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Tolkien parody: Insult or flattery??

Registered User

May 23 2013, 1:11am

Post #1 of 10 (372 views)
Tolkien parody: Insult or flattery?? Can't Post

Having been a Tolkien fan for nearly 4 decades, I am curious about how people feel about the parodies out there? I long ago read (and enjoyed) the Harvard Lampoon's effort, "Bored of the Rings." Recently, I just found a new one on Amazon entitled "High as a Hobbit." This one actually had me laughing out loud all evening. While I've considered myself a bit of a purist when it comes to the art of our British friend (for instance, I boycotted the movies at first...although broke down eventually and thoroughly enjoyed them!), I have no problems with well-written books that poke fun at the noble themes. I guess I agree with the author of HAAH (Timbly Prywater) who states that parody is a form of flattery. If you agree, I recommend "High as a Hobbit" with no reservations...it's really that funny! If you think otherwise about parody, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks.

Aragalen the Green

May 23 2013, 2:13am

Post #2 of 10 (189 views)
Haven't read the second one, [In reply to] Can't Post

but I think I might like it :)

I read Bored of the Rings years ago, bought a copy (which I still have!) for 17 cents from a used-book store in 1980. I found it wonderfully hilarious, although I had to ask my parents about some of the references (I didn't know what a Nehru jacket was, for example). I must say it never dimmed my enjoyment of The Hobbit or LotR, although now and then a line from BotR will pop into my head while I'm reading! I do have a friend however, who refuses to read BotR because she doesn't want it to diminish the original Tolkien books for her.

I would call it flattery in this case, as the authors did a wonderful job imitating Tolkien while creating some memorable images; and the style of writing is very creative.

'"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.'

(This post was edited by Aragalen the Green on May 23 2013, 2:15am)

Registered User

May 23 2013, 2:33am

Post #3 of 10 (180 views)
High as a Hobbit - prepare to laugh [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, if you like the imitation part of BotR, you will LOVE HaaH! It's a riot. Check it out.


May 23 2013, 7:32am

Post #4 of 10 (159 views)
Love BotR. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Reading Room has even conducted chapter discussions of it, on an on-again-off-again basis. Good satire is difficult, and they nail it.

I'll have to find the new one!


May 23 2013, 2:45pm

Post #5 of 10 (128 views)
Loved BotR [In reply to] Can't Post

One of the funniest things I've ever read. A story: I was in the local Barnes and Noble perusing the LOTR display and there among the offerings was Bored of the Rings. So I smiled and thought, well OK. Next minute a 10 year old was holding a copy and asking his grandmother if she would buy it for him. He obviously did not know what it was (it looked like a manageable Tolkien offering) and neither did she. So I told her. She asked him to pick out something else.

Ziggy Stardust

May 24 2013, 12:38am

Post #6 of 10 (110 views)
It all depends [In reply to] Can't Post

Some parody is done in flattery to the original: they parody it because they love it. But sometimes parody can be for malicious intent. They're making fun of it because they hate it. So it all depends. If they love it, then the parody is flattery. If they hate it, the parody is insult.


May 24 2013, 12:43am

Post #7 of 10 (131 views)
Insulting flattery [In reply to] Can't Post

As practiced by Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker.

I can't consider Tolkien's writing so weak and delicate that it couldn't stand up to some good-natured ribbing. I'm sure the Inklings inflicted far more than a gentle prodding. Indeed, as an example I'd quote Hugo Dyson, but this is a family board.

I met a Balrog on the stair.
He had some wings that weren't there.
They weren't there again today.
I wish he would just fly away.

Registered User

May 24 2013, 2:10am

Post #8 of 10 (112 views)
The Inklings... [In reply to] Can't Post

True enough, Darkstone. And the Inklings were to be considered a rebellious crowd in their day. Tolkien himself was ridiculed by his Oxford peers for his writings (which were considered by the stuffed shirts to be completely frivolous). Not that he was intentionally poking fun at the establishment with his books, but it's possible he took secret pleasure in their reaction and his success. I have a feeling Tolkien himself would take less offense to a good parody than those running the Tolkien estate these days.

There's a fine line between a rut and a groove.

Grey Havens

May 25 2013, 2:35am

Post #9 of 10 (73 views)
Welcome, Dunadanman! [In reply to] Can't Post

I've enjoyed Bored of the Rings, though it's been years since I've picked it up. I'll have to see about getting High as a Hobbit -- thanks for sharing your recommendation! Sounds like a fun read.

I think parody can be a perfectly fine form of flattery, but it can go the other way too. It takes a lot of skill to pull a parody off well, and I think Bored of the Rings succeeded in that.

Thanks for joining us, and hope you stick around!

Registered User

May 26 2013, 3:28am

Post #10 of 10 (73 views)
Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the warm welcome...like a draught of something cheering out of one of Beorn's wooden cups.

It's all about sharing with fellow fans -- even laughter at a good parody. These guys nailed it...look forward to hearing your reaction!

There's a fine line between a rut and a groove.


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