The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Tom Bombadil



TheBladeGlowsBlue
Rivendell


Oct 27 2012, 7:08am


Views: 4500
Tom Bombadil

Would it have really slowed down the flow of film one?

It seems a shame one of the iconic characters of the books was completely overlooked... also the Barrow wights.

He/they didn't even make it into the EE!!!

Apologies if this has been discussed before, but I am new and can't find a thread on this subject! Smile

Maegnas aen estar nin dagnir in yngyl im


DanielLB
Immortal


Oct 27 2012, 7:24am


Views: 4101
I should've been made into an easter egg

A separate scene that could be watched, but not part of the actual film. That would've been the best option.

I like to think the Hobbits still visited Bombadil, and that he wasn't completely erased from Middle-earth.

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TheBladeGlowsBlue
Rivendell


Oct 27 2012, 7:29am


Views: 4082
I think...


In Reply To
A separate scene that could be watched, but not part of the actual film. That would've been the best option.

I like to think the Hobbits still visited Bombadil, and that he wasn't completely erased from Middle-earth.


...that this is what troubles me most about the omission.
It is if Tom never existed!

A small nod to the incident in the Old Forest (in film 2 from memory) hardly rectifies this onerous error!

Maegnas aen estar nin dagnir in yngyl im


Elutherian
Rohan


Oct 27 2012, 7:34am


Views: 4098
I never liked Tom Bombadil in the books....

....Glad they left him out.

The Grey Pilgrim, they once called me. Three hundred lives of men I walked this earth, and now I have no time...


DanielLB
Immortal


Oct 27 2012, 7:35am


Views: 4094
It's not just Bombadil though

A separate scene with Ghan, Elrond's sons, Denethor and the palantir and so many more, *should* have been included.

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DanielLB
Immortal


Oct 27 2012, 7:36am


Views: 4110
I agree it's an almost boring chapter

But the character fascinates me. Anything that fascinates me is worth being shown. Smile

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Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 27 2012, 1:42pm


Views: 4067
Tom

would not have slowed the story down, if done right. They didnt need to show the long stay in Tom's house, or the stories he told, but they should have shown the travel through the Old Forest and the capture by Old man Willow and the rescue by Tom. Its an iconic moment. They could have shown him giving the hobbits some good advice and telling them the song to sing if they get in trouble, which they promptly do, in the Barrows, and Tom rescues them again and gives them the swords, a very important moment. That would not slow anything down. and keeps the mystery of who Tom is. They could show the Hobbits musing about who or what he is on the Road before they reach Bree.. also I would have liked to see the gradual darkening of the colour tones, from the bright golden Shire to the darker greyer Old Forest, with the sudden welcome bright flash of Tom with his bright gay colours, like some small memory of the Shire wandering the murky forest. Then on to Bree the clouds forming over their heads like the breath of the Black Riders on their necks.


(This post was edited by Elenorflower on Oct 27 2012, 1:50pm)


Kristin Thompson
Rohan


Oct 27 2012, 2:17pm


Views: 4065
Yes, I think it would have slowed down the film

And for no important reason. In the book, the inclusion of the Old Forest and Bombadil accomplishes two things in terms of the plot. It means that Gandalf, who gets to Hobbiton too late to go with the Hobbits to Rivendell, ends up passing them and getting there ahead of them. (That's quite important, though it could have been accomplished in some other way.) Second, the Hobbits get their weapons, which are from the ancient realm of Arnor and have special properties that allow Merry to help kill the Witch King.

In the film, of course, Gandalf goes straight from Orthanc to Rivendell (thereby setting up the Great Eagle Paradox), and Aragorn gives the Hobbits ordinary swords.

I'm not saying there would have been no point in putting in Bombadil, for those who would enjoy a little interlude with no plot progression. I personally am in the camp that thinks Bombadil is out of place in the book, having originated as a children's comic character. But others obviously like him.

I suspect people who had never read the book would find him a bit boring if he had been included, given the lack of plot development.

Inclusion of a scene of him in an easter egg would probably be too big an expense for the studio, especially compared with the relatively small number of people who would be attracted by such a thing.


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Oct 27 2012, 3:18pm


Views: 4073
Not to mention the Dunedain

I was always a little miffed about the complete exclusion of all other northern rangers...


DanielLB
Immortal


Oct 27 2012, 3:52pm


Views: 4058
Yes, and the bridge film might have included them.

