Saturday, September 17, 2022

Rings of Power

A few people at the conference mentioned the new TV show, and seemed positive.  My sons warned me off that I wouldn't much like it but i was already out as soon as i heard of it.  I do see the attraction for touring Middle-Earth and having a look at some history and adventures there - that is part of the attraction of Dungeons and Dragons, certainly. Yet while the Legendarium is a magnificent achievement I doubt that it would have attracted more than mild attention from me without the plot with hobbits. I would be fascinated that an Oxford don had created such a thing, complete with languages and history, yet I don't know that I would have read much of it.  I didn't read the Silmarillion beyond a few chapters. A minority of readers prefer that work, and I can perceive from afar why that might be, though I don't share the sentiment. 

Hobbits are the draw, and Lewis was right when he advised Tolkien that they are only interesting when they are doing unhobbitish things. I am still amazed by the story I learned only within the last few years, that Tolkien was writing his "New Hobbit" and had gotten the four of them on their way but still in the Shire when they heard hoofbeats and prepared to hide in the woods to surprise Gandalf, who Tolkien had slated to arrive then to accompany them to Rivendell. But Lewis's comment caused him to rethink the whole scene, seeing at once that the arrival of a Black Rider would be much more interesting and a better story than the arrival of a Grey Rider. He sensed that it fit his entire work much more fully.  Lewis's help was the sort of small but well-timed brilliance we might all hope to give a friend.

But it is hobbits, precisely because they are peaceable, gentle, and unused to hardship that make LOTR interesting a story at all. The Legendarium is so many stories that it is a history and no story at all. Drag in hobbits somewhat against their will and make them realise that a great deal depends on whatever skill and courage they can muster and we have our own stories, fighting our own small battles on the chance that our part will prove essential in the end, however unnoticed it is now. Who now remembers Mordecai Ham, the anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic evangelist of the early 20th C? He seems to have been a harsh and unpleasant fellow. But Billy Graham became converted at one of his revivals and much was changed in the church and the world, including, ironically, a great deal more cooperation among Christians of all races and denominations. 


“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”
I can't get past the idea that Rings of Power is going to be Marvel Middle-earth. Which sounds like fine adventures, but possessing no spiritual depth.


james said...

I generally avoid fan-fiction.

james said...

True, I'm being inconsistent, since I've tried my hand at writing fan fiction myself once, after a fashion.

Grim said...

It appears to be an attempt to not merely neglect but reject Tolkien’s spiritual foundations; but it’s also bad on narrative, especially in the desire to shoehorn racial diversity in places Tolkien clearly didn’t intend it. Black Numenoreans and Dark Elves are not codewords.