In the Loop

In the Loop: April 17, 2007 Archive

Tolkien who?

Posted at 2:00 PM on April 17, 2007 by Sanden Totten (1 Comments)

I read on the BBC today that Tolkien's son recently wrapped up a 30 year project to publish his father's final book on the history of Middle Earth. Wow. I wonder how long it will be before someone snaps up the movie rights.

(Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
It was strange though, in the article, Tolkien's son seemed upset that his father's creations were more well known than the author himself. From the article:

"Everyone talks about the brand , the franchise and the films. People obviously forget there's a man behind it, that he wrote it for his reasons and the books are wonderful . . . It's a work of art."

Obviously the existence of Hobbit Happy Meal toys doesn't do much for the artistic integrity of the works, but I'd argue that what J.R.R. Tolkien has going for him is way better than your average "well known" author. Take James Joyce for one, almost everybody knows who he is but how many people can tell you what his books are about? Not even everyone who's read them I'd wager. But you could walk up to a 10 year old and they'd be able to spout out the whole story behind the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, complete with the location and duration of most battles. And maybe they'd even offer up some sage advice on the value of friendship or mankind's lust for power. Isn't having the message out there the most important part?

What J.R.R. Tolkien managed to do was create a mythology that was so universal, people from all walks of life, even those who don't like books, were able learn from it. I'm sure more people know the story of the tortoise and the hare than know who exactly Aesop was . . . but that's the point, good stories transcend the people who write them. They become property of the public mind. To me that seems like the highest achievement an author could hope for.

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