Tolkien and Lewis

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Riv Res
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Tolkien and Lewis

Post by Riv Res » Fri Dec 30, 2005 1:31 am

Debating the Differences Between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis


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© Legolas and Gimli by John Howe & Aslan72 by Paula Novak


With the Narnia film debuting this December, I thought it might be fun, and a wee bit interesting for us to discuss (and compare) the Middle-earth classics of Tolkien, and the Narnia classics of Lewis. This comparison has been the topic of debate for a very long time...but not by us here at MeJ. :wink:

As with our premise here at MeJ, I am not looking for a debate over the differences in the films...but...in the differences in the written works of Tolkien and Lewis.

:arrow: Differences in style.
:arrow: Differences in intended audience.
:arrow: Differenecs in storytelling technique.
:arrow: Differences in purpose.
:arrow: Differences in authors.

:arrow: etc., etc., etc.

Let me begin by saying that Merry and I have been discussing it ever so briefly in private, and we both concur that Narnia is not LOTR. Why? What's the difference?

Thoughts? :D

Philipa
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Post by Philipa » Fri Dec 30, 2005 2:53 am

Apples and oranges. Both novels (series) were written with different audiences in mind as well as different agendas too. This topic could take forever. :roll:

Because they are so different I could never say which series was better then the other. But if anyone wants to talk about them let's get to it. :wink:
Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima!

Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

goldberry
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Post by goldberry » Fri Dec 30, 2005 10:30 am

I read Narnia waaaaaaaaaaay before I read Tolkien. On a simplistic level, the imagery isn't quite as dark IMO in Narnia and it's an easier read.

Philipa
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Post by Philipa » Fri Dec 30, 2005 3:03 pm

Yes Goldberry. The Narnia series is writen with children in mind. Although, whether because it was written when it was when political correctness was not an issue and children knew more about war, the theme does become dark in these novels.

I don't get the impression Tolkien wrote LoTR for kids. I've been reading allowed The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe to my children (they'll not see the movie Narnia) and Edmund betraying this siblings (the kid is dark anyway...little spoiled brat) is pretty weighty. But as I said above, it is because when these books were written kids were in a different mind set. Just my :twocents:
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Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

Merry
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Post by Merry » Fri Dec 30, 2005 3:12 pm

Hi, Goldberry--nice to hear from you!

I agree--I think Narnia is more clearly for children.

But I think Tolkien and Lewis were attempting many of the same things with these books: an exciting fantasy/adventure/fairy tale, with a eucatastrophe, which in some way participated in the Christian Gospel (see Tolkien's essay on fairy stories if you don't see the last--it's explicit there.) There are many similarities: a major character who dies and rises again, a vastly outnumbered army, and 'little people' who find their full strength in order to fight evil. (Lewis also fought in WWI.)

I read in a movie review (I think this was the great Ebert!) that Tolkien and Lewis hated each other's work--not true! Lewis loved Rings (didn't Tolkien write that, without Lewis' encouragement, Rings would never have been finished?) and Tolkien thought Narnia was too obvious and didn't do a good job with subcreation. It would probably be a better comparison to compare Narnia and Hobbit.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Riv Res
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Post by Riv Res » Fri Dec 30, 2005 3:22 pm

Philipa wrote:I don't get the impression Tolkien wrote LoTR for kids.
But The Hobbit was written for children. Perhaps it might be a better comparison for Narnia in some ways. Your point about Edmund is well taken Philipa. Were Thorin and Company Tolkien's attempt at "bratty children"? Perhaps the biggest difference between The Hobbit (& LOTR) and Narnia is that Tolkien mentions, but virtually stays away from children characters.

