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  1. #1
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    Are the books boring?

    Well, personally I do not feel that the books are boring, but others feel that it is. Some of my friends feel that J.R.R. is too descriptive in his writing. I'm the complete opposite. I find that being descriptive allows you to fully picture the scene, whether it is the battle of Helm Deep, or the journey through the Old Forest. His use of descriptive words creates such alluring images in my mind as I read through the books. In doing so, he has been able to make us readers be part of Middle-Earth; be part of that fellowship. Anyways, let me here what you guys think. Do the books feel boring to you, or are you fascinated by the way the book is written? Post below!
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  2. #2
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    You are asking that question in the wrong forum.
    It seems obvious to me that anyone that would wander in to a forum titled "J.R.R. Tolkien" would not find the professor's writing boring.
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    One thing that must be remembered is that these were written starting in 1937, writing styles were much more descriptive in this period and earlier for a reason. Now you can write "an open field" or "a mountain" and everyone has seen an area described as such on television. Before TV/video became so omnipresent, authors had to describe the area minutely as everyone had not seen such a scene and could not immediately pull up a visual image to correlate with a bare description.

  4. #4
    The younger you are, the more likely you will find them boring. I personally think they are brilliant and that all the comments about antiquated writing style, and poor writing technique are from people that couldn't tell the difference between a sentence fragment and a banana peel; but the only way to find out is to actually read them and form your own opinion. Some will like them, others, obviously, not.

  5. #5
    The books do tend to drag at times. I could do without the poetry and wish his writing had been more mature. REH wrote a darker style of fantasy that I prefer over Tolkien actually.

  6. #6
    I'd say Tolkien is too detailed for some when it comes to the history and language in his writing, making many parts of the trilogy boring for them. He created not just a thrilling tale, but an entire world with a history of its own.

    Much of his writing reads like a text book, rather than a story. Here are some examples of that detail from The Fellowship of the Ring; "There is another thing about the Hobbits of old that must be mentioned, an astonishing habit: they imbibed or inhaled, through pipes of clay or wood, the smoke of the burning leaves of an herb, which they called pipe-weed or leaf..." and another, "There were many Bagginses and Boffins, and also many Tooks and Brandybucks; there were various Grubbs (relations of Bilbo Baggins' grandmother), and various Chubbs (connexions of his Took grandfather); and..." His level of detail, while altogether unnecessary to tell us the tale, is the very reason Middle Earth is so interesting to so many people, and so cumbersome to read for many others.

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    Boring? Nonsense!

    You must remember that Tolkien first created languages( Sindarian and Quenya) and his writings are merely to explain who spoke these languages and why they were sundered from each other.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magdon1 View Post
    The younger you are, the more likely you will find them boring. I personally think they are brilliant and that all the comments about antiquated writing style, and poor writing technique are from people that couldn't tell the difference between a sentence fragment and a banana peel; but the only way to find out is to actually read them and form your own opinion. Some will like them, others, obviously, not.
    There are also big changes between the different books: the Hobbit is purely for children, the Lord of the Rings is written for a more advanced set (I tried a few times before 10 and couldn't read past the "long expected party"), and the more scholarly Silmarillion (which for some reason I had abandoned after heroic tries in my teens, and then noticed I owned the book and happily read it when I was 30).

    I'd say an adult who finds the lotr books boring probably doesn't like books.
    An adult who finds the Silmarillion boring might not like studying the lotro lore wikis to get background.

