rooted in an older and different world and therefore more challenging to the reader - but I doubt that boring his readers was his main goal by including these parts. There are certainly many passages where he achieves his goal, creating a mysterious and elevated world with his archaic prose (that is, different from the world of the hobbits/readers) but managing at the same time to create suspense, empathy for his characters and a certain tension between them that holds the reader's attention. The chapters which come to my mind here are above all "A Journey in the Dark", "The Bridge of Khazad-dm", "The Breaking of the Fellowship, the first three chapters of books three and "The Ride of Rohirrim". All of these chapters deal extensively with the non-hobbit characters, but still manage to do what I stated above. My favorite chapter of them all "The Bridge of Khazad-dm" manages this in perfect fashion: Tolkien's use of the drum-beats to build up tension and a sense of agitation makes these chapters so brilliant to read. Or compare the strider of FOTR and early TTT to the king Elessar of ROTK: I do not doubt that Tolkien intended this change of prose when describing Aragorn and his actions, but the later version still bores me to tears. He is Tolkien's ideal representation for a king of old, I get that, but in what way should a perfect human being interest me - especially when everything about him from "The Steward of the King" sounds like it was written by Virgil about Augustus.

I also believe that Tolkien and Kafka can be appreciated by the same mind. I rarely ever read fantasy books and my favorite writers are most of the time American writers such as Hemingway, McCarthy, Kerouac or European writers such as Bernhard, Roth, Handke, etc.

Most professional critics have banned Tolkien for his antiquated prose, the lack of psychological depth in his characters - or have even critisized him for alleged reactionary political undertones. I do not argue with the first two points - I find Tolkien's prose often more boring than I would like too, and some of his characters are as fascinating as a doorknob. Nevertheless, I would argue that most of these critics did not get why the LOTR has been so popular over the last half of a century. They failed to grasp what makes the LOTR so unique and what turns it into a masterpiece - despite of its often poor prose - and that is Tolkien's ability to create a mythological world that seems to be part of the old canon of mythologies; like the collected stories of a forgotten people - or as the Grauniad so brilliantly put it:

"How, given little over half a century of work, did one man become the creative equivalent of a people?"

Ceterum censeo montem artis magicae atrae esse delendum.


macfalk
Valinor


Oct 31 2012, 10:45pm

Post #66 of 88 (1720 views)
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For me... [In reply to] Can't Post

I perfectly know, or at least think I know, kind of what Tolkien was intending to do. It's just that it doesn't work for some people, including me (post-The Hobbit). His writing in LOTR is pretentious, IMHO.



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


TheBladeGlowsBlue
Rivendell


Nov 1 2012, 12:15am

Post #67 of 88 (1707 views)
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I have to... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I perfectly know, or at least think I know, kind of what Tolkien was intending to do. It's just that it doesn't work for some people, including me (post-The Hobbit). His writing in LOTR is pretentious, IMHO.


...disagree. Pretentious..? heavy going in places, with the plot slowed to a snail's pace at times, but pretentious? I don't see it.

Maegnas aen estar nin dagnir in yngyl im


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Nov 1 2012, 1:38am

Post #68 of 88 (1705 views)
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You are entitled to your opinion, of course [In reply to] Can't Post

But I think the adjective "pretentious" is simply way off base. Call it archaic, or stilted, or what have you, but "pretentious" has a whole lot of connotations that I think have nothing to do with why you don't appreciate the writing in LOTR.


TheBladeGlowsBlue
Rivendell


Nov 1 2012, 12:59pm

Post #69 of 88 (1659 views)
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As you should! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote
The average movie-goer (read:non-Tokien-enthusiast) would have found Tom bewildering, while the rest of us would be enchanted.


But I still find him bewildering! Smile


Cool

Maegnas aen estar nin dagnir in yngyl im


Elenorflower
Gondor


Nov 1 2012, 2:20pm

Post #70 of 88 (1667 views)
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something you said SA [In reply to] Can't Post

triggered a little thought.
In the House of Healing when Aragorn was seeking athelas, the wise woman Ioreth irritates Aragorn with her long winded arcane Loremaster lecture. The Healers were obsessed by archaism and Aragorn being the breath of fresh air swept this away, Minas Tirith would no longer sleep under dusty manuscripts and old men in towers seeking lore. Aragorn represented vitality life and modernity.


(This post was edited by Elenorflower on Nov 1 2012, 2:22pm)


Elenorflower
Gondor


Nov 1 2012, 2:29pm

Post #71 of 88 (1679 views)
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boy do I agree with you!! [In reply to] Can't Post

'pretentious'??? Frown

I would go as far as saying anyone who thinks LOTR is pretentious has totally misunderstood the book, totally misunderstood Tolkien, and probably should try to go away reread the book to understand exactly why they find LOTR pretentious. Writers that use archaic language are not pretentious, they are learned and educated, and use language as a weaver would make a tapestry. IMHO.


GoodGuyA
Lorien

Nov 2 2012, 3:06am

Post #72 of 88 (1664 views)
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Certainly not "pretentious" [In reply to] Can't Post

And this is coming from a person who throws the word around at just about every Warhol-wannabe that thinks that changing something without attention to overall form is somehow "innovative". Now I think Tolkien himself was certainly holding to some elitist ideas, like the dismissal of allegory, but the writing itself is not even that highly scholarly. Well researched, yes, but there's nothing being thrown in our face in the wording that we're just supposed to "get". Tolkien is nothing if not clear in his intentions as it comes to telling us a story, which is to his detriment, but it's not pretentious in any way.


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Nov 2 2012, 4:30am

Post #73 of 88 (1644 views)
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Agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

One question, though. Why is the dismissal of allegory "pretentious?" Sounds like it was simply a personal dislike of Tolkien's.


Elenorflower
Gondor


Nov 2 2012, 1:05pm

Post #74 of 88 (1644 views)
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Now I am seriously p******* [In reply to] Can't Post

people seem to be bandying around judgement left right and centre, first Tolkien is 'pretentious', now he is not 'highly scholarly''. I find those comments risible. I suggest these people go away and read Tom Shippey's The Road to Middle Earth. It is written by a scholar who understands and respects Tolkien's own scholarly passion for philology, Shippey pounces with delightful vengeance and righteous anger upon many a critic who has sought to lay low the immensity of Tolkien's creation, he dresses down critics who misunderstand Tolkien and blame him for not fitting into their concepts of literature. Shippey reminds us that a scholar of literature is, or at least ought to be, someone who loves words.


Beutlin
Rivendell

Nov 2 2012, 2:53pm

Post #75 of 88 (1651 views)
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One does not have to read a book written by a "Tolkien expert" to review the LOTR. [In reply to] Can't Post

One does not have love or like Tolkien works either to be a good literary critic. Tolkien is not for everyone: If you are not - somewhere deep-down in your heart - a romanticist you can not like the "Lord of the Rings". As I have stated above, Tolkien main critics have labelled his prose poor and have critisized the lack of psychological depth when it comes to most of his characters. I find it hard to argue with these points on a fundamental level. Yes, some chapters are beyond this criticism, and yes, a handful of characters are uniquely interesting (Frodo, Sam and above all Gollum).

I think that most critics of the "LOTR" never grasped what has made the novel so popular. They concentrated on Tolkien's often poor prose and thereby failed to see that most readers of this book read it for different reasons.

Ceterum censeo montem artis magicae atrae esse delendum.

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