Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

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knight_tour
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by knight_tour » April 25th, 2010, 10:34 am

It's wonderful that you loved The Hobbit, Nathan. How is it going with LOTR?

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Nathan Bransford » April 27th, 2010, 12:58 am

knight_tour wrote:It's wonderful that you loved The Hobbit, Nathan. How is it going with LOTR?
My oh my these hobbits sure take their time to get going don't they??

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by knight_tour » April 27th, 2010, 2:17 am

Nathan Bransford wrote:
knight_tour wrote:It's wonderful that you loved The Hobbit, Nathan. How is it going with LOTR?
My oh my these hobbits sure take their time to get going don't they??
Aw, we're not all patience-deprived out here. I actually prefer my fantasy books this way, though I can't find many of them. I love loads of character development. When I saw the first theatrical version of the Fellowship I couldn't stand it. It was all action. Then the extended version came out and I fell in love with it - they added back in all the character development that they had cut.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » April 27th, 2010, 8:26 am

Nathan Bransford wrote:
knight_tour wrote:It's wonderful that you loved The Hobbit, Nathan. How is it going with LOTR?
My oh my these hobbits sure take their time to get going don't they??
Lol. Once you get to Bree things start to pick up. That's when the adventure (and the obstacles found thereupon) really start to be tied into the main conflict of the story. It's sort of a whimsical trip until then.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Mira » April 27th, 2010, 11:20 pm

Yes, it picks up at Bree, but then it gets slow periodically, even after that. One of the advantages of having read it several times is you can just rifle past the 'stuff' and get to the story.

I know alot of folks who couldn't make it through LOTR, so if it's not your thing - that's cool. :)

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by NWolfe » May 1st, 2010, 4:54 pm

Hobbit or Lord of the Rings?

Neither!

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Rhonda » May 7th, 2010, 12:04 pm

I seem to be challenged in the use of quotes here, but I wanted to mention how funny it was that Nathan said the Hobbits are slow to get going. That was my son's big problem with The Hobbit when he read it recently. Guess he's used to the faster paced fantasy writing of today. On his book review blog, my son only gave The Hobbit $$$, while the Ranger's Apprentice books for example score $$$$$.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Steppe » May 11th, 2010, 7:37 pm

The Hobbit is a must read.
LOTR is a typical franchise extension.

Hobbit = Masterpiece
The LOTR = Lot Of Trash Rehashed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFGmgSWd ... re=related

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 12th, 2010, 8:46 pm

I'm now 3/4 of the way through THE TWO TOWERS, and I'm loving it but wow, it's been an interesting experience. FOTR starts off so. slow., and it makes me wonder not only whether Tolkien would have been allowed to publish it in that fashion, but I also wonder if he would have written it the same way if he used a computer. The old ways of writing just didn't really allow for editing in the way that writers today have been accustomed to. I don't think it's just a matter of "oh, the industry today is crass and commercial" or audiences having short attention spans, I think it's just a sign of how the times have changed all around.

The other thing I'm noticing is the way his prose evolved from THE HOBBIT to THE TWO TOWERS. THE HOBBIT was very knowing and younger, and the narrator's voice was so present on the page. Things felt very classic literature. As the series has gone along, the prose has gone from classic to the flowery, almost overwrought dialect that has eventually come to dominate classic fantasy. It's been an interesting evolution.

But I have to say, I'm actually glad I held out on reading this so long - I appreciate Tolkien's greatness and imagination way more than I would have at an earlier age.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Serzen » May 12th, 2010, 9:40 pm

Bear in mind that he wrote LOTR primarily while serving in the trenches during WWI; if memory serves, Tolkien wrote the "trilogy" as one piece, and turned it into three volumes for publication (each a year separated from the previous, I think).

Nevertheless, the man was a first rate scholar, and I'm glad that he did what he did; it opened up entire new worlds for modern literature.
Il en est des livres comme du feu de nos foyers; on va prendre ce feu chez son voisin, on l’allume chez soi, on le communique à d’autres, et il appartient à tous. --Voltaire

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » May 12th, 2010, 11:39 pm

He served in WWI, but he didn't write it then. He wrote it much later, during and after WWII (He was an Oxford Professor). He was working, if I remember correctly, on some of the earlier Silmarillion source material at that time, though.

