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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Narrator in The Hobbit
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vexx801
Rivendell


Sep 6 2013, 7:30pm

Post #1 of 44 (607 views)
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The Narrator in The Hobbit Can't Post

Mae govannen.

Unlike Tolkien's other works in the Middle-Earth legendarium (Children of Hurin, Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, so forth), The Hobbit contains a narrator that often uses the words "I" or directly addresses the audience as "you." For example, "I suppose hobbits need some explaining..." This narrator also utilizes a variety of modern things from 20th century England. An example of this is the notion of a policeman riding a bicycle over the mountains (although that may simply be me misremembering and that notion only being present in early drafts). Seeming anachronisms are really ways of engaging the audience further, a way of being able to relate the unfamiliar to the familiar.

That being said, I have always been interesed in Tolkien's usage of a narrator. I realize that The Hobbit was not crafted as part of Tolkien's larger legendarium up to that point - although elements of the mythology seeped in and remained, linking the worlds together so that it was not beyond the realm of feasibility when he placed The Hobbit firmly in the same world - but this narrator itself is really a sort of character.

I suppose my reason for this thread is mainly to discuss the role of the narrator in The Hobbit, his "interuptions" in the narrative where he directly addresses the reader or makes a comment about something goung on, the literary techniques Tolkien utilized and whatever else you folks think up.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Sep 6 2013, 9:02pm

Post #2 of 44 (437 views)
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Well, I seem to remember... [In reply to] Can't Post

That Tolkien began telling the stories to his children, and was quite the storyteller! Perhaps the device itself, was an attempt to recapture the feeling of a fireside tale, told by an adult to the children who were gong to read it? Perhaps it worked quite well for the Tolkeins, and as any good author, he wrote "what you(he) know", and wanted to share that intimate feeling?


Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Sep 6 2013, 10:55pm

Post #3 of 44 (427 views)
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In the first chapter [In reply to] Can't Post

Of Lotr, there is very nearly a reference to the I.....you thing, but Tolkien just pulls himself up!


squire
Valinor


Sep 7 2013, 1:40am

Post #4 of 44 (454 views)
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The narrator was a well-established character in Tolkien's literary imagination [In reply to] Can't Post

Then he put the ball in his pocket, just to tease the dog, and turned away. I am sorry to say that Rover immediately bit his trousers, and tore out quite a piece. - J. R. R. Tolkien, Roverandom (c. 1927, pub. 1998), p. 4.

...and that was the end of Artaxerxes in the office of Pacific and Atlantic magician. Who has done their bewitchments for them since, I don't know. Old Psamathos and the Man-in-the-Moon, I should think, have managed it between them; they are perfectly capable of it. - Ibid., p. 82.

So at last he stopped and waited to see what would happen next. You can guess what they did! They brought out carrots, and coaxed the donkey back. And then they tied him up. - JRRT, Mr. Bliss (c. 1932, pub. 1983), p 24-25.

How did the bears do it? That is their own private secret. I expect they painted themselves with something that shines in the dark, and that they had been expecting people to come after them. I expect that, as soon as they heard the dogs snuffling outside their house (which you can see), they popped out. But I don't think they expected to frighten everybody as much as they did. - Ibid., pp. 29-30.

These quotes from Tolkien's other two "children's stories" before The Hobbit show that his use of a narrator in such stories was a natural device with him. The Hobbit marks a transition from the nonsense stories above to the far more serious and solemn Elven mythology that he was producing at the same time. Even the hobbit himself, Bilbo Baggins, is more akin to Mr. Bliss and Roverandom than he is to Feanor and Turin. But Gandalf and Aragorn, their successors in The Lord of the Rings, the mash-up masterpiece that resulted when these two styles met and merged, are more humane than the heroes of the First Age -- while Frodo, Bilbo's successor in the same story, is more elevated in sentiment than his earthy uncle (more properly, cousin). Like Thingol or Beren (but not like Tom Bombadil or Treebeard, I think!) Frodo would be quite out of place in Mr. Bliss or Roverandom.

