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Lord of the Rings.

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  • Lord of the Rings.

    Michael, I have read a number of interviews in which you explain your distaste for the Lord of the Rings, however, you have never givena pin point of the exact reason why. I myself am a fan of both your works, and though can see the absurdity of points (Most notably where they all gather round Boromir's funeral pyre and sing songs, as Merry and Pippin disappear into the distance) and I would be interested to understand what it is about the Lord of the Rings that really annoys you. Does anybody else here like both, or is liking Moorcock and Tolkien a generally mutually uncompatible club.
    I would also be fascinated to hear whether you were inspired or influenced by any other prominent musicians, Michael. For example, did you listen to Dylan's thought provoking tracks or the Rolling Stones (Most notably Gimme Shelter) or did you subscribe exclusively to Hawkwind's music and their asscociates? Were you a fan of the entire scene of that time or just Hawkwind? I ask because, though not a great fan, i consider Dylan to be the most literate and poetically moving lyricist of the past century adnwas interested as to whether anyone else thought the same thing? Dylan seems to have been the most Author-like of the great song writers. Some of his lyrics bare a distinct resemblance to fantasy description and symbolism. Just wondering!

  • #2
    Mike explained his dislike for the Lord of the Rings in his article "Epic Pooh". It is not so much that he has anything against the book, he merely thinks that it is a childrens book that has been greatly overrated, and is about as much an epic as Winnie the Pooh is.

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    • #3
      Here is a link for Epic Pooh:

      revolutionsf.com[broken link]

      Personally, I can tolerate LOTR, when I read it as I would read any slightly dated Victorian or Edwardian novel. What I mean by that is you have to filter out the casual racism and sexism, and those jingoistic "Rule Brittania" colonialist attitudes. The point is, though, you shouldn't have to do that, because this novel wasn't published in the Victorian era. It was published in the 1950s.

      I've read LOTR, and I've had a few hours of amusement out of it. But since then, I've moved on to more mature works.
      Last edited by Rothgo; 04-09-2010, 04:18 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sexism or...

        I think people have both unfairly maligned and misinterpreted Tolkien's work. It was not a concious sexism, I men anyone who has read the Silmarillion can testify to the amount of book space that Luthien gets, and the action she takes part in. As Tolkien was often quoted as saying, he was creating a mythology for England. In most mythology, women are always beautiful seductresses or matronly women with barrel chests and arms like oak trees. The women weren't charcters as much as standing in the corner people. Tolkien followed this path. Also, I can't see any colonial refernces. True, he depicts the English as tough stalwart heroes, but this stems also from his myhtological take on the whole work.
        I can see ground for claims of slight racism, the lack of any black character save for the Haradrim in the 3rd who are evil servants of Sauron can be easily interpreted as racist, but there I think one does begin to read too deeply into the book. It is really, just a nice tale, a moving epic that I think all fantasy authors have to pay some homage to, after all, would Elric or Steven Erikson or Robert Jordan be here today if it wasn't for Tolkien and Peake?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Sexism or...

          It's called flamebait. The sooner you understand it the sooner you'll spot it:

          "Flamebait is a message posted to an Internet discussion group, such as a newsgroup or a mailing list, with the intent of provoking an angry response (a "flame"). Various motives or explanations can be sought for this puzzling behavior; from a commonsense point of view, the practice seems usually to be a cry for attention."

          This lovingly hand-crafted flamebait was brought to you by none other than a master baiter.