And certainly LOTR isn't sequel trash! It is different, though, and that's partly due to his slow process. He wasn't a plotter, but a write as you go sort of guy. He started out to write a sequel to The Hobbit, but as he wrote (and rewrote, and rewrote, and rewrote) the story evolved drastically. The more he wrote the more he decided to draw on and incorporate his writings about the history of Middle Earth. His vision changed (and this is all documented, by the way). The story expanded, deepened, shifted in style. I actually started a series under the tag Blogging the Rings (http://alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com/se ... he%20Rings) over at the Alchemy of Writing, which I keep meaning to get back to. Blogged out my thoughts on the first ten or twelve chapters of Fellowship, and I wrote a lot about the changing style. I mean, you can see it. At the start, it still is a sequel to The Hobbit. Wee little hobbits, and parties, and gifts, and fun poetry and off on an adventure.

After Bree, though, things change. The larger themes start to dominate and shape the narrative. Put it this way: originally, Strider was not the Ranger Aragorn, heir to the throne of Gondor. He was a hobbit wanderer named Trotter. Think about that for a minute. Think about everything after Bree, and think of how much is shaped by Aragorn, both in his actions and in what he represents. Now substittue a hobbit named Trotter in there. What do you have? A completely different and unrecognizable story. When the Black Riders first show up in the Fellowship, they weren't ringwraiths, weren't the Nazgul. Tolkien didn't know what they were! They just sort of popped in and he liked them and they added needed tension. They became something as he went along.

That was how he wrote. Very circuitously, always doubling back to start over, to rewrite things anew. And after the story changed I think he just resisted going back once again to change everything at the beginning. Maybe he didn't see it, or mind that stylistic change. I doubt an editor would let him open that way these days (unless he simply had enough clout to do it however he wanted). But the disparity is due, I think, to his process, to the very lengthy period of time it took him to work out and write the story.

His son, Christopher Tolkien, has put together all sorts of scholarship on his fathe's writing. Compiled and published all his notes and drafts, and, combined with his own memories, gone over his father's process of writing the story. You can really see how the story changes, how it doubles back and reforms, how new ideas emerge and play off each other. Kind of fascinating, really, if you're into process stuff. Though, admittedly, it's a little dry in places.

Anyway, enough of me jabbering.
The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 12th, 2010, 11:47 pm

Wow, that's really interesting, I had no idea. It still feels like that original sequel idea is still present in the book, both content-wise and stylistically, before it shifts dramatically at Bree, then shifts further when they get to Lothlorien (which is where I think the second prose shift starts happening). I can see how following his process of writing it would be such an interesting experience because you can trace so much through the changes. But I find it interesting it had been rewritten so many times - it feels so much more like a book that evolved as it was in the process of being written rather than one that became something different and was torn back down to the studs.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 12th, 2010, 11:54 pm

By the way, anyone who hasn't read THE LORD OF THE RINGS while listening to Holst's "The Planets" is missing out severely. I don't know if there could be a better soundtrack.

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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » May 12th, 2010, 11:56 pm

Well, he would write thirty pages, scrap it, start over. And get farther and farther. And then I think he was sort of set through Bree. And then the story changed. And he wrote an rewrote the new sections. On and on and on. So it's both endlessly reworked and yet set in different sections (and often he had fairly long breaks between working on some sections, so that's probably an influence too). But I think in finishing the whole story, he only went back for minor continuity things. I don't think he was going to tear down this whole framework he'd already endlessly rewritten years ago.

It's a fairly odd book, really. There are all sorts of structural peculiarities. The drawn out opening, the sort of aside with Tom Bombadil (that actually undercuts the power and importance of the Ring), the way so much happens off screen, the splitting of the narrative in book two in such an odd way (Rather than alternating chapters, he did half the book with one story - or a couple stories, actually - and then the second half for the other story), the narrative structure of the ending(s). It's pretty quirky stuff, really, in terms of narrative and craft. And yet he pulls it off. Go figure.
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Re: Start with THE HOBBIT or FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING?

Post by heather_hangs_it » May 13th, 2010, 10:45 am

I never knew that about Tolkein, but I love it! I think it's interesting and inspirational.

Sorry for the piddly little comment, but I just wanted to say that.

Oh, and Nathan, I think you'll love Return of the King, but that's just me. :)

~heather

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