Lion of the Blogosphere

Christopher Tolkien died at age of 95

That’s the son of J.R.R. Tolkien. For whatever reason, whether because he worshiped his father as a Great Man, or for the money, he brought a lot of his late father’s unpublished scribblings to the world. And wow, he sure did live for a long time.

* * *

Sorry, I didn’t mean to speak ill of Christopher Tolkien, for without him, Tolkien’s fan’s would never even have read the Silmarillion (1977), not to mention all of the other volumes of “unfinished tales” and “lost tales” etc. that he published.

It should be pointed out that the Tolkien estate is worth about half a billion dollars, mostly on account of the massive amount of money the Tolkien estate made since they started making movies of the books. Whatever descendants are still alive, they are all pretty rich, richer than JRR himself ever was when he was alive.

* * *

Believe it or not I’ve never watched The Hobbit movies. Should I?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 16, 2020 at 2:06 PM

Posted in Books

46 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Why so petty?

    destructure

    January 16, 2020 at 2:55 PM

  2. We have him to thank for getting most of his father’s oeuvre into print.

    bob sykes

    January 16, 2020 at 2:57 PM

  3. There’s room between worshiping your father and cashing in on his legacy.

    J.R.R. wrote Christmas letters to his kids as Santa. Seems probable that they loved him.

    And it is certain that the family wasn’t prole.

    Half Canadian

    January 16, 2020 at 4:07 PM

    • And it is certain that the family wasn’t prole.

      Tolkien was a professor of linguistics and Anglo-Saxon at Oxford and wrote an analysis of Beowulf that is still academically important today.

      Camlost

      January 16, 2020 at 5:14 PM

      • Tolkien was born poor.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 16, 2020 at 5:44 PM

      • Lion of the Blogosphere said: “Tolkien was born poor.”

        No he wasn’t, his dad was an upper-middle-class banker in South Africa when he was a young tyke.

        When his dad died, his mother returned to England with her children, where his mother’s rich relatives made sure he was able to live the life of a kid with money – he went to a good school, ate healthy food, played on the school’s varsity teams. He got into Oxford with no trouble, which in the day was the equivalent of a kid today getting into Harvard with no trouble. He was an aristocrat every day of his life.

        Don’t kid yourself, Tolkien was never a member of the poor classes.

        There have been literary geniuses who knew what poverty was – Dickens, for example, Cervantes, Dostoevsky – Tolkien was never really poor.

        There is a similar lie going around that Rowling was poor. She never was, she just decided not to work for a living for a few years and to live off the taxpayer’s bounty.

        Look I appreciate Tolkien’s skill at making a pretty little picture of a pretty little world where little plucky hobbits who reminded him of himself were the great heroes, but it was just a pretty little world.

        What is important is this, that this world right here is the real world and that every one reading these words is a child of God and we all need to be what God wants us to be.

        even if we never ever will spend a single day or night as treasured guests in the richest hobbit hole in all of the Shire.

        howitzer daniel

        January 16, 2020 at 8:50 PM

      • Anyone talking about Tolkien without ever visiting this past exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum in NYC is indeed a prole.

        https://www.themorgan.org/exhibitions/tolkien

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        January 16, 2020 at 10:52 PM

    • Here’s a question for the Lion and his readers: do you think proles or bourgeois types have better relationships with their parents? Are working or middle class people more likely to think their parents are stifling, nagging, interfering etc?

      Gozo

      January 16, 2020 at 5:44 PM

      • Does it matter? Both sets of people can’t wait to put their parents at old age homes. And politicians talk about “family values” and the sheep eat it up. Irony….

        mpt

        January 16, 2020 at 5:57 PM

      • Curles

        January 16, 2020 at 9:20 PM

      • In my experience the answer is bourgeois have the better relationship, though I have a limited sample set of proles with whom I’m highly familiar.

        In one set, the father more or less abandoned his two teenage kids from his first wife (who was an unfit mother and just vanished into the ether), moving to another state with his second wife where he fathered two more. The first two kids are pretty resentful about it.