I am so used to The Hobbit as a book that I grew to love before I ever read LotR, that I cherish the Narrator and the spirit behind him. I wished the recent film had gone with a Tolkien-style character as the narrator, rather than Bilbo, and I am always sorry when some readers object that the cranky but kindly old gent isn't a very properly "Tolkien" element in the book. Well he is, it's just that that Tolkien gradually retired in favor of a greater, and slightly less playful and charming, author. Ironically, of course, even that later Tolkien himself expressed a desire to exterminate The Hobbit's narrator in favor of a style more in sync with LotR. Luckily, he had second thoughts about actually performing the execution.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


aruman
Rivendell


Sep 7 2013, 6:43pm

Post #5 of 44 (386 views)
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That's funny.. [In reply to] Can't Post

just the other day I think I was listening to LOTR audiobook and I noticed, to my shock, that there was one instance where the narrator/Tolkien did refer to himself as "I." I remember b/c I immediately told me wife excitedly, since I had never noticed this before, and it stood out big time. I think it was during some innocent point in the story, and I seem to remember the narrator saying someone did or took something, and then in parenthesis adding, (but not enough, I shouldn't wonder) or something like that. I'll try to find that section again.

In the movies Elrond, Denethor, Haldir, Galadriel, and Celeborn stink.


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 8 2013, 12:39am

Post #6 of 44 (367 views)
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Great post Squire [In reply to] Can't Post

I too love the feel of the avuncular, old-fashioned narrator voice in TH. I also enjoy, as Vexx points out, the anachronisms that voice brings into the book, as well as the sense of unhurried telling of an antique tale that it imparts as well.

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








(This post was edited by Brethil on Sep 8 2013, 12:40am)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 8 2013, 10:15am

Post #7 of 44 (361 views)
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I have a rather more complicated relationship with that kind of narrator… [In reply to] Can't Post

…By which I mean a narrator who cannot logically be speaking from within the story, or is intervening from the story's framing device. It's a invention which I very much associated with children's books of my childhood, and so I had a prejudice about it being childish. It's been somewhat redeemed for my by listening to The Hobbit as an audiobook with my daughter; there the device worked well.

It's a device which certainly can misfire, or be abused (as in C S Lewis's Silver Chair, where he breaks off the story for a polemic about progressive schools…).

I was thinking: Tolkien makes clever use of various narrator devices. Is anyone already planning a piece about this for the upcoming November Online symposium to be hosted on this fine forum, or am I clear to try to write a paper on it?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Brethil
Half-elven


Sep 8 2013, 10:25am

Post #8 of 44 (357 views)
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Dating the work [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting points about the perceived age of the work through the narrator's voice.

I would say it makes a great topic for a Symposium piece - would love to hear more about your ideas! Consider that a green light! WinkSmile

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








(This post was edited by Brethil on Sep 8 2013, 10:25am)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 8 2013, 11:21am

Post #9 of 44 (357 views)
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Something fashionable in children's fiction of Tolkien's time? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that might be the case: the author who addresses the reader directly sems more of a childrens book kind of thing. Addressing the reader directly as opposed to, say, pretending to be an editor & providing footnotes, or working within another framing device.

I can think of one adult novel using something close: in The French Lieutenant's Woman, narratorly insights into the characters thoughts or actions blossom out into authorial essays about Victorian life and culture. But it's a deliberately odd book, and maybe is the exception which proves the rule.

Maybe more recent children's authors use the device less because it can tip over into being patronising. Interesting to compare Harry Potter: JK Rowling uses a variety of devices (especially in the earlier books) to make sure her younger readers have picked up a certain inference, or made a necessary deduction. But the "Now of course you will be wondering… " kind of gambit is not among them.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 8 2013, 11:24am

Post #10 of 44 (346 views)
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I do also agree with Squire! [In reply to] Can't Post

…seems perfectly sensible to see the loss if the direct address narrator as being part of LOTR becoming a more adult work, rather than "Hobbit II"

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


elaen32
Gondor


Sep 8 2013, 2:52pm

Post #11 of 44 (339 views)
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Go for it NoWiz! [In reply to] Can't Post

I look forward to reading it in November!Smile


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!



noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 8 2013, 6:05pm

Post #12 of 44 (327 views)
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What I really +don't + want to do though is to curtail this discussion now. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 8 2013, 6:08pm

Post #13 of 44 (339 views)
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A telling modern example of this… [In reply to] Can't Post

…is probably Lemony Snicket. He uses the first-person author addressing the readers technique, but does it ironically.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 8 2013, 6:38pm

Post #14 of 44 (332 views)
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Into The Woods (1986) [In reply to] Can't Post

Narrator: "It is interesting to examine the moral issue at question here. The finality of stories such as these dictates..."
(he looks upstage and notices everyone staring at him; he advances toward them)
Narrator: "Sorry, I only tell the story. I'm not part of it."
Red Riding Hood: "That's right."
Witch: "Not one of us."
Baker: "You're always on the outside."
Narrator: "Well, that's my role! You must understand, there must always be someone on the outside!"
Steward: "Well, you're going to be on the inside now."
Narrator: "You're making a big mistake!"
Stepmother: "Nonsense."
Narrator: "You need an objective observer to pass the story along!"
Witch: "Some of us don't like the way you've been telling it."