    There is a bit of a difference.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mellonbeleg View Post
    Oh, and chieth, in most of history, women would have been insulted to be treated as if they were no different than men, and even Eowyn was unhappy and sour until she fell in love with Faramir and settled down. That is one of Tolkien's points. There is a method to his madness. Of course, if you just wanted more women mentioned, but treated with the respect women deserve, then the problem is that there was a war going on, which tends to be the province of men, given that they can more easily swing swords. I believe Tolkien wrote a letter concerning this, although I don't know which one off the top of my head. On swarthy skinned folk, the free people are those who had contact with the elves, who stayed in the northwest. Also, LOTR is supposed to be a myth for the people of England, and the English had little or no friendly contact with Africans. Even most of Europe had trouble with them(goes back to Christian[European]/Muslim[Arabian/North African] Rivalry, not to mention the slave trade). So he is not being Racist or Sexist.
    I'm not sure how your points really help you there. Women can't swing swords (were they all double amputees?) and aren't happy unless a man comes along and they "settle down". And you say "myth". As in, a fantasy. As in, fictional. As in, if the creator of the fiction so chose, they could have made everybody blue or all the colours of the rainbow. You also seem to think that there were no non-white people in Europe in the middle ages, which is very, very untrue. And even then, having all the good characters be white and all the bad be non-white? That's an issue still going on today.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nymphonic View Post
    Political Correctness did not exist in 1937. And also, there are no non white characters because The Hobbit and LOTR is like European Mythology. I said "is like" because I am not sure if his works are based on European Mythology.

    As for as women goes, The Hobbit is about 14 DUDES going on an adventure.
    Uh, okay, is that a euphemism for "things were really racist/sexist in 1937"? Well, yeah. I'm going to point out that yes, he was a product of his time. I don't believe any of these choices I'm talking about were done in a conscious attempt to be racist or sexist. But intent doesn't always matter, the subconscious choices or actions that people usually don't even consider are usually the most damaging. And you say 14 dudes (in bold!) as if any of them couldn't just as easily be a woman instead.

    tl;dr It's very possible to like something and realize its flaws, and even critique them. I enjoy the films and am trying to enjoy the books. I'm not particularly happy with the white dudes saving the day again from the black evil darkness!!! stuff but that's basically how things were back then.

    and adding that I am also not calling anyone racist or sexist for enjoying his works. My original comment was that I enjoy reading stories that at least have some central female characters and I'm disappointed how there aren't any.
    Last edited by chieth; Feb 17 2013 at 08:27 PM.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoronoa View Post
    Well, personally I do not feel that the books are boring, but others feel that it is. Some of my friends feel that J.R.R. is too descriptive in his writing. I'm the complete opposite. I find that being descriptive allows you to fully picture the scene, whether it is the battle of Helm Deep, or the journey through the Old Forest. His use of descriptive words creates such alluring images in my mind as I read through the books. In doing so, he has been able to make us readers be part of Middle-Earth; be part of that fellowship. Anyways, let me here what you guys think. Do the books feel boring to you, or are you fascinated by the way the book is written? Post below!
    I don't find them boring myself, but I do understand the people who do.

    Reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy is like taking a leisurely walk through an interesting landscape. If you know in advance that that's what you're doing, it's a wonderful experience. If you thought you were just trying to get from A to B, preferably at a reasonable speed, you're going to wonder why everything is going so frustratingly slowly.

    When I first tried to read the books (I was probably about ten), I didn't get beyond page 11. (It's one of two books I ever put down; I never got back to the other one.) I've heard that the Dutch translation (that would be my native language) is poor, but I think it was mainly that I just didn't realize what kind of story this was. I was so used to having a good idea of what a book was about after just a few pages that when almost a dozen pages weren't sufficient, I gave up.

    I think the main 'trick' is to be patient and accept that the story unfolds at its own pace, and that there's plenty of good stuff along the way.

    ... Actually, I want to refine that analogy I gave above... You know how some theme parks have slow rides; perhaps a boat ride or something like Disneyland's Small World? It's like getting into one of those when you thought you were getting into a rollercoaster. (Without meaning to imply that LotR would be for kids and 'other books' for teens and adults, obviously.)

  11. #11
    Kind of the wrong forum to ask this on, but hey, I don't really like Tolkien's writing style at all. I'm attempting to read the Hobbit again and there's something... sterile about his writing that I don't like. It doesn't pull me in at all. Plus there's also how the writing is different because of when it's written, and me wishing that there's women in significant roles or maybe non-white but also non-evil characters.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by chieth View Post
    Kind of the wrong forum to ask this on, but hey, I don't really like Tolkien's writing style at all. I'm attempting to read the Hobbit again and there's something... sterile about his writing that I don't like. It doesn't pull me in at all. Plus there's also how the writing is different because of when it's written, and me wishing that there's women in significant roles or maybe non-white but also non-evil characters.