        One of those resentful teenage kids then grew up to become an unfit mother to her own bastard child. I suspect the father was a one-night stand and I’m not sure if she ever knew with confidence who he even was. Funny enough that kid strikes me as way brighter than the rest of the family — maybe the dad was actually high IQ? But the kid is definitely going to grow up to resent his terrible mother.

        I also had a prole girlfriend who was estranged from her father after her mother passed (but I think the relationship with the mother had been strained too). She had dreams of rising above her station and I think held her prole upbringing against her parents.

        Wency

        January 17, 2020 at 9:57 AM

      • I wonder if that phenomenon of having dreams of rising above one station and holding one’s prole upbringing against one’s parents is more common and needs to be explored more. I’ve tended to blame my own failure to have a family on my prole upbringing. Prole girls were never interested in me because as a high IQ kid I had intellectual interests and wasn’t into stupid macho stuff like obsessing over sports, monster trucks, pro wrestling, etc., but being from a prole background I lacked the manners and all the other subtle indicators to higher class girls that I was a member of their respectable class.

        Hermes

        January 17, 2020 at 11:34 AM

    • The “Letters” (often to Christopher) are very entertaining and evocative. Sadly there is always a undertone of physical decline, which is the bane of biography.

      Lion of the Turambar

      January 16, 2020 at 6:02 PM

  4. As for the Hobbit movies…they chose to invent girl-Legolas (who’s a way better fighter than actual Legolas). Rather than love Legolas, she loves a dwarf — but alas, the world doesn’t understand their love! Also it was more than 3x too long.

    If that sounds fine to you, go ahead and watch it. As a Tolkien fan, I give it 4/10.

    Wency

    January 16, 2020 at 5:12 PM

    • There were no female elves in Tolkien’s books at all except for Galadriel and Arwen, neither of whom were in The Hobbit.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      January 16, 2020 at 5:43 PM

      • Yep. The LOTR films expanded the role of both of them (especially Arwen) somewhat, but I thought it was forgivable. They eliminated another elf character in the first film (a good choice), but his role then had to be given to either Arwen or Elrond. I’d have given it to Elrond, but it was OK what they did.

        The lady-elf in The Hobbit films is a much cruder feminist insert, on the level of Rey from Star Wars.

        Wency

        January 16, 2020 at 6:26 PM

      • “They eliminated another elf character in the first film (a good choice)”

        No, it was wrong to eliminate Glorfindel.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 16, 2020 at 11:03 PM

      • Glorfindel is one more freaking character in a story that already gave the two main villains too-similar names. He’s not part of the Fellowship but appears at about the same time as the rest of the Fellowship, when we’re getting introduced to tons of new characters. He appears for one part of the story and then is forgotten. It’s confusing why he doesn’t join the Fellowship (which he did do in Tolkien’s first draft). He is extraneous; it was absolutely correct storytelling to cut him.

        Now merging him with Elrond, as I said, would be ideal. Perhaps even cast Elrond with a more Glorfindel-like actor.

        Wency

        January 17, 2020 at 10:10 AM

      • I thought his not joining the Fellowship was important, it showed how the Elves weren’t willing to give any direct help to what Gandalf was going, they were just all talk no action. Although Gandalf said he wouldn’t be able to do anything that Merry and Pippin even though he had powerful Elf magic (which wasn’t called magic). Which seemed pretty unlikely to me, Merry and Pippin were sort of useless.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 17, 2020 at 11:08 AM

      • I don’t think that’s the conclusion you’re meant to take away. If the elves were really dragging their feet on helping, Gandalf or someone would have expressed anger with them.

        I think the reason for the Fellowship’s composition is just that they intentionally capped the group at 9 and mostly favored loyalty (hobbits) and diplomatic concerns (everyone else) in choosing its members. Elrond/Galadriel didn’t need a representative because they knew and trusted Gandalf and Aragorn. Also adding a second elf would upset the dwarves.

        Wency

        January 17, 2020 at 11:57 AM

    • Worse yet they added a bunch of made up stuff and didn’t put in stuff that was in the actual book. Definitely for the low IQ types.

