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Review: Tolkien's World 218

Posted by JonKatz
from the prepping-for-the-movies dept.
After World War II, the family of J.R.R. Tolkien, who was teaching philology at Oxford at the time, encouraged him to use his intense imagination for mythology to deal with more wordly topics. Having already written The Silmarillion, at their prodding Tolkien produced The Hobbit, then The Lord of The Rings. This year, partly in preparation for the trilogy of films to be released over the next two years, Tolkien lovers and discoverers are visiting and re-visiting Middle Earth, thanks to a flood of new books. From time to time, in advance of the movies, I'll present some of them here. Tolkien's World is one of the best so far.
Tolkien's World: The Paintings of Middle Earth
author Various Artists
pages 110 pages
publisher MJF Books
rating 8/10
reviewer Jon Katz
ISBN 1-56731-248-9
summary Paintings and images of Middle Earth

Tolkien's World, The Paintings of Middle Earth, coincides with the centenary of his birth. More than a dozen artists, already famous for their interpretations of Tolkien landscapes, some newcomers to the trilogy, have created more than 50 paintings published therein ($15 from Harper Collins).

The full-page images are all illustrated with text from Tolkien's works, and they bring the stories to life in a way that is sometimes dark, sometimes lively, usually haunting. The book is clearly organized -- text on the left, painting on the right.

At the end, the artists -- they are from all over the world -- explain their interpretations and drawings and where applicable, their personal experiences with the trilogy. For a Tolkien afficionado, it's immensely satisfying to match your own imagination against those of artists like Michael Hague and Roger Garland. John Howe's "The Great Goblin" is amazing, and Inger Edelfelt has painted a stark, strange and simplistic "Gollum." As the Hobbit himself put it, "deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum, a small slimy creature. I don't know where he came from, nor who or what he was. He was Gollum -- as dark as darkness, except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face." There is more good writing in that paragraph than in plenty of fictional and mythological tales.

"Thorin, Prisoner of the Elves," "The Arkenstone," "Frodo and Gandalf." "The Haven of Morionde," "The Brandywine River " -- the collection will intrigue readers who want to prep for the movie, or newcomers who want a sense of what Tolkien's worlds might look like. It would also work beautifully for kids.

The art is uneven -- certain painters' images might not square with your own. But some, like Ted Nasmith's "Glittering Caves of Aglarond," or John Howe's "Gandalf," will make you want to frame them and hang them up. Tolkien's World is a first-rate creative achievement.

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Review: Tolkien's World

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  • by skwog (101252)
    I've had this book for a while, it's a nice supplement to any Tolkien collection. Forget D&D artwork, this book breathes a Tolkienesque feel.
  • I'm torn... (Score:3, Funny)

    by rkischuk (463111) on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:06PM (#2298701)
    I don't know whether to be glad that Tolkien is finally being given proper attention in the mainstream or concerned about the wave of commercialism that is about to engulf his work.

    It's going to be disturbing when kids start getting nine-fingered Frodo action figures in their happy meals...

    • It's going to be disturbing when kids start getting nine-fingered Frodo action figures in their happy meals...

      Hey, that's better than finding the tenth finger in your burger.

  • Philology (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Malc (1751) on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:06PM (#2298703)
    Philology = the scientific study of languages and their development.

    I had to look it up in the dictionary ;) Please don't mod me up... I'm not karma whoring.
    • Re:Philology (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Evan927 (15553)
      #1 way to get modded up: say "Mod me down if you want, but..." or "Don't mad me for this, it's just simple info."

      Don't mod me up for this.

