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A rising dislike of Tolkein?

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#1 The Santa of House Claus

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:14 AM

I have been finding more people saying they dislike Tolkien's writing. They say they love the Lord of the Rings story, I assume the movies, but can't get into the books because they do not think the story is very exciting or do not like his writing style. Maybe it is just me, but it seems to be a growing trend. 


Me, personally, I love Tolkien's writing style, but I can totally see why people don't. In high school, it took me a few attempts to read The Hobbit because I thought it was boring. I can't help but think that the reasons are that a lot of those people aren't big readers, but love the LOTR movies, but also stories like ASOIAF hurt LOTR because so much more happens.


So, I was just wondering if other people are noticing this? Agree with them? Think they are idiots? Have an explanation?  

#2 Batbob45


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:21 AM

I think RR Matin was influence with Tolkein writing. I like how the book have different  POV something that Potter didn't have.  the diffrent POV in HP book were at the beginning of the books

#3 sologdin


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:34 AM

i know some otherwise nerdly types who read lotsa SFF and came to tolkien as adults, but were put off by the deliberately archaic diction, paratactic style, and so on.

#4 SilentRoamer



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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:38 AM

The only thing that irked me while reading Tolkien were (IMO) the needlessly wordy geographical descriptions which sometimes could be an entire page.


I love the archaic diction and style but can see how that might bother some people.

#5 Robert the Ruby Smasher

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:48 AM

I love Tolkien, and GRR Martin.  The thing is, they are two different writing styles in so many different ways (the stories are also quite different, and the characters).  I think many people today have read the books (both Martin and Tolkien) after they saw the movie or show.  That affects what they think of the books.  Also, I think Martin focuses his writing more on characters and house details (and lots and lots of details), which intrigues a lot of people.  Tolkien also had a lot of detail, but not as many houses, really only one king aiming for the throne, and focused a lot more on linguistics and language creation.  This could be more tedious for some readers, and not as detailed in The Game aspect.  LotR is more good vs evil.  ASOIAF is more human nature at its worst, and who comes out on top (a lot more realistic).  Just my thoughts...

#6 Lyanna Stark

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:05 AM

There's a before and after the LOTR movies really. Before the movies, you mostly got people who were SFF fans or otherwise sought out the novels specifically reading Tolkien. Nowadays you get people who enjoy the LOTR movies as a badass action movie with monsters and shit in it. The latter demographic are probably less interested in longwinded stories with archaic prose and some rather strange poems inserted all over the place.


Hence why it seems the "dislike" for Tolkien is bigger, perhaps, but it most likely because the novels have reached a different type of reader, not that it's some sort of hate campaign. It's the same with people starting to read the ASOIAF novels because of the TV series. Some love it, some don't, and that's with GRRM's prose and storytelling far more accessible than Tolkiens.



i know some otherwise nerdly types who read lotsa SFF and came to tolkien as adults, but were put off by the deliberately archaic diction, paratactic style, and so on.



That, and the pacing of the first novel. My dad once told me he always recommended first time LOTR readers to skip the first 90 pages and come back to them later. (Unsure as to why exactly he arrived at 90 and not 80 or 100).

#7 protar


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:06 AM

A lot of people dislike Tolkien because the plot of Lotr is supposedly rather dense and verbose. Which I don't really get at all. There's something pivotal happening in every chapter and the amount that he gets done in little over a thousand pages is a lot if we compare him to Robert Jordan or our own Mr. Martin. I had Tolkien down at age 7  :cool4: , so it couldn't have been that dense.


I can see it having less appeal now that the traditional fantasy tropes present have been deconstructed, reconstructed and reinvented so much. Although again people give Tolkien too little credit - despite being the "typical" fantasy Tolkien is fairly subversive. How many modern fantasy writers would be daring enough to put the Scouring of the Shire after the ultimate battle for good and evil? 

Edited by protar, 29 May 2014 - 11:07 AM.

#8 DanteGabriel


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:06 AM

Tolkien was consciously trying to emulate the language and rhythms of the North European epic sagas he studied. I get why it throws people off, and I lose my patience with it at times as well (especially in the Silmarillion) but understanding that helps me appreciate the style he chose to adopt. I first read LOTR in my early teenage years, but I was a nerdy kid who'd already plowed through a fairly dry rendition of the Iliad, so it was not intolerable to me.


Also, great point by Lyanna about how the movies widened the audience and created more occasions for people to be unpleasantly surprised by the source material.