      CamelCaseRob

      January 16, 2020 at 8:28 PM

  5. “Believe it or not I’ve never watched The Hobbit movies. Should I?”
    No. You’re not missing anything.

    TK421

    January 16, 2020 at 5:40 PM

  6. “Believe it or not I’ve never watched The Hobbit movies. Should I?”

    They’re nice movies. But they’re not as epic as LOTR. They were afterthoughts. If you read the books and saw all of the LOTR movies, then you’re probably into it and won’t be disappointed. But if you’re not into it then you’re not into it.

    Half a billion is a lot of money for some books written decades ago. But JK Rowling is worth over a billion dollars. And, as far as I’m concerned, JRR Tolkien was the original. Without him, there would have been no Harry Potter. I won’t say she flat out ripped him off. There’s quite a difference. But there are still some similarities if you look close enough. And I doubt she would have written hers if he hadn’t written his first.

    destructure

    January 16, 2020 at 5:42 PM

    • Rowling didn’t rip off Tolkien. She ripped off Jill Murphy – to a very obvious extent.

      Stealth

      January 16, 2020 at 8:30 PM

    • Tolkien is part of the cultural heritage of the west. He looms large over the fantasy genre.
      But Harry Potter isn’t a rip off of LotR. The Sword of Shanara? Definitely. But not HP.

      Half Canadian

      January 16, 2020 at 8:42 PM

      • Other than there being a Gandalf-like character (Headmaster Dumbledore), and a Sauron-like character (Voldemort), they aren’t alike. You could easily replace those two with Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader and say that Rawling copied from Star Wars.

        And of course, Harry Potter is an orphan, just like Frodo Baggins, Luke Skywalker, and King Arthur.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 16, 2020 at 11:06 PM

      • I view Gandalf/Dumbledore as fairly standard sage/mentors, while Sauron/Voldemort were high-powered villains (though Sauron is portrayed as more powerful, as Gandalf fears Sauron while Voldemort fears Dumbledore).

        Half Canadian

        January 16, 2020 at 11:44 PM

      • “You could easily replace those two with Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader and say that Rawling copied from Star Wars.”

        Not so easily I think. The comparison could be made but it would be thin. Perhaps it was one of the inspirations? I dunno. But the parallels between HP and LOTR run much more and much deeper. And while I realize people can find coincidences in anything, some of the coincidences between the two are definitely more than random. Especially when one realizes just how many there are. I can also see the influence of Dickens as well. Hardly surprising since Rowling was a fan of both during her teen years.

        http://greenbooks.theonering.net/guest/files/050102.html

        destructure

        January 17, 2020 at 7:44 AM

      • ” And while I realize people can find coincidences in anything, some of the coincidences between the two are definitely more than random.”

        Not random coincidence, it follows a classic literary pattern, often called “the hero’s journey.”

        And the hero always has a mentor: Gandalf, Dubledore, Ben Kenobi, the Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion, etc.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 17, 2020 at 9:20 AM

      • I didn’t even mention hero’s journey as a similarity. Neither did the article I linked. Resorting to straw men is often a sign of a weak argument.

        destructure

        January 17, 2020 at 11:46 AM

      • LOTR is about a powerful wizard named Sauron who wants to rule the world. So he creates a set of rings embued with his spirit. He’s killed in battle but, since his spirit is tied to the rings, he doesn’t completely die. Instead, he’s vanquished to the spirit realm from which he’s trying to return. Sauron can only be permanently killed by destroying his ring of power. But the ring of power can’t be destroyed by mortal means. It can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom where it was created. Therein lies Frodo’s quest. He puts the ring on a chain around his neck and travels to Mount Doom. But since it is embued with Sauron’s spirit it’s deceptive and affects him mentally. It also allows Sauron to get in his head.

