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Tolkien's influence on later writers
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noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 2, 2:18pm

Post #26 of 53 (2391 views)
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And.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Looking at Mr Gaiman's long and distinguished list of awards and honours, (including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals) I'm not really getting the impression he's 'such a trivial writer'.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jun 2, 2:19pm)


Solicitr
Gondor


Jun 2, 4:28pm

Post #27 of 53 (2380 views)
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Good Omens [In reply to] Can't Post

only became a TV miniseries after it was a book, and the book was co-written by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett


The Dude
Bree

Jun 2, 6:58pm

Post #28 of 53 (2365 views)
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Literary awards are largely meaningless... [In reply to] Can't Post

Their best use is as historical documents for the fleeting discursive tastes of a small sociocultural milieu. I would always be hesitant to judge the quality of an author's oeuvre based on the awards he received. This not only applies to the winners of awards for children's literature but also Nobel laureates.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 2, 7:50pm

Post #29 of 53 (2359 views)
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Gaiman, Wolfe, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...but Neil Gaiman is such a trivial writer; even worse are the films (Beowulf!) and television series (Good Omens, American Gods) he has been involved with as a writer - the very definition of postmodern claptrap.

To stay more on topic: one of the few good genre writers influenced by Tolkien passed last year: Gene Wolfe. That man actually wrote literature (PS: Here I completely side with Otaku-sempai ;) )


Considering that Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe are both writers that I have admired (along with Harlan Ellison and others), we'll have to agree to disagree on Gaiman.

#FidelityToTolkien


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jun 2, 8:42pm

Post #30 of 53 (2351 views)
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The Doctor's Wife [In reply to] Can't Post

Was an amazing episode. I didn't care for the Amy/Rory parts of it, but the conversations between The Doctor and the TARDIS were priceless. I was torn between wanting to see more episodes like it (so we could learn more about what the TARDIS thought), and wanting it to remain unique so it would never get trite. I'm sure the latter will prevail.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 3, 11:08am

Post #31 of 53 (2297 views)
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I wonder whether you meant.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder whether you meant something like this?
"Personally, I just don't enjoy Neil Gaiman's work, insofar as I've read it. I know that he's won lots of awards and honours, and has many other trappings of a successful and widely admired author. I expect that some folks who read or contribute here probably like his work. I don't mean to dismiss or disrespect their opinions. I just don't get, myself, what other people see in his work. I don't enjoy it at all. That is of course a personal reaction, and others are welcome to disagree."

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


The Dude
Bree

Jun 3, 1:31pm

Post #32 of 53 (2291 views)
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No, that was not what I meant. [In reply to] Can't Post

I am not of the opinion that art is purely subjective; nor do I think opinions have to be framed in the safest way possible. Of course, this is just my opinion. Everything written here are just opinions. It is pointless to reiterate this in every post.

Gaiman is a "successful and widely admired author", but so are J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, or Ken Follett. I do not deny that these people have their talents - they certainly know how to please their readers - but they are bestseller writers and not serious writers of literature. Their primary concern is to entertain, rather than to bring forth truth (even if it is a false truth).



Solicitr
Gondor


Jun 3, 1:47pm

Post #33 of 53 (2282 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I am not of the opinion that art is purely subjective; nor do I think opinions have to be framed in the safest way possible. Of course, this is just my opinion. Everything written here are just opinions. It is pointless to reiterate this in every post.

Gaiman is a "successful and widely admired author", but so are J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, or Ken Follett. I do not deny that these people have their talents - they certainly know how to please their readers - but they are bestseller writers and not serious writers of literature. Their primary concern is to entertain, rather than to bring forth truth (even if it is a false truth).


Query, Dude: have you read Gaiman's books, or are you basing your opinion on made-for-TV adaptations? I certainly wouldn't base my opinion of Tolkien on the movies.


The Dude
Bree

Jun 3, 2:24pm

Post #34 of 53 (2277 views)
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I have read.... [In reply to] Can't Post

...American Gods and parts of Good Omens and his short stories collection Fragile Things. Don't get me wrong, I have read worse poplit over the years (perhaps my comparison with Rowling was a little bit harsh) but there was nothing in those stories which elevated them above genre fiction.

I agree it would be unfair to assess Gaiman purely on the television series he has been involved with. The Tolkien comparison stretches things a little bit, however, since Tolkien was never directly involved in any adaption, whereas Gaiman (judging by IMDb and several interviews) certainly played an active role in multiple TV and film productions.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 3, 3:19pm

Post #35 of 53 (2269 views)
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So am I addressing the Sorting Hat of Literature then? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm interested to know how that works - I see that you decide for yourself whether a work is Serious Literature or not (fair enough, if that is a distinction that matters to you). But are you claiming that your ruling is objectively true in some way (that is, you're just right about these things and that's that)?

