Friday, November 9, 2012

I told you Tolkien was a brilliant writer

And that means his actual prose, too.  One of the trademarks of the Internet generation is a certain contempt for that which came before.  Oh, we might celebrate it, adore it, be fans of it, even venerate it, but we can't help be add some form of 'of course [fill in the blank] is a little this or that, not great, purply, whatever.'  Even Thomas McDonald's nod to Bram Stoker yesterday had an obligatory 'his writing could be a bit Victorian.'

It's not just books either.  Movies.  Songs.  You name it.  I can't tell you how many times I've seen an article celebrating the original 1933 King Kong, only to pause to lament, or apologize, for the crude special effects.  Really?  Crude?  It was 19 freaking 33.  At the time, they towered over anything ever attempted.  Compared to Kong 33, Avatar was a moving comic book.  You should celebrate them for their time and place, not expect them to stand up to our own ever changing standards.

Yet for some reason, more than I remember growing up, we seem to almost apologize for liking anything that didn't just come out in iPad app form or with the latest CGI.  Tolkien is no exception.  I've lost track of the number of fans who appear to apologize for his prose, his style, his form.  Oh, they love the book.  They celebrate it as the masterpiece that it is.  But there's that tendency that seems to increase every year across the Internet to celebrate it apologetically.

So I was happy to see this piece over at Word on Fire.  Apparently some lucky bugger was able to look over one of the best collections of Tolkien manuscripts in the world.  At Marguette University, Jack Thorton was able to page through the rough drafts of what would become The Lord of the Rings.  It's a great article, but what I appreciated was his unabashed appreciation for Tolkien's actual writing style.  Not just the 'overall a great work', but actually considering Tolkien's prose on par with Leo Tolstoy, or James Joyce.  Thank goodness someone on the Internet admitted it.

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