          Advice: Don't feed the troll.
          Source: Wikepedia
          URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamebait

          Originally posted by Red-Arrow
          I think people have both unfairly maligned and misinterpreted Tolkien's work. It was not a concious sexism, I men anyone who has read the Silmarillion can testify to the amount of book space that Luthien gets, and the action she takes part in. As Tolkien was often quoted as saying, he was creating a mythology for England. In most mythology, women are always beautiful seductresses or matronly women with barrel chests and arms like oak trees. The women weren't charcters as much as standing in the corner people. Tolkien followed this path. Also, I can't see any colonial refernces. True, he depicts the English as tough stalwart heroes, but this stems also from his myhtological take on the whole work.
          I can see ground for claims of slight racism, the lack of any black character save for the Haradrim in the 3rd who are evil servants of Sauron can be easily interpreted as racist, but there I think one does begin to read too deeply into the book. It is really, just a nice tale, a moving epic that I think all fantasy authors have to pay some homage to, after all, would Elric or Steven Erikson or Robert Jordan be here today if it wasn't for Tolkien and Peake?
          "Jerry Cornelius was based, for instance, on a young man I used to see around Notting Hill where there was also a greengrocer called Cornelius of London."

          --Michael Moorcock

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          • #6
            Elric would be here without Tolkien, but probably not without Howard.

            Comment


            • #7
              Yayyy

              Hey, apparently, I , little old me, am a master baiter oh yes. Incredible. Could I inquire Jerry Cornelius (Oh master of all that is was and ever will be, as you have a remarkable talent for discerning the personality of someone you have never met and most probably never will meet) how you know that I am a Troll, as you have branded me.
              Could it be possible that someone might post a message in all innocence, asking a question that he/she finds interesting or relevent without provoking this insulting and offensive outburst without any grounds or merit. I (I don't know about you) thought that the link between all modern fantsay and Tolkien was enough to base a relevant question upon.
              I apologise to all if I appear to be a FLAMEBAITER, I promise I will flagellate myself most severly for this most heinous of crimes. I would be interested to know from the proprieter of this site, Michael Moorcock, whether he has felt in anyway grateful to Tolkien for the culture Tolkien initially began. Oh yes , Mr. Cornelius, you'll notice I mentioned Mervyn Peake alongside mr. tolkien so the use of Tolkien was not an exascerbatory comment in the slightest. Nor was it intended to incite feelings of anger or vengance.
              I suggest you find yourself something better to do than accuse a perfectly innocent question as the next Watergate scandal. Get over it, mate, you really need to find yourself a girl... javascript:emoticon('')
              javascript:emoticon('')

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              • #8
                Re: Yayyy

                It's called a flamewar. The sooner you understand it the sooner you'll spot it:

                "A flame war is a heated argument ad hominem: It primarily consists of personal insults, the rational arguments are secondary.

                Flame wars usually develop out of a normal discussion in these ways:

                * Someone offends people through arrogant behavior (HelpingLusers)
                * A thread of discussion touches upon a LandMine
                * The rules or values of the community are questioned (c.f. WhatIsATroll?)
                * An ad hominem argument results when a poorly qualified contributor posts questionable material.
                * A participant tries to communicate with a chronic flamer (it's difficult to stay cool and polite)
                * A VestedContributor tries to pull rank. "

                This lovingly hand-crafted flame war was brought to you by none other than a troll and your friendly neighborhood anit-christ.

                Advice: Don't feed the troll.
                Source: Meatball
                URL: http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?FlameWar

                Originally posted by Red-Arrow
                Hey, apparently, I , little old me, am a master baiter oh yes. Incredible. Could I inquire Jerry Cornelius (Oh master of all that is was and ever will be, as you have a remarkable talent for discerning the personality of someone you have never met and most probably never will meet) how you know that I am a Troll, as you have branded me.
                Could it be possible that someone might post a message in all innocence, asking a question that he/she finds interesting or relevent without provoking this insulting and offensive outburst without any grounds or merit. I (I don't know about you) thought that the link between all modern fantsay and Tolkien was enough to base a relevant question upon.
                I apologise to all if I appear to be a FLAMEBAITER, I promise I will flagellate myself most severly for this most heinous of crimes. I would be interested to know from the proprieter of this site, Michael Moorcock, whether he has felt in anyway grateful to Tolkien for the culture Tolkien initially began. Oh yes , Mr. Cornelius, you'll notice I mentioned Mervyn Peake alongside mr. tolkien so the use of Tolkien was not an exascerbatory comment in the slightest. Nor was it intended to incite feelings of anger or vengance.
                I suggest you find yourself something better to do than accuse a perfectly innocent question as the next Watergate scandal. Get over it, mate, you really need to find yourself a girl... javascript:emoticon('')
                javascript:emoticon('')
                "Jerry Cornelius was based, for instance, on a young man I used to see around Notting Hill where there was also a greengrocer called Cornelius of London."