      • Ahhh, you're such a cynic ;) If I hadn't put that comment, I would have had comments about trying to be a karma whore (I'm talking from experience). I can't win :(. As you can see, I have plenty of karma as I posted at +1. I don't think that the post needs to be any higher than that, hence another reason for my comment.
    • by liquidsin (398151)
      doh...I thought it was the scientific study of guys named 'Phil'

  • The order of the books:

    1) The Hobbit
    2) The Silmarillion (uncompleted)
    3) The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    Not counting Farmer Geils of Ham and other stories. Doubtless the slashbots will correct me if I am wrong.
    • Correct Order (Score:5, Informative)

      by Frey (14600) on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:17PM (#2298761)
      1) Started: Silmarillion
      2) Started and completed: Hobbit
      3) Started and completed: LOTR
      4) Tolkien Died
      5) Christopher Tolkien and Guy Kay compile Silmarillion
      • Is this the order you're supposed to read them in? (I haven't read any of them yet... yes yes, I know, this makes me a terrible person...) I was told once that the order didn't matter terribly... Since I've decided to take the plunge and read the series, I'd like to know if the order in which I read the books, does in fact, matter.

        Woefully uneducated...

        Andrew
        • Re:Correct Order (Score:2, Interesting)

          by TZA14a (9984)
          I'd like to know if the order in which I read the books, does in fact, matter.

          Not terribly much, still I'd recommend you start with The Hobbit, then progress to LotR and finish with the Silmarillion to get all background details. If you're not satisfied then, start digging through the History of Middle Earth series to see how Tolkien's work developed...

          I also think this order shows nicely how the third age stories progress from a friendly, adventurous, almost for-kids setting at the beginning of the Hobbit to the dark and looming atmosphere of some LotR chapters.

          Compare the arrival in Rivendell in The Hobbit with the same scene in LotR to see what I mean. In the first one, the elves are merry foold jumping through the trees, in the second one they're the solemn warriors you'd expect after the Silmarillion history.

          Katz, btw, is full of shit.

        • Re:Correct Order (Score:2, Informative)

          by _Neurotic (39687)
          In my personal opinion. The best order to read them is...

          1) The Hobbit
          2) The Lord of the Rings (trilogy) (including appendices)
          3) The Silmarillion

          This order reflects the order of reading difficulty and therefore makes you more likely to enjoy reading the series. If you were to start with the Silmarillion, you'd get bored awfully quick.
    • Really, JRRT started the Silmarillion very early on - remember that it's essentially the early mythology of Middle Earth. The reason it was never finished is that he was never happy with it.


      In a way, however, you're right, in that the majority of the work on the Silmarillion was produced between The Hobbit and LOTR.


      Tom.

    • No.

      1) Hobbit.

      2) The Lord of the Rings.

      3) The Simarillion (published after his death by Guy Gavrel Kay and Christopher Tolken)

      4) The Unfinished Tales (20 volumes??) make up what the Sim was edited down from.
    • Re:Isn't it.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Curien (267780) on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:26PM (#2298814)
      The Silmarillion (or, rather, Quenta Silmarillion[1]) was a work that was never definably "started" and never really "finished" in the sense of most books. Tolkien began writing the stories that *eventually became* the Quenta Silmarillion long before The Hobbit. There are several references in The Hobbit to places or events in Quenta Silmarillion (eg: Gondolin, Glamdring), but he didn't, at first, consider the two works as sharing the same "universe". Later, in The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien merged the worlds of The Hobbit with that of Quenta Silmarillion. There are still some remaining inaccuracties/contradictions, though.

      [1] While Quenta Silmarillion consists of the vast majority of the published work The Silmarillion, the book is actually a collection of several inependent works: The Ainulindale, The Valaquenta, Quenta Silmarillion, and Akallabeth.
      • You sound like you know what you're talking about.

        IMDB says that "Mark Ferguson (I) .... Gil-Galad"

        Gil-Galad was an eleven king
        of him the harpers sadly sing...

        ...but long ago he went away
        and where he dweleth none can say
        for into darkness fell his star
        in the land of mordor where the shadows are.

        Flash back?