    Political Correctness did not exist in 1937. And also, there are no non white characters because The Hobbit and LOTR is like European Mythology. I said "is like" because I am not sure if his works are based on European Mythology.

    As for as women goes, The Hobbit is about 14 DUDES going on an adventure.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming "WOW, what a ride!"
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by chieth View Post
    Kind of the wrong forum to ask this on, but hey, I don't really like Tolkien's writing style at all. I'm attempting to read the Hobbit again and there's something... sterile about his writing that I don't like. It doesn't pull me in at all. Plus there's also how the writing is different because of when it's written, and me wishing that there's women in significant roles or maybe non-white but also non-evil characters.
    I've seen this or heard this comment a lot and while I do understand people's feelings on the matter, they also do not stop to considering the time or the place. =) Some of this is just my interpretation while some is taking stuff from Tolkien's writings. Hopefully this will help to shed some light on things as to why they are the way they are.

    Again, keep in mind the time in which Tolkien was writing these works. There was still a LOT of division between races at the time and regardless perhaps of how Tolkien felt personally, that was simply societal norm and how a person was raised.

    Also, the part of Middle Earth in which LOTR and the Hobbit take place in are meant to represent Europe. During the time in which Tolkien wrote these stories, and still true for the most part today, white people are the dominant group in the area. Naturally, the heroes then, as well as many of the villains, are going to be white. It's not him trying to be a jerk necessarily, it's just a matter of geography. The areas in which people have tanned or dark skin are farther to the east and south where Tolkien does not go very much into lore-wise.

    Now, you do have the matter of the Easterlings and the Southerners. That is a bit of an issue, however they are not entirely evil, nor were they always (That was my impression anyway. I could be wrong and feel free to correct me on that). There are some tribes/factions of them that are neutral if I recall correctly and originally they were not evil, but Melkor/Morgoth corrupted them and turned them against the rest of Middle Earth.

    You do also have villains that are white. The Black Numenorians are an example. (They became jealous of the Elves for their gifts of immortality and the fact that they got to go to Valinor so they started catching elves and sacrificing them to try and get eternal life and then waged war on Valinor at the suggestion of Sauron in disguise.) The reference to black is not skin tone, but simply the stereotypical use of the color as a symbol of shadow and darkness, thus evil. A reference to the absence of light. Then of course you have Saruman and Wormtongue and Smeagol.

    Now for the orcs being dark skinned... I've had some teachers who tried to tout that it was Tolkien being racist, but I honestly do not think so at all. I think, like with the Black Numenorians, it was again a matter of simply shadows are black, thus evil is shadowed, so as the light of the elves was corrupted and twisted by Melkor into eventually what became orcs, their skin darkened to black/gray to represent symbolically that the light of the eldar had been ripped from them twisting them into monsters. My one professor tried to say it was him showing blacks as subhuman, but really, I think Tolkien was simply going with the stereotypical folk symbolism as shadow/black = evil. White/light = good.


    Mellonbeleg explained well the reason for women. That's simply how women were treated during the era that Tolkien meant this story to represent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Felardris View Post
    Now for the orcs being dark skinned... I've had some teachers who tried to tout that it was Tolkien being racist, but I honestly do not think so at all.
    It is far easier to paint the orcs as being German*. And while many racists are perfectly capable of the doublethink needed to assume that Saxons-who-migrated-to-Albion (England) are a different race from the Saxons-who-stayed-home (hmmm, high elves vs. other elves anyone?) I doubt the Professor of ancient languages was guilty of this.