                --Michael Moorcock

                Comment


                • #9
                  About LOTR

                  I think this is the main reason why Moorcock fans can't read LOTR...
                  The narrative voice.
                  Tolkein has good ideas. So much detail and perfection is put into the names and languages, and influences from previous myths and legends. But his ability to tell a story is lacking. I consider it old and dry. How can anyone read The Silmarillion? It is about as exciting as The Bible.
                  Everytime I try to read LOTR, I put it down within 5 minutes. The movies are better than the books. In the book, for example, from what I know, Boromir is found by Aragorn dying, riddled with arrows and bodies of slain orcs around him. There was no description of the battle. And Boromir's last words had little or no drama.
                  The movie shows how he died, and they created the Lurtz character to have a climactic fight with Aragorn, and then the dialogue between Aragorn and Boromir was very dramatic.
                  Michael M. writes in a modern voice that is very descriptive and graphic and can play out like a movie within the mind much more so than Tolkien's.
                  It is my belief that you will find more highly intellectual people among Moorcok's fans. His stories offer philosophical and moral issues, sci-fi elements such as time paradoxes and the concept of multiple dimensions, and more vivid descriptions. His stories, no matter how fantastic, always tell something of the human condition.
                  That's why Tolkien's stories are infantile compared to Moorcock's. They indeed make a long-winded fairytale for England with a lot of detail on names and languages, but devoid of topics that intelligent people care about.

                  --Jerico

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's probably fair to say that Elric would be here without Tolkien, because I was writing fantasy before Tolkien's books began to appear and certainly before I'd read them. The Broken Sword was probably my chief influence and I review that in The Guardian (see the Books section).
                    I was asked to write the Elric stories by John Carnell, editor of Science Fantasy, who felt it was time the magazine ran some 'epic fantasy' as we tended to call it in those days. As I've said before, at that time Tolkien, Peake, Dunsany and, if you like, the Elric stories were all pretty much classed together as unclassifiable. People didn't really know what to call them. I found Tolkien hard going and have, as someone notes here, tried to say why in the Epic Pooh essay included in Wizardry and Wild Romance. This book is soon to be republished, with some revisions and additional material, by Monkeybrain Press. Readers will find that I am quite as caustic about H.P.Lovecraft, say, as I am about Tolkien. The truth is there is very little fantasy of that kind that I like. Certainly I've enjoyed very little of it since it became a recognised genre, mostly written in the shadow of Tolkien. I do admire Peake, of course, and have written about him extensively. There's at least one essay on the web, at Fantastic Metropolis. My trouble with Tolkien is not so much that he does little for me and I find his material simply irritating but the almost religious fanaticism of his worst fans. Tolkien, indeed, was just as bothered by them! He was very nice to me, as I've also said elsewhere, when I was a boy, and very encouraging. I have nothing against him personally, as I had nothing against the other Inklings. The only one of them I really enjoyed was Charles Williams. None of them, in my view, were very good writers but were united by their strong religious faith and interest in the fantastic. Lewis, equally, was a very pleasant man who occasionally turned up at the Globe pub when I attended the Thursday night meetings in the days when sf and fantasy fans were few and most of us could fit in the pub on any one night. It has been very odd to see a whole genre, indeed a dominant genre, grow up around me and then to see myself judged in context of that genre. When I began writing epic fantasy I was probably the only English writer producing it regularly and Fritz Leiber was the only American. As far as I recall, Tolkien had no further plans for another sequence like Lord of the Rings and Peake, who is not really an epic fantast, was incapable of writing any more Titus books. Otherwise there were a few children's writers, of whom the best known is now C.S.Lewis. Alan Garner, as I recall, came a bit later. I chose the form precisely because it WAS obscure and offered me a wide margin --- scope for my own talents, if you like. I would certainly not choose it now and, as readers know, have done my best to expand and change the form as much as possible, mostly in response to the increase in readership and corresponding hardening of genre conventions. My tendency, these days, is to return to autobiographical fiction where I can, as in Mother London, create my own conventions. My instinct is towards that kind of creativity. I never set out to write in an established genre.
                    I hope this gives some idea of where I stand in relation to Tolkien and the genre in which he is today the dominant influence.

