kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
Who gets to read "Riddles in the Dark" when reading The Hobbit out loud. =>

(I thought I was all set to read it to the Pip, since Chad got to read it to SteelyKid! But, foolishly, since chapter 3 is pretty short, I let the Pip talk me into just a little of chapter four last night . . . without checking how much of chapter 4 was left, or asking Chad to save chapter 5 for me.)

(Last time I read even-numbered chapters through chapter 12, then Chad read chapters 13 & 14 together, so I did odd-numbered from fifteen on; which, to be fair, now that we're back on me doing even-numbered, means I get to do the spiders and Smaug again, which were great fun. Still! "Riddles in the Dark"!)
kate_nepveu: The One Ring on green background (Lord of the Rings)

Some of you are here just for my re-read of The Lord of the Rings. You might as well take me off your reading lists for the foreseeable future, because I'm finally admitting to myself that I won't be able to work on that up until the fall at least. (I can't even keep up with The Tale of Genji, and I have a hard deadline for that, our trip to Japan in August.)

Since the re-read suffers when it's spread out too far, I'll probably start again from scratch if and when I pick it back up. I'd like to; it was really educational. But I just don't know.

kate_nepveu: Gandalf and other figure on path in rain (LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring)

You know, because I usually read Lord of the Rings in big chunks, I'd never had a strong opinion on the pace of the opening before now. But I've been looking at Chapter 5 for weeks now, and just not feeling like talking about it (and then work got busy). I think this is a sign that it's slow after all. =>

But here we go, back to it.

Fellowship Book 1, Chapter 5: 'A Conspiracy Unmasked' )

[ more LotR re-read posts ]

kate_nepveu: The One Ring on green background (Lord of the Rings)

I should put these all in one place where I can find them.

Other people's re-reads:

[ more LotR re-read posts ]

kate_nepveu: ASCII symbols representing creatures in the game NetHack, text: "Mines of Moria, NetHack-style" (LotR (NetHack style))

At the party last Saturday, a group got to talking about books (surprise!), and it was suggested that there are some books that readers can't fully connect with if they don't share a cultural context. I regard this uncontroversial; for instance, even with all the research and commentary at [livejournal.com profile] reading_genji, I know I'm not appreciating it on all the levels that contemporary readers did. (Genji is still bulking on my bedside table, making me guilty every time I spot it. I swear I'll get back to it someday.)

(Disclaimer: I was coming down with a migraine during this conversation, so I am reconstructing and paraphrasing all over the place.)

Shortly thereafter, Lord of the Rings came up, and a guy raised in Japan said it didn't work for him. The reason he offered was the Ring; if I understood properly (and I may not have), he thought the concept of putting all that power into an object was strange, and possibly stupid. An English professor, who specializes in post-colonial literature and who therefore has some experience in studying cultural relationships, thought that LotR was a good example of books that worked best within a shared cultural context.

Now, the original objection wasn't necessarily culturally-based [*]; I can name a couple of people raised in the U.S. who probably have the same reaction to the Ring. And the point of this post is not to debate the validity of the objection. Instead, I'm wondering if anyone else can share reactions to LotR from those raised in a non-European-descended culture, either their own or those of others. (I have this vague memory of a newspaper article about the book being read all over the world and the different meanings that people got out of it, but that's not exactly enough to search on.)

[*] However, it is interesting to note the comment on "LotR as wuxia" by [livejournal.com profile] anna_wing. (And yes, I know that wuxia is a Chinese genre.)

Two unrelated notes:

  1. Thomas Nephew posts about reading LotR to his daughter. Though now that I look at his post again, he talks about the Ring as a very successful part of the tale.
  2. GIP! I know it should wait for many more chapters, but I couldn't resist. Yes, I am that much of a dork.

[ more LotR re-read posts ]

kate_nepveu: The One Ring on green background (Lord of the Rings)

I'm going to ease back into this re-read thing with comments on a short essay by C.S. Lewis, "The Dethronement of Power," which is reprinted in Understanding The Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism, edited by Rose A. Zimbardo and Neil D. Isaacs.

In which Kate is puzzled )

This was of more interest to me as a snapshot of the critical landscape at the time than as a source of new insights.

[ more LotR re-read posts ]

kate_nepveu: Gandalf and other figure on path in rain (LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring)

My sinuses are giving me trouble, again, so I'm not in the most charitable mood; but regardless, I'm not finding this chapter very interesting. I'll just start talking and see what I can find.

