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Thread: Am I doing this Right?

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Hello Tolkien Die Hards! I have never posted on a message board before, nor done any type of social online networking. (So if I'm not doing this right, I beg that you will forgive me.) I've never message-boarded because every board other than this one makes me lose faith in humanity. It devolves into name calling and racism within a few posts and it is sad and pathetic. Here, however, it seems quite different. I joined here for three reasons: 1) I love thinking and talking about JRR's secondary universe, but most of my "real" friends aren't nearly as into it as I am, 2) I stumbled on this site while researching my favorite character, Eowyn, and 3) the boards here are filled with enlightened, meaningful, friendly discussion. Perhaps we Tolkien die hards are more enlightened and compassionate than most? I got Return of the Shadow and Treason of Isengard for xmas... and WOW. It's so incredible to read first hand how "the Tale grew in its telling." I mean, the first drafts were vastly different than the masterpiece of the final version. (Bingo instead of Frodo (and Bilbo's son, no less) ... Bilbo getting married... the Black Ridders just coming to JRR out of the blue...) To see how it evolved is truly the greatest gift we could receive (other than a newly discovered fourth book... or volumes 7 and 8 if you prefer!) I first read FotR when I was about 20, some 10 years ago before the movie came out. Like many people, I was put off at first by the level of detail. Council of Elrond killed me, and I actually stopped for awhile reading after Gandalf was smitten by the Balrog.) First reading it, I wanted to be ready for the film version, and I also read FotR because on the back of my other favorite novel series, DUNE, which I read over and over since I was 15, there is a quote that says "I know nothing comparable to [Dune] other than Lord of the Rings." Well, as much as I love Dune (they are tied in my mind), Frank Herbert didn't even come CLOSE to the level of meticulous detail that JRR did. I truly believe that Tolkien's secondary universe is, without question, the single greatest achievement of human imagination in history. I'm sure I'm not alone. Nothing even comes close to the level of detail and love JRR put into his life's work (by that I mean everything, Silmarilion, etc.) And if I'm wrong, if there is anything with this level of detail and care, please please tell me. I intend on writing more on this site about my favorite character Eowyn, and I don't just mean an ad nauseum discussion about whether she proves that JRR was a feminist or not. I also hope to contribute to other people's thoughtful discussions, and initiate some of my own. Thank you JRR, Christopher, Allen and Unwin, the Council of this site, and all of you great contributors and Tolkien fanatics. This site is awesome and I can't wait to be a small (to large) part of it. -Shadowfax (how was that screen name not already taken???) "...maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair but terrible."

Hi, Shadowfax. I'm new here too; though I've been involved with other sites for some time now. Sorry to hear you've had bad experiences elsewhere. I don't like sites where that sort of thing goes on either. You'll be okay here, though.

You've picked a good name, too; Shadowfax. I'm glad you're looking deeper into the character of Eowyn. Folk often used to say that Tolkien couldn't write parts for women, because (according to some who aren't acquainted with the facts!) , Tolkien went to an all-male school; then an all-male college, then the army... yes, we get the picture. But he also got married, and had children (including a girl) and he and his wife had many friends in Oxford, including many of his ex-pupils. Some became members of the Oxford teaching staff themselves. And many of these were women.

Hope you don't mind my going on; it's a bit of a hobby-horse of mine. Though I'm glad to say that the situation seems to be changing lately.

Hope you enjoy yourself here as much as I am.

Welcome fair Shadowfax.

You are doing everything all right my friend,see you around and have fun.Keep us posted on your Eowyn research.Very much interested.



Welcome Shadowfax! 

Howdy Boss, and welcome

Welcome, Shadowfax!!

I am so happy to hear that you are enjoying delving more deeply into Tolkien's world. There are a lot of amazing PT forum discussions on Middle Earth and those who resided there.

We do expect members to keep in mind the importance of respect when posting in our forums and try to keep a close eye. So, hopefully, you won't have any negative experiences on PT.

Enjoy!! Smile Smilie

Awww shucks, guys (and gals).   [Would have inserted a "blushes" emoticon but it wasn't easily found.]   Everyone's so nice to a noob like me.   I was a little apprehensive to post on PT after I saw one newbie (or just someone a little slow) get kinda ripped on here when he posted a somewhat-less-than-interesting Eowyn question in the wrong place, in ALL CAPS.  I don't blame anyone, but you can understand my hesitation. 

