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November 7th, 2008, 12:41
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
One may dispute Tolkiens literary ability (with some justice, as mentioned above) but there is no sensible deniying of his enormous importance for the development of western (pop) culture since. So "taking serious" may have different connotations and depends on context. In that sense Doyle is actually an excellent comparison. Not high literature either, but hugely influential and genre defining as well.
Of course, that Tolkien is influential is beyond doubt. But sometimes I think the genre would have been better off without—imagine how much more interesting fantasy today might be if, to pick a random example, Zelazny's Lord of Light had been as popular as LOTR. Then again, Lord of Light is probably too weird for some people, as it goes way outside of the average westerner's familiar grounds, does interesting things with culture and roots itself as much in Buddhism/Hinduism as in western ideals. Tolkien, on the other hand, hits the spot for a lot of people because he offers the comfortable—good and evil and moral absolutes, fighting to restore the status quo, affirming the longing for a romanticized medieval Europe that never actually existed, steeping itself in tried western mythology. In fact, there's absolutely nothing challenging about LOTR. You read it for feel-good escapism, you read it for the same reason you'd go watch Disney titles. Which is fine, but let's not pretend it's anything else.

Mind you, Tolkien was an excellent scholar, there is no denying; far better a scholar than he was a writer, in fact. I like reading his essays much more than his fiction.
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November 7th, 2008, 12:58
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
One may dispute Tolkiens literary ability (with some justice, as mentioned above) but there is no sensible deniying of his enormous importance for the development of western (pop) culture since. So "taking serious" may have different connotations and depends on context. In that sense Doyle is actually an excellent comparison. Not high literature either, but hugely influential and genre defining as well.
Exactly right. The quality of Tolkein's actual writing is not considered particularly high at all. His linguistic composition and use of that to create an English mythology (which we're sadly lacking in compared to many cultures) is what rightly earns him a place among the greats.
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November 7th, 2008, 13:32
Well, if we're going to trash a perfectly good thread, I suppose literary snobbery is as good an excuse as any. We're not done until someone uses the word "gauche" in the natural course of a post, though.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
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November 7th, 2008, 13:37
I second on what kalniel wrote.

Considered against the incredible tricks of successful creative writing, Tolkien most likely never knew these tricks. He just wrote like he wanted to.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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November 7th, 2008, 15:55
Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
It is not universal. Unless the academia has changed significantly in the last few months, Tolkien's place in the western canon's not exactly a sure thing. There're still plenty of scholars who don't take him seriously, and even some of those who do don't consider him a great writer in terms of style and language (and rightly too, because his style is nonexistent).
.
His style is based on his research and studies, basically the structure of the myth and creation stories, the Kalevala, the Eddas, and the Volsunga Saga. Of course updated to fit modern language. Yet he created a full language, Elvish, and a partial second one, Dwarven. Not only were they derivative of real languages but technically astute as Tolkien was first a linguistic professor. Tolkien's place in Western canon is a sure thing. My proof is his writing on the reading lists of high schools and universities, the lists of the greatest classics in literature of all time (along with Conan Doyle's works), and the utterly numerous articles, reviews, and analysis of his works by reviewers and scholars.

Where is your proof that his works are not?
Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
And then you go right and mention Conan Doyle, who didn't even take a great fat lot of pride in his Sherlock Holmes stories. I quite like those books, but it's not the best example.
.
I never specifically mentioned Sherlock Holmes, just the author. However argue as you may, his works are recognized universally as classic literature. You may think they are not eloquent/snooty etc. enough, but they are what they are-classics. There is proof of that, where is your proof they are not?

Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
Anti-progress pastoral nostalgia with a not-so-subtle dash of Catholic complacency and self-righteousness, some ethnocentricism, and a good bit of classism. Yeah, you're right: timeless. If I want anything Norse, I'll go right to the source and read the Eddas or assorted materials. They take themselves so much less seriously, and are much more exciting to boot.
.
These quotes almost give you away as a closed minded post modernist only looking in one direction without thoroughly emcompassing the whole. Do you have the slightest clue of all the themes, motifs, symbolism and allegory contained in his works?
Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
Have to? Either you're terribly myopic or you're being condescending. Neither is particularly becoming. And yes, I'll take Mieville any day, who not only writes wonderfully weird stuff and cool monsters, but also doesn't try to get on fantasy readers' good side by repeatedly fellating Tolkien's corpse.

Thats the whole problem of your statements, you can only accept and analyze what fits your world view and not acquiesce to the genius of that which does not.
Last edited by buckaroobonzai; November 7th, 2008 at 17:18.
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November 7th, 2008, 18:28
Originally Posted by buckaroobonzai View Post
His style is based on his research and studies, basically the structure of the myth and creation stories, the Kalevala, the Eddas, and the Volsunga Saga. Of course updated to fit modern language. Yet he created a full language, Elvish, and a partial second one, Dwarven. Not only were they derivative of real languages but technically astute as Tolkien was first a linguistic professor.
Yes? And? Linguistics are great. Tolkien was a brilliant linguist. Neither makes a good story.

Tolkien's place in Western canon is a sure thing. My proof is his writing on the reading lists of high schools and universities, the lists of the greatest classics in literature of all time (along with Conan Doyle's works), and the utterly numerous articles, reviews, and analysis of his works by reviewers and scholars.

Where is your proof that his works are not?
That's, uh, not a proof. But if you want anecdotes (which is all what you've listed are), then have some: most universities with reputable lit courses I've looked at do not include Tolkien anywhere in their syllabuses. Whereas just about every single one will have Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton.

You may think they are not eloquent/snooty etc. enough
Did anyone teach you that straw man arguments make you sound silly?

These quotes almost give you away as a closed minded post modernist only looking in one direction without thoroughly emcompassing the whole. Do you have the slightest clue of all the themes, motifs, symbolism and allegory contained in his works?
You know Tolkien insisted that his work contained no allegory? Ooh, close-minded post-modernist? Hahaha. So much for debate ability.

Thats the whole problem of your statements, you can only accept and analyze what fits your world view and not acquiesce to the genius of that which does not.
Oh. I see, you're angry that someone doesn't agree Tolkien is the epitome of literature which all must worship or else. Sorry, I was mistaken for a moment that you were capable of holding a rational discussion, apologies.
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November 7th, 2008, 20:54
Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
Yes? And? Linguistics are great. Tolkien was a brilliant linguist. Neither makes a good story.
.
As usual you missed the point about structure based on myth creation stories upon which the Eddas, Kalevala, Beowulf, Greek epics, Arthurian legends etc. all were born from through thousands of years of history and developed upon. Pretty solid foundations don'tcha think, or do ya?
"Neither makes a good story" What a pointless statement. Said in response to what? And how does LoTR not make a good story, huh……huh?

Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
That's, uh, not a proof. But if you want anecdotes (which is all what you've listed are), then have some: most universities with reputable lit courses I've looked at do not include Tolkien anywhere in their syllabuses. Whereas just about every single one will have Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton.
.
Please divulge the percentage with proof of reputable university lit courses that do not include Tolkien in their syllabi. Otherwise your opinionated hearsay is meaningless. And my proof stands since my points can be seen EVERYWHERE on the planet, while yours may or may not have even a smidgn of fact.

Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
Did anyone teach you that straw man arguments make you sound silly?
.
You would know all about that wouldn't you, starwmen that is. Speaking of teaching, I think you need to approach that from the other side and learn more about the medium from upon which you so narrowly slice your monoscopic viewpoints from.

Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
You know Tolkien insisted that his work contained no allegory? Ooh, close-minded post-modernist? Hahaha. So much for debate ability.
.
Didn't you just say straw man arguments make you sound silly…Oh yeah! Here ya go:
http://users.ipfw.edu/carr/writing/lordrings.htm
"For example, in a preface to the book, Tolkien refuted reading Lord of the Rings as an anti-nuclear statement, yet noted how World War I had served as the initial inspiration for the work. Tolkien scholar Jane Chance observes how Tolkien wrote the second volume of Lord of the Rings during World War II when he served as an RAF pilot over Africa (Chance 1992). According to National Public Radio, Tolkien considered Lord of the Rings “an allegory of the inevitable fate that waits for all attempts to defeat evil power by power,” – in other words, a kind of master allegory (Dowell 2001). A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article quotes from a 1953 letter in which Tolkien argues that Lord of the Rings is “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.” Having studiously avoided either putting in or cutting out any reference to religion, Tolkien concludes that the book’s religious aspects are thoroughly “absorbed into the story and the symbolism” ("Tolkien's Rings" 2001)."

Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
Oh. I see, you're angry that someone doesn't agree Tolkien is the epitome of literature which all must worship or else. Sorry, I was mistaken for a moment that you were capable of holding a rational discussion, apologies.

There is no anger at all. I did not state he is the epitome of literature, again quit making up statements that fit your worldview. I said his works are classic literature, and they are, that is not opinion, deal with it,
You however have backed up your statements with implied university curriculi that you haven't proven. My proof is as plain as day, and you fail to see even the simplest sledgehammers of evidence of it that even a college student would easily comprehend. If you need proof that LoTR is considered classic literature, you need to stop reading "Waiting for Godot" in your hemp chair in your forest commune.
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November 7th, 2008, 22:34
Originally Posted by buckaroobonzai View Post
I said his works are classic literature, and they are, that is not opinion, deal with it,
You can't just state that your opinion is fact and leave it at that. The only fact here is that your statement about his works being classic literature is your opinion I do not believe that it is at all factual that his works are classic literature, in fact I don't even believe they are. They are classic books, and his creation is a great work, but literature it is not, let alone classic literature.
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November 8th, 2008, 00:49
Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
Oh. I see, you're angry that someone doesn't agree Tolkien is the epitome of literature which all must worship or else. Sorry, I was mistaken for a moment that you were capable of holding a rational discussion, apologies.
I find it humerous that you would sink to throwing insults at him, and then talk about "holding a rational discussion".
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November 8th, 2008, 00:56
Nothing quite so haughty as literature snobs, JDR.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
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November 8th, 2008, 04:19
Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
You can't just state that your opinion is fact and leave it at that. The only fact here is that your statement about his works being classic literature is your opinion I do not believe that it is at all factual that his works are classic literature, in fact I don't even believe they are. They are classic books, and his creation is a great work, but literature it is not, let alone classic literature.
Pretty much what I've been saying, including his insistence on stating his opinion as fact. But I don't think you'll get through to him any more than I did.

Originally Posted by buckaroobonzai View Post
As usual you missed the point about structure based on myth creation stories upon which the Eddas, Kalevala, Beowulf, Greek epics, Arthurian legends etc. all were born from through thousands of years of history and developed upon. Pretty solid foundations don'tcha think, or do ya?
"Neither makes a good story" What a pointless statement. Said in response to what? And how does LoTR not make a good story, huh……huh?
What language are you speaking? "Linguistics are great. Tolkien was a brilliant linguist. Neither makes a good story." Do I seriously need to teach you basic reading comprehension? Okay, to make it easier for you: neither being a brilliant linguist nor linguistics makes for a good story. Or storytelling abilities.

Please divulge the percentage with proof of reputable university lit courses that do not include Tolkien in their syllabi. Otherwise your opinionated hearsay is meaningless. And my proof stands since my points can be seen EVERYWHERE on the planet, while yours may or may not have even a smidgn of fact.
You didn't provide any facts, actually, and nor do I need to offer a percentage: you were screaming that adoration for Tolkien is universal. It is, very obviously, not—some professors don't consider it sufficiently relevant or sufficiently good to merit a place in their courses.