        HP is about a powerful wizard named Voldemort who wants to rule the world. So he creates a set of horcruxes embued with his spirit. He’s killed when a spell backfires but, since his spirit is tied to the horcruxes, he doesn’t completely die. Instead, he’s vanquished to the spirit realm from which he’s trying to return. Voldemort can only be killed by destroying all the horcruxes. But they can’t be destroyed by mortal means. Therein lies HP’s quest. He has to find all the horcruxes and figure out a way to destroy them. One horcrux in particular is a locket which he wears on a chain around his neck. But since it is embued with Voldemort’s spirit it’s deceptive and affects him mentally. In a twist, HP is himself a horcrux which allows Voldemort to get into his head.

        destructure

        January 19, 2020 at 8:18 AM

    • What is certain is that without Tolkien, there would have been no Dungeons & Dragons.

      Hermes

      January 16, 2020 at 9:47 PM

      • That’s definitely true.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 16, 2020 at 11:07 PM

      • These rules are strictly fantasy. Those wargamers who lack imagination, those who don’t care for Burroughs’ Martian adventures where John Carter is groping through black pits, who feel no thrill upon reading Howard’s Conan saga, who do not enjoy the de Camp & Pratt fantasies or Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser pitting their swords against evil sorceries will not be likely to find DUNGEONS and DRAGONS to their taste. But those whose imaginations know no bounds will find that these rules are the answer to their prayers. With this last bit of advice we invite you to read on and enjoy a “world” where the fantastic is fact and magic really works!

        – Forward to Dungeons & Dragons, November 1973

        E. Gary Gygax

        January 17, 2020 at 6:44 PM

      • Yes, that sounds like something Gary Gygax would write!

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 17, 2020 at 7:43 PM

    • I don’t see any similarity between Harry Potter and LOTR, other than there being magic.

      Lowe

      January 16, 2020 at 9:47 PM

    • Several comments appear to disagree. But if you reread my original comment closely, you’ll see they’re arguing against things I didn’t actually say. I stand by my original comment 100%.

      destructure

      January 17, 2020 at 5:08 AM

  7. Believe it or not I’ve never watched The Hobbit movies. Should I?

    Original cartoon versions were incredibly amateurish.

    The Peter Jackson version was ruined by a bald money grab. YouTube cite.

    Portlander

    January 16, 2020 at 5:50 PM

  8. The two comments I’ve read so far have it right, I think; the Hobbit movies are nowhere near as satisfying as LOTR — for example, I’ve rewatched the “extended” version of LOTR several times, esp. the first of the three, but wouldn’t particularly care to see any of the Hobbit trilogy again — but they do provide a chance, if you want it, to revisit Middle Earth. And there are occasional moving scenes. Martin Freeman is, I think, quite good.

    Simon

    January 16, 2020 at 6:52 PM

    • Yeah, this is a good comment from the positive side.

      Wency

      January 17, 2020 at 7:29 AM

  9. Watch that Rankin Bass Hobbitfrom 1977.

    Steverino@steverino.com

    January 16, 2020 at 9:08 PM

  10. The Hobbit does not compare well to LOTR but it can be enjoyable in a MCU sort of way.

    Monsieur le Baron

    January 16, 2020 at 10:31 PM

  11. The Hobbit movies are a bloated slap-stick imitation of the LOTR movies. I don’t recommend them at all.

    That being said, you can’t blame Tolkien for getting money due to Jackson’s movies. He hated them and never wanted them made.

    goug

    January 17, 2020 at 9:18 AM

  12. The Hobbit was written before LOTR, specifically as a children’s book. I was an avid reader, but when my parents gave me the book as a kid, I was unenthusiastic, couldn’t finish it, and in later life neither read nor saw LOTR. I wish Tolkien had continued his classical studies instead of venturing into literature.

    Anthony

    January 17, 2020 at 2:08 PM

    • “I wish Tolkien had continued his classical studies instead of venturing into literature.”

      If that happened, you would never have heard of him

      And in fact, he did continue those studies, LotR was just a hobby for him.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      January 17, 2020 at 2:46 PM

  13. Tolkien was good Oxford friends with CS Lewis, whose writings I prefer. Narnia is less complex but friendlier than LOTR. And his more adult novels and non fiction are excellent too.

    Petronella

    January 17, 2020 at 8:53 PM


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: