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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Tom Bombadil
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Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Nov 2 2012, 4:13pm

Post #76 of 88 (2714 views)
Tolkiens prose [In reply to] Can't Post

is beautiful. It is never poor.


Nov 2 2012, 5:43pm

Post #77 of 88 (2728 views)
I'm not so sure [In reply to] Can't Post

I read LOTR primarily for the interesting, and often beautiful, use of the English language. And then secondly, for the story.

Fantastic Four

Nov 4 2012, 12:59pm

Post #78 of 88 (2698 views)
What I was saying was... [In reply to] Can't Post

His writing in and of itself is not so obtuse to the point that it becomes a barrier to the reading. Indeed, this is why Tolkien became so popular. It was a decent match in between a well researched work and an easy to read one, if a bit indulgent in its framing device (which was intentional). I was the one refuting Tolkien as being "pretentious" in his writing because of this, since even in LotR there is that wonderful air of writing somehwat for children, and certainly never talking down to his audience.

As for the allegory remark, SA, I said I found it elitist that he just outright dismissed it as if his own experiences could never mean anything on page. "I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence." I am of the belief that Tolkien was writing somewhat allegorical tales, whether he believed so or not, and this is just a remark to save face with the academic world.

Eye's on Guard
Fantastic Four

Nov 4 2012, 8:00pm

Post #79 of 88 (2688 views)
That's not allegory... [In reply to] Can't Post

Basing elements on your own experience, consciously or subconsciously is not allegory, which is rather a point-by-point stand in for something else (e.g. - a previous work, a historical event, a religion, etc.)


Nov 4 2012, 9:28pm

Post #80 of 88 (2690 views)
but good criticism is always concrete, though [In reply to] Can't Post

Youīre right that people who hardly have any streak of love for romanticism or a romanticist tone, will not like "The Lord of the Rings". And that is fine with me, because people and critics have different tastes and fields of interest when it comes to literature. The most striking aspect of the criticism levelled at Tolkien by those who judge him most harshly is a clear antipathy towards the basic premises and aims of the story, as well as its tone. This is also why the same critics also fail to provide concrete and substantiated examples of why and how Tolkienīs prose is poor. As a professional critic to call something "false archaism", for instance, you actually need as a to show comparative examples of a good archaic style and how it differs from "false archaism" and when a professional critic makes harsh claims about the prose of a book, he or she needs to substantiate their claims - to be concrete and make arguments. Otherwise their criticism is IMO useless and whatīs more, not very professional.

Personally I appreciate psychological depth in novels, but I donīt consider it a fundamental aspect of good prose or good writing. I look for (lots of )psychological depth and introspection in stories where itīs an aspect of vital importance to the quality of the story. In stories which deal specifically with the experience and evocation of myths and legends it would ring completely false in my ears. And should I criticize more commonly appreciated modern writers because their books fail to exhibit beautiful and varied descriptions and evocations of landscape and scenery?

Although itīs variable how successfully Tolkien handles his prose, I find it easy to refute those who criticize his prose as poor. The sheer stylistic variety of LoTR and how it is used to differentiate characters and cultures is enough to show that Tolkien has a firm grip on his prose. And other arguments and concrete examples could be made.


Nov 4 2012, 9:56pm

Post #81 of 88 (2668 views)
Tom Bombadil doesnīt fit into the storyline of the film [In reply to] Can't Post

I definitely think he would have slowed down the film, but whatīs more important he would probably have felt out of place.

The storyline in the film focuses on the Ring and its backstory and how Frodo takes the Ring first to Rivendell pursued by The Black Riders and then towards Mordor with the Fellowship, pursued and thwarted by Saruman.

Tom Bombadil belongs to an aspect of the book which focuses on how our company of four hobbits become more aware of the history and nature of their immediate neightbours in the outside world. Itīs about a lesson in perspective and cultural awareness, and a reminder of how young The Shire and hobbits are compared to the world around them. The trees in the Old Forest have been around for ages and ages in the same place and so has Tom Bombadil, while the hobbits have only lived in The Shire for a relatively short period of time.

I find Tom Bombadil and his part of FoTR incredibly fascinating and rewarding, but since itīs so peripheral to Frodoīs involvement with the Ring, itīs not difficult for me to see why it was cut from the adaptation.


Nov 4 2012, 10:08pm

Post #82 of 88 (2706 views)
I will just quote Salman Rushie on this matter: [In reply to] Can't Post

"The case against film adaptations thus remains unproven and, when we look below the level of great literature, a plausible argument can be made that many cinematic adaptations are better than their prose source materials. I would suggest that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films surpass Tolkien’s originals, because, to be blunt, Jackson makes films better than Tolkien writes; Jackson’s cinematic style, sweeping, lyrical, by turns intimate and epic, is greatly preferable to Tolkien’s prose style, which veers alarmingly between windbaggery, archness, pomposity, and achieves something like humanity, and ordinary English, only in the parts about hobbits, the little people who are our representatives in the saga to a far greater degree than its grandly heroic (or snivellingly crooked) men."


Mind you Rushdie still liked reading "The Lord of the Rings" as a teenager:

"I was introduced to the Tolkien trilogy—"The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers," "The Return of the King"—and its prequel, "The Hobbit," by a history teacher when I was 15, the perfect age at which to read Tolkien. I plunged into the world of Middle-earth with a will, even acquiring the rudiments of Elvish and the ability to recite the dread inscription on the Ring of Power in the dark tongue of Mordor. I believe that the secret of the trilogy's enduring success lies in Tolkien's infinitely detailed creation of the world it inhabits—there is so much "back story" that is only hinted at, so much to do with the history and legends and religions of dwarves, elves and men, that the world we are given becomes almost too rich with allusion to that submerged information. And then, of course, there is one genuinely immortal character, a greater creation than Gandalf the Grey or the Lord of the Rings himself: that is to say, Gollum."


Ceterum censeo montem artis magicae atrae esse delendum.


Nov 4 2012, 11:07pm

Post #83 of 88 (2653 views)
The famous Salman Rushdie quote [In reply to] Can't Post

i wonder how many i have seen that posted on Tolkien forums!

It is interesting though, what he calls windbaggery and pomposity i would call sweeping and lyrical. Obviously what he thinks makes a good book changed over time, or at least his appreciation for prose changed growing up.

It is strange how there are quite a few who really love Tolkien's prose and also quite a few who think it is second class - very divided.


Nov 4 2012, 11:38pm

Post #84 of 88 (2655 views)
That seems a bit misplaced [In reply to] Can't Post

Given that Rushdie's criticism consists of two sentences. That is hardly the kind of reasoned and thorough analysis one would need to substantiate what is meant by "bad prose."

I think Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" is a modern literary masterpiece. But he is not a professional literary critic, and he certainly has not turned his professional eye to LOTR and the Hobbit in any real sense.

Honestly, I have yet to read a well-reasoned critique of Tolkien's prose by a literary critic. Most of it is cosmetic. sneering and dismissive. Adolescent, even.

(This post was edited by Shelob'sAppetite on Nov 4 2012, 11:38pm)


Nov 5 2012, 1:36am

Post #85 of 88 (2687 views)
Some interesting articles: [In reply to] Can't Post


I realize though that a message board dedicated to the admiration of Tolkien's works is probably not the right place to dismiss the professor's prose. Believe it or not, but I have been a Tolkien apologist for a long time - primarily dealing with the questions of alleged racism, sexism, fascism, etc. in the "Lord of the Rings" however. I suspect this whole debate about the quality of Tolkien's prose is primarily an Anglo-Saxon one. I can only speak for continental Europe, where Tolkien is universally regarded as a rather odd writer of children books. I think it is also telling that "The Hobbit" is so popular with children (as Tolkien intended) whereas the "Lord of the Rings" is mostly read by adolescents (as Tolkien did not intend). I think one of the main reasons for this statistic is Tolkien prose and character drawing. Faramir, (ROTK-) Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Imrahil bore me to death, only Gollum remains as a truly fascinating and original character. I very much liked the stilted language of certain chapters as a 12-year-old, but nowadays it often feels unbearable. In my opinion Tolkien is not cherished by so many people, because of his prose - but because of his ability to create such a believable world, that contains plenty of the myths of old (minus the sex, of course).

Ceterum censeo montem artis magicae atrae esse delendum.


Nov 5 2012, 8:30am

Post #86 of 88 (2714 views)
Hmm.. what makes these articles interesting? [In reply to] Can't Post

Only the first article manages to provide a discussion, using arguments and reasoning which a reader can follow and consider.

The second article is what I would call typical of the more sneering articles you see among Tolkienīs harsher critics. As criticism itīs hopelessly weak, since it never substantiates its statements with arguments and reasoning. Itīs indicative, though, of the animosity that Tolkienīs books can provoke.

The third article is something more in-between. Itīs badly structured, but at least it contains parts where the reviewer/critic tries very briefly to consider or discuss developments in the novel, Tolkienīs relation to the 20th century etc or make some remarks about the quality and distinctiveness of Shippeyīs approach to analyzing Tolkien. In other parts it just reverts to generalized statements without trying to substantiate them or takes refuge in what is "generally accepted" about Tolkien. When it tries to compare and equate the characterization of Frodo with the characterization of Bilbo in The Hobbit, it shows a reading which is incredibly general and superficial.

Very few critics Iīve seen actually discuss or make concrete criticisms of Tolkienīs prose. I suspect this is because they donīt feel they need to, as they know they can hide behind statements about "whatīs generally accepted" or condescending generalizations.

Many people find that they prefer novels that are strictly realist and they prefer to read books written in a contemporary style. Consequently they donīt find or expect to find anything interesting in Tolkien. Thereīs nothing wrong about that, but their tastes and interests are not indicative of a more adult or mature approach to literature or a better understanding of prose.

Fantastic Four

Nov 8 2012, 3:17am

Post #87 of 88 (2634 views)
Bombadil [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the route Peter was going was to show the black riders were chasing them and on their tails every step of the way. I however do think Tom is one of the coolest charachters, being somewhat of a mystery, and should not have been completeley left out of the movies. This is one of the most hotly debated topics between me and my freinds.


Nov 10 2012, 11:58pm

Post #88 of 88 (2750 views)
Okay?Already ..TommyTuneful ..Asked PJ to Cut me..! [In reply to] Can't Post

so later After
TH1 2 3
Three Adventures of" He whois? ".
and his Galpal
Will Star in their Own Trilogy..

Stick a feather in your hat
And Dance..

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