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Remembering Tolkien, his legacy, and what the world might be like without him...

The Shire

Jan 3 2011, 3:18pm

Post #1 of 12 (1418 views)
Remembering Tolkien, his legacy, and what the world might be like without him... Can't Post


Today is January 3, which just happens to be John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's birthday. To celebrate, I'm encouraging any and all fans of Tolkien and/or his writings to speak up about it. Raise a ruckus and praise a genius, I say. Credit where credit's due!

To stimulate your brains and hopefully inspire you all, I'm going to show you what the world would be like without Tolkien and his books.

2012 -2013 Without Tolkien, the upcoming films based upon The Hobbit would not be happening.

2001-2003 Without Tolkien, Peter Jackson's award-winning fantasy film trilogy The Lord of the Rings would never have happened.

1970s-1980s Without Tolkien, just about every fantasy film and novel from the 1970s on through the 1980s wouldn't exist. Oh, and forget about Dungeons & Dragons. Yep, that'd be gone too!

1960s-1970s Without Tolkien, what would hippies and geeks and academics have read?!

1938-1977 Without Tolkien, there would be no Hobbits. No Rings of Power. No Middle-earth. Without Tolkien, the entire fantasy genre would actually have been jeopardized by snobby literary critics without imagination. Without Tolkien, the entire fantasy genre would actually have been jeopardized by snobby literary critics without imagination. You wouldn't be able to read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The History of Middle-earth, The Children of Hurin, or any of Tolkien's literary masterworks. Obviously, it goes without saying that there would also be no fan-fiction, no author biographies, no artwork or music based upon Middle-earth.

Indeed, without Tolkien, the world would be a much bleaker and less imaginative and inspiring place. Thankfully, we'll never live in that world because our world was fortunate enough to have a brilliant writer like Tolkien living in it.

Thine own will be thine own fate...

Lord of Magic

Jan 3 2011, 4:58pm

Post #2 of 12 (461 views)
Without Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

We would never have had as great a reminder of what is "truly noble and heroic". Not the big, brawny warriors with swords, shields and whatnot(although props to them of course), but the ordinary people, like us, who try our best to live good virtuous lives in a quiet way.

Former Duke of Stardock, Overseer of the Paraphysical Army of Tokidoki, High Mage in Service to King Lyam conDoin I of Rillanon, The Absolute Lord, Ruler, and Sovereign of all Tokidoki.

The White Dragon and Arnölé, The Lord of All Magic


Jan 3 2011, 5:13pm

Post #3 of 12 (438 views)
It's unimaginable, that world, and so much the poorer.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Aren't we lucky? Smile

Tol Eressea

Jan 3 2011, 5:32pm

Post #4 of 12 (438 views)
Without Tolkien, we wouldn't be here [In reply to] Can't Post

or share the comradeship we have.

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark."


Jan 3 2011, 5:35pm

Post #5 of 12 (454 views)
Thinking about WWI and the tremendous loss of life... [In reply to] Can't Post

an entire generation of young European males was almost wiped out and we are so very lucky JRRT survived. The world will never know what could have been had those soldiers lived. War may be necessary but it is always terrible. Without Tolkien, where would the entire field of fantasy literature be today? Who would have arisen to claim the mantle? He had contemporaries for sure, but not many had the influence on later generations of writers and artists that he had....what a legacy.


Jan 3 2011, 7:08pm

Post #6 of 12 (449 views)
Without Wagner... [In reply to] Can't Post

We might not have Tolkien!! And I don't mean that to say JRRT is derivative, quite the contrary. As the Legacy.com site points out, Wagner's Ring and Tolkien's Ring are both about dealing with an evil Ring and how to destroy it, but in the former just about everything goes wrong, and in the latter everything ends up quite all right. Why? Because the all-important mentor figure in the former (Wotan) is hamstrung by his dilemmas and double-dealings, while in the latter the mentor (Gandalf) is very much positive and influential... Thus the former is a tragedy, and latter is (in the epic sense) a comedy. Thus one might say that Tolkien's Ring is a counterpart and response to Wagner's.... Wagner got there too in the end with his Meistersinger and Parsifal... but Tolkien gave us an inspiring tale of unalloyed heroism and self-sacrifice (something Wotan is not quite up to, but Gandalf does with flying colours!). So Tolkien's quip is, of course, right on... but in a way that few realize the deep significance of. Smile