******************************************
“That hobbit has a pleasant face,
His private life is a disgrace.
I really could not tell to you,
The awful things that hobbits do.”


squire
Valinor


Sep 8 2013, 9:55pm

Post #15 of 44 (328 views)
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There are children's books, and then there are just books: [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree that the device of a fatherly first-person narrator can be found in children's fiction of Tolkien's era.
"I don't know whether you have ever seen a map of a person's mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and your own map can become intensely interesting" - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan (1911), Ch. 1.
But even more common is the fatherly storyteller's tone, though the pronoun I might not itself appear. In Alice in Wonderland, for instance, this kind of thing is very common:
"(and she tried to curtsey as she spoke--fancy curtseying as you're falling through the air! Do you think you could manage it?)" - Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Ch.1.
Then there is the very common instance of an adventure story being told in the first person by the protagonist or by a secondary character who witnesses the story as it takes place (Treasure Island, the Sherlock Holmes stories, and H. Rider Haggard's adventures come to mind - and the latter stories were not written for children but for adults' light amusement). In all these cases, the writer is deliberately trying to evoke the feeling of a story being told to one in person, rather than impersonally.

It's not surprising that Tolkien should have been drawn to this style, as fascinated as he was with the history of spoken language and the origins of written stories in unrecorded oral literature. And there is his further insistence that so-called "fairy stories" -- the more magical variations of "folk stories", which were also a relatively new genre in his time and which were deeply connected to the history of his profession of philology -- were by no means meant primarily for children.

Here are two more examples of his fiction in which one can practically see him executing the transition from the narrator-heavy fantasy stories he practiced with his children to the narrator-light romance of the "New Hobbit", aka The Lord of the Rings. It's not at all clear that he was writing these for children, at least in revision; note the dates:
"Very few of them knew about his picture, of course; but if they had known, it would not have made much difference. I doubt if they would have thought that it mattered much. I dare say it was not really a very good picture, though it may have had some good passages." - J. R. R. Tolkien, "Leaf by Niggle" (c. 1939), in The Tolkien Reader (1964), p. 102.
I had to look for this one: that is, the professorial "I" is very rare in 'Leaf by Niggle'. Yet the prose positively overflows with Tolkien's writerly voice, being as it is practically a calque on his own creative process.
"There was one giant in particular, larger and more stupid than his fellows. I find no mention of his name in the histories, but it does not matter." - J.R.R.T., "Farmer Giles of Ham" (orig. c. 1920s; fin. 1938; pub. 1949), in The Tolkien Reader (1964), p. 126-27.

"For though the oaths he had taken should have burdened his conscience with sorrow and a great fear of disaster, he had, alas! no conscience at all. ...at the least the parson with his booklearning might have guessed it. He was a grammarian, and could doubtless see further into the future than others." Ibid., p. 160.

"But still that name endures; though men now call it Wunnle (or so I am told); for villages have fallen from their pride." Ibid., p. 185.
In the above clips from Farmer Giles, I note that the narrator uses the first person "I" only at the very beginning and end of the story. But the little jabs at Chrysophylax and at the parson, in the middle quote, show that throughout the book the narrator has a distinctly satirical point of view and is anything but impersonal.
[Bilbo announces he is leaving, to get married] "That's that. It merely serves to explain that Bilbo Baggins got married and had many children, because I am going to tell you a story about one of his descendants, and if you had only read his memoirs up to the date of Balin's visit -- ten years at least before this birthday party -- you might have been puzzled." - J.R.R.T., "A Long-Expected Party" (1st draft, 1937; pub. 1988 in HoME Vol. VI.)
Not surprisingly we see that when Tolkien began the Hobbit sequel, in the passage above, he was firmly in the same voice as the just-published book seemingly demanded that he be. Of course as we know he broke away from that in the course of numerous re-writings. The personal narrator is very rare in the actual The Lord of the Rings. One of my favorite instances of it is here:
"The path was not put there for the purposes of Sam. He did not know it, but he was looking at Sauron's Road from Barad-dur to the Sammath Naur, the Chambers of Fire." - J.R.R.T., LotR VI.3.
I'm sure it's no new observation that when Tolkien wasn't writing his fiction in a first-person narrator voice, he was writing via the "frame-narrative" device which characterized the Book of Lost Tales/Quenta Silmarillion from the very beginning. The Lord of the Rings falls between the two: the fatherly narrator is gone, but the tale is only intermittently established as a frame-narrative. As a result it is probably the most "normal" piece of straightforward narrative fiction he ever wrote.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 9 2013, 10:41am