I wonder if there will be any mention of them in the new films. Smile

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GoodGuyA
Lorien

Oct 27 2012, 10:43pm


Views: 4070
Tom Bombadil is a useless character

I don't care what grand importance others read into him. As a narrative entity he completely detracts all semblance of drive, passion, and reason from the plot. Not only that, but he's annoying to read. That's a difficult feat, I must say. In a well structured book which creates such a tense air of mystery, Tom Bombadil absolutely slaughters all that made the book actually fantastical rather than simply another fairy tale. The only reason I think anyone actually finds him important is because he's in some of the last lines of the book, due to the dream Frodo had (which is another huge narrative cliche). Yes, he would have slowed down the film because there's nothing important in his presence, nor joy to be found in it. He's an anomaly that Tolkien was too proud to get rid of and should have.


Escapist
Gondor


Oct 27 2012, 11:00pm


Views: 4027
different media

Part of Tom's usefulness in the book is to show that there is a greater mystery to middle earth and not everything is so easily explained down to the midichlorions - and that there does exist power to resist the temptation of the one ring.

Movies are a different thing. Here everything must be streamlined and simplified. Tom Bombadil is highly resistant to this so he doesn't fit in a film that doesn't entertain that sense of mystery and complexity. He would fit in a quirky mystery film but not an action-adventure film.


Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 28 2012, 12:33am


Views: 4017
I couldnt disagree

with you more. Tom is there in the book because Tolkien found him important, its as simple as that. Tom has a place in the mystery and strangeness of Middle Earth. He is not easy company that I will allow. Some people would sit in his house and no doubt want to shake some sense into him, some would sit there enthralled, some would drum their fingers with tedium and want to leave, he is a kind of mirror into our inner selves I think, he is above earthly likes and dislikes. He simply 'is'.


There&ThereAgain
Rohan


Oct 28 2012, 12:34am


Views: 4015
Tommy Tom

did you ever feel creeped out by Tom and Goldberry?

In the back of my head part of me thought he was Sauron himself in a different form when I read the book as a pre-teen.

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair; and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater."-J.R.R. Tolkien

"Thanks for the money!" -George Lucas


There&ThereAgain
Rohan


Oct 28 2012, 12:38am


Views: 4035
I enjoy Tom for this reason

and I think that's why Tolkien was fond of him. You really articulated why I think I adore him. Smile

For filmmakers, when we rack our brains for reasons for scenes, moments, characters, angles to exist, like Tom, like you said, resists any easy cataegorization.

so chuck him! Sly

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair; and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater."-J.R.R. Tolkien

"Thanks for the money!" -George Lucas


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Oct 28 2012, 2:51am


Views: 4022
That's because

You see literature primarily as form. You use words like "drive," "passion," "reason." You want Bombadil to fit into your writing 101 conceptions, and he doesn't.

That's partly because Tolkien wasn't writing in the idiom of the modern novel.

And I thank heaven he wasn't.

IMO, there is a reason why LOTR remains one of the best-selling books of all time. And it has to do with Tolkien violating a lot of the rules you think are essential.

Tolkien preferred the varied applicability of history to the purposeful domination of the author present in most modern fiction. Bombadil is partly about Tolkien letting his own hand off the tiller.

I have little use for people who insist the stories have to be tight, and controlled, with every bit fitting neatly and rationally into a well-planned narrative. Some of the old myths certainly weren't like that, and I think Tolkien captured something of the genuinely mythic, as opposed to the derivative.


(This post was edited by Shelob'sAppetite on Oct 28 2012, 2:56am)


GoodGuyA
Lorien

Oct 28 2012, 4:24am


Views: 4013
I obviously don't think in just form, else I could never let little things slide

I still do enjoy the books, but I can still have grievances with the writing after looking at it analytically after. The most telling thing for me is that I didn't remember Tom Bombadil after I read it the first time, those many years ago. I remembered quite a bit, but that character was so pointlessly derailing that I erased him from the memory of the book. When I came back and read it again over the years, I went from "Okay, this is a weird bit" to "Skip skip skip skip". The whole thing reeks of shoehorning, to me, because Tolkien had this character that he had created his own little mythos for and wanted to put it out there without actually sharing this mythos.