#9 Dhana



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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:14 AM

I read LOTR twice I think and I didn't mind Tolkien's slightly weird writing style. what really bothered me though is that there are 0 interesting women. even éowyn who in the beginning is really interesting ends up getting married and leading a traditional life. its an all-male hero fantasy and even though I like the characters and the story it just still makes it only semi-interesting (for me at least). I understand of course that Tolkien was a child of his time and couldn't really imagine women doing anything outside of the traditional gender role. but it just still makes me not love the books very much.

#10 Ser Scot A Ellison

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:33 AM

I read Tolkien for the first time when I was ten. I still love the story. It's a little sad when people love the films but can't get into the books. The books are so much richer than the films.

#11 awesome possum

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:42 AM

I loved the books when I read them at 18 or 19 I think.  I haven't been able to reread them though.  What was once shiny and new upon reread just felt tedious and dull. 

#12 Gertrude


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:50 AM

OP, I just wrote about this in the re-reads thread. I do love the story, but am not a fan of the prose. I still have my books from the 80's with the Darryl Sweet covers, so I am not a late-comer. Eowyn was my heroine - even as little as she appeared. I used to baby-sit a girl and we would reenact the Eowyn/Witch-king scene over and over, dramatically releasing long hair from under a baseball cap. 


I am gonna third Lyanna's point - the movies broadened the audience. I have read the books several times, but I prefer the movies these days. They serve as a shorthand for me and I fill in details and correct the changes in my head. I'm fine with that. I will probably re-read them again at some point, but it's not a high priority.

Edited by Gertrudis de Santiago, 29 May 2014 - 11:55 AM.

#13 dornishscorpion



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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:51 AM

I really loved tolkiens silmarillion . But found The hobbit too " soft "

#14 sologdin


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:53 AM

the silmarillion is so hardcore it transforms qualitatively into nerdcore.

#15 red snow

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 12:12 PM

The Tolkien hate could also be due to GOT show and GRRM's books. I can see a lot of people enjoying the show reading the books and thinking "it's still good". Whereas LOTR to the books is a bit more of a shock. So people dislike LOTR. That and characters aren't all uniformly shady in LOTR which some may equate as "too simplistic".


For me the LOTR films got me to try the books again and I was pleasantly surprised, Before that I always gave up shortly after Tom Bombadil and just before the dark riders show up.

#16 HelenaExMachina


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 12:24 PM

I really loved tolkiens silmarillion . But found The hobbit too " soft "

Well since the Hobbit is a children's story, I think thats to be expected. Imo it has the perfect light hearted tone, excitement and entertainment value to keep children interested, while also getting across some valuable lessons. I certainly prefer it over many children's books released while I was growing up anyway.

I personally love Tolkein, but my friends I tried to get to read it never got.past the first few chapters. Their reasons were they prefer getting the story quickly as with the films etc.

Interesting to note wrt to the films; I was reading an article the other day that apparently there is a petition to have Thorin survive in the Hobbit film. Meh.

ETA: I also think its a lot to do with the fantasy that exists now. There seems to be a belief that rape, explicit violence, sex and gore and necessary for a good.novel in many cases, and as LotR lacks these things some find it "dull"

Edited by HelenaAndTheMachine, 29 May 2014 - 12:27 PM.

#17 Night's_King


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 01:23 PM

On this board, I think the answer is easy. Most people here read the books after watching the show. They like the "realism", the sex and the violence and find that LOTR (most people haven't read anything else by Tolkien) is too much fantasy and too childish.


I love Tolkien. Always have and always will. If I had to choose between GRR and JRR, I would easily choose Tolkien.

#18 1918me


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 02:17 PM

Yeah, as others have mentioned, both the popularity of the movies and the popularity of Martin probably contributed. It's easy to compare LotR and ASoIaF and deride the former for its "black-and-white" characters or some such. I'd imagine it's very easy to start the LotR books looking for something very different than what you're going to end up with (not that it should dissuade people from trying them, as they are incredible books, but likely tonally different than what most people new to fantasy are likely going to be used to nowadays). 

#19 Dracarya


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 03:50 PM

I can't stand his writing style. Tolkien and I don't seem to get along. I'm not a huge fan of the films either.

#20 Eponine


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 03:51 PM

I reread LotR over and over again from ages 10-16, maybe once in college and once as an adult. I feel appreciation and respect for the writing, story, and its significance on my childhood, but not a great deal of fresh love and interest.

I think the movies destroyed some pure imaginative pleasure (I couldn't reread now without picturing the Shire as portrayed by the movies) and made the material seem dated - it's now a story that's engrained in pop culture that "everyone knows". And LotR on its own, without the detail of the Similrillion and other external writings does seem simplistic now, partly because detailed grey fantasy is easily accessible now but partly just because it's become such familiar material to me.