If you need proof that LoTR is considered classic literature, you need to stop reading "Waiting for Godot" in your hemp chair in your forest commune.
Wow, that's so retarded I have no words. You must be getting desperate.

Incidentally, even setting aside all the "literary snobs!1!!" whining, I don't even think Tolkien's fiction is good for entertainment. I've always found it deathly, absolutely, painfully dull.
Last edited by Essaliad; November 8th, 2008 at 04:44.
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November 8th, 2008, 13:41
Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
Whereas just about every single one will have Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton.
Yes, but they are several hundred years dead, you know ?

How will Tolkien be treated in let's say 300 years ?

To me, this is just a sign of conservatism, nothing else.


I could even expand this example towards Edgar Allan Poe.
He also invented literature genres - even more than Tolkien.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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November 10th, 2008, 13:25
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Yes, but they are several hundred years dead, you know ?

How will Tolkien be treated in let's say 300 years ?

To me, this is just a sign of conservatism, nothing else.
Except the following authors are also considered, more or less, respectably literary in academic circles: Toni Morrison, T. S. Eliot, Faulkner, Salman Rushdie, and a lot more. Wouldn't you know, not only have these people not been dead for centuries, some of them are actually still alive (!). Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf is quite respectable, and barring the possibility that he's just dropped dead right this minute, to my knowledge he's still not shuffled off his mortal coil.

Understand, being considered literary is not a mark of superiority in particular, and nor do I adore every single piece of text in your average university syllabus—if anything, I support the notion of blurring the line between "genre"and "literary" fiction, which is a wanky distinction in itself and I'd love for more people to take speculative fiction more seriously without stupid bitches like Margaret Atwood whining about how their stuff is serious literature, not sci-fi. buckaroobonzai's fantastically off-the-mark comment about Waiting for Godot was particularly amusing because I care nothing for Beckett despite his place in the canon. But the fact is, Tolkien's still not given an unequivocal place in that canon. He might, given a few more decades, but unless you've special psychic powers, we don't know yet.
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November 10th, 2008, 17:02
Well, I don't know. To me, this is still kind of sign of how the "literary machine" works.

Some are accepted, others not.

For example I doubt that Elfride Jelinek has her place in too many libraries - and that although she received the Nobel Prize for Literature !

I believe that most people don't even know her …

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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November 10th, 2008, 21:19
Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
Pretty much what I've been saying, including his insistence on stating his opinion as fact. But I don't think you'll get through to him any more than I did.
My opinion as fact? Take a look at this then consider throwing stones from glass houses which is all you have been able to display besides a basic ability to use a spellchecker:

http://www.interleaves.org/~rteeter/…t.html#tolkien

"Tolkien, J. R. R., English, 1892-1973.
The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy). Recommended by: Harvard Radcliffe Time
The Hobbit. Recommended by: NYPL "

http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlib…rivallist.html

http://www.stanford.edu/~bkunde/best/bl-crank.htm

http://www.boulderbookstore.com/Radcliffe.html

While they are not every list, neither are other great works. If you want to get ultra conservative with a list of canon, you will only have 100 or so works, almost all before this century. Conservative and you have another 100 or so, moderate list and you can add 1-200 hundred more and so on, so one cannot find a concrete list and unfortunately they are interprative depending on your "Literary hardcoreness" mixed with temperment..ha

Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
What language are you speaking? "Linguistics are great. Tolkien was a brilliant linguist. Neither makes a good story." Do I seriously need to teach you basic reading comprehension? Okay, to make it easier for you: neither being a brilliant linguist nor linguistics makes for a good story. Or storytelling abilities.
Haha, this is quite fun watching you get all bent and rebutting about the WRONG information in the posts! I will write in slow and well spaced sentences with the hope that you will comprehend my original points and rebuttals, and not the additional info I put in there that now I know I should not have even mentioned.

1. I pointed out that his style and story structure is based on the oldest and most revered works of wester canon originating in the Greek epics, Norse & Finnish Sagas, and Beowulf.

