Friday, October 30, 2009

There and Back Again

I am going through Kate Nepveu's re-read of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. She writes a summary of each chapter and includes her reactions and then there are chatty comments on each post too. (I am reading some but not all of the comments, there is a limit to my interest in what an enthusiast thinks those hobbits were up to.) This annotated re-reading is such a social thing, so meta, everyone discussing their impressions, what they don't understand or misunderstood. What they love about a passage. Whether a balrog has wings. What words resonate with them or seem de trop. And discussion of the movies is woven in there too. It's quite a contrast to my memories of reading LOTR as an intensely solitary activity. These are beloved fantasy adventure books of my first most voracious era of reading (age 9 to 18). It was an exciting effort of imagination for me to get through them in 4th grade. Of course I let much of it wash over me as a kid. The always present, lengthy landscape descriptions can be exhausting. And the history of Middle Earth is so convoluted that my husband still uses The Silmarillion as bedtime reading. He loves it but it still puts him to sleep. (I never read that one, I couldn't get past its first deadly section.)

When I first encountered the 1969 National Lampoon parody Bored of the Rings in college, I devoured it but I also felt like I was betraying old JRR by laughing. (According to Wikipedia Bored has never gone out of print. And it is well worth reading if you are not too reverent a Tolkien fanboy.) As a young person I missed female characters (the rare appearance of one would grab my attention) but not enough to put down the story. I love some of the moments in the books, the quest, the heroic gestures, the love for home and for companions that is expressed. The author's chosen archaic language sometimes seems hacky to me but sometimes works poetically. From Ms. Nepveu's re-reading, she points out the following high elf quote as being particularly clunky: “That is the doom that we must deem.” Indeed. But perhaps we deem it at our peril, eh?

One of the wise commenters mentions a passage that acts as "a corrective to the solemnity that in LOTR often threatens to topple into pomposity." Yes.


Speaking of peril, I'm going to spend the night in a cabin, camping with the brownies. Patchy frost, low of 36 says the forecast. You may now admire my fortitude. We'll see what I have to say tomorrow.


A little DIY Goldsworthy for you:

I noticed that the red fallen leaves had blown almost equally onto each step. I wished for my camera and thought that it might all be gone in the morning. But I got another chance and snapped the picture just as it started to rain.

Via Kottke, here's a page of the best 100 music videos of the decade. Drool. I need a laptop and room to dance, stat! Oh and a weekend I could afford to squander, that'd be good too.


From 10/28's Nothing But Bonfires comments which is chock full of everyone's favorite sign misspellings and malapropisms.
'In tones of disdain, she said "What's the hold up? It's not rocket surgery."' I'm going to try and use that one very soon.


Bee said...

That picture seems like a miracle of leaf dispersal. I can't help but like the red ones best.

The LOTR thing just reminds me of a goofy movie that I watched yesterday with the kids. I can't remember the title, but Zac Efron features. Anyway: an uber goober gets the hot principal to fall for him when she discovers that they have shared love for LOTR.
Even though I do love my books, I can't imagine going through them quite so obsessively.

The rocket surgery comment was really funny.

Nimble said...

The leaves are mostly gone here except for the brown ones. But yesterday I walked past a late maple in front of the library. It looked pinky orange, quite glowing.

Yay for goofy Zac Efron movies!

Bee said...

It's called Seventeen Again, in case you are interested. Are your girls into the High School Musical thing yet?