    * German is the basis for Black Speech, and it isn't hard to draw other similarities. Tolkien denied it, and probably stamped out a few things that might have been claimed as "bigger clues". Between being gassed in the Somme and waiting as his son fought the Nazis while the books were written make them a much bigger target than any potential race issue.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by yawumpus View Post
    It is far easier to paint the orcs as being German*. And while many racists are perfectly capable of the doublethink needed to assume that Saxons-who-migrated-to-Albion (England) are a different race from the Saxons-who-stayed-home (hmmm, high elves vs. other elves anyone?) I doubt the Professor of ancient languages was guilty of this.

    * German is the basis for Black Speech, and it isn't hard to draw other similarities. Tolkien denied it, and probably stamped out a few things that might have been claimed as "bigger clues". Between being gassed in the Somme and waiting as his son fought the Nazis while the books were written make them a much bigger target than any potential race issue.
    Tolkien is his letters made a large distinction between ordinary Germans and Nazis; he admired the former and despised the latter. As for German being the basis for Black Speech, what similarities are there? I have not seen any linguistic analysis of the limited corpus of BS materials suggesting German was its basis. The only analysis I am aware of which links BS to a real world exemplar attempts to show that it was influenced by Hurrian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Annariel View Post
    I don't find them boring myself, but I do understand the people who do.

    Reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy is like taking a leisurely walk through an interesting landscape. If you know in advance that that's what you're doing, it's a wonderful experience. If you thought you were just trying to get from A to B, preferably at a reasonable speed, you're going to wonder why everything is going so frustratingly slowly.

    When I first tried to read the books (I was probably about ten), I didn't get beyond page 11. (It's one of two books I ever put down; I never got back to the other one.) I've heard that the Dutch translation (that would be my native language) is poor, but I think it was mainly that I just didn't realize what kind of story this was. I was so used to having a good idea of what a book was about after just a few pages that when almost a dozen pages weren't sufficient, I gave up.

    I think the main 'trick' is to be patient and accept that the story unfolds at its own pace, and that there's plenty of good stuff along the way.

    ... Actually, I want to refine that analogy I gave above... You know how some theme parks have slow rides; perhaps a boat ride or something like Disneyland's Small World? It's like getting into one of those when you thought you were getting into a rollercoaster. (Without meaning to imply that LotR would be for kids and 'other books' for teens and adults, obviously.)
    same here. English isn't my native language, too and after years of reading contemporary literature it takes a while to appreciate fantasy especially the professor's works, which style is dated. I forgot where I read it but it was said the professor wrote about the middle-earth as if he's a historian of this ancient world, so the books were not meant to be read leisurely but as a study. so I guess for me the books were challenging rather than boring.
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    Depends on my level of sanity.
    If I am sane, relaxed, rested, and sober, No, they are not boring.

    However, some parts do drag on(Council of Elrond once you know what happens, a few other chapters).

    It definitely is a book you need to be ready for, its not like the dime novel you pick up to pass the time, but its not the Brothers Karamazov or Les Miserable or Moby Dick.

    Tolkien is probably one of only a few authors who successfully made a long book with very intricate details that is not boring. He did not write about one person(like one of his wannabes, J.K Rowling) or about a war(like another, Christopher Paolini) but about a language and an entire World. His work created Fantasy, before him fantasy did not exist.

    Oh, and chieth, in most of history, women would have been insulted to be treated as if they were no different than men, and even Eowyn was unhappy and sour until she fell in love with Faramir and settled down. That is one of Tolkien's points. There is a method to his madness. Of course, if you just wanted more women mentioned, but treated with the respect women deserve, then the problem is that there was a war going on, which tends to be the province of men, given that they can more easily swing swords. I believe Tolkien wrote a letter concerning this, although I don't know which one off the top of my head. On swarthy skinned folk, the free people are those who had contact with the elves, who stayed in the northwest. Also, LOTR is supposed to be a myth for the people of England, and the English had little or no friendly contact with Africans. Even most of Europe had trouble with them(goes back to Christian[European]/Muslim[Arabian/North African] Rivalry, not to mention the slave trade). So he is not being Racist or Sexist.
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  18. #18
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    I remember when I was about 10/11 I kind of skimmed through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I gave up on Sillmarillion after a few pages. After reading them again in my teenage years I found them too be quite extraordinary, didn't skip a single page .
    Last edited by Andunion; Feb 17 2013 at 04:12 PM.

