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Thread: Harry Potter v/s Lord of the Rings

  1. #91
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    I have to agree with JBI. You haven't provided much evidence in defense of LOTR.
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  2. #92
    Liberate Babyguile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Good, and since you have said that you don't wish to "teach" anybody anything, we can dismiss your arguments as something which you "don't want to make."

    There has been as much, if not more scholarship bashing Tolkien as there has supporting it. Don't think I'm ignorant, unread, or flat out base. So far, I have showed, and supported my opinion, whereas you have merely criticized me, meanwhile hiding behind a veil of "go out there and read something, you ignorant bully." Lets be honest, one wouldn't be too hard pressed to think some poster is a tad bit hypocritical no? Accusing someone of not discussing "other aspects", but when the question is reverted, hiding behind absolutely nothing.

    I'm not trying to pigeon whole anybody, I think I already have.

    And, just for kicks - I read the books first at age 9, when I didn't even know how popular the texts were - the movies were a few years later - I'll be honest though, I got through the Hobit, but on my first read I got trapped somewhere in the second Volume of The Rings. Quit assuming things, and quit calling me biased when quite simply, one could merely invert the statement and suggest that you yourself are biased and read the book looking for "good", avoiding all the "bad", and boring as a way of trying to fit in with a public opinion of said text - one could say that, but who would be rude enough to call you a biased, mediocre reader?
    Yes you could level those same things about me because we are both ignorant of one another as we have never met, however, I am not dogmatically either for or against the work and I hope I've shown that here.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'scholarly support'. What does that mean? That a scholar is a 'fan' of a book rather than an objective critic? All books recieve praise and criticism, almost always they will recieve more of the latter, but that's the way it is.

    What do you want me to say? Literature is subjective. Tolkien was against his work being a direct allegory for anything.

    I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.

    He wanted us to see our own value in the book. If I was to describe what the book says for me, I would only be feeding your cynicism. I don't care if you see little in the book, that's your opinion, let's move on and both agree to stop the accusations levelled at one another. I'm not giving you anything else, and I do not appreciate the weakly hidden insults in your posts, why not be brave enough to say them plainly? Are you not?
    Last edited by Babyguile; 10-07-2009 at 10:48 PM.
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  3. #93
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDave View Post
    Yes you could level those same things about me because we are both ignorant of one another as we have never met, however, I am not dogmatically either for or against the work and I hope I've shown that here.

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'scholarly support'. What does that mean? That a scholar is a 'fan' of a book rather than an objective critic? All books recieve praise and criticism, almost always they will recieve more of the latter, but that's the way it is.
    Scholars who support the text as an expression of good, canonical literature, versus scholars who reject the book as toss, for whatever reason, and either choose to attack a certain aspect, such as the use of color, specifically black and white to designate good and evil, or stylistic inadequacies - the text itself, being relatively new, undergoes scholarly research and opinion that both supports it, and debases it, as such literature is want to do.

    For instance, you could have a critic who suggests the book aught not to be read, that would be a critic against supporting the text as expression worth studying, whereas you could have a critic obsessed with the book, and supporting it as reputable good literature - such is the way of much academic work - objectivity is often quite boring, I'm afraid. The value game is a load of **** in terms of scholarly work, but the discussion of quality, especially with newish texts, is never absent - especially with a text like The Lord of The Rings, which somehow upsurged into popular imagination by means of strange fascinations a few decades after it was published, and then coasted after having 3 major award winning movies done on it - the actual movies, it can be argued, are perhaps the most significant factor, as they transformed it from cult-fiction more toward popular fiction.



    It's actually strange though, the way popular fiction gets debated on these boards - even obvious perhaps good, or at least critically acclaimed authors who are popular get swept aside, but it is generally the ones that people acknowledge as mediocre that get the ground time.

