Skip to comments.No Contest: Tolkien runs rings around Potter
Posted on 11/30/2001 9:03:51 AM PST by PetronskiEdited on 04/22/2004 11:45:44 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
Just when the menace of terrorism has darkened normal life and the guns of war have sounded, moviegoers on both sides of the Atlantic are turning out in huge numbers to see Harry Potter ride a broom across the silver screen and fight . . . evil.
(Excerpt) Read more at interactive.wsj.com ...
Ernest Borgnine or Bea Arthur?
Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington or Jimmy "Dyno-mite" Walker?
HK Rowlings or JR Tolkien?
Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf or Beetlejuice?
Ally McBeal or George Stephanopoulis?
Charles Manson or John Wayne Gacy?
Ernest Borgnine or Bea Arthur? Bea Arthur. Borgnine has slightly more body hair (to be pulled during a scrap).
Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington or Jimmy "Dyno-mite" Walker? Walker: Catchphrases rule!
HK Rowlings or JR Tolkien? Tolkien. Intelligence is power.
Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf or Beetlejuice? Beetlejuice. Magic v. profanity? Get real.
Ally McBeal or George Stephanopoulis? Stephanopolus. Better nutrition.
Charles Manson or John Wayne Gacy? Gacy. He did his own dirty work (sometimes dressed as a clown, IIRC).
Tolkien didn't write his book for young children. It's an epic tale, using time honored techniques to build suspense and dread over a long time period. I think late teens is about the earliest most would be attracted to it and understand it.
Harry Potter on the other hand, is a much easier read and isn't as heavy in the portrayal of the villains. Interactions are quick and sharp, and over in a few pages. It's well written and a great deal of fun. Much younger kids can read and understand it.
The author of this article might as well have said that submarines aren't anything as grand prix racers. Or that you can make better lemonade from lemons than apples. Both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series fit my definition of "classic".
Simple reasons why in each circumstance.
Fact of the matter is, Tolkien is literature that tells a good story and deals with the nature of evil, large philosophical questions and mythology in a way that deepens and adds to the mythology. Rowling simplifies and diminishes the mythology from which she draws and eliminates any of the truly important questions of the consequences of choice. JK Rowling's books epitomize the post-modern amateurism of late twentieth century writing. While a good read, they are amateurish in the extreme with no point other than the ooh and aah value of the use of mythos. In other words, the book equivalent of a "special effects" action movie.
Comparing Tolkien to Rowling is silliness. J.K. Rowling is the author of children's books. Tolkien writes for an adult audience (though many older children can enjoy his works as well).
Gee, from all of the anti-Potter posts on FR the past few weeks I would have thought that Rowlings herself was the personification of evil. Maybe those folks never read the books in the first place, or maybe they read with preconceived notions garnered from some wacko website, or maybe they just weren't capable of recognizing common literary metaphors in Western literature.
The Potter books aren't half bad. If you're looking for entertainment and aren't expecting Shakespeare or even Tolkien, you won't be disappointed.
You're certainly right to say that it's apples and oranges. Harry Potter is an entertaining children's book. The Lord of the Rings may be one of the greatest books of the twentieth century, and certainly the best fantasy novel.
One certainly could discuss how intelligently each was conceived and executed.
Yes, Rowling borrowed heavily from Tolkien as did Lucas in his Star Wars themes. But she wrote very engaging stories. While LOTR has depth and is rich, almost dense, with descriptive narration, the Harry Potter stories sacrifice depth for ease of reading. My 13 yo gave up Fellowship OTR after 10 pages.
I can't wait for LOTR to open!!
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