2. Since that is the case, QUIT REBUTTING ABOUT HIS LINGUISTICS ACCOMPLISHMENTS. You had originally said that he has no style, I replied that his style is derived from the epics and sagas and is modernized. It is not incredibly original and post modern etc. but that is not what he was going for, nor is it a requirement for a great work of literature biatch. Here just for you:
"First of all, the Tolkien "legendarium" (his word, of course) is a work of reconstructive myth and romance, closer in many respects to Chrιtien de Troyes or Edmund Spenser than to the modern novel. Yet its moral point of reference is inescapably the 20th century world. "
http://archive.salon.com/books/featu…06/04/tolkien/

Also, on the timelessness and relevancy of the works:
"J.R.R. Tolkien believed that myth is inherently true and material progress inherently evil. You could call that radical, reactionary or romantic, but it's a distinctively modern phenomenon. Modernity and the Enlightenment notion of progress have to exist before you can reject them, and once again we see that "The Lord of the Rings," for all the magic it employs to repopulate England with its ancient wraiths and spirits, belongs finally to the 20th century.
This is partly made clear by the presence of hobbits, those sensible if small-minded late-Victorian villagers, and partly by the "applicability" (the word Tolkien preferred to "allegory") of the War of the Ring to various events of the modern age, from the battle against Nazism to the Cold War and the atomic bomb to the Industrial Revolution and the backlash against it. (As I have already suggested, I find this latter parallel the most convincing of the three.) But Tolkien's modernity lies most clearly in his anti-modernism. To borrow a concept, perhaps outrageously, from German philosopher T.W. Adorno — who might be considered a kindred spirit from a vastly different tradition — Tolkien issued his own Great Refusal to the myth of Enlightenment, preferring the enlightenment of myth. "
http://archive.salon.com/books/featu…6/05/tolkien2/

Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
You didn't provide any facts, actually, and nor do I need to offer a percentage: you were screaming that adoration for Tolkien is universal. It is, very obviously, not—some professors don't consider it sufficiently relevant or sufficiently good to merit a place in their courses.
Oh yeah sure there whatever you say "El Literature Authoritay Extraordinaire", I was "SCREAMING ADORATION FOR TOLKIEN" go Tolkien, go Tolkien, go Tolkien….No. I was saying his works are included in classic literature, in classic literature lists, on high school, and university reading lists. I did not say all university and all lists. But then again neither are other great recognized works of classic literature, read on to find out more.
You can say that about many of the greatest novels of the 20th century as well. I checked the reading lists for several universities online as well as lists on some of those webpages and the following examples of great works are mentioned about by about the same number of sources as Tolkien's works: Jack London's Call of the Wild, Longfellows collected poems, William Blake's Selected Works, Lord Byron Poems, Ralph Waldo Emerson Selected Works and Essays, Alfred Lord Tennyson's Idyll's of the King & Poems, Aesop's Fables, Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, even the Kalevala is only mentioned by 2 lists. Would you so much as to presume (like in every other post you have made-you like to presume) that these are also not Western classics? Again look on this and the subsequent pages:
http://www.interleaves.org/~rteeter/…t.html#tolkien

I awiait your semi intelligent reply with great anticipation….

Again more presumptuous, preposterous, pompt, like a hot air balloon biatch. Just kiddin guy/girl, I am having fun with this argument so I am making it more enjoyable.

Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
Wow, that's so retarded I have no words. You must be getting desperate.
Of course you have no words, its amusing to me but you are the object of the amusement so you look at it differently. You just remind me of some psuedo intellectual cyberhippies I went to university with, I was just making an amusing observation for myself.

Originally Posted by Essaliad View Post
Incidentally, even setting aside all the "literary snobs!1!!" whining, I don't even think Tolkien's fiction is good for entertainment. I've always found it deathly, absolutely, painfully dull.
Ok, so I'm wondering what true works of literature do you actually enjoy… This should be interesting (muhahah)
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