    Marquez, for instance, is a far better "fantasy" writer than Tolkien, if we can stretch the genre to allow Marquez in, which I think is justafiable. Likewise, we get some authors even more popular than Rowling if that can be believed with essentially no appearance on these boards, such as Jin Yong, who, though perhaps not classifiable as fantasy, since the genre of fantasy seems more of a Western, anglophone construct, is perhaps the most consistently popular writer alive today, having more movie and television adaptations than author I can think of (and the fact that these are all marketed at the country with the largest population in the world doesn't hurt much) - not to mention scholarly work as well, as he has even been absorbed into the Chinese academies as "studiable" and "supported" literature - to what extent then, can we say such a discussion on Potter and Tolkien is worth having?

  4. #94
    Neo-Scriblerus Modest Proposal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Scholars who support the text as an expression of good, canonical literature, versus scholars who reject the book as toss, for whatever reason, and either choose to attack a certain aspect, such as the use of color, specifically black and white to designate good and evil, or stylistic inadequacies - the text itself, being relatively new, undergoes scholarly research and opinion that both supports it, and debases it, as such literature is want to do.

    For instance, you could have a critic who suggests the book aught not to be read, that would be a critic against supporting the text as expression worth studying, whereas you could have a critic obsessed with the book, and supporting it as reputable good literature - such is the way of much academic work - objectivity is often quite boring, I'm afraid. The value game is a load of **** in terms of scholarly work, but the discussion of quality, especially with newish texts, is never absent - especially with a text like The Lord of The Rings, which somehow upsurged into popular imagination by means of strange fascinations a few decades after it was published, and then coasted after having 3 major award winning movies done on it - the actual movies, it can be argued, are perhaps the most significant factor, as they transformed it from cult-fiction more toward popular fiction.



    It's actually strange though, the way popular fiction gets debated on these boards - even obvious perhaps good, or at least critically acclaimed authors who are popular get swept aside, but it is generally the ones that people acknowledge as mediocre that get the ground time.

    Marquez, for instance, is a far better "fantasy" writer than Tolkien, if we can stretch the genre to allow Marquez in, which I think is justafiable. Likewise, we get some authors even more popular than Rowling if that can be believed with essentially no appearance on these boards, such as Jin Yong, who, though perhaps not classifiable as fantasy, since the genre of fantasy seems more of a Western, anglophone construct, is perhaps the most consistently popular writer alive today, having more movie and television adaptations than author I can think of (and the fact that these are all marketed at the country with the largest population in the world doesn't hurt much) - not to mention scholarly work as well, as he has even been absorbed into the Chinese academies as "studiable" and "supported" literature - to what extent then, can we say such a discussion on Potter and Tolkien is worth having?
    Your criticism, specifically in the last paragraph, seems to be a little untenable. Marquez's writing is magical-realism, a story like Beloved, that appropriates a singular or few magical elements into an otherwise realistic setting. This means that the story can deal with very dramatic, even topical issues, for modern readers. Tolkein however, was doing something very different.

    Where Marquez was a journalist, Tolkein was first a medievalist. He was steeped in Beowulf, Sir Gawain, The Mabanogian (his essay on Bewulf and translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight being some of the most respected of their kind among "scholars"). He wrote his series in the vein of the great western mythology, and is perhaps the most successful person to ever attempt such an anachronistic feat. The fact that it is so popular and even GETS dozens of scholarly essays a year should be enough to dispell the myth of its unworthiness.

    Is it as well written as even the fantasy of say Chesterton? Probably not. Is it as popular as Rowling's books? Obviously not. Is it one of the great feats in 20th century literature? Yes and certainly surpassing Chesterton and Rowling in this measure.

  5. #95
    Registered User onioneater's Avatar
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    LOTR is much better than HP.