  19. #19
    'His work created Fantasy, before him fantasy did not exist.'

    Clearly you've not heard of Lord Dunsany?
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    Quote Originally Posted by knifesedgegames View Post
    'His work created Fantasy, before him fantasy did not exist.'

    Clearly you've not heard of Lord Dunsany?
    I would claim that when Terry Brooks sold (and sold pretty well) a character for character and scene for scene copy of the Lord of the Rings* (The Sword of Shannara 1977), thousands of readers took up a pen claiming "I could do better than that".

    Hundreds were right. To be honest, later books by Mr. Brooks were also better.

    * fan fiction existed, but had to be printed on paper so it was a bit more limited and serious.
    Last edited by yawumpus; Feb 21 2013 at 02:06 AM. Reason: extra "a" removed

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Mellonbeleg View Post
    Depends on my level of sanity.
    If I am sane, relaxed, rested, and sober, No, they are not boring.

    However, some parts do drag on(Council of Elrond once you know what happens, a few other chapters).

    It definitely is a book you need to be ready for, its not like the dime novel you pick up to pass the time, but its not the Brothers Karamazov or Les Miserable or Moby Dick.

    Tolkien is probably one of only a few authors who successfully made a long book with very intricate details that is not boring. He did not write about one person(like one of his wannabes, J.K Rowling) or about a war(like another, Christopher Paolini) but about a language and an entire World. His work created Fantasy, before him fantasy did not exist.

    Oh, and chieth, in most of history, women would have been insulted to be treated as if they were no different than men, and even Eowyn was unhappy and sour until she fell in love with Faramir and settled down. That is one of Tolkien's points. There is a method to his madness. Of course, if you just wanted more women mentioned, but treated with the respect women deserve, then the problem is that there was a war going on, which tends to be the province of men, given that they can more easily swing swords. I believe Tolkien wrote a letter concerning this, although I don't know which one off the top of my head. On swarthy skinned folk, the free people are those who had contact with the elves, who stayed in the northwest. Also, LOTR is supposed to be a myth for the people of England, and the English had little or no friendly contact with Africans. Even most of Europe had trouble with them(goes back to Christian[European]/Muslim[Arabian/North African] Rivalry, not to mention the slave trade). So he is not being Racist or Sexist.

    Tolkien was born in South Africa....

    Great Britain colonised parts of Africa and had some rather famous battles there at places like Isandlwhana and Rorkes Drift ....it was a large part of our Empire. As was India.

    Great Britain led the shamed way in the Slave Trade but also were one of the first to abolish it....

    Many Africans fought bravely as part of the British Empire during both world wars....

    I don't think we had 'little or no' contact with Africa or that as a nation, we were unaware or particularly unfriendly towards Africa (our previous crimes of colonisation and slavery excepted of course...shame, shame....) . In fact, for two hundred years, Africa has played a big part in Great Britain's culture. I also think Tolkien was worldly and wise enough to be more than aware of them.

    I always understood the tale of the ring to be borne out Tolkien's love of Norse mythology so there's a strong case that the world of 'men' in his works resembles that of Norse men. But I also think there are many light and dark skinned characters in the books because after all, it's a fantasy about many different races and cultures. I never assumed them all to be 'white'.
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  22. #22
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    Well, you have to forgive Tolkien for not being hip on 21st century PC. I'm sure he did his best to anticipate what people might think 60 years down the road....
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  23. #23
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    I actually had considered MMO's incredibly boring but am now completely addicted to to this one via my love of the books. Anybody who can get through their Zeal deeds should be OCD enough to focus on just about anything.

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    No, they're not.

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    There are a few paragraphs in the LotR (describing landscape and such like) that I tend to skim-read. Overall they're not a bad read but I prefer The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin.
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