        F34nor
  • Why, oh why, can't JonKatz do some very basic research? The Silmarillion was never finished; Tolkien worked on it for many decades (even on the month he died), before and after the other books. After his death 1973 his son Christopher edited and published the material.
    • Precisely And The Hobbit was published in 1937 and Tolkien says quite plainly in the foreword to LOTR that it was written "between 1936 and 1949". In fact JRRT started LOTR before The Hobbit was even published but broke off in order to start what was eventually to become the (incomplete) Silmarilion. But his friends and family persuaded him that there was no audience for that book, so he went back to LOTR. And all of this happened before WWII, not after. I can't say I'm much inclined to take note of a review whose author is so little concerned with accuracy.
  • Tolkiens world (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gwizah (236406)
    I own this amazing book myself and I am also an artist. It's a wonderful thing to see paintings of the most beloved scenes of middle earth rendered by some of Tolkiens biggest fans. I remember painting a scene (for a high school art course)from the hobbit where Bilbo is in the cavern holding the elven blade. I wondered if there was a repository of artwork pertaining to Tolkien and almost 10 years later I discovered this book. When I opened it up to see Sting and the look of Bilbo inside I was floored. I especially enjoy the work of Alan Lee. He is truly a master of fantasy art. If you have a chance see more of his work with Brian Froud in books like Faeries, and Gnomes. Amazing work!
  • by bill.sheehan (93856) on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:16PM (#2298758) Homepage
    The trouble with art like this is that those of us who read the books in our impressionable childhood already know exactly what each character and location looks like. They're vividly imprinted on our imaginations, thanks to the clarity of Tolkein's writing. These artists just have them all wrong!


    IMHO, the closest anyone has come is the Brothers Hildebrand, and even there they've got the wrong Aragorn. (The Hildebrand version of Aragorn looks more like a plumber than the descendant of the Kings of Westernesse.)


    By the bye, is anyone else as dismayed as I that every bar napkin Tolkien ever scribbled a note on is now being published? It's getting worse than the prolific undead pen of L. Ron! Does every word the man wrote have to be mined for posthumous publication?


    This ring, no other, was made by the Elves.

    Who'd pawn their own mother to grab it themselves...

    • Yes! I have that book! Frito,Goodgulf, Tim Benzedrine! Attack Sheep!
    • Brothers Hildebrand definitely came the closest to what I imagine the Middle Earth to look like. They IMHO are the best.

      I wonder about the movies. I may not like them because their visual images may be very different from my imagination. Though I loved the BBC radio drama. They did a good job.
    • I sit on the floor, and pick my nose,
      And think of nasty things.
      Like deviant dwarves who suck their toes,
      And elves who drub their dings!


      Regarding what the characters look like, the TV animated movie "The Hobbit" came out when I was five, and was my introduction to Middle-Earth. When I imagine Tolkien's characters, they always are based on the style of that cartoon.
    • Personally, my favorite paintings of middle earth are those by Alan Lee.

      And in response to your complaint about the publishing of napkin scribbles, I have very much enjoyed reading some of the History of Middle-earth books, published by Christopher Tolkien. The early forms, and many revisions, of the legends, poetry, and language that eventually was distilled into The Silmarillion are fascinating reading, both in their own right as excellent stories, and in the insights they give into the creative process that spawned Middle-Earth. Furthermore, Christopher Tolkien's commentary and notes on the various pieces presented is highly interesting, clear, and insightful. So I say, keep publishing those napkins! :)

    • Wossamatter, you don't like that mid-70's hairdo he's sporting. I would have to say that of all of the Hildebrandts' renderings of characters from Middle-earth, Aragorn is probably the only one that doesn't match my mental image reasonably well. Of course, I never pictured the Last Homely House under large trees either. But to me the Hildebrandt pictures _are_ what Tolkien's world looked like.

    • I always liked Tokein's own works the best. Very cozy, dreamy and British. Always viewed from a distance and largely devoid of actual figures, leaving your imagination ample space to roam and make the place your own. Everything since has been overblown Dungeons and Dragons nonsense.
  • Hobbits (Score:2, Interesting)

    by halftrack (454203)
    I'm not a Tolkien fanatic, nor a know-all, but I'm a great fan of his books. What I've reacted to reading his books is the drawings of the hobbits and also the way the upcoming movies present them. In my imagination I've made up a picture of creatures closer to dwarfs than to human children. If I don't recall much wrong dwarfs are in fact taller than hobbits.

