Thursday, April 28, 2011

Revisiting The Lord of the Rings

Now that we have come to the end of our assigned readings, it may be helpful and even fun to revisit The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, where it all "started"! We certainly wouldn't be having a class devoted to Tolkien without these groundbreaking works--but then again, we wouldn't be having this class if this was the only thing Tolkien contributed, either!

What connections can you make from our readings--especially the more recent ones--to LOTR that we haven't made already (or might have forgotten)? Why do you think Dr. Donovan and I assigned the non-Tolkien readings that we did (and what did such readings contribute toward your understanding of Tolkien)?

Finally, do you think your perception of Tolkien's "primary texts" (Hobbit and LOTR) has changed at all through what we have read and studied together?


Radagast said...

One thing that I've found interesting in the non-Tolkien texts has been to look at how they portrayed fictional stories. Especially after Tolkien's "On Fairy-Stories" I've been looking more at what is a "good" fairy story and how do you make it realistic, like a real new world. So, from this perspective, the non-Tolkien texts have either shown how you should or shouldn't have written fairy-stories, by Tolkien's standards (a lot of which I agree with). I think it also shows how Tolkien drew on good ideas others had and improved on some stories to make them seem more real.

I don't know that my perception of Tolkien's main works has changed, I just feel like I've looked more deeply at them. Before, they were just really good stories that I enjoyed but this class has given me a chance to see more of the depth behind them. I was fairly new to Tolkien and didn't really understand just how much he put into this, even though I knew he worked on it until his dying day. So, I feel like I have a better understanding of why Tolkien wrote the way he did and what he was trying to accomplish: making it real (which I think he did!).

Luthien said...

I agree with Radagast about the fairy-story thing. I'll probably start judging fairy-stories (or what claim to be fairy-stories :) by Tolkien's standards from now on.

Also, reading the excerpts from the Silmarillion (which I plan to finish reading this summer) really deepened my understanding of LOTR perhaps the most. The non-Tolkien readings were mostly helpful, too. I think out of them, Beowulf was my favorite and the one that I got the most out of.

Miriel said...

From reading many sources that Tolkien was influenced by was really interesting to compare and contrast. Even though in my opinion Tolkien did most things way better (partly cause he was a better writer) I still appreciated those texts because of how much they contributed to Tolkien's work.
My perception of Tolkien's primary texts has not changed much, except that now I have a better understanding where many things originated from. It also makes me appreciate his work more.

Idril said...

I found that Tolkien's writing style in "Leaf by Niggle" seemed very comparable to the introductory material and the first few chapters of The Hobbit. Both texts were written in a "fantastic" manner with weaving sentence structures that are attributed to "fairy stories."

The non-Tolkien readings seemed necessary to set up the cultural background of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. Knowing the pretext helped me understand how Tolkien was influenced during his writing and how he made certain decisions regarding his own mythology.

My perceptions of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings haven't changed too much with the other readings and the discussions we've had during class. In my opinion, his series cannot be boiled down to an analysis of his possible influences and how they might have affected his writings; Tolkien created something original that can be and should be enjoyed, cherished, and remembered.