I think it's funny that grown adults would find (the) writing style (of Lord of the Rings) too dense or boring when I didn't at eight years old.
I think the Wolf has her analysis backwards here, because what she observed coincides 100 % with what I'd expect.
If an adult reads Tolkien, chances are that they have already seen a lot of what's good in Tolkien's books in derivative works, so that the originals will hold much less wonder and surprise – leaving only the bits that weren't so stellar. If on the other hand you're eight years old and Lord of the Rings is one of the first fantasy books you read, it's far easier to get pulled in by universe and forgive the faults (the writing, the absence of women, etc.).
In other words, I think what you think of a work that counts as a milestone depends a lot on how many derivative works you have consumed beforehand.
Some things work only once, and if you had that aha! while consuming a derived work, experiencing the original later will seem much less impressive – it did, after all, not give you an epiphany (as you already got that from the enhanced work or copycat).
By that token, I also find the Beatles mindbogglingly boring, while some people credit them with the musical equivalent of inventing the wheel. Well, even so, their work has been expanded on so much that by now, it looks like one of those wheels they use in B.C. or the Flintstones. You appreciate the historic value, but you wouldn't want to use it on a daily basis. The WalkMan was a great step up in portable music from the ghettoblaster, but I still wouldn't trade you my MP3 player for one.
In other words, it's not a case of Older than they think – it's a case of getting used to the refined product before the crude.
Of course, there's an inverse of this; when instead of taking a diamond in the raw and keeping the precious bits while replacing or refining the bad bits, you keep the bad bits and replace the good bits with rubbish.
And then, there is the epic failure: That's when you take a work that's already perfect, and create a pointless remake, or a piece of utter crap polluting the same theme-space.
Ie., you start out with Brainstorm and end up with Strange Days.
triggered by a recent discussion of TDTESS, Slyth's posting, the entry in TVTropes, and a recent e-mail on Strange Days.
For those who don't, like, know me that well: it'd be like SO off to make assumptions here based on my low opinion of Tolkien's writing. I don't require for everything to be in valspeak; in fact those who have been paying attention will know that Wilde's my favourite writer, and that the last time I watched a Shakespeare performance is more recent than the last time I went to the movies.
No, sorry, it's not that.
It's just that Tolkien really stinks. :-D
Meh, just goes to show that consuming too many derived works spoils the appreciation of the original.
I remember we had the same discussion about ten years ago (OMG, has it really been that long?) and I realize that for many the PJ adaptation is the defining work for all things LotR and the actual books are pretty bland in comparison. After all the Lord of the Ring is a book mostly about meals and walking.
Viewer's (and reader's) habits have changed, for me to a point where watching a modern movie can be actually painful. Same might be true about modern readers encountering the Lord of the Rings for the first time, as opposed to the eight year-old who read that book thirty years ago (as I did).
And I am talking about a time when reading Fantasy literature meant the choice between Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber :)
So, you might have a point in that reading the Lord of the Rings today might be an acquired taste and becoming even more so as time goes by.
And I wouldn't consider it unexpected that Tolkien's narrative hasn't aged as well as the writings of the Bard or Wilde's immor(t)al wit ;)
Yes. I think I'm a little kinder on Tolkien now, and I think I also worked out what the issue is.
One group say, "LotR is the more desirable work, it's the original, there was genius involved in coming up with all that stuff; the other author was just some lame-o insignificant copycat."
The other group say, "The derivative is the more desirable work, because it has All That And More." "There may have been less original creation involved, so the author may not be as great, but the actual work is more well-rounded and hence a more enjoyable read."
Heh, I differ, but partially for the writing. For one, as a non-native speaker, it does tend to expand ones vocabulary. :)
And the other point is that I've read Norse sagas and the like before I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Silmarillion, and you read those more for the rythm and the scenery than the plot and characters; characters just plain don't matter, except for their unusual features (like "has a magic shield"), they are all pawns of (their) circumstance.
Yeah, but like Clemens said, that's not the storytelling most people care to read these days, and somewhat ironically, Tolkien et al. broke the path wide open for more accessible writers. You want fantasy with actual characters? Or Fantasy people won't call racist? Or anti-industrialist? It's all there for the picking. It's like Tolkien+. It's not the original, but some people will argue that that's exactly what makes it better, even if it's less groundbreaking. ;)
More to the point, what you're saying doesn't seem to be "I read the derivative work first", but "I read the original first" (relative to LotR), so it seems to in fact blend rather well with my theory? For all we know, if you'd read the edda or whatever AFTER reading Tolkien, you may not have enjoyed it?
I read the Edda after I read Tolkien and still enjoyed. Tolkien kinda got me hooked on that kind of stuff. I'll have to admit that I read the Edda as source material for my own Viking-flavoured RPG sessions...
"Kinder on Tolkien"? It seems you have mellowed with age, Azou. Wow.