I find it so blind that we should just accept his importance because "Tolkien put it there". I know it's there for a reason, but it's a reason which I think adds nothing to the narrative at hand. What is Lord of the Rings about? Middle-Earth. What does having the hobbits run naked through the grass add to Middle-Earth? Why would you, going into five further books of intensely dark fantasy, start off with an attacking tree and a magical man which is even more "child-like" than the things in The Hobbit? I can see the Barrow-downs sequence being something, and I like that chapter, except when it's completely undermined by Tom Bombadil's assistance being blatantly foreshadowed. He makes the world less expansive, in my eyes, and does far more harm to the hobbits' sense of self than Peter Jackson ever did.

My biggest problem with it in terms of actual narrative flow is that, if you remove it, nothing is lost. The movies proved that and me just self-editing proves that. Could you say that for the Black Rider encounter they have on the road? What about meeting Aragorn? You could argue about the Conspiracy Unmasked, of course, but I think you see the point here. Nothing is given to the reader. It's a meta-narrative based not on themes but on extraneous circumstances that no one can be expected to know. I feel nothing when I look at the words which comprise Tom Bombadil. I'm not enchanted, I'm not engaged, and I'm not feeling the story anymore. It's fine that others think differently, but in all my time with Tolkien, Bombadil has been just a black mark in both analysis and fair reading.


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Oct 28 2012, 4:47am


Views: 4031
As Phililppa Boyens says in the eedvd commentary

(I'm paraphrasing here) People don't know whether or not we filmed Tom and the Old Forest. ;)

I like the hobbits' time with Tom for several reasons.

1. I think Tom was the hobbits' transition from their guarded life in the Shire to the World. That they learned whatever they needed to survive their Journey.

2. I think Tom could appear as anyone he wanted to. When he came upon the hobbits, he was exactly what they needed him to be.

3. The hobbits rested at Tom and Goldberry's home as the rain kept them from leaving until they learned lessons of the world and survival from the stories Tom told them.

4. Frodo had visionary dreams.

5. Frodo realized the Ring wasn't all powerful and in control when Tom put it on and did not disappear, and he could see Frodo when he wore the Ring. I really love this part because it doesn't explain why or how. Frodo's reaction is very different from every other situations he's in throughout the story.

6. I wonder what Tom talks about when Gandalf and Farmer Maggot visit... and how does he appear to each of them?



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DanielLB
Immortal


Oct 28 2012, 7:36am


Views: 4029
No, I don't see them as creeps.

They're unique, interesting, and fascinating characters to read about.

They add more depth to Tolkien's mythology. Middle-earth would be a lot plainer if characters like this were removed.

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Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Oct 28 2012, 8:06am


Views: 4045
Your insistence that people are "blind" for appreciating Bombadil

Is, frankly, annoying. I could write page after page about his value to the story. Also, your description of the rest of LOTR as "intensely dark fantasy" is odd, IMO. People don't appreciate LOTR because it is "dark fantasy," whatever that means. They appreciate it because it seems to tap into some long-forgotten well of myth and human consciousness, which resonates deeply with so many readers, despite all its alleged "archaisms" and "silliness."

I have to say, I trust Tolkien's instincts on this far more than yours. After all, he created a wildly successful story, which has stood the test of time.

It is fine for you to dislike Bombadil, of course. Even I, depending on my mood, occasionally skim over the Old Forest chapter.

But it is not okay to insult others for appreciating him.

Quote

My biggest problem with it in terms of actual narrative flow is that, if you remove it, nothing is lost.


Here you prove that "form" is very important to you. You say the narrative flow is just fine without Bombadil, and I agree. But in my view, his inclusion offers readers something a lot richer, and more interesting, than "narrative flow." After all, people have been discussing his identity, and purpose, for over forty years now. He has probably elicited more discussion than the more trivial "balrog wings" debate.

IMO, LOTR would be a less rich and unique story without him. I'm glad Tolkien wrote LOTR, and not someone who was wedded to modern story-telling 101.


imin
Valinor


Oct 28 2012, 11:32am


Views: 4004
This is how i see them

The first time i read the chapter i was intrigued and wanted to know more, but before long they were on their way again.

I do feel it would have slowed down the movie and it was the right decision to cut them out. In the book though i like them and the book has much more layers to it than the movie and Tom and Goldberry are examples of the extra depth to the text. People still now dont know what he was/is.

