Friday, August 3, 2007

J.R.R. Tolkien/The Hobbit

No review necessary for a Tolkien book - just keeping you updated on what I've read.


Froog said...

I have extreme Tolkien-resistance.

I read the opening page of The Hobbit when I was about 10, was sickened by the tweeness of it and immediately threw it aside.

I only finally got around to reading the Rings trilogy a few years ago because: a) I admire Peter Jackson and was somewhat influenced by his judgement; b) I realised I wasn't going to be able to avoid seeing the films, and wanted to have read the books first; c) I had a lot of time on my hands just then.

Can I just say one thing, without incurring the hateful wrath of all the Tolkien fans out there.... he is a terrible writer. TERRIBLE. Just really abysmal. The story I can see. The story is very powerful: a canny melange of European folklore, incorporating compelling metaphors of drug addiction and fascism. But the writing? Ugh!

Those interminable topographical descriptions that leave you with no clearer picture of what the landscape looks like? Excruciating! I found myself skipping most of them, after the first half of The Fellowship.

Characterisation? There is none. NONE. The reason most people warm to Gamgee so much is that he's the only character in the entire thing who is more than two-dimensional. Well, OK, Gandalf and Gollum have a little bit of flesh on their bones too - but really, it's all back-story rather than actual personality. Frodo is a cypher. So's everyone else. I realised when playing Rings top trumps with my niece recently that, basically, all the characters are just a name and a brief set of attributes (Aragorn - human, 6'2", awesome warrior, older than he looks, nickname: Strider); no personality, no inner life, nothing to hold your interest.

A wonderful story it might be, but he is a very, VERY clunky writer. If not quite as wretched as Dan Brown, he might be called the Tom Clancy of the fantasy genre.

Tony said...

Bravo, Froog! You are not alone; Tolkien wrote pretentious tosh.