    In the movie Frodo looks like a human child, but wasn't he rather old (40 years or so.) In the paintings in the books and in the movie he looks too young. Although hobbits don't have beards one would expect a more rugged face. In addition hobbits are normally fat - in a jovial sense.

    One thing I'm sertain about are their feet and toes. They should be hairy, but I've never seen drawings of their feet.

    What do other people think. Are the pictures of hobbits correct, as the book presents them.
    • Isn't he young for a hobbit though? (I could be wrong, its 15 years since I last read the books)
      • Bilbo left middle-Earth at an age of 100 (I think) and he was then the oldes hobbit ever to live.
        • He was 111 at the begining of Lord of the Rings.
        • What about that old family- was it the Tooks? I'm sure that Bilbo wasn't the first to celebrate 1 gross- 144 years, and he certainly wasn't the oldest ever hobbit at the time of the Hobbit- do you mean when he went to the elven land (at 144)
        • Bilbo left middle-Earth at an age of 100 (I think) and he was then the oldes hobbit ever to live.

          Um, no. Recall that Bilbo's party at the start of LOTR was for his 111th birthday (Frodo was 33, making the sum of their ages one gross - a joke that didn't go down to well with the ever-so refined hobbits at the party). It was then some years before Frodo headed off for his own adventure. Bilbo was 130 [glyphweb.com] by the time he left for the blessed isles - beating the previous record Gerontius (the Old) Took by one year.
    • Re:Hobbits (Score:3, Informative)

      by ceswiedler (165311)
      Frodo was indeed young, the Lord Of the Rings starts out with him at 33 (and Bilbo at "eleventy-one", or 111). 33 was considered to be just "coming of age," so it would equate with about 18 or 21 in human years (emotionally speaking), but of course hobbits are small, so a youngish hobbit would look like a young child.
      • Correct about their ages. However, I don't know about equating with 18 or 21 in human years (emotionally speaking). I always figured they were pretty much like 'Big People' in that respect. Look at how many people in their twenties aren't _really_ responsible adults. (And that's how I felt when I first read these as a child some 40 yrs ago.)
    • Re:Hobbits (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'll have to disagree with you. IIRC, didn't Pippin and Merry get mistaken for children while in Gondor? And it's not like the Gondorians didn't know what dwarves were and looked like. This tells me they should look more like human children than dwarves.
    • IIRC, he was 33 when he got the ring, and didn't appear age for the 7 years he had the ring before setting off - "showing signs of being remarkably well preserved".
    • ... dang whippersnappers ...
  • Kinda OT but the artwork got me thinking about how I liked the artwork done by (now defunct) Iron Crown Enterprises in the Middle-Earth Role-Playing game. I used to love that game but we died a lot - stupid critical charts... ("Strike through ears. Big lummux dies immediately. Any earwax is removed").

    Any word on whether a new game is going to be released? Hopefully with better game mechanics? Hopefully not by WOTC using d20?

    I'm afraid of crass commercialization too but I'd rather people collecting Frodo stuff and reading Tolkein's books than say, Garfield...

    • Go forth!... [gamesworkshop.co.uk]


      Details are here [theonering.net] for the uninitiated.
      • Oh no... And here I was afraid it would be WOTC who got the license. Little could I imagine that GW would get their grubby little hands on it. Should've realised it though - hasn't their stock and earnings been in the gutter for a while?

        Also, the link should be http://www.games-workshop.com/
    • A new Lord of the Rings RPG is being published by Decipher, which is also working on new Star Trek stuff. Ken Hite (a name RPG geeks might recognize) will be working on it; early previews suggest that the new game will have a more Tolkeinesque feel than the Iron Crown version.

      IIRC, an introductory game is supposed to be on sale in time for Christmas and the first movie, with the full game released 1Q2002 or so.
    • At least, I loved reading through them.

