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Re: Tolkien & trees, Potter & LotR and humor

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  • Old.Ghost@juno.com
    ... It does sound fascinating, and I think you re right that Tolkien would ve loved it. But there is also such a sense of loss in Tolkien s writings (at least
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2002
      > From: Stolzi@...
      > Subject: Surely Tolkien would have loved this...
      > > "Meetings with Remarkable Trees" by Thomas Pakenham

      It does sound fascinating, and I think you're right that Tolkien would've
      loved it. But there is also such a sense of loss in Tolkien's writings
      (at least what small amount I've read) that I wonder if he would have
      also been saddened by it.
      After all, in spite of all of the high praise for trees that was quoted,
      a tree is also a thing of deep vulnerability in a world also occupied by
      humans. (I was tempted to say "by Men" as Tokien might, but I remembered
      my political correctness.) Between the desire for farmland, the desire
      for pretty wooden things and the ever-present threat of fire, how many
      wild and ancient trees can survive? Someone once described a suburb as a
      place where they cut down the trees and name the streets after them.
      But back to my point: the Ents, like so much of Middle Earth, seem to me
      to be an emblem of the dying ... the reducing ... of the world. Yes,
      they are ancient and "stand aloof from us, in possession of their own
      memory" but without the Entwives, they are also a dying race. The wild
      woods of the past, disappearing.
      Yes, I believe that Tolkien would have loved that book, but I think it
      might also have saddened him, much as The Lord of the Rings is a book I
      love, but which also fills me with that sense of loss.
      For those who care, there is a science fiction story about the last tree
      called "On Sequoia Time", by Daniel Keys Moran. A websearch on the
      author's name will bring up a site that has the story archived on it. In
      a way, that story seems to me to be the conclusion of the tale of the
      Ents, although I don't think the author was even thinking about LotR when
      he wrote the story.

      > From: "michael_martinez2" <michael@...>
      > Subject: Re: Mieville essay
      > But the fantasy genre is probably awaiting the next trendsetter.
      > Harry Potter may be that trendsetter. I finally read the Harry
      > Potter books last week. J.K. Rowling is a pretty good writer, and I
      > understand that there are now Potteresque books sitting on the
      > shelves (or, at least, there HAVE been in recent years).

      Funny. I've been finding and reading "Potteresque" books for years
      before Potter. It's just that *since* Potter, they've begun to look more
      and more *like* Potter. I've always been a fan of the "normal person
      finds out that magic/aliens/whatever are real" type of books. Once of my
      favorite comics was "The Books of Magic" (which there was a silly,
      unfounded rumor about that its creator might sue Rowling because Harry
      Potter was a LOT like Tim Hunter; I'm *almost* sure the creator of "The
      Books of Magic" has begun putting an end to those rumors.)

      > But Rowling puts genuine humor into her stories. She had
      > me laughing at various places. I don't laugh in a Tolkien book.

      I've told a friend who is reading LotR for the first time that it's not
      something you can really just plow through ... that it requires thought.
      What I didn't say was that it's also a serious (but not necessarily
      solemn) book. I think there is a "truth" to LotR that makes humor
      inappropriate. Someone once said that LotR starts as a children's book
      but quickly becomes a book for adults. And the sad truth is that adults
      are rarely perceived as laughing out loud at books, unless they are
      comedy books. The Potter series doesn't have that limitation. For a
      child's book, humor is considered part of being a kid ... we *expect*
      laughter as part of a child's life (at least here in the USA).

      > And most of the fantasy I've read which has attempted
      > to use humor has failed miserably.

      Again, perhaps because too many adults forget what it is like to laugh as
      a child, and so their humor is forced and ends up uncomfortable instead
      of funny.

      > If we can get a few more good authors following in her footsteps,
      > modern fantasy will open some new doors.

      Ahh, but only if the audience will buy it. Harry Potter has been a
      juggernaut that removed everyone else from the public's eye, and so there
      didn't seem to be so many "clones" being sold ... and now that the next
      book has been so-delayed, there is no Harry Potter book to spur the sales
      of books at all. With the delay, I would've thought some other clone
      book of magic or fantasy would've jumped in to meet the demand.
      Apparently not. And I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad

      > And whatever people make think of the Potter books, Rowling IS
      > developing a whole new mythology, with her hidden world of wizards.
      > She is recycling a lot of traditional stuff -- with considerably less
      > sophistication than Tolkien did -- but she is achieving her goal.

      I have a number of logical problems with her secret society of wizards
      coexisting with the muggles, but I'll let this one go with just that.

      ~ Old Ghost
      p.s. don't forget to check out OGREzine (my fanzine mailing list)

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