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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
This book was praised highly by Tolkien but from my glancing it is a tough read


Jul 30 2012, 2:49pm

Post #1 of 6 (638 views)
This book was praised highly by Tolkien but from my glancing it is a tough read Can't Post

by E. R. Eddison


"..Before diving in, there are a few things to be aware of. The rich language Eddison uses is based on Tudor and Jacobean English, with some modern anachronisms; it may take some getting used to, and occasionally a trip to the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary...."

Has anyone actually sat down and plowed through this book?
A retelling in more "modern" language would be of help for whoever
owns the copyright....this is done all the time with Bibles and other texts
written in archaic English etc. I know the language is part of the appeal and charm but if very few read it what good is that?

(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 30 2012, 2:51pm)


Jul 30 2012, 3:29pm

Post #2 of 6 (286 views)
It has the advantage of coming before Tolkien, [In reply to] Can't Post

but I never made my way through it all. The language is just so stylized. Still, I have been assured that it is worth it, if you can make the effort, or don't find it to be an effort.

(This post was edited by Curious on Jul 30 2012, 3:30pm)


Jul 30 2012, 4:36pm

Post #3 of 6 (242 views)
Revealing footnote on that site you gave [In reply to] Can't Post

To be accurate, Tolkien also pointed out that his work was not derivative from Eddison, had some pointed criticism of the ad-hoc nature of the the languages and geography of the Worm Ouroboros, and disliked most of the characters except for Lord Gro.

I have trouble with any book or movie where I don't like the characters. The Gormenghast novels fall in that category, and they were recommended to me by various Tolkien lovers.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Jul 30 2012, 4:38pm

Post #4 of 6 (225 views)
I read it through, years ago [In reply to] Can't Post

And my sole recollection is that the language made the reading experience unpleasant.

It was - well, "clunky", and had an artificially archaic feel.

Maybe it was just that I'm used to Tolkien's very fluid and "readable" use of archaic-style language! Evil


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


Jul 30 2012, 10:27pm

Post #5 of 6 (226 views)
I liked the Gormenghast books (at least the first two), but [In reply to] Can't Post

they are VERY different from Tolkien. I wouldn't want to spend time in Gormenghast, but I did find the grotesqueries wrought by Mervyn Peake's imagination bizarre and interesting. I don't re-read the books the way I read TH and LotR though.

I've tried to read Ouroborous a few times but I think the language almost gets in the way of the story because the style is a bit self-conscious for my taste. I've never finished it.


Jul 31 2012, 10:17am

Post #6 of 6 (341 views)
well, I suppose it depends on your reaction to the style [In reply to] Can't Post

I found the book a great read, itīs a fascinating story with varied characterizations, vivid descriptions and a strong sense of style. In terms of ethics and morals the book doesnīt have the impact that for instance LoTR does, though. The deliberately archaized style might put you off, but itīs definitely worth trying. In my view the books deserves a status as one of the absolute classics of fantasy.


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