Timothy Fisher alias "Timdalf"

"... The Word of God Himself, He, indeed, assumed humanity that we might become as God..." St. Athanasius of Alexandria "On the Incarnation"

The fear of the end is the source of all lovelessness. Richard Wagner's Letters

Saruman: Can we not have peace, you and I?
King Theoden: We shall have peace. (pause) When you answer for the burning of the Westfold. And the children that lie dead there. We shall have peace when the lives of the soldiers whose bodies were hewn even as they lay dead against the Hornburg are avenged. When you hang from a gibbet for the sport of your own crows, we shall have peace. Tolkien - "The Return of the King"

Frodo: It is a pity Bilbo did not kill Gollum when he had the chance.
Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? (Frodo frowns.) Do not be so eager to deal out death in judgment, even the very wise cannot see all ends.
Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given us. There are other forces at work in the world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Tolkien - "The Fellowship of the Ring"


Jan 3 2011, 7:27pm

Post #7 of 12 (434 views)
Tolkien's Influence in the 1970s [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To

1970s-1980s Without Tolkien, just about every fantasy film and novel from the 1970s on through the 1980s wouldn't exist. Oh, and forget about Dungeons & Dragons. Yep, that'd be gone too!

1960s-1970s Without Tolkien, what would hippies and geeks and academics have read?!

Dungeons and Dragons, initially, had very little Tolkien influence. The works of Robert Howard, Poul Anderson, and Jack Vance were at least as influential in the game as first published. This changed in later editions, but even then, TSR tried to bring in an eclectic mix of mythologies and worlds (much to the consternation of the Lovecraft estate and others). The biggest Tolkien trope in D&D, the use of 'orcs' as kind of nondescript throwaway evil minions, had huge secondary effects, probably via D&D, on later works.

Tolkien's literary influence in the 1970s was more an economic accident than an artistic one, at least at first. The Ballantine Adult Fantasy series was generally the republication of pre-Lord of the Rings fantasy (and an excellent collection it was!) - but it is not likely that it would have seen publication, nor much of a market, had it not been for Ballantine's huge success with the Lord of the Rings paperback edition, and their reasonably successful experiment with reprinting E.R. Eddison's fantasy works in a similar format soon after.

With the publication of The Sword of Shanarra, and with Star Wars becoming a huge success, the market for works influenced primarily by Tolkien (rather than sharing his own influence) was ready.

What would academics and hippies have read without Tolkien? They'd have stuck with Catcher in the Rye. Until the next Terribly Important Work came along.

Tol Eressea

Jan 3 2011, 7:36pm

Post #8 of 12 (453 views)
Without Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

fantasy literature, films, comic books, video games, and works of fantasy fiction in general simply would not be anywhere near as good as they are today.

Tol Eressea

Jan 3 2011, 7:51pm

Post #9 of 12 (459 views)
Ha! [In reply to] Can't Post

- I recognize that pub in your picture. It's the Eagle and Child, isn't it?

(Me and mrs g. were in those parts yesterday; didn't pop in, though).



Jan 3 2011, 7:54pm

Post #10 of 12 (439 views)
Even if he never wrote LOTR.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...Tolkien would have been a giant of the 20th century.

Tolkien felt the other professors neglected females in classrooms and that females had a harder time of it in college. So he would often invite them over to his home and he and Edith would give them support, advice, tutoring. Tolkien encouraged and supported women students who aspired to become writers, critiquing their manuscripts and writing them reference letters to publishers and agents. He also strongly encouraged them to write under their own names instead of using male pseudonyms as was the custom back then.