  6. #96
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onioneater View Post
    LOTR is much better than HP.
    Not according to Joe, and he knows everything, and everyone knows that you can't challenge the viewpoint of someone who knows everything! So there!
    "You understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or bitter. If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too." - Herodotus

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  7. #97
    Liberate Babyguile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    Not according to Joe, and he knows everything, and everyone knows that you can't challenge the viewpoint of someone who knows everything! So there!
    Is JBI Joe? That's ludicrous. He's gone off on a complete tangent and he has lost me and maybe even lost himself. Ludicrous.
    'Anger's my meat; I sup upon myself,
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  8. #98
    Neo-Scriblerus Modest Proposal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    What did he create? Look at his long bibliography - he just relocated things, he didn't create very much. Elves aren't his invention, and neither are Goblins - trolls, dragons, giants, even tree spirits are not his invention. Wizards surely aren't, and there have been little people for as long as there have been people, probably. Certainly the languages were an "invention", if we take grafting living or evolved languages into new forms - but even so, to what extent can we call that art?

    We don't need to accept Tolkien's world making, and setting as anything special - the fact that he invented a style that many mediocre authors have mimicked doesn't attest to anything - the book Madame Chrysanthème by Pierre Loti, for instance, was adapted numerous times, had immense influence, and even laid the foundation for what is now the most preformed opera in the US, Madama Butterfly - is it a good novel? Hardly. IT sold well though, and its orientalist projection of Japan dominated for quite a long time, and even has, to an extent survived until this day, in various forms.

    The point I will make, is that creating a fake world isn't art - what you do inside the world is the artistic part, and how you portray it - so, ultimately, bad prose, no matter how well drawn the setting of a story is, is still bad prose.
    If you will permit me a, perhaps, hackneyed metaphore, I would like to consider your arguement about prose being the sole determinant of art, in parallel with painting. Is only that painted "beautifully" worthy?

    Picasso, like almost any great artist, first learned to paint realistically before he explored different avenues of art and their different values. All of his most important paintings could very easily be argued as his least traditionally "beautiful" as well. Does this make them less worthy? I think not, in fact it is what is revealed despite a lack of realism that gavehis work power.

    Similarly, Tolkein worked in a different mode then aesthetes like Nabokov, who constantly searched for "le juste mot". Tolkein tried to reveal truths--and let us face it, the illumination of truth might be the only REAL goal of any art: "truth is beauty, beauty truth. That is all you know on earth and all you need to know.--, not through the reality of his time, but through the reality of a made up time. Is the Illiad not representitive of Grecian questions because it has fantasy?

    I think that if we see Tolkien's work as a whole, and not as a series of--maybe--mediocre sentences, then we can see his artistic merit in the same way we see some like Picasso's. beauty, perfection, balance are great, but it is the manifestation of truth that MAKES art.

  9. #99
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    And what "truth" is that? Where is this "truth"? What "truth" did he write? The word "truth" is as undefined as the word "art". Just saying Tolkien penned "truth" means nothing. A science textbook perhaps pens "truth", but we don't call it artistic, now do we - besides which, truth and art don't necessarily agree. The actual concept of metaphor is one that lacks truth - it suspends truth, by making something something which it isn't for a period of time - there need not be any "truth" for the work to be good, otherwise we would only read the most naturalistic of authors, and only look within them for truths.

    Where is the truth in, lets say, Homer's Odyssey, or Petrarch's Canzoniere - even contemporaries of Petrarch proposed the theory that Laura hadn't existed, and I don't think anyone could argue he actually saw a doe with a diamond necklace reading hand's off - the truth isn't necessary - he didn't actually sail a ship between Scylla and Charybdis, does that make his sonnet any less powerful? Historically, even his letters are falsified - he didn't actually climb Mount Ventoux with his brother - or at least not at that date.

    There's no need to lift Keats out of context (which, by the way, was used in An Ode to a Grecian Urn as an allusion to Shakespeare's Sonnets, and is a passage noted for its ambiguity) to try and prove a point which makes no sense.

    I do not believe in universal truths, and I do not think Tolkien is a good writer, nor do I think he really had much to say of interest about the world, humanity, or anything else - I do not think there is much in the texts. You declaring that he somehow is "truthful" or imbues his texts with "truth" means nothing to me. Quite simply, when it comes down to it, it's still boring, clunky prose.


    And PS, your reference to Picasso makes absolutely no sense in context, or at least I cannot discern any point you were trying to make. Picasso may have started off as a realist painter (i do not know his biography), but it is his innovations and artistic style that we remember him for, not his realistic paintings.

