Friday, December 4, 2015

Humor in Tolkien

One thing we didn't discuss in depth is Tolkien's writing style. In his essays, he has (in my opinion) a very scholarly and often difficult to read writing style. I think his fiction is much more readable. Occasionally he will go off on long descriptive paragraphs, but I don't mind them so much. I think that The Hobbit seems like a simpler style than The Lord of the Rings, probably because it is a children's book.

One of my favorite parts of Tolkien's writing style and voice is his humor. Much like C.S. Lewis, every once in a while, there will be a witty little comment or joke that creates a lighter tone. Mainly, I'm thinking of the opening chapter of The Hobbit. The first paragraph isn't laugh-out-loud funny, but it's still humorous (I'm trying to think of synonyms for "funny" so I don't say it 88 times). The entire opening chapter is full of little comments that create a light and amusing tone. My favorite part of the chapter is the part when Tolkien tells how Golf was invented:

"He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul's head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment."

LOTR is more serious overall, but there's still some comic relief (mostly from Merry and Pippin).

Why do you think it's important that Tolkien interjects humor every once in a while? What would the effect be on LOTR if it was written like The Hobbit? Are there any funny lines from his other stories that you liked (LOTR, I think"Leaf by Niggle" might have some, etc.)?

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