I did go through a period where i found the chapter a little dull and wanted to read of the hobbits in the barrow but as i have got a little older or perhaps because i have read it a few more times - i seem to be liking it more and more. Similar to the council of elrond chapter - when i first read it, it took me months, now its one of my favourite chapters.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 28 2012, 12:56pm


Views: 3993
Despite what Boyens said...


Quote
(I'm paraphrasing here) People don't know whether or not we filmed Tom and the Old Forest. ;)


If Jackson & Co. had filmed Tom and the Old Forest, I image that they would have filmed the encounter in the Barrow-downs as well. However, there is no indication of any such missing scene. In fact, Strider has to provide the weapons to the Hobbits that they otherwise recovered from the barrow.

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


FlyingSerkis
Rivendell

Oct 28 2012, 1:11pm


Views: 3966
He's always been my favourite character of the books

He was the stand-out character when I first read LOTR, when I must have been about 10. And the last time I read the books, his chapter was still a highlight for me. I can completely understand why they left him out of the films, and thinking about it logically I would have to agree, but it still saddens me not to see him.


burgahobbit
Rohan


Oct 28 2012, 1:33pm


Views: 3977
Maybe a separate scene for most of that stuff

But I think Denethor and the Palantir could have easily been included in the film. Most of those things would have eaten up screentime, the palantir would have simply made Denethor's madness make more sense.


burgahobbit
Rohan


Oct 28 2012, 1:38pm


Views: 3973
Tom Bombadilo

They adapt him in the FOTR video game (not a tie-in with the movies) which is quite fun (even if it is cheap video game animation compared to an actual person playing the role).

I really think he would have slowed the film down, unless they made a film like this: The Lord of the Rings: The Ring Sets Out ending with Amon Sul as the the climax.


Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 28 2012, 2:50pm


Views: 1792
No I was never creeped out by Tom and Goldberry

But I did and do find them dangerous and Faerie. I look at Tom as a kind of Herne the Hunter figure or Celtic diety. Not to be messed with. But Tom is kind and Goldberrry is gentle, but so is a Summer day before a storm.


Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 28 2012, 2:58pm


Views: 1781
Nothing is lost?

It makes me sad you could even think that. It makes me sad you dont see beyond the surface to the heart of Tom. I believe strongly he IS Middle Earth, he is the land made incarnate, if you reject him you reject the wildness, the faerie, the oddness and the beauty of Middle Earth.

But this is just my opinion, you are obviously entitled to disagree. Unsure


(This post was edited by Elenorflower on Oct 28 2012, 3:03pm)


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Oct 28 2012, 3:19pm


Views: 1783
True ;)

I got the feeling she was being tongue-in-cheek about it just to acknowledge the situation. No one has ever made mention of filming anything about Tom or the Old Forest. I have a pretty huge list of unused scenes in my footer's link, and there's nothing about it that I've ever found. She was just toying with us ;)



sample

I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.



TORn's Observations Lists
Unused Scenes



Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 28 2012, 4:35pm


Views: 1806
I'm still sad over the exclusion of the Barrow-downs and the Wights...

Although, I can understand why Tom and Goldberry were dropped, I would like to see some acknowlegement of the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs in The Hobbit whether the Dwarves decide that the downs are worth a look or if Jackson just includes Wights among the defenders at Dol Guldur.

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


DanielLB
Immortal


Oct 28 2012, 4:49pm


Views: 1771
Agreed

And it would be interesting to see what the general audience think/though of Denethor when they see/saw The Return of the King.

His character doesn't make much sense in the films.

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GoodGuyA
Lorien

Oct 29 2012, 10:16pm


Views: 1762
I was not stating that absolute

What I was saying was that people just accepting Bombadil because "Tolkien can do no wrong" is blind. You are entitled to like Bombadil, but I personally would like to see a more substantial reason than that. I know that there are reasons people see him as important, but some just don't give evidence to that point.

And personally, I don't find this narrative technique very "groundbreaking". It's what I like to call a 'road trip' chapter. Something like Alice in Wonderland. It's an odd encounter with a (supposed to be) interesting character that sets a frame of mind for going further in the story. However, Bombadil doesn't fulfill that due to the nature of the world after Bombadil. Instead it's a road block that further stretches credulity of the story's pace in terms of the timeframe presented. This is, of course, all IMO.