After reading a lot more from contributors on this site, I think I figured out why Shadowfax wasn't taken already.  You guys (and gals) are some SERIOUS fans and go quite deep into the secondary universe.  Now I really feel like a noob for picking something so obvious!  I mean, if I'm going to pick a beast of burden from the main series, I have to at least represent Snowmane or Bill or something right?!  ; )

But of course not everyone on here is not a DIE HARD, die hard.  That's really neat the varying array of readers, many devoted and some reading for the first time.  Incidentally the "First Time" memories of reading discussion was fun.  So many people read it for the first time around the same time I did 2000/2001.  I am particulary interested in hearing stories from old stoners and hippies who read it in the 60's when they were teens and 20s when it was just really beginning to break.  (wonders to himself if there is such a thread...)

I guess before joining, I considered myself pretty much a mid level Tolkien devotee, having read LotR a half a dozen times, listened to the audiobook a million times (incredible btw), read Unfinished Tales, Lost Tales 1&2, and am currently working through the Hobbit, Silm., and History of ME.   But after reading more of all your great stuff, I am beginning to wonder if I am even at the mid level point yet!  Something to aspire to.  : )

Anyway, thanks for making me feel welcome, and I will keep my future thoughts on a journal or in specific threads.  Peace, Planet Tolkien




While I haven't yet encountered any fantasy with a world and history as detailed as LOTR (though some would argue Wheel of Time or Song of Ice & Fire), I do believe Dune is its sci-fi counterpart. 

Just as LOTR, Dune is backed by a humongous amount of background material on history, politics, etc. that was never published. When LOTR has History of Middle-earth, Dune has the Dune Encyclopedia and posthumous works similar to Unfinished Tales & Silmarillion, albeit sadly not on the same quality as the originals.

Welcome Shadowfax, to our wonderful little home. I hope you have a great and lengthy stay.

Virumor (and all interested parties),

As much respect, love, and admiration as I have for Christopher Tolkien, the inverse is true for his "Dune counterpart" Brian Herbert.  Christopher (ALMOST as much as his old man), has done so much for my appreciation and understanding of the secondary universe, which, let's be honest, is so convincing that it feels real, and almost transcends the singular author that produced it. 

Wouldn't it be great if Brian  (Frank's son) would have done Dune what Christopher did with his father's universe?  Having read every novel and story Frank ever wrote, I can say (IMO) with 100% certainty that Brian and Kevin J Andersen will never come close to Frank's writing, even his earliest stuff.  All they did was dilute Frank's legacy.

Contrast that with what Christopher has done: completely added to his father's legacy and enhanced the secondary universe.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate his notes and compilations.  I'm almost done with Return of the Shadow, and I am just amazed and so pleased Christopher let us see the early drafts.  But imagine if he would have taken JRR's notes and wrote his own "fan fiction" essentially?  Well, that's what Brian Herbert decided to do.  Ugh.  (In all fairness, I gave up on the Brian/Kevin "prequels and sequels" around the second or third book, so perhaps they improved... however, I didn't want to risk "ruining" Frank's world, especially when it came to the Dune 7 books... which , from reading the reviews and summaries of the plot, makes me want to vomit blood.)

I would much rather read notes and early drafts of these amazing authors than see their son's just mooch off the goodwill their fathers built up over half a century.  It's probably posted elsewhere or available online, but I wonder how Chris became JRR's literary heir, as if I'm not mistaking old man "Beren" had more than one child?  The answer could very well be that JRR sensed that Chris "got it" more than his other children.  And boy, did JRR and/or his executor make the right call there. 

And that is why in my first post ever on here, I included Christopher in my "thank yous."  Not only for what he DID do, but equally for what he DIDN'T do. 

Ronald appointed Christopher as his Literary Executor in his will. It was an obvious choice; Christpher had been involved in his father's work on LotR, and later Ronald 'shared his literary and philological imagination with (him)'. (taken from 'The Tolkien Family Album', by John and priscilla Tolkien, 1992, p.73)

Another obvious reason for JRR choosing Christopher is that, after the war (in which CT served in the RAF), Christopher followed in his father's professional footsteps as a scholar of Old and Middle English, and a philologist. He was a Fellow of New College, Oxford (which, despite its name, is one of the oldest colleges in the university).

Christopher made a name for himself in Old Norse studies too - his 1960 edition of Heidrek's Saga was very well received, and it has just become re-available in 'print-on-demand' format. Anyone looking at Christopher's treatment of the variant texts of this saga would instantly recognize the scientific approach he applies to HoMe. Yet, he manages to keep away from 'academic dryness'.  In Letter 205, Tolkien writes to congratulate Christopher on a paper he'd given called 'Barbarians and Citizens', He writes:

"It was enormously successful, and I realize now why you hold audiences... Several people... spoke to me of the art with which you made the beady-eyed Attila on his couch almost vividly present."

As you say, Tolkien had more than one child: there were John, then Michael; then Christopher, and Priscilla. Michael was one of Tolkien's executors; the other was Tolkien's solicitor Frank Williams.