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Re: [mythsoc] Movie-goers rate the book

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  • Mike Foster
    As you may recall, when I taught JRRT course, more than once I wrote on a paper: “That happened in the movie you obviously saw, not in the book that you were
    Message 1 of 11 , Oct 8, 2011
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      As you may recall, when I taught JRRT course, more than once I wrote on a paper: “That happened in the movie you obviously saw, not in the book that you were supposed to read.
       
      And Bombadil, Glorfindel, and Goldberry were always on the quizzes and tests.
       
      Cheers,
      Mike
       
      Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2011 10:32 AM
      Subject: [mythsoc] Movie-goers rate the book
       
       

      This is amusing, in a horrible kind of way.

      While googling for something else, I came across what appears to be a
      role-playing game website which started the topic question, Is Tolkien's
      _Lord of the Rings_ worth reading if you have seen the movies?

      Fortunately, 86% (to date) have voted yes, but still, they had to ask the
      question?

      http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/972249-Books-TLOTR-Worth-reading-if-you-have-seen-the-film

    • dougkane@protectingrights.net
      Fascinating (in a scary sort of way) to read all the comments. Particularly those of the fellow who relies on Michael Moorcock to prove how terrible Tolkien
      Message 2 of 11 , Oct 8, 2011
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        Fascinating (in a scary sort of way) to read all the comments. Particularly those of the fellow who relies on Michael Moorcock to prove how terrible Tolkien is.

        Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


        From: "David Bratman" <dbratman@...>
        Sender: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2011 08:32:05 -0700
        To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
        ReplyTo: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [mythsoc] Movie-goers rate the book

         

        This is amusing, in a horrible kind of way.

        While googling for something else, I came across what appears to be a
        role-playing game website which started the topic question, Is Tolkien's
        _Lord of the Rings_ worth reading if you have seen the movies?

        Fortunately, 86% (to date) have voted yes, but still, they had to ask the
        question?

        http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/972249-Books-TLOTR-Worth-reading-if-you-have-seen-the-film

      • Bill West
        It fits in with a trend I noticed the past few years with kids who came into the bookstore with summer reading lists that had sf and fantasy choices. I d look
        Message 3 of 11 , Oct 8, 2011
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          It fits in with a trend I noticed the past few years with kids who came into the bookstore
          with summer reading lists that had sf and fantasy choices. I'd look at the list and if it had
          Fellowship of the Ring on it I'd recommend that one first. I'd say 4 out of 10 took it and
          of those, half probably figured they could rent the movie and present the book in class
          as read. The other 6 out of 10 would ask if there was anything with fewer pages. They'd
          end up with "A Wizard of Earthsea" or "Dragonsong". On a brighter note, many schools      
          had "The Hobbit" either as required or the only sf/fantasy choice.

          In all fairness, it's a trend no matter the type of book, the kids (or their parents) just
          wanted the shortest books on the list.

          One of the things I miss since my Borders store closed is handling the summer reading lists and seeing what the schools were choosing for them every year.



          On Sat, Oct 8, 2011 at 1:54 PM, <dougkane@...> wrote:
           

          Fascinating (in a scary sort of way) to read all the comments. Particularly those of the fellow who relies on Michael Moorcock to prove how terrible Tolkien is.

          Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


          From: "David Bratman" <dbratman@...>
          Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2011 08:32:05 -0700
          Subject: [mythsoc] Movie-goers rate the book

           

          This is amusing, in a horrible kind of way.

          While googling for something else, I came across what appears to be a
          role-playing game website which started the topic question, Is Tolkien's
          _Lord of the Rings_ worth reading if you have seen the movies?

          Fortunately, 86% (to date) have voted yes, but still, they had to ask the
          question?

          http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/972249-Books-TLOTR-Worth-reading-if-you-have-seen-the-film


        • David Bratman
          ... C.S. Lewis had something to say about that, and I quote: A lady whom I knew discovered that the pretty little probationer who filled her hot-water bottle
          Message 4 of 11 , Oct 8, 2011
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            Bill West wrote:

            >In all fairness, it's a trend no matter the type of book, the kids (or their >parents) just wanted the shortest books on the list.