Post #16 of 44 (308 views)
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The "bedtime story" or "fatherly" tone [In reply to] Can't Post

That very helpfully puts a label on something for me - sometimes Tolkien's narrator seems to be "inside" the story: describing actions, scenery, or character states of mind. At other times the narrator seems to be more outside the story - commenting upon it. As you say, this is most noticeable when the narrator steps forward in the first person, but it is also there as a third-person device. In LOTR that happens most in the very early chapters - for example the narrator actively invites us to find the hobbits amusing, rather than letting us find (or not find) this amusement for ourselves. In The Hobbit, Gandalf, and sometimes the Dwarves, get similar treatments.

I'll need to do some re-reading if I'm to work this up as part of a Symposium paper, but currently I'm minded to agree with you, Squire, that it is a device Tolkien was expecting to use in children's books (and probably also from his custom of trialling his writing on his own children, and being influenced by their responses). Apart from custom & practice, I can think of 2 reasons why one might deploy this kind of narrator effect:
Child readers, being less experienced in the world than adults, might be less able to draw inferences and deductions from the text, and the author might want the narrator to intervene to make sure they've captured a particular point.
The narrator can step forward as a means of injecting humour, perhaps especially to lighten a sense of peril - for example, the idea of calling the Mirkwood Spiders "Tom Noddy" and "Attacop" shifted my own daughter from barely able to cope with the suspense to laughing out loud. Of course, it is this very prominent reminder that "this is only a story" which is a risk for the storyteller here - readers can find his "fatherly" intervention tedous or patronizing instead of amusing.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 9 2013, 11:23am

Post #17 of 44 (303 views)
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Surprisingly recent publishing industry discovery - childrens books are sometimes "just books" :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Worth remembering that, in Tolkien's day, the publishing industry tended to regard Childrens books as very distinct, even more so than today. A time-travelling Mr Unwin (Tolkien's first publisher) might get a number of surprises from reviewing what was selling today, and what you could regularly see being read on, say a London Tube train.

Mrs. nWm (who has worked in children's publishing since the mid 1980s), tells me that the idea that adults might read a "childrens book" for their own reading pleasure was not at all widespread up until the late 1990's with Harry Potter. Once an "adult" market did appear, Potter was issued in 2 kinds of cover - a colourful and more sombre binding, the idea being that the more sombre one would not put off adult readers.

"Crossover novels" as they are called did of course exist before that - LOTR is an obvious example, attracting child, teen and adult readers from the beginning, Ibelieve. "Letters" reveals that Tolkien was well aware that LOTR had left the core children's fiction market and might be riskily exposed to being neither one thing nor another (the sheer length and so cost of printing was another big commercial risk, all the more so because the book was to be published while paper was still rationed due to post-war shortages).

It's a slightly odd thing that it was Harry Potter that broke the logjam - despite earlier authors who would seem to have been equally suitable to have done it (Alan Garner or Diana Wynne Jones, for example).

The other author I know of who sells huge volumes in garish and non-garish covers is Sir Terry Pratchett. He too has a readership with a wide age range. But there I'm not sure whether the neutral cover is needed so that people don't stare at this adult reading childrens fiction Shocked. It could be that the muted cover is for people who don't feel comfortable being seen reading (gasp) science fiction or fantasy ShockedBlush. Similarly, various covers for Philip Pullman.

Other changes have happened too: the idea of adults reading graphic novels (and the content of those novels themselves) would also have been astonishing to publishers of Tolkien's time - for whom "comics" were cheaply produced items for kids. Shall I explain to time-travelling Mr Unwin what the at one stage ubiquitous-on-trains-and-planes Fifty Shades of Grey is about, or would you kindly do that...Crazy

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 9 2013, 4:07pm

Post #18 of 44 (285 views)
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"The Lord of the Rings, the mash-up masterpiece" - brilliant // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 11 2013, 6:29pm

Post #19 of 44 (286 views)
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“The Hobbit that can be spoken of is not The Hobbit.” [In reply to] Can't Post

Metafiction has a long tradition in novel writing.