                    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      PS Jerico makes some very good points about narrative voice, but it isn't really for me to say what is different about my work and Tolkien's, of course.

                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Alan Garner and his works

                        Michael, as you mentioned Alan Garner in you post, I was eagre to make this reply.
                        I was introduced to fantasy as a genre through Garner and still find him to be one of the finest writers of this generation. He had a superb gift for pace the dramtaic and other elements so inherent to writing. Indeed, he provoked more of a response as a reader than Tolkien ever did, though I am a fan.
                        I agree completely with Jerico, the Silmarillion is dry and boring, more a treatise on an idea than anything else and the LOTR book lacked the imagery of the film (though that may be a contradiction in terms). For example the Pellenor was over very quickly. In the film, that stunning scene where the men of Rohan assemble at the top of the hill and Theoden does his Henry V
                        speech, I was utterly moved, there is no such comparison in the book, there are moments of brilliance, but only fleeting glimpses.
                        Alan Garner, though, engaged his audience completely. The final battle, the cramped journey through the tunnels are conveyed and captured superbly and convey all the images necessary to transport the reader there. Its brilliance comes from being a complete copy of Tolkien (At least the Weirdstone of Brisingamen was, it's sequel Moon of Gomrath was far more original) yet taking the story and altering it until it reaches Garner's own unique taste. I would be interested to know Michael, whether you were influenced by Garner or if you influenced him. That is, if you ever met him and spoke to him. I can't help but notice that Red Shift has some elments of the Multiverse in, in it's conception of time and space.
                        When I began to read The Broken Sword (indeed afetr reading your review in the Guardian Literary Supplement thing) I couldn't help, that though it was more earthy, with it's mention of rape and incest, it was just as much of a Fairy tale as Tolkien's work. It has a very similar emphasis on names ahead of story-though admittedly I did not read far enough into it to really hit on the story- After being on this site for just a short space of time, I cocnur wholeheartedly with Jerico in his assesment of Moorcock's fans and find this entire site a haven of interest and debate.
                        I am also fascinated to discover that Michael, you don't enjoy Lovecraft. I would have thought there is an element of understanding. Not for a moment do I suggest that you drop blatantly racist remarks into yo ur stories or are racist in any shape, form or facet of personality. I mean in the way that both you And Lovecraft created entire Universes to set your stories. Lovecraft's Mythos and your Multiverse are built of the same imaginative stuff, I might venture.
                        Tolkien and his horde of imitators are just that, all the same. I feel that perhaps Tolkien can be unfairly treated in soime aspects of his work. Also, I must disagree with you on the point of C.S Lewis who I belive crafted some fabulous books and was gifted witha wonderful writing talent. Indeed, some of his ideas in the Magician's Nephew have similarities in the Multiverse, though it is not as developed or as philosophically real as the Multiverse. I think that the Last Battle is one of the enduring greats of Childeren's litreature, though of course it is only opinion. Still I would be fascinated to hear of what you think of Alan Garner and in what direction the influence ran, Michael, thanks bye...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Dear Jerry...