  10. #100
    sound of music soundofmusic's Avatar
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    Okay, I admit it, at a little past two score and ten, I read entirely for my own pleasure. I am not terribly concerned if they have intellectual merit or if they are written by an Oxford professor. I didn't identify with "Lord of..." twenty some years ago, when I read the first two books; so I never finished.
    I like Harry Potter, though I sometimes have thought I detect a co-writer in some of the later books (What do you think?) I get a little uncomfortable when I feel as if there is too much sexual tension between the male characters. I'm really uncomfortable with the sadism: Professor Umbridge and the cutting pen; I cringe when Dumbledore wants Harry to force him to drink all that water...and I'm going to stop reading before Harry marries Jenny (I prefer my fantasy characters to stay always young, always beautiful)

  11. #101
    Neo-Scriblerus Modest Proposal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    And what "truth" is that? Where is this "truth"? What "truth" did he write? The word "truth" is as undefined as the word "art". Just saying Tolkien penned "truth" means nothing. A science textbook perhaps pens "truth", but we don't call it artistic, now do we - besides which, truth and art don't necessarily agree. The actual concept of metaphor is one that lacks truth - it suspends truth, by making something something which it isn't for a period of time - there need not be any "truth" for the work to be good, otherwise we would only read the most naturalistic of authors, and only look within them for truths.

    Where is the truth in, lets say, Homer's Odyssey, or Petrarch's Canzoniere - even contemporaries of Petrarch proposed the theory that Laura hadn't existed, and I don't think anyone could argue he actually saw a doe with a diamond necklace reading hand's off - the truth isn't necessary - he didn't actually sail a ship between Scylla and Charybdis, does that make his sonnet any less powerful? Historically, even his letters are falsified - he didn't actually climb Mount Ventoux with his brother - or at least not at that date.

    There's no need to lift Keats out of context (which, by the way, was used in An Ode to a Grecian Urn as an allusion to Shakespeare's Sonnets, and is a passage noted for its ambiguity) to try and prove a point which makes no sense.

    I do not believe in universal truths, and I do not think Tolkien is a good writer, nor do I think he really had much to say of interest about the world, humanity, or anything else - I do not think there is much in the texts. You declaring that he somehow is "truthful" or imbues his texts with "truth" means nothing to me. Quite simply, when it comes down to it, it's still boring, clunky prose.


    And PS, your reference to Picasso makes absolutely no sense in context, or at least I cannot discern any point you were trying to make. Picasso may have started off as a realist painter (i do not know his biography), but it is his innovations and artistic style that we remember him for, not his realistic paintings.
    Wow, I'm a little unimpressed. Let me start off by saying that if there is no universal truth, then there is no universal beauty. So your entire arguement predicated on an objective view of good prose, is bunk.

    As to Picasso, did you even read my text? I never said his realistic work was important. I said that his work not trying to be realistic, but rather trying to reveal truth--I know you don't like the word--in abstract manners is what has lasted. Thus, I connect the arguement that Tolkein not trying to use perfect writing--think perfect replication for the painting metaphore--but rather using a strange world to try to reveal ideas and beliefs--what he sees as truths--is art. Art is not based solely on aesthetic merit, but also on what is revealed.

    I am sorry, but I don't feel like my last paragraph is really that debatable--I have never heard anyone say that literature is just nice prose--, so I will move on to what is probably more at issue.

    That is, of course, whether Tolkein attempted and/or did reveal truths. I agree that for the most part this is a subjective view, and I am in no way going to ask you to buy wholesale what the book projects, but I believe much that is said in the book is very important and meaningful. I too read it in elementary school and distinctly remember enjoying it, but it was reading it as an adult where I began to understand the implied matters of human nature: The corruptability of all men--and hobbits--, the futility of ever using evil, even for a good end, and also the allure of personal conquest and honor over affecting an actual righteous end.

    Now, I am not suggesting these are new or groundbreaking ideas but, as I said, that they are truisms and they are evinced beautifully and powerfully in the story.

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