            C.S. Lewis had something to say about that, and I quote:

            A lady whom I knew discovered that the pretty little probationer who filled her hot-water bottle in the hospital had read _Screwtape_. She also discovered why.

            "You see," said the girl, "we were warned that at interviews, after the real, technical questions are over, matrons and people sometimes ask about your general interests. The best thing is to say you've read something. So they gave us a list of about ten books that usually go down pretty well and said we ought to read at least one of them."

            "And you chose _Screwtape_?"

            "Well, of course; it was the shortest."
          • Bill West
            I used to get a chuckle out of the kids who chose Flatland by Abbott or Night by Wiesel. I d tell them that sometimes the shortest books were the most
            Message 5 of 11 , Oct 8, 2011
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              I used to get a chuckle out of the kids who chose "Flatland" by Abbott or "Night" by
              Wiesel. I'd tell them that sometimes the shortest books were the most intense. Some
              of them would tell me later that I was right.


              On Sat, Oct 8, 2011 at 2:21 PM, David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
               

              Bill West wrote:

              >In all fairness, it's a trend no matter the type of book, the kids (or their >parents) just wanted the shortest books on the list.

              C.S. Lewis had something to say about that, and I quote:

              A lady whom I knew discovered that the pretty little probationer who filled her hot-water bottle in the hospital had read _Screwtape_. She also discovered why.

              "You see," said the girl, "we were warned that at interviews, after the real, technical questions are over, matrons and people sometimes ask about your general interests. The best thing is to say you've read something. So they gave us a list of about ten books that usually go down pretty well and said we ought to read at least one of them."

              "And you chose _Screwtape_?"

              "Well, of course; it was the shortest."


            • Mike Foster
              In my first year of teaching senior high school English, I gave out a reading list for a paper and was stunned at the number of strapping or/and geekish
              Message 6 of 11 , Oct 8, 2011
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                In my first year of teaching senior high school English, I gave out a reading list for a paper and was stunned at the number of strapping or/and geekish Catholic lads who picked _The Loved One_ by Evelyn Waugh.  Ah! I thought they were drawn in by the Hollywood satire & brittle British wit.  A student gently pointed out that the Waugh was shorter by half than almost any other book on the list.
                 
                Thanks for the Lewis quote, David.
                 
                Mike
                 
                Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2011 1:21 PM
                Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Movie-goers rate the book
                 
                 

                Bill West wrote:

                >In all fairness, it's a trend no matter the type
                of book, the kids (or their >parents) just wanted the shortest books on the list.

                C.S. Lewis had something to say about that, and I quote:

                A lady whom I knew discovered that the pretty little probationer who filled her hot-water bottle in the hospital had read _Screwtape_. She also discovered why.

                "You see," said the girl, "we were warned that at interviews, after the real, technical questions are over, matrons and people sometimes ask about your general interests. The best thing is to say you've read something. So they gave us a list of about ten books that usually go down pretty well and said we ought to read at least one of them."

                "And you chose _Screwtape_?"

                "Well, of course; it was the shortest."

              • Bill West
                The first time I ran into this tendency I was amazed. As a kid growing up, I loved reading big books, the longer, the better and once I started them I would
                Message 7 of 11 , Oct 8, 2011
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                  The first time I ran into this tendency I was amazed. As a kid growing up, I loved reading big
                  books, the longer, the better and once I started them I would keep reading as long as I could. I
                  drove my parents crazy. Once when I was recuperating from surgery my Mom went to the library
                  and got me The Complete Sherlock Holmes which was the whole canon,.and I finished it in
                  two days. I was thrilled to find out there were more books about the Musketeers by Dumas, and
                  I tore through Bulfinch's books when I found them.

                  I can't blame the Computer Age for kids wanting to read short books because I started working
                  in bookselling at Lauriat's before the home computer boom. (although there were already video
                  games around then) And the Harry Potter and Eragon books have shown that kids will gladly read
                  longer books if it;s something they are really interested in.