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


The Dude
Bree

Jun 3, 4:48pm

Post #36 of 53 (2264 views)
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Harry Potter metaphors in a discussion about serious literature? [In reply to] Can't Post

I would not exactly (for better and worse) compare myself to Harold Bloom, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, or Bernhard Pivot. I do not consider myself some self-styled, highest authority on literary criticism. I have read plenty of serious authors whose works I disliked (Camus, Kerouac, Mann, Ford) and others where my verdict has changed over time (Hemingway, DeLillo). Equally, I do not dismiss every author a priori just because he has been termed a genre writer. Most literary critics, to paraphrase Houellebecq, are caught in the "morbid mists" of their own cultural milieu; nor do I deny that some authors inhabit a grayzone between art and entertainment. And I am always willing to give certain authors another chance if I read an informative defense of them.

For many authors, however, I am confident enough to make a distinction between serious and trivial literature. Serious does not necessarily mean good, and trivial does not necessarily mean detrimental. Maybe this is a (dying) continental European perspective, but I am willing to defend this distinction. For their is a fundamental difference between E.L. James and Austen, Rowling and Tolkien, Grisham and McCarthy; between an author who primarily seeks to entertain his audience and one who wants (and is able) to say something about the human condition.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 3, 4:58pm

Post #37 of 53 (2251 views)
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Susanna Clarke (author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) [In reply to] Can't Post

.

Quote
"When I was a child, I loved books with magic in them. Then at the beginning of the '90s, I'd abandoned a detective novel I was writing, partly because I couldn't get the plot right and partly because a weird, fantastic, slightly surreal atmosphere kept creeping in—quite wrong for a detective novel. I was teaching English in Bilbao, and I became ill with some sort of postviral thing. This necessitated resting a lot. So I bought The Lord of the Rings and reread it. Then I reread it again. It completely took me over, and by the time I'd finished, it was obvious I ought to try writing a novel of magic and fantasy."
Susanna Clarke interviewed by the trade magazine Publishers Weekly


I'll offer another author up to the conversation, and see whether we want to talk about the influence of Tolkien on other authors this time. I notice that the link to Tolkien might well escape someone reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - I don't see much stylistically in common between Clarke's work and Tolkien's, and nor is there much in common as regards plot, setting, characters etc.

As regards other influence, the British Council has a good article about Strange & Norrell and says:


Quote
Clarke’s influences are appropriately eclectic. She has claimed Jane Austen is her favourite writer, because she ‘got as close to perfection as anyone can’, but also cites as influential Charles Dickens, fantastical postmodernist Neil Gaiman, Tolkien, the comics of Alan Moore, and the script-writing team behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer. An enduring fascination with magicians was prompted by reading C.S. Lewis as a child, but she claims that her closest model for creating convincing magical masters was Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy.


Susanna Clarke in British Council: Literature


~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 3, 6:33pm

Post #38 of 53 (2242 views)
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You're Slytherin, I see ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

I feel we got off to a rocky start. You pronounced, rather ex cathedra, I thought, that Gaiman was 'a trivial writer', and that seemed to me to be rather a picking of fights when I had just introduced him. I accept you meant that (in your opinion) he does not address 'the human condition'. I'm not going to argue 'oh yes he does' - he might or might not do, but I don't care about it enough to go re-read and make a scholarly defence.

I think the tradition of honouring works that speak to the human condition is neither dying, and nor is it characteristically Central European. But one might ask not only whether that is the sole criterion on which to judge things. One might, for example, ask 'which humans' and 'what condition'? For example I know youngsters who found that Harry Potter definitely spoke to their Human Condition (for example themes about bigotry and tolerance). Are they (objectively) wrong? Do we tell them to grow up because the work does not meet the human condition of some group of traditional literary sommeliers?

I'll leave that for you to ponder. I feel this tangent might have gone on long enough - we were originally supposed to be discussing which writers were influenced by Tolkien, not which ones meet some criteria one of us holds dear for being 'serious literature'.

Oh - but please don't try to police the metaphors that I may or may not use - for one thing I have no intention of taking any notice, and for another it merely makes you seem humourless and pompous.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


The Dude
Bree

Jun 3, 7:59pm

Post #39 of 53 (2229 views)
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If that is "policing" in your book... [In reply to] Can't Post

...what do your call your second post, in which you reworked my entire original post to fit the rhetoric you prefer? (for the record, I did not mind it and I would not call that "policing" either, but some consistency please).

My original post was not a response to you but to Otaku-sempai's wish to have Gaiman on the writers team for the Amazon series. I disagreed because Gaiman's ventures into television have been forgettable so far.

I did not say that the "tradition of honouring [literary] works that speak to the human condition" is characteristically Central European; but it is dying (for various reasons), and in some places it is dying faster than in others.

As far as "Harry Potter" is concerned, yes, we should tell youngsters (and former youngsters) that, if they love reading, there might be better things to read than (or after) "Harry Potter"; books that expand the mind, that confront the reader with different and alien opinions, that help him or her to grow as a human being, challenge him; and not - similar to Marvel films - feed him cliched pleasantries, tacky allegories, and generally poor, derivative prose.

PS: I am willing to concede that literary tastes can be different to a certain degree, that (I am guessing this is the gist of your argument) people are different, have different backgrounds and aspirations, and as such, they might react differently to certain books. So yes, not everyone has to like Austen, or Tolkien, or Hölderlin, or Proust, or Turgenev. But it does not follow that the merit of ALL art is essentially subjective or that we cannot criticize certain books for being the products of sheer consumerism (Rowling, not Gaiman). And in the end, most people at least implicitly acknowledge this on some level. Otherwise, there would be no discursive distinction between someone who considers the Transformer films the best movies of all times and someone who does the same for Scorsese flicks.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 4, 1:23am

Post #40 of 53 (2191 views)
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Gaiman as Screenwriter [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm familiar with only a portion of Neil Gaiman's work for film and television. I enjoyed his contributions to Doctor Who and the Neverwhere book and series. I very much like Coraline. I've only seen a bit (so far) of Good Omens, but I've read the novel. I very much like Stardust, though the movie was scripted by others. Gaiman also wrote the English-language screenplay for Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, though admittedly he was working from strong source material. I am very much looking forward to Netflix's Sandman series.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jun 4, 1:25am)


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jun 4, 8:40am

Post #41 of 53 (2155 views)
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i'm surprised that no=one has mentioned Terry Pratchett [In reply to] Can't Post

Who took a slightly different angle on the fantasy genre but was still influenced. Although Pratchett was never that much of a Tolkien fan apparently. But I enjoyed some of the Discworld series. At least whilst it was a Discworld series before it became the tales of the Ankh-Morpork police department!


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 4, 8:44am

Post #42 of 53 (2157 views)
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You are right about that - I apologise [In reply to] Can't Post

I would like to apologise that, having become annoyed, I allowed my posts in this sub-thread to become annoying (and worse to be intentionally annoying). Having had some time to think, (and having read your last post The Dude) I regret the line I took, the tone I used, and the irritation it surely caused. I will be careful not to behave in that way in future.
For some specifics: I agree it was unwise for me to paraphrase things in my second post. It would be entirely reasonable to see this as me donning a (probably rather oversized) peaked cap and jackboots taking it upon myself to set out how we may speak here. I think I might be asked not only to show consistency (as per your gentle formulation, The Dude) - I accuse myself of hypocrisy. Perhaps I should also try 'pompous and humourless' on for size myself - I fear it might fit all too well. Besides, 'pompous and humourless' was an unpleasant thing to say, and I regret it.


I may write a further post, replying in a reasonable way to The Dude's points. But I don't want to do that here as it could easily look like - or even become - a defence of my conduct. So I will end this post here,with my apologies again.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


The Dude
Bree

Jun 4, 3:37pm

Post #43 of 53 (2123 views)
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No hard feelings here. [In reply to] Can't Post

If you want we can continue this in the PMs.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 7, 12:41pm

Post #44 of 53 (1874 views)
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That's very kind of you [In reply to] Can't Post

...but I think I'll decline a further conversation by PM. I'd rather let the matter rest now.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Solicitr
Gondor


Jun 7, 4:13pm

Post #45 of 53 (1849 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post

It was precisely Eco's intention, in writing The Name of the Rose, to demonstrate that a mere "genre", the detective story, could nonetheless be the vehicle of very serious literature indeed.

