Re: Tolkien as a gateway drug
- This is great question, as with others, Tolkien wasn't my 'gateway' either. :)
The first great love of my reading life was history, specifically military history, and more specifically WWII. I LOVED reading anything WWII in 4th grade. That eventually led to my reading some of Howard Pyle's works on King Arthur and Robin Hood, as I just ran out of WWII and even WWI books in my parents small book collection and the almost as small rural elementary school library. We didn't have a Public Library out in the country where I lived, back then.
In 6th grade, at one of those school book sales I got a copy of Lloyd Alexander's _The High King_, the end of his Prydain series. I loved it, and started looking for more fantasy. I don't recall the exact order but in middle school I discovered both Tolkien and AD&D near simultaneously, and I began the habit I have now of rereading Tolkien every year. I then expanded to ancient history (especially loved the Gallic Wars and Bullfinch) and historical fiction but the school library had little fantasy beyond Tolkien. I recall when they finally opened a small branch library in my town I was over-joyed to discover David Edding's Belgariad, and once I could drive and thus finally get to the suburbs and the mall I discovered bookstores and started really engaging with fantasy literature.
I was disappointed when I was younger that I could find so few of the books listed in Gygax's AD&D DMG appendix on fantasy literature, but I've been slowly reading my way through it over the years.
Looking back, Tolkien has impacted me most profoundly, but there are other writers not far behind. Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series, Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising Series, the first three books of LeGuin's Earthsea series, and Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy all top the list for fantasy authors; Alexander Dumas' Three Musketeers, Wyss' Swiss Family Roberston, ERB's Tarzan, and Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea are the most influential classics for me.
It is interesting to see my children grow up in a house filled with books (very unlike my own childhood) and with a father who obsessively promotes reading. They seem to be good readers, and have their own tastes. My daughter complains we have nothing to read, because she doesn't want to read any of the hundreds of fantasy, history, or adventure tales - she prefers 'modern' tales with little supernatural elment unless it is vampires or werewolves. My son, in 4th grade, seems as obsessed with military history as I was at that age - he liked it when I read the Hobbit to him at bedtime, and loved the movie (I didn't) and likes Alexander's Prydain series, which I am reading to him at night now, but on his own he goes for the history books. I wonder if he will become fascinated with Tolkien as he gets older.
Historian, History Division
Marine Corps University
"The first law for the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true. Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality in his writing, or of malice." Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Oratore, II.XV,62
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- I agree that that claim is ludicrous, but it is legally irrelevant.
According to http://file770.com/?p=11534 the Zaentz countersuit claims that
the movies and their spinoffs, and not the books themselves, are responsible
for Tolkien's popularity. May we have done with such nonsense?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Doug Kane" dougkane@...>
Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2013 10:54 AM
Subject: [mythsoc] Law suit update
Here is an update on the situation with the lawsuit filed by the Tolkien
Estate and Harper Collins against Saul Zaentz and Company, and Warner
Brothers/New Line. Zaentz and WB have responded to the lawsuit by, in
addition to denying the allegations, filing counterclaims for declaratory
relief and for damages for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and
fair dealing inherent in all contracts under U.S. law. I have had a chance
to review these documents, and I have to say that it appears that they have
a pretty compelling case as the issue of online games (perhaps not so much
with the slot machine issue). They cite correspondence going back to 1996
in which with Harper Collins and the Estate's attorney concede that Zaentz
has the right to online video games based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the
Rings. Perhaps most interesting, they cite a September 2010 "regrant"
agreement in which the Estate confirms the rights held by Zaentz, and
licenced to Warners/New Line. That must be the agreement that was referred
to in Entertainment Weekly back in October 2010, in which Jackson was quoted
as saying that one of the issues causing the delay was negotiations with the
Estate over rights issues. I think it is likely that I will get a chance to
see that agreement (as well as the other documentation that Zaentz and
Warners say they have) over the course of the lawsuit, if it reaches the
point that motions for summary judgment are filed.