                  To get back to David's original point, as a former gamer myself, I could always tell which players
                  read Tolkien (and other fantasy) by how creative they were in shaping the background of their characters and  the elements of the game.

                   
                • James Curcio
                  Funny. I guess yet again it s demonstration that I can t trust my own instincts when trying to gauge the reactions of others (a real shortcoming sometimes as
                  Message 8 of 11 , Oct 8, 2011
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                    Funny. I guess yet again it's demonstration that I can't trust my own instincts when trying to gauge the reactions of others (a real shortcoming sometimes as an author), but for me, the hardest part of reading a book has always been the initial investment of energy to really "get into" it. It's an investment, it really is. You don't have to invest as much energy to half invent the characters and settings for a movie as you do with a book. Of course, that creative control of imagination is also the great strength of literature as an art form. But there's no denying the investment required, especially when compared with all the other things vying for our attention all the time. 

                    Still, the length of a book has never been a deciding factor for me. A 700 page book that sucked me in is as "easy" to read as a 200 page one. 

                    LOTR was quite literally the FIRST book I read. It taught me to read- teachers thought I had a learning disability before my mother started reading me those books, and she was going too slow, you know. So I figured it out. I hadn't been properly motivated. 

                    As a result it's laughable to me that someone should be so scared of the investment of "difficulty" of LOTR, since I read the trilogy in 3rd & 4th grade. (Of course when I came back and read them in college I got more out of it, but I certainly followed it as a child.) 

                    There's no arguing that one of the strengths of Tolkien is also what makes it surprising his work has gained such popularity - he is not at all afraid to spend four pages describing a patch of hills or a piece of historical minutiae, which is something they tell you to NEVER do as a fiction author.

                    So much for listening to what "they" say, if you feel the inclination to wander off the path. 

                    Speaking of, thanks for the opportunity to ramble. ;) 

                    "Nothing on the face of this earth—and I do mean nothing—is half so dangerous as a children’s story that happens to be real, and you and I are wandering blindfolded through a myth devised by a maniac."
                    — Master Li Kao (T’ang Dynasty)
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                  • David Bratman
                    ... I haven t read all the comments yet, but Because you might get tested on it would be a good general-purpose argument for reading Tolkien.
                    Message 9 of 11 , Oct 9, 2011
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                      Mike Foster wrote:

                      >As you may recall, when I taught JRRT course, more than once I wrote on a
                      >paper: “That happened in the movie you obviously saw, not in the book that you
                      >were supposed to read.
                      >
                      >And Bombadil, Glorfindel, and Goldberry were always on the quizzes and
                      >tests.

                      I haven't read all the comments yet, but "Because you might get tested on it" would be a good general-purpose argument for reading Tolkien.
                    • David Bratman
                      Having read through all the comments, I find they mostly fall into four categories: 1) People who liked the movies but thought the book was better; 2) People
                      Message 10 of 11 , Oct 9, 2011
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                        Having read through all the comments, I find they mostly fall into four categories:

                        1) People who liked the movies but thought the book was better;

                        2) People who have mixed feelings about the book and prefer The Hobbit;

                        3) People who liked the book so much they can't imagine anyone not liking it (using implicit phrasing like, "If you haven't read it, you're denying yourself a treat");

                        4) People who hated it so much they, equally implicitly, can't imagine anyone liking it. "Slow" and "boring" are their words of criticism.

                        Only one of the last group attempts to explain how the book became so popular if it's so bad. This person suggests it hit the hippie moral ethos (having been around for decades, plural, before that without being much noticed: not true on either account). I'd like to see him try to explain, say, Theoden and Eowyn on that basis.

                        What most interests me is that the bashers recommend, in its place, works that _I_ found slow and boring. "I bet many Tolkien fans haven't read most of these," says one, and he's right, I haven't, because the ones I have read were so bloody bad.

                        JRRT himself had something to say about this:

                        "Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer."
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