What does it do to the nature of the story when some the dark or bratty characters are children rather than adults? I have always (personally) felt the authors who use nasty children to make a point seem to lose their sublety and clobber you over the head with the message. Is this part of the difference between Tolkien and Lewis? :-k

Airwin
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Post by Airwin » Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:34 pm

I've read LOTR (and related books) several times now, and now my daughter and I are reading book 2 (in publication order) of the Chronicles. To me the Narnia books read more like the fantasy genre than LOTR (although I know there are creatures and people in both books that don't exist in real life). Tolkien's books read more like history or mythology. Could it be because Lewis starts his stories (and ends them) in the 1940's? Or perhaps it is because of the experiences of children in another world. :-k

Another question I have, were Lewis' books written and published after LOTR was published? I find that some creatures remind me of LOTR (such as the walking, dancing "tree-people" in Prince Caspian, first thing that came to mind was Ents). I was wondering if perhaps some creatures were Tolkien inspired? Or maybe it's just my tendency to compare the books...:?:
Namarie,

Airwin

Merry
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Post by Merry » Sat Dec 31, 2005 4:17 am

Hi, Airwin, and belated welcome to Middle-earth Journeys!

I just looked it up: the Narnia books were published in the '50s, roughly the same time as LOTR. But somehow I doubt that Lewis spent as much time in their creation as Tolkien did! Lewis did read the drafts of chapters of LOTR, so it seems plausible that he would use some of the same devices. But Lewis wrote quickly and published many, many books in several different genres.

I agree with you: the realism that is so compelling in LOTR is not present in Narnia.

RR, I think maybe the childish character in Hobbit was Bilbo! Or at least it started out that way. I suppose by the end of the story, the roles were reversed and it was the dwarves, particularly Thorin, who were acting childishly, or at least selfishly.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Airwin
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Post by Airwin » Sat Dec 31, 2005 5:05 am

Thanks for doing the research and answering my question Merry! :flower:
Namarie,

Airwin

Philipa
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Post by Philipa » Sun Jan 01, 2006 12:15 am

Airwin there are other similarities from Narnia and LoTR. What about Father Christmas's gifts to the children? Peter recieves a shield and sword, Susan a bow, quiver full of arrows and an ivory horn and lastly, Lucy recieves a diamond flask with health restoring proporties inclosed made from a fire-flower and a dagger. I'm sure we can find more in common actually and perhaps I was hasty in my first post.

But I do know RR The Hobbit was written for children however, the LoTR books are purely adult.

I suppose that many stories have the same sorts of themes and characters. They all are drawn from the same well so to speak. Gifts from a wise ones, talking trees and predictable protagonists are prevalent in most every story we read.
Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima!

Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

hope
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Post by hope » Sun Jan 01, 2006 6:04 pm

I know this is a little off topic, so I hope it is alright to post it here but

just for interest........

there is a dramadoc about C.S Lewis on Friday 6th Jan 21.00 hrs on BBC2.
What have I got in my pocket?

Philipa
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Post by Philipa » Sun Jan 01, 2006 6:41 pm

Not a problem Hope. :D
Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima!

Thoughts from Eryn Lasgalen An online guide to all things Tolkien

Airwin
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Post by Airwin » Sun Jan 01, 2006 6:56 pm

Philipa, you're right. The gifts the children receive are another similarity (I guess we're glad Galadriel doesn't resemble Father Christmas though. :wink: ) Would that mean the Fellowship in LOTR can be compared to the "fellowship" of the children? I'm thinking Peter-Aragorn, Susan-Legolas, Edmund-Boromir, Lucy-Frodo? And I guess Gandalf-Aslan. Something to consider on this New Year's day!

Have a good New Year!
Namarie,

Airwin

Merry
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Post by Merry » Sun Jan 01, 2006 11:04 pm

Interesting hypothesis, Airwin. I have a very dim memory of reading an article by some Jungian psychologist a long time ago who suggested that fellowships (and I imagine he didn't use that word) have to consist of at least four persons, and I believe he even named the types of persons a good fellowship had to include. I do remember that he used the Beatles, the Wizard of Oz, and the original Star Trek crew to illustrate his point. Too bad my memory is like a sieve and I can't remember what the