Which in turn leads back to the topic of screen adaptations, at least Hollywood's: the film adaptation of NR was a mere detective story with all the serious content stripped out (indeed, at one point, ridiculed). This is a risk in adapting any 'crossover' or 'hybrid' novel-- like The Lord of the Rings. Since it's possible to read it as a mere adventure yarn and nothing more, it is possible - indeed a near-certainty - for any screen adaptation to be a mere adventure yarn and nothing more.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Jun 7, 4:17pm)


The Dude
Bree

Jun 7, 7:37pm

Post #46 of 53 (1826 views)
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LotR and "The Name of the Rose" [In reply to] Can't Post

As stated above, I would not deny that certain literary works which are deemed "genre" lit should actually be considered "serious" literature (my aforementioned reference to Houellebecq is from his book about H. P. Lovecraft, where he also positively mentions Tolkien). In my understanding, however, most "serious genre literature" either gets written by authors who do not consciously consider themselves writers of genre fiction (i.e., Tolkien did not primarily consider himself a fantasy author; in contrast to so many of his would-be successors) or by authors who ironically play, in a postmodern fashion, with genre rules (e.g., Eco).

I agree with your assessment of Annaud's film adaptation, though I would say that a faithful adaptation of Eco's book is probably even more unlikely than one of LotR. The Italian channel RAI apparently released a television series with John Turturro about it last year. Judging from the reviews I read it did not improve on the film.

I also in general concur with your points about Hollywood film adaptations, although - weirdly enough - this partly explains why I have rather more positive view of Jackson's LotR films. Given my age, this could very well be called retroactive reasoning (I was in middle school when those films came out) but even now I don't see a possibility where those movies would not have been produced as action movies first. When you look at earlier (and later!) blockbuster adapations, it is still baffling to me how well Jackson's original trilogy turned out, how (relatively!) little it consciously tried to improve and revise the source material*, and how in certain moments it actually conferred the epic and metaphysical timelessness of Tolkien's creation. Or, as someone on a completely different forum once wrote: "The nastiest thing I can say about them is that they got a lot of easy stuff wrong. The nicest thing I can say about them is that anyone else in Hollywood would have got more important things much more wrong."

*(as grating as some of Boyens' comments are, most Hollywood screenwriters and directors would have changed so much more, e.g., Sauron as a visible and "humanized" enemy, hackneyed and forced en-vogue political allegories, self-ironic metahumor to let everyone know this is all "just fantasy", Aragorn killing Sauron in the end because that's "what the audience needs", the Ring is turned into a WMD, weird sexual innuendo (or more) between Galadriel and certain protagonists, etc.)


(This post was edited by The Dude on Jun 7, 7:43pm)


Solicitr
Gondor


Jun 7, 8:10pm

Post #47 of 53 (1816 views)
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Yes, I think you're right [In reply to] Can't Post

This much I can say in defense of Jackson: It could have been so much worse! (I assume you've read the John Boorman treatment?)

But nonetheless one could weep in considering what a Kurosawa or a Lean could have done with it. Still, therein lies the Catch-22: any director who wanted to approach the LR with the high seriousness required would never in a million years have got funding for it. You couldn't do it at all for less than a blockbuster budget, and producers don't invest blockbuster money unless what they have in mind as a model is Star Wars or the MCU.


(This post was edited by Solicitr on Jun 7, 8:12pm)


Morthoron
Gondor


Jun 9, 1:11am

Post #48 of 53 (1761 views)
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I would say Annaud's adaptation... [In reply to] Can't Post

fairly caught the look and feel of The Name of the Rose, and the actors he chose for many of the characters were inspired (particularly Malachi, Berengar, Jorge, Remigio, and of course Salvatore as played by Ron Perlman), but Sean Connery and Christian Slater? Not so much.

In any case, the staggering amount of medieval allusions, the ecclesiastical nomenclature and the dogmatic debates swirling about a 14th century Benedictine monastery would have bewildered most movie goers; however, the simplification of the plot cut the scholarly heart out of a fascinating and great novel. Much like Jackson's devolution of The Lord of the Rings into an approximation of one of his earlier B-grade blood and guts horror flicks with a much larger budget and occasional Tolkien quotes scattered about various characters to lend an air of authenticity.

But as solicitr inferred, it could have been worse...much worse (ie., the Boorman treatment).

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



Solicitr
Gondor


Jun 9, 5:13am

Post #49 of 53 (1746 views)
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Tough cookies [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
In any case, the staggering amount of medieval allusions, the ecclesiastical nomenclature and the dogmatic debates swirling about a 14th century Benedictine monastery would have bewildered most movie goers



Morthoron
Gondor


Jun 9, 12:21pm

Post #50 of 53 (1704 views)
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Tough though the cookies may be... [In reply to] Can't Post

The studios are only looking for dough, and will let the chips fall where they may. Which is why you get half-baked product.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.


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