Personally I think there's enough whimsical creatures in both books to provide us with a colorful interpretation of Middle-Earth which is (mostly) internally consistent. Those things that are not consistent are what tends to be fiercely discussed, and that's why I think certain subjects are, not because they're truly that interesting. Tolkien spells out the things he finds important, I think, and that proves to me that Bombadil was never a true piece of Middle-Earth.


Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 29 2012, 11:00pm


Views: 1765
I Beg to Differ On An Epic Scale with Blokes in Togas and Sandals.

Shaking Their Spears At Your Nether Regions.Mad


''Tolkien spells out the things he finds important, I think, and that proves to me that Bombadil was never a true piece of Middle-Earth''.

Tolkien meant Tom to be a mystery. He was supposed to be an enigma. Tolkien found enigmas important. Cool pfft!


GoodGuyA
Lorien

Oct 29 2012, 11:10pm


Views: 1722
Was just my interpretation

There's nothing I have personally found in his narrative works that aren't either discussed to death or are foreshadowed rather blatantly. This doesn't mean I'm fully lambasting his writing, but I find that LotR is very upfront with what it has to say.

Feel free to call me 'no fun' if you'd like, but get those rabid people away from me!


Macfeast
Rohan


Oct 29 2012, 11:14pm


Views: 1754
"If done right".

That is my mantra when it comes to storytelling; Anything else, I believe, is needlessly restricting.

Certainly I believe Bombadil would have been a hard thing to do right on film, but I do not believe it impossible. Focus on the right things, and I could see it working. Would mean some cutting elsewhere to make room for it, though, with the limited timeframe that comes with cinematic productions (something which I believe might be the biggest weakness of cinematic storytelling).


(This post was edited by Macfeast on Oct 29 2012, 11:19pm)


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 30 2012, 12:41am


Views: 1815
Philippa's point was something else

She was not saying that they filmed anything of Tom Bombadil or the barrows. She was saying that because it's completely skipped over, you could say that the hobbits went there but we didn't see it. There's nothing in the films that contradicts a supposed passage through the Old Forest and vacation at Tom's, but neither is there evidence for it.

So, no, no missing scenes. It's just a "you can believe it happened if you want to" sort of thing.

"...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


TheBladeGlowsBlue
Rivendell


Oct 30 2012, 1:01pm


Views: 1705
What bothers me most...

...is PJ leaving out TB and the Barrow Wights as it would 'slow the story down' - then completely omit him/them AGAIN when he had free reign to include them in the EE's which were awash with anchor-like additions which slowed the story to a snail's-pace at times.

I personally think PJ happens to be one of those folks who just didn't 'get' Tom... Frown

Maegnas aen estar nin dagnir in yngyl im


geordie
Tol Eressea

Oct 30 2012, 1:19pm


Views: 1688
I agree with you -

- Tom is, as Shippey says somewhere or other, a genius locus - that is, the spirit of the place (in this case, the Withywindle valley and its environs). He's essntial to the story, IMO, for the reasons you give.
.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 30 2012, 1:20pm


Views: 1685
Okay, but why address response to me?


In Reply To
She was not saying that they filmed anything of Tom Bombadil or the barrows. She was saying that because it's completely skipped over, you could say that the hobbits went there but we didn't see it. There's nothing in the films that contradicts a supposed passage through the Old Forest and vacation at Tom's, but neither is there evidence for it.

So, no, no missing scenes. It's just a "you can believe it happened if you want to" sort of thing.



It was grammaboodawg who brought up what Boyens said in the extended edition commentary in the first place. I merely responded to her post.

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


geordie
Tol Eressea

Oct 30 2012, 1:28pm


Views: 1710
Tom and Goldberry do work in dramatic form -

- as demonstrated on the radio in the '90s. Brian Sibley followed up his excellent LotR radio series with a set of Tolkien's shorter works; Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wootton Major, Leaf by Niggle and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. Only, on the case of Tom, Brian didn't give us the poems from the book of that name; he gave us instead the 'missing chapters' from his dramatised LotR - the Old Forest is there, and Bombadil's house, and the barrow-downs.

Goldberry and Tom work in this play because they are well-written characters, whose words work best when read aloud, or in this case, acted. The whole sequence does work as an intriguing little play on its own, with just a little prologue and afterword by Frodo.

The series of plays was issued as a set of cassette tapes, under the title 'Tales from the Perilous Realm'. I recommend them - if they're still available.

.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 30 2012, 2:49pm


Views: 1679
And I'm responding to you

Am I not allowed to do that?

"...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

(This post was edited by Ardamírë on Oct 30 2012, 2:52pm)


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 30 2012, 2:51pm


Views: 1672
But the EEs weren't originally planned

So when they were filming they knew that they just didn't want to go into the Old Forest or visit Tom. So then when the EEs were assembled, they didn't go back and film that huge chunk of narrative when they'd already decided not to show 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


macfalk
Valinor


Oct 30 2012, 2:53pm


Views: 1812
Tom Bombadil- shoehorned and deus ex machina.

Deus ex machina - saving the hobbits from the tree and the barrow-weights, which is a far away from his house. Lazy, lazy writing by Tolkien here. Some people would probably want to throw me off a cliff for saying this, but I do think his writing in certain sections of LOTR are truly abysmal, especially when compared to The Hobbit.

And the fact that he is apparantly this sort of demi-god who is in no way affected by the ring is another brick in the wall of LOTR's dwindeling sense of "realism in a fairy-tale world", and halts the story completely.



The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.

(This post was edited by macfalk on Oct 30 2012, 2:56pm)


Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 30 2012, 3:49pm


Views: 1670
Throw you off a cliff?

hmm, I dont think Elven Queens stoop to chucking folk over cliffs but I could smite you with great pleasure. Sly


Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 30 2012, 3:54pm


Views: 1665
There is something odd I noticed though,

there are I believe some Weta cards or something, showing characters like Tom and there is also one of Goldberry. Whats really odd is they show her looking more like a soccer mom, rather than an ethereal otherworldly river spirit, its strange and it makes me wonder if they are actors from some scenes they cut, otherwise it doesnt make sense, well to me anyway.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 30 2012, 4:04pm


Views: 1647
Those were just a card trading game

They also had a card for Glorfindel. But they're not from characters that were cut or anything.

"...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


Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 30 2012, 4:04pm


Views: 1667
I think he may have got Tom

but thought that a modern audience wouldnt.
There are aspects of Tom that could be rather silly for this 'ironic' and cynical age. There are many people who would laugh at the fol-de-rol singing and capering of Tom. They wouldnt see beyond the Yellow boots and feathered hat, they would see this 'hippy' and snigger and roll their eyes. Tom is not easy for cynical folk to take seriously, to their peril. They dont realize the immense power and strangeness, behind those twinkling blue eyes.


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Oct 30 2012, 4:17pm


Views: 1669
Something like Alice in Wonderland...

You do realize that Carroll's Alice in Wonderland is a classic and enduring story, critically-acclaimed, and seriously studied in prestigious English universities around the world? What exactly is wrong with a point in the story that is reminiscent of that?

I disagree that the Bombadil episode is Wonderland-esque, but find it baffling that you would use that as a criticism.


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Oct 30 2012, 4:23pm


Views: 1647
That's a great point

It is primarily cynicism and irony that prevent an appreciation of Bombadil, IMO.

However, I am glad PJ didn't touch the scene. He would have butchered it with toilet humor, etc., and it was best left off-screen. In fact, I wouldn't really trust anyone but Tolkien to get Bombadil right.

So, I think the Bombadil chapters should never be dramatized for the film medium.


Beutlin
Rivendell

Oct 30 2012, 4:41pm


Views: 1673
Personally I think Treebeard is far superior to Bombadil.

Both are whimsical characters who are slightly out of place. They both live/rule over an ancient forest. Having said that, the ents and Treebeard rise up eventually and shape the outcome of the war of the ring. I found the chapters with Tom Bombadil extremely boring, and there is a reason why a lot of people who stop reading the book do so around this part of the story. Tolkien certainly deserves credit for including such a weird character – Bombadil is once more a testament to the old professor’s peculiar humour – but it also shows once more that the man was not a professional writer.

Ceterum censeo montem artis magicae atrae esse delendum.


Elenorflower
Gondor


Oct 30 2012, 5:19pm


Views: 1661
Tolkien

''not a professional writer' ???

*speechless* Shocked




Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 30 2012, 6:00pm


Views: 1787
Fair enough...

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


Views: 1797
You claimed the writing style was unique

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.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 30 2012, 7:50pm


Views: 1815
Forgive me

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


Views: 1777
He's grown on me through the years...

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


Views: 1773
Yes, Tolkien was not a professional writer.