So he was responsible for quite a lot of books, including those of Mary Renault, one of the 20th century's greatest authors of gay literature. Tolkien mentions her books with signifcant approval in Letter 294.

And of course he turned the fields of philology and Anglo-Saxon literature on their ears.

In some ways Middle-earth is just a footnote in the awesome career of a very great and influential man.

Message on the back of Legolas' cloak:

"If you can read this the Dwarf has fallen off."

(This post was edited by Darkstone on Jan 3 2011, 7:57pm)

Idril Celebrindal
Tol Eressea

Jan 4 2011, 4:18am

Post #11 of 12 (416 views)
Fantasy would still exist without Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

The literary genre of fantasy would most certainly still exist if, say, a shell had landed a few yards to the right and obliterated Tolkien as he crouched in a trench on the Somme in 1916. Numerous writers were publishing fantasy books and stories during the period in which Tolkien wrote and published The Hobbit and LOTR. They include CS Lewis, Mervyn Peake, CL Moore, Henry Kuttner, Andre Norton, Edgar Rice Burroughs, L. Sprague deCamp, Fritz Leiber, and many others. The genre would also have been influenced by earlier writers like William Morris and Lord Dunsanay.

We can deduce the tropes of a Tolkien-less fantasy genre from the worlds created by these other novelists. It would still be heavily influenced by the historical Dark Ages, Medieval and Renaissance periods. It would still have strong elements of magic. It would still draw upon myths and legends from European cultures, as well as Joseph Campbell's "Hero with a thousand faces" ur-story. It would still feature tales of adventure, action, and romance.

So what did Tolkien bring to fantasy that these other writers lacked? His marvelous invented languages and alphabets. His use of poetry and song as essential parts of the story. His sense of sweeping history, of tales that pud down roots in the past, grounded in his lifetime of writing stories in his own private universe of Arda. His sense of his characters' honor and morality that derives partly from the great Northern European sagas and partly from his religious faith. His grief rooted in the loss of his mother and the deaths of his friends in wartime, which led to the sense of loss that infuses LOTR, his greatest work. His partitioning of races into elves, orcs, hobbits, etc. that serves as a shorthand for each race's fundamental moral characteristics and role in the story. His race of Elves that are noble, masterful, skilled and powerful -- not capricious sprites and malicious spirits. The format of the trilogy (not his fault, of course). His ecological and nature-related themes. And his modern understanding of evil as emptiness. Few other authors delved into these ideas to the extent that Tolkien did, especially the invented languages.

Fantasy would still exist without Tolkien. There would still be good fantasy, too. But it would lack the depth that Tolkien gave it.

I also think that fantasy would not be as popular without Tolkien. His writing came to wide public attention during the 1960s, a period when people began to question the wisdom of uinfettered mechanization, technological progress, and industrialized warfare. The themes of his work resonated with changes that were rippling through western society. They crystallized the sense of loss and unease that people felt about the wrenching disruptions they were living though. Tolkien, an extremely conservative individual, had much to say to people on the bleeding edge of social change. Other fantasy writers did not develop these themes to the degree that Tolkien did, and would therefore probably not have had the same impact on popular culture. Fantasy without him would most likely have become a niche genre, not a wildly popular and influential form of literature.

With caffeine, all things are possible.

The pity of Bilbo will screw up the fate of many.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

(This post was edited by Idril Celebrindal on Jan 4 2011, 4:28am)

Wraith Buster

Jan 6 2011, 12:50pm

Post #12 of 12 (427 views)
Life wouldn't be the same... [In reply to] Can't Post

without Tolkien! He is the best fantasy writer on earth!

Bustin' makes me feel good!!

I do believe if our honorable friend continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel for objections he is in danger of getting splinters under his fingernails.

Have you heard nothing of the stubbornness of dwarves and their elf

The dark spybot will not avail you, flame of Ubuntu!


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