                          Dear Jezza, me old mate,

                          Fascinated as I was to read your message concerning flamewars and the like, I would prefer it if you would just stop putting messages on this psot about such things, because to be frank, I don't care. I would much rather read and assimilate the valid contributions of the members of this site who have a valid contribution to make.
                          As intersting as no doubt your friends are with there range of anecdotal rules on the basis of chat rooms and forums, I believe that I have not breached a single one of them. Indeed, I would actually say that you are the one who has twice now attempted to incite a flamewar as you so adequately put it. Though some day, I may rue my ignorance of what constitsingle one of them. Indeed, I would actually say that you are the one who ues a Troll, at the moment I will consider it a blessing and that Ignorance is indeed Bliss.
                          The day I do indeed breach the Laws and values of the community, I will gladly surrender to your unique brand of interrogation, unitl that time, thankyou for not labelling me anything. Because by naming me a Troll, I would venture that some hypocrisy may have crept into the ideals you stand for.
                          I am an interested and hopefully welcome member of this community, or at least thus far I have suffered no attacks upon my person, until the one you launched was recieved. I would thank you not to do so again, especially when I am attempting to converse with other members of this board on a subject I find most relevant and interesting.
                          When I do again tyake up my vested robes of Flamebaiting, I'll drop you a line so you can once again deliver your words of wisdom unto me.
                          Oh, by the way, you don't need to quote everything I put. If anyone is interested in examining the price I have just posted for examples of my misconduct, they can scroll up the screen. And, if you really must quote my entire message, be so kind as to highlight the key areas that offend you, please. I would just lobve to ignore them utterly.
                          Thnkyou and goodbye, my dear steadfast companion. May I reiterate my earlier senitments...
                          You REALLY, REALLY, need to get yourself a girl!!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Live and Let Die

                            I wouldn't take Mr. Cornelius too seriously. After all, he's an ex-Jesuit with a persecution complex. He'll be dead soon anyway.
                            The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords

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                            • #15
                              OK. Stop this stuff or I'm off this thread.
                              Meanwhile -- Lovecraft. I think I came to him too late. I enjoyed his Dunsany-like Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath but I find his writing not to my taste otherwise and have never really been able to get into him.
                              Equally, I find Lewis a very poor writer, both in his adult sf (the Peralandra trilogy) and in his children's fiction. I make comparisons and cases in Wizardry and Wild Romance. I didn't read Garner until long after I'd begun writing fantasy and I single him out for praise in W&WR.
                              The nearest thing to Garner who might have been an influence was Henry Treece, who doesn't really write fantasy, but has done probably the best 'Arthurian' novel I've read, The Great Captains. Some of these books are still available from Savoy and I'd particular recommend The Dark Island, The Golden Strangers and The Great Captains. They are essentially historical novels set during the earliest periods of British history. Garner has weaknesses as far as structure goes, but I believe is a much better writer than any Inkling. All of them could be a bit lazy and I still can't help thinking that since they had gunpowder, sophisticated metal-working skills and so on, they could have just built a giant cannon and shot the bloody ring into the sun. Or one of those man-carrying hawks could have carried Frodo there, maybe ? What's more I still want to know how, without trade with America, they got potatoes and tobacco... No doubt the books grew in the conception and ambition as Tolkien went along, but why didn't he go back and sort some of the stuff out before he submitted them ? What's that phrase comparing galloping horses to an express train, for instance ? I don't argue against anyone liking those books, but it is very hard to argue for them by any very high literary standards. Broken Sword ? A simple difference. Tolkien deliberately set out to tell a fairy tale (most of which have happy endings and are intended for comfort and escape). Anderson describes a tragedy. There is a relentless tragic quality to his tale, similar to many in the Sagas, which gives the book far more substance, as far as I'm concerned. But that's enough of that. Read my arguments (or don't) where I've published them. I've had this discussion too often and don't really want to upset any more Tolkien fans. I will say that Garner's carefully crafted prose is exemplary and that there are several other writers for children who took much more care with their writing than did the Inklings.

                              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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