      We totally revised the cit system before playing, of course. But some of them were great to read.

      And you have to admit, they did come closer to making medieval style combat realistic than, say, AD&D. (where on one memorable occasion, a level 20 fighter got breathed acid on by a black dragon and was able to continue fighting at no penalty, still having over half his hit points.)
  • Elementary error (Score:3, Informative)

    by dazed-n-confused (140724) on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:26PM (#2298809)
    Katz writes:

    after World War II,

    "The Hobbit" was published in 1937. World War II ended in 1945.
    • Indeed, although he wrote LOTR for his son- who was away in the army- sending him chapters on a monthly or so basis and then published afterwards.
    • Also, the Silmarillon wasn't a coherent work meant to be published. Rather, it was a scattered mass of writings which he created as background information for his other books. After he died, the writings were collected into the "book" we now know.
    • yep in fact first British editions are very rare because most copies were destroyed during ww2
    • He made another common error as well. To quote Douglas Anderson, who wrote the 'Note on the Text' published in the 1994 Harper Collins edition of Lord of the Rings:

      "The Lord of the Rings is often erroneously called a trilogy, when it is in fact a single novel, consisting of six books plus appendices, sometimes published in three volumes."

      This fact is confirmed by Tolkien in his Foreward, where he often refers the tale as one large volume.
  • This month's Wired magazine has a whole cover story on Tolkein's works. I don't like them talking about it as a 'virtual world,' it sounds too much like one of Jon's articles. :)

    The scariest thing, as usual, are the obsessed fanboys and geeks who take it *way* too seriously. I mean, I'm a big music fan, but going after rare CD bootlegs where John Lennon farts halfway through a demo of "Imagine" just does not interest me in the least.
    Nobody will be able to appease the hardcore geeks 100%, because even they diagree on things, and will argue over minutiae that regular people simply couldn't care less about. If you can't get a suitable distance from the material, IMHO you have serious problems.
    • The scariest thing, as usual, are the obsessed fanboys and geeks who take it *way* too seriously. I mean, I'm a big music fan, but going after rare CD bootlegs where John Lennon farts halfway through a demo of "Imagine" just does not interest me in the least.

      there are people who do look for that sort of thing in the music world. What to do mean "big music fan"? did you spend a year travelling with your favorite band? or do you just like to listen to lots of music?

      ecerybody wants to see there favorite part done right. The best we can hope for is that they did the parts everybody likes well.
  • To the best of my knowledge, the Silmarillion was nothing more than a collection of notes until after J.R.R. Tolkien's death. Afterwards, Christopher Tolkien collected those notes and assembled the Silmarillion.

    It is also my belief that the Hobbit literally started it all, that Tolkien started delving into Middle Earth, creating it, to entertain his children. I.e. he did not start off attempting to create a world, a history, and multiple languages, but instead that they are a by-product of the story he constructed to entertain his children.

    You may also want to check out The Marvelous Land of Snergs by E.A. Wyke-Smith. This book is considered to be the source Tolkien pulled the concept of Hobbit's from. ISBN: 1882968042
  • If there's anyone out there with an interest in languages, they really should look at JRRT's work (in that area). http://www.elvish.org [elvish.org] is a good place to start.
    There's a very good book "An Introduction To Elvish" (Ed. Jim Allen), that I used to borrow from my University library....


    Tom.

  • you might want to enjoy artwork from Tolkiens works without buying a book, check out ftp://ftp.sunet.se/pub/pictures/fantasy/Tolkien/

  • by fiver (9307)
    I don't believe that Tolkien would have agreed that his family convinced him to write about more worldly events. Tolkien and the other Inklings (esp Lewis and Williams) were quick to say that they were using man's ability as a sub-creator (below God) and not corrolating any of their mythology to wordly events. Especially denied were any connections between The Lord of the Rings and any wars during the 20th century.
  • by namespan (225296) <namespan&elitemail,org> on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:30PM (#2298842) Journal
    There's a book I've been reading by Humphrey Carpenter called The Inklings [amazon.com]... it's about the association between Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams andd others. Fascinating stuff... sort
    of a quasi-biography of all three and the confluence of their lives. Carpenter also wrote
    a whole bio of Tolkein and collected a book of
    his personal letters, both of which I've read bits of and are pretty good.