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


Views: 1753
He may not have been a professional modern novelist

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


Views: 1779
The nazgûl made their greatest mistake when

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


Views: 1781
This, absolutely...


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


Views: 1729
thank you

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


Views: 1771
It heartens me to hear of people

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


Views: 1718
Fantastic post. *mods-up* //

 


Beutlin
Rivendell

Oct 31 2012, 2:43pm


Views: 1749
Clarification

--- 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.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Oct 31 2012, 3:15pm


Views: 1725
I love Tom


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


Views: 1748
It is fine for you to dislike it

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


Views: 1752
The basic concept behind Tolkien's use of language in the LOTR is certainly impressive.

 --- 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-dûm", "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-dûm" 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


Views: 1719
For me...

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


Views: 1706
I have to...


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


Views: 1704
You are entitled to your opinion, of course

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


Views: 1658
As you should!


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


Views: 1666
something you said SA

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


Views: 1678
boy do I agree with you!!

'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


Views: 1663
Certainly not "pretentious"

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


Views: 1643
Agreed

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


Views: 1643
Now I am seriously p*******

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


Views: 1650
One does not have to read a book written by a "Tolkien expert" to review the LOTR.

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.


Elenorflower
Gondor


Nov 2 2012, 4:13pm


Views: 2582
Tolkiens prose

is beautiful. It is never poor.


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Nov 2 2012, 5:43pm


Views: 2596
I'm not so sure

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


GoodGuyA
Lorien

Nov 4 2012, 12:59pm


Views: 2566
What I was saying was...

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
Lorien


Nov 4 2012, 8:00pm


Views: 2556
That's not allegory...

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.)


elostirion74
Rohan

Nov 4 2012, 9:28pm


Views: 2558
but good criticism is always concrete, though

You´re 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 Tolkien´s 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 what´s more, not very professional.

Personally I appreciate psychological depth in novels, but I don´t consider it a fundamental aspect of good prose or good writing. I look for (lots of )psychological depth and introspection in stories where it´s 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 it´s 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.


elostirion74
Rohan

Nov 4 2012, 9:56pm


Views: 2536
Tom Bombadil doesn´t fit into the storyline of the film

I definitely think he would have slowed down the film, but what´s 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. It´s 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 it´s so peripheral to Frodo´s involvement with the Ring, it´s not difficult for me to see why it was cut from the adaptation.


Beutlin
Rivendell

Nov 4 2012, 10:08pm


Views: 2574
I will just quote Salman Rushie on this matter:

"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."

http://www.bookrabbit.com/blog/a-fine-pickle/

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."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704584504575616090409906822.html
http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?282696

Ceterum censeo montem artis magicae atrae esse delendum.


imin
Valinor


Nov 4 2012, 11:07pm


Views: 2521
The famous Salman Rushdie quote

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.


Shelob'sAppetite
Valinor

Nov 4 2012, 11:38pm


Views: 2523
That seems a bit misplaced

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)


Beutlin
Rivendell

Nov 5 2012, 1:36am


Views: 2555
Some interesting articles:

http://prospect.org/article/kicking-hobbit
http://www.nytimes.com/...bookend/bookend.html
http://www.tnr.com/...cle/bored-the-rings#


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.


elostirion74
Rohan

Nov 5 2012, 8:30am


Views: 2582
Hmm.. what makes these articles interesting?

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 Tolkien´s harsher critics. As criticism it´s hopelessly weak, since it never substantiates its statements with arguments and reasoning. It´s indicative, though, of the animosity that Tolkien´s books can provoke.

The third article is something more in-between. It´s badly structured, but at least it contains parts where the reviewer/critic tries very briefly to consider or discuss developments in the novel, Tolkien´s relation to the 20th century etc or make some remarks about the quality and distinctiveness of Shippey´s 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 I´ve seen actually discuss or make concrete criticisms of Tolkien´s prose. I suspect this is because they don´t feel they need to, as they know they can hide behind statements about "what´s 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 don´t find or expect to find anything interesting in Tolkien. There´s 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.


flameofudun
Lorien

Nov 8 2012, 3:17am


Views: 2502
Bombadil

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.


Bombadil
Half-elven


Nov 10 2012, 11:58pm


Views: 2618
Okay?Already ..TommyTuneful ..Asked PJ to Cut me..!

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..
xoxox
Bomby