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Re: [mythsoc] Definitive versions of one author's tale

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  • John Davis
    Sorry for the delay in replying - I ve been ill. I had something of a fever when writing my last post, and my choice of the word definitive was perhaps
    Message 1 of 21 , Nov 26, 2012
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      Sorry for the delay in replying - I've been ill. I had something of a fever when writing my last post, and my choice of the word 'definitive' was perhaps unfortunate. But I will try and explain what I meant rather more clearly, if you will permit me...
       
      Do you believe that at the time a work is published, it is perfect? Or that if it is not perfect, it cannot be improved upon by anyone other than the author? Or even that what is ideal in one format (a book) is automatically ideal in another (a film)?
       
      I think the desire of authors to edit their works even after publication, the great efforts of many editors, and the differences between the film and novel genres, show that none of the above statements is true.
       
      Given which, a retelling of an author's work is not automatically inferior to the extent that it differs from the original. That is one framework by which it can be examined, certainly, but the equating of 'good' to 'faithful' and 'bad' to 'unfaithful' are subjective.
       
      So to recast my original statement, 'I think the problem arises when Tolkien's LotR is taken as the best possible version of his tale. I am not convinced this need be so, or that different versions are worse solely because they differ from his.'
       
      Hope that clarifies my thoughts here.
       
      John
       
       
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Thursday, November 22, 2012 4:10 PM
      Subject: [mythsoc] Definitive versions of one author's tale

       

      In the discussion of Jackson's version of THE HOBBIT, John made the
      following comment:

      > I think the problem arises when Tolkien's LotR is taken as the definitive,
      > or best, telling of his tale. But I'm not convinced this need be so, or
      > that different versions are bad simply because they differ from his.

      I have to admit that I am very staggered by the implications of this
      declaration. It TOTALLY shreds the very definition of "definitive" in
      implying that the version brought into being by the work's AUTHOR would
      NOT be what defines the work!

      Excuse me? If the work would NEVER have existed without the author, THAT
      rather makes it the "definitive" one. Anything else is NOT "definitive".

      Now, you could agrue that another version of an original created work
      might come to be the "most popular" one - such as the 1930s film version
      of THE WIZARD OF OZ being the most popular and best known version of the
      story. But the original story REMAINS the "definitive" one that all others
      have to reference in some fashion or other.

      It is utterly absurd to dismiss the authority of the original text. Say
      you prefer Jackson's storytelling to Tolkien's -- that is your right. But
      please, in the interests of accurate scholarship and discussion: Tolkien's
      LORD OF THE RINGS not Jackson's is the "definitive" "version".

      The evaluation of whether different versions are "bad" and the reasons for
      that being so is ENTIRELY separate from the issue of what is "definitive".

      Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS is the ultimate authority for the story, it is
      "definitive".

      Jackson's films are a version of Tolkien's story.

      The quality of Jackson's faithfulness to the original material varies.

      The quality of Jackson's STORYTELLING is, in my opinion as an expert on
      storytelling, INFERIOR to Tolkien's. It is THAT point on which debates can
      be argued. Examples can be lifted up of the nature of Jackson's
      storytelling points and why his choice might or might not be superior to
      Tolkien's (or vice verse).

      But you just CANNOT make a blanket statement implying that the original
      work of an author of a story is anything OTHER than the "definitive"
      version. It would be a logical fallacy.

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