    Warning: it's a different experience than reading
    Tolkein's fiction. Tolkein spins grand myths; these are biographical.

    Enjoy.
  • by Xpilot (117961) on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:31PM (#2298847) Homepage
    C'mon Taco... high time for a LOTR/Tolkien icon on slashdot methinks...
    • by rleyton (14248) on Friday September 14, 2001 @01:07PM (#2299087) Homepage
      Agreed. It's high time it happened.

      But what should it be?

      * A simple gold ring? (the merest of trinkets)
      * A small icon of a hobbit (cf. GNU)?
      * "LotR" letters?
      * A v. small pic of tolkien + pipe (cf. biography pic)

      I vote for the gold ring. simple, effective, and we *know* what it signifies.

      any other suggestions?
      • A gold ring with the runes on the inside would distinguish LOTR from your basic wedding theme. Like on the RealPlayer trailers...
      • * A small icon of a hobbit (cf. GNU)?

        I vote for this.

        Or perhaps we should have generic icon for all fantasy stuff? (Well, the icon could be Tolkienish anyway.)

      • We should use the combined "J.R.R.T." rune that is used on the spine on most of his published works.

        The two capital "R"s are symmetrically back to back. The center of the combined "R"s is also the stem for both the crossbar top making a "T", and the hook on the bottom making a "J".

        I do like the idea of the ring... but while the LOTR and Hobbit are his most popular works they are by no means the whole. Perhaps crown the "JRRT" rune with the ring? (Or does that bring bad associations, considering what the ring stood for?) Perhaps the ring with the inscription... followed by the JRRT. I dunno.

        I like the rune all by itself the best, I think. He was a linguist, and I think it would be quite appropriate.
      • * A small icon of a hobbit (cf. GNU)?
        * "LotR" letters?

        How about a green lowercase h?
        You'd save on bandwidth, but all the NetHack players would constantly have the urge to slay it and eat it.

      • Only took me a few minutes to make, from a nicely rendered 3d wallpaper that I found very long ago. Just reduced the size and changed the background to white.

        Click Here [50megs.com]. Sorry for the annoying banner ad, but it's free webhosting, so what the heck, eh?

      • Don't leave it up to the imagination of the /. editors, or we'll get another SPAM icon, going against the wishes of trademark holders.

        You might consider going to the Tolkien estate and asking them for icon suggestions. Betcha they've already come up with some good ones... the small one with his initials all merged together is really really nice, but of course that's the official estate logo.

      • by bonoboy (98001)
        Tolkien had his own symbol, composed of the J, R, R and T, which looked like a candle. You'd think that'd be the obvious choice.
      • SLASHDOT in elvish. It's been about 20 years so I can't do it anymore. Anyone got a book handy?
  • Tolkien's works (Score:3, Interesting)

    by weakethics (99716) on Friday September 14, 2001 @12:33PM (#2298857) Homepage
    I thought I was the only one revisiting Middle-Earth. I made a commitment earlier this year to complete the LOTR+H before the movie came out. I started reading the Hobbit in July. I will likely complete RotK this weekend. I thought I had given myself sufficient time to finish the books before Dec, but I didn't count on how much I would be sucked in, again, to Tolkien's wonderful prose and terrific setting. At night, instead of reading Maisy's Next $6 Throwaway, I have been reading Tolkien to my 4-year-old son. The language is too difficult for him to understand, but he recognizes the names of the Hobbits and Gollum. In troubled times, I hope, hearing his father's voice as he fades to sleep help calm his fears. I had not anticipated these books bringing me closer to my son, but I should have known that Tolkien's magic, like Hobbits, is always more powerful than you expect.
    • it's amazing how the universe Tolkien created can capture the imagination of both the young and [not so] old.


      i'm reading the LOTR series with my 9-year old daughter and am amazed at how much she retains and how the characters and scenes are painted in her imagination. when a passage captivates her, it seems to paint a picture more vivid than any of her dvds and manages to pull her in even more. it's great having this as something to share as she grows up.


      i'm hoping (a) we get to the end before 2001-12-19 and (b) the movie doesn't ruin the Tolkien universe for her. (hollywood managed to destroy POTA, so I'm not too hopeful for LOTR).


      keep reading, weakethics...