It is, of course, possibly that Zaentz and WB are misrepresenting the
history and that the true facts will support the position of the Estate and
Harper Collins, but right now it looks to me like they are on pretty shaky
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- When I first read "The Lord of the Rings" in German I immediately went
to the British Council library in Cologne (at that time they weren't all
amalgated into the one in Berlin only) and asked for a membership which
they considered odd for a fourteen year old German ;) (that was in 1986,
Luckily enough, they had LotR, Hobbit and Sil in English there. In
addition to this I first saw "Pictures by Tolkien" (and to this very day
want a copy of it) and Barbara Strachey's "Frodo's Journeys." I think
they even had a copy of "Unfinished Tales" but that was all they had on
As I had run out of eminent fantasy authors (oh, I forgot - they had
the first Discworld novels and that's when I started reading Pratchett!)
I fell for Nigel Tranter as I also have a penchant for historical novels
- the pre-1286 Scotland/Viking stories (Lord of the Isles etc.)
I never stopped reading. They had Welsh for beginners (I taught myself
some - see Tolkien); Old English grammars (taught myself some) and I
tried to have a proper Tolkien exhibition done many years later.
Unfortunately, the Wall fell and all British Council branches were
closed, quite in contradiction to historical connections (with Cologne
being the major city in the British Zone after the war - let's forget
about that Hamburg thingy ...)
And all that reading led to me study English Literature and Linguistics.
- I remember them being rip-offs of Narnia especially, even more than Tolkien or Donaldson, and White even admitted this in one of the later books. A bunch of kids in Winnipeg, Canada find an old TV set in an attic, turn it on and see another world, which they are all presently sucked into. Sounds a bit like a cross between the Wardrobe and the painting in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Still, when I read them as a child, I enjoyed the Anthropos books. They didn't stick with me much, except for a few names (King Kardia, Inkleth, etc.) and some of the fine illustrations. I seem to remember one with a giant threatening chicken.Nice to know somebody else out there read these too! :)Jase
From: R.J. Anderson <rjawriter@...>
Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 11:41 AM
Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien as a gateway drug
Jason, I almost mentioned THE TOWER OF GEBURAH myself! Even as a child reader I was appalled at how much he ripped off of Tolkien (I recognized the scene where the children almost get "eaten" by the trees right away), and yet there are some gems of original thinking in there as well. I think THE IRON SCEPTRE holds up better as an original narrative (though my brother says that's John White doing Donaldson instead of John White doing Tolkien, the similarity is less blatant).Though a few years later I tried to read the third novel GAAL THE CONQUEROR, and it didn't work for me at all. The heavy-handed psychobabble ("Oh no! We're caught in a Guilt Trap!") was off-putting to say the least, and the story seemed thin and simplistic. Haven't bothered to check out anything else White's written since then.--Rebecca
Just because I haven't seen anybody mention them yet, I'll throw in that one of the series I've enjoyed the most after Tolkien drew me into fantasy is the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.
~Chris B.On Feb 5, 2013 5:02 AM, "shawnareppert" <evenstar@...> wrote:
OK, here's a question for the group to get some discussion going:
If Tolkien was for you, as it was for me, your first step into fantasy literature addiction, what was your next step down the path?
For myself, it was Robin Hood by Paul Creswick. Not strictly fantasy, but it had the same feel, the same elevated language, milieu, heroism and concern for honor.
author of The Stolen Luck, coming soon from Carina Press
- And how did I forget d'Aulaire's Greek Myths and Norse Gods & Giants? And also (and I just had to Google this one up) The Big Joke Game by Scott Corbett? And probably some of Andre Norton's colored magic books.
As far as SF, I came to that early also -- I obsessively read John Christopher's Tripods trilogy, and Dad had a bunch of Heinlein juveniles.
--- In email@example.com, "shawnareppert" wrote:
> OK, here's a question for the group to get some discussion going:
> If Tolkien was for you, as it was for me, your first step into fantasy literature addiction, what was your next step down the path?
> For myself, it was Robin Hood by Paul Creswick. Not strictly fantasy, but it had the same feel, the same elevated language, milieu, heroism and concern for honor.
> Anyone else?
> --Shawna Reppert
> author of The Stolen Luck, coming soon from Carina Press
- Love all the discussion, especially love seeing my old 'friends' mentioned. Ursula LeGuin, Robin McKinley, Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes, oh, yes.) Patricia McPhillip just keeps getting better and better.
Surprised no one else mentioned one of my later, twenty-plus year addiction: Charles de Lint. His writing totally rocks my world. Had the privilege to workshop with him, and can report he is also a wonderful gentleman and a superb teacher.
author of The Stolen Luck, coming soon from Carina Press