They will have it his surname was Quixada or Quesada (for here there is some difference of opinion among the authors who write on the subject), although from reasonable conjectures it seems plain that he was called Quexana. This, however, is of but little importance to our tale; it will be enough not to stray a hair's breadth from the truth in the telling of it.

-Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605)


Thus, gentle reader, I have given thee a faithful history of my travels for sixteen years and above seven months: wherein I have not been so studious of ornament as of truth. I could, perhaps, like others, have astonished thee with strange improbable tales; but I rather chose to relate plain matter of fact, in the simplest manner and style; because my principal design was to inform, and not to amuse thee.

-Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1726)


I do not know where I can find a better place than just here, to make mention of one or two other things, which to me seem important, as in printed form establishing in all respects the reasonableness of the whole story of the White Whale, more especially the catastrophe. For this is one of those disheartening instances where truth requires full as much bolstering as error. So ignorant are most landsmen of some of the plainest and most palpable wonders of the world, that without some hints touching the plain facts, historical and otherwise, of the fishery, they might scout at Moby Dick as a monstrous fable, or still worse and more detestable, a hideous and intolerable allegory.

-Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851)


The essence of meta:

The Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao.

-Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching, 6th century BC


To me, the most delightful metafictional moment in Tolkien is "Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?" I take it as the author directly addressing the nameless reader sitting alone with his book. Always gives me a smile as well as sends chills up my spine.

(I'd suppose there are metaficitional moments in Homer and Beowulf, but memory fails me at the moment, as it seems wont to do ever more frequently.)

******************************************
“That hobbit has a pleasant face,
His private life is a disgrace.
I really could not tell to you,
The awful things that hobbits do.”

(This post was edited by Darkstone on Sep 11 2013, 6:30pm)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 11 2013, 8:42pm

Post #20 of 44 (255 views)
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And "Reader, I married him" // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 11 2013, 8:55pm

Post #21 of 44 (265 views)
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Good one! [In reply to] Can't Post

1847

******************************************
“That hobbit has a pleasant face,
His private life is a disgrace.
I really could not tell to you,
The awful things that hobbits do.”

(This post was edited by Darkstone on Sep 11 2013, 8:55pm)


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 11 2013, 9:17pm

Post #22 of 44 (259 views)
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The first-person narrator (or editor) is always a bold gambit, I think… [In reply to] Can't Post

…it forces the reader out of the story, into seeing it +as+ a story. The televisual equivalent is a presenter popping up and talking to camera.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 11 2013, 9:37pm

Post #23 of 44 (258 views)
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It can be a good choice for a first time writer. [In reply to] Can't Post

It's easier to keep a consistent tone, it can increase verisimilitude, it can build sympathy, it's a quick way to dump exposition, and finally, using "I" is how we usually communicate so it's a natural way to write.

From that standpoint one can argue that an amateur writer might start with a narrator, then as he/she gains confidence and experience they slowly edge the narrator out of the picture.

******************************************
“That hobbit has a pleasant face,
His private life is a disgrace.
I really could not tell to you,
The awful things that hobbits do.”


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Sep 12 2013, 5:55pm

Post #24 of 44 (225 views)
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Whose on 1st? Whose on 3rd? [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting thought about whether a 1st or 3rd person narrator is easier to do - as it happens I find 3rd easier than 1st. I expect it's to do with how a particular person 's imagination works. I tend to start with plot & then find characters: maybe that makes it easier to start on 3rd.

The 1st or 3rd choice has a whole lot of consequences, especially for that constant problem of who can credibly communicate the things the reader needs to know (or credibly withhold the denouement ). Get it wrong and you're left with very artificial "infodumps", where A tells B something which they clearly would both know and would be most unlikely to discuss.

Tolkien is clearly the master of both 1st and 3rd - long passages of LOTR are in 1st: Gandalf recounting the Balrog fight, or the hobbits explaining about their Orc prisoner experience.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


CuriousG
Valinor


Sep 12 2013, 6:15pm

Post #25 of 44 (226 views)
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I think 1st person is tricky [In reply to] Can't Post

when you try to figure out how omniscient the narrator is. It's easy to lose a grip on that and veer back and forth.

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