  • If you are going to create a sales promotion, at least get your facts correct. Is there any truth to any of this? Bill J. Clinton, are you reading this?

    Besides that, I'm so glad that he took this advice and applied his imagination to "wordly" things.
  • Original Manuscripts (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If anyone is interested, J.R.R. Tolkien's original manuscripts are kept at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.
  • First of all, katz needs to spend a little time doing a thing called RESEARCH!

    Second I hate when people imply or say that LOTR had anything to do with WWII. Tolkien said on MANY occasion that it had nothing to do with it. In fact he even gave an example of how the books would have been, and what the charaters would of done differently if it had been based on the evens in WWII. Of course some of it being written before WWII should clue people in.

    ...Floop went the tar pit...
    • Ease up--the WW2 reference just places the writing in time. Katz isn't saying the story is based on the war in any way.

      On the other hand, I have often read that the descriptions of the swamp that Frodo and Sam crosses to reach Mordor and Mordor itself owe a lot to the battlefields of World War I. You got anything on that?

      "Oh we are stealthy Green Toupees, skulking nights and sleeping days..."
    • God bless America. Lock-n-Load!


      "Amen brother, and pass the ammunition!" -common Christian saying
    • Tolkien did not say that. What he did say is that LOtR is not an allegory of WWII. But events shape the man, and the man shapes the writing. Living through WWII must have affected Tolkien's work, as his fighting in WWI certainly did.

      The War of the Ring does not mimic WWII, as Tolkien's comments make clear. However, one can easily speculate that some the atmosphere of the 'real world' seeped into Middle Earth as it was being created. For example, the dire state of Frodo's homeland in the beginning of "The Scouring of the Shire" clearly has parallels in the conditions Tolkien endured in postwar Britain. Other parallels, of greater or lesser validity, can readily suggest themselves.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday September 14, 2001 @01:00PM (#2299047)
    Three OS's from corporate-kings in their towers of glass;
    Seven from valley-lords where orchards used to grow;
    Nine from dot.coms doomed to die;
    One from the Dark Lord on his dark throne
    In the Land of Redmond where the Shadows lie.
    One OS to rule them all! One OS to find them!
    One OS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them,
    In the Land of Redmond where the Shadows lie.

    (Until the wizard of Finland frees them all.)

    • Watch out; Bill Gates is on his way to accomplish this as the "emperor lich of 21st century media"!

      From this article [theonion.com] [theonion.com]:

      REDMOND, WA - Microsoft head Bill Gates, already considered by many to be among the most powerful men in the world, further increased his powers Monday, augmenting several of his key statistics to near-immortal levels.

      Among the most striking increases were a +2 raise in dexterity to 18, and an overwhelming charisma increase to an above-human score of 20, placing Gates in the realm of deities and demigods.

      "I am pleased to announce that I have boosted my already impressive statistics," Gates said in a statement to shareholders Monday. "As we develop the technological framework that will dominate the 21st century, these augmentations-and others to follow-will be powerful wards against competition from the likes of Netscape, Oracle and Melkor who is named Morgoth."

      "Microsoft is the software-industry leader today, and tomorrow it will also dominate the realm of information access, as well as the content being accessed," Gates said. "The continued growth of our Corbis Media archive, the successful development and launch of MSNBC, and my mastery of the shield spells of the Elven King Lagolin are only the beginning for Microsoft."

