Saturday, June 07, 2008

Lord of the Rings

Late last night I finished my second go-through of The Lord of the Rings. I originally read the whole thing about eight years ago before the first movie of the trilogy came out. About a month or two ago, I watched the the trilogy again and decided it was time to reread Tolkien's original.

I'm not sure what I can say about this that hasn't already been said. It's an epic masterpiece. Tolkien's language is poetic and his voice fits the mythic nature of the story.

At the same time, though, I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if Tolkien had tried to publish this book in modern times. How would a modern editor have reacted to it?

For example, Tolkien begins the book with what's basically a big info dump about hobbit history and culture. It's nothing but telling with little to no showing. As I waded through it, I kept hearing a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me, "Show, don't tell!"

The pacing of the first book also could have used some tightening up. The pace was way too slow, seeing as the story ranged over several years, from Bilbo's "eleventy-first" birthday up until the day when Frodo left the Shire for Mordor. This first book unbalances the entire story, since we sprint through those years, while the other two books seem to last just a month or two.

Recently someone on The Late Nite Jengajam commented that Peter Jackson did the right thing in the way he edited the story to adapt it into the three movies. I can't say for sure if The Lord of the Rings would have been as popular or beloved if it had been edited to suit modern tastes. Who knows? But I can say this with confidence: if you haven't taken this journey through Middle Earth yet, you should.

1 comment:

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

It was a difficult read. I think part of the problem was that Tolkien didn't sit down and crank it out in one go. Tolkien worked on stories for Middle Earth at random it seemed and edited them haphazardly in my opinion. Sometimes I thought parts like "Concerning Hobbits" were just slapped together.

I do think Lord of the Rings was better written than the Silmarillion. That book nearly killed me.

It's nice to meet a fellow Christian blogger. Hope you can stop by my blog.