Fellowship Book 1, Chapter 3: 'Three is Company' )

[ more LotR re-read posts ]

kate_nepveu: The One Ring on green background (Lord of the Rings)

Notes from two essays in Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth, edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.

This collection of scholarly essays was prompted by the completion of The History of Middle-earth, the posthumous volumes edited by Christopher Tolkien. It's split into three sections: one about HoMe as a whole; one about Tolkien's languages; and one about Tolkien as a storyteller. I've already commented on Thomas's essay, "Some of Tolkien's Narrators," for which this collection was recommended. As for the rest, I skipped the languages section, but skimmed other essays if they looked like they might be relevant here. There were two I wanted to make brief notes about.

Bratman, 'Literary Value'; Burns, 'Gandalf and Odin' )

[ more LotR re-read posts ]

kate_nepveu: The One Ring on green background (Lord of the Rings)

It occurs to me that I probably should have, at the start of the re-read, talked about my biases and preferences when it comes to The Lord of the Rings, just so everyone knows where I'm coming from.

spoilers )

[ more LotR re-read posts ]

kate_nepveu: Gandalf and other figure on path in rain (LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring)

Yes, I've already posted about "The Shadow of the Past," but I didn't talk about how the (really remarkably long) info-dump works—both in the sense of its mechanics and in the sense that it doesn't stop me-the-reader dead in my tracks. (With the usual caveat that I've been reading this book since forever, so familiarity helps too; yet when I try to look at it now with a fresh and critical eye, it still seems to work.)

Quite a lot of this is going to be me talking out loud to myself, trying to figure this out. And yes, I resort to a table.

Fellowship Book 1, Chapter 2: 'The Shadow of the Past' (revisited) )

[ more LotR re-read posts ]

kate_nepveu: Gandalf and other figure on path in rain (LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring)

Trying to be a bit more expeditious this time, but man, there's a lot of information here.

Once again, spoilers for anything Middle-earth might be found here.

Fellowship Book 1, Chapter 2, 'The Shadow of the Past' )

[Edit: I realized last night just before bed that I wanted to talk about the structure and mechanics of the info-dump conversation more, but that I also needed to sleep, eat, and work. So that post will come tonight.]

[ more LotR re-read posts ]

kate_nepveu: The One Ring on green background (Lord of the Rings)

I spent a while going through John Howe's web site, and have three Lord of the Rings icons behind the cut.

three icons from John Howe images )

kate_nepveu: The One Ring on green background (Lord of the Rings)

Critical essay: Paul Edmund Thomas, "Some of Tolkien's Narrators," in Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth, edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter.

The thesis of Thomas's essay is simple: the opening of The Hobbit is told by a very intrusive narrator [*], but as the book gets more serious toward the end, the narrator recedes; and by the start of The Lord of the Rings, the narrator has become impartial and self-effacing, presenting many more viewpoints than at the start of The Hobbit.

Thomas develops this by discussing The Hobbit's narrative voice at length, showing how it fits with the nature of the opening as a children's story. He discusses the initial drafts of LotR, which were unsuccessful attempts to return to the intrusive voice of the start of The Hobbit. He then back-tracks to say that this shouldn't actually be a surprise because of the change of voice at the end of The Hobbit as things got more serious, and the evolving seriousness of LotR itself.

This essay makes a good point, but since I'd pretty much forgotten the voice of The Hobbit, it didn't answer a question I had. Also, I think it probably could've been made just looking at the published texts, without resorting to the drafts. I will be on the lookout for any times when the narrator actually intrudes now, though.

[*] Thomas recounts a system from Wayne Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction that characterizes narrators on a scale between unintrusive and intrusive, based on three factors: their revelation of information, their interpretation of the stories they tell, and their self-consciousness of their roles as tale-tellers. This is probably familiar to a lot of people already, but I found it useful in a "hey, labels for stuff I instinctively recognized!" way.

Note on the collection: )

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] calimac for recommending this essay.

[ more LotR re-read posts ]

kate_nepveu: Gandalf and other figure on path in rain (LotR: The Fellowship of the Ring)

I think I'm going to start each chapter post with a bare-bones "What Happens" section, just for reference. I'm not going to commit myself to structure beyond that; let's just see what happens.

(Besides taking me forever to compose, that is. Also, reminder: spoilers for anything Middle-Earth are fair game for these posts.)

Fellowship Book 1, Chapter 1: 'A Long-expected Party' )

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