      Read more [theonion.com]

      (Just thought it was funny)

  • If you are a Tolkien fan and haven't already seen it, please check out this site [glyphweb.com].
  • After his father's death, Chris has published twelve annotated volumes of his father's notes in the
    "History of Middle Earth" series. These are unpublished tales, alternative drafts, and background notes.
    An incrediable amount of "what if" detail for the most ardent fans. Its been a while since I read
    one of these, but I recall the material thinning out later in the series, as one leaves the main trilogy.
    A flavor of these are in the appendix of the main LOTR volumes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There are some pictures that I too possess and many more on this site. An url I know by heart longer since I had Internet Access, at a time when I had to actually visit one of the very first Internet Cafés in my country, while owning a 14'400 modem but no inet access.

    Amazingly, the url is still valid and works fine.

    ftp://ftp.sunet.se/pub/pictures/fantasy/Tolkien/

    I hope the server owners forgive me :)

    CU

    Draxinusom

    (PS, the famous and great albeit now stopped Ultima game series by Richard Gariott is/was heavily influenced by Tolkien which can be seen by his "borrowing" of the runic alphabet as well as familiarly sounding locations and people. Read the name of the big swamp in U7:2 backwards!)
  • by nomaad (253733)
    http://fan.theonering.net/rolozo/

    Huge image gallery. Check it out.
  • by broody (171983)
    Ok sure, this may not be totaly "on topic" but it is the background to what turned me into a Tolkien fanatic.

    I play a LARP, called Dagorhir battlegames, that combines Tolkien's Middle Earth, the Dark Ages, and pure fantasy in a full contact combat sport. It is the most fun that I have had in years and is an amazingly cheap yet rewording hobby.

    Check out the website [dagorhir.com]. Look at the pictures [dagorhir.com]. See you at the next battle [dagorhir.com]!
  • I have to agree with what Corvar wrote below.

    Not only was the Silmarillion compiled after Tolkien's death, but The Hobbit was first published in 1938. That's quite an accomplishment if, as Katz says, Tolkien's family inspired to write it after WWII.

  • Shame, Shame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dracos (107777) on Friday September 14, 2001 @03:12PM (#2299888)

    Here we have what was potentially an interesting review of a book covering a topic that many of us love. How sad is it that the introduction to the story contains several errors. I'm not the biggest fan of the Professor's work, but can we have some elementary research?

    The Silmarillion was begun (I believe) while Tolkien was a teen. It really began taking shape during his service in WWI and during his college years.

    The Hobbit literally began as a bedtime story Tolkien created for his children. The decision to publish it, after much debate, ultimately came from the son of one of the publishers.

    Upon the moderate success of The Hobbit, Allen & Unwin asked Tolkien for another work describing Hobbits. Tolkien resisted for a while, but finally agreed sometine during WWII. During the late 40's, Tolkien wrote to his publishers saying that the project was bigger than he originally anticipated. The Lord of the Rings was in progress.

    Contrary to what many believe, LOTR was not his Life's work (it is also not a trilogy, a point he argued many times). It and The Hobbit are merely sidebars to the project he worked on for most of his life, revising and editing, and ultimately never finished: The Silmarillion. Tolkien did prefess the purpose for this work was to be an alternate mythology for Earth, because he feared that so much mythology from many cultures had been lost.

    So, not only was Tolkien inpsired enough to create these stunning works, he also regarded it as a gift to all, past present and future.

    Hopefully JonKatz will respect what has been given him by presenting factual information about Toklien and his Works in his future articles on the subject.

    • What's more, this sentence:
      After World War II, the family of J.R.R. Tolkien, who was teaching philology at Oxford at the time, encouraged him to use his intense imagination for mythology to deal with more wordly topics.
      ...seems to carry on the oft-cited belief that LotR was some kind of symbolic parable of the events of World War II (or, more accurately, it would have been of World War I). Tolkien himself of course refutes this idea in his preface. (Was it the "Preface to the Second Edition"?) He goes as far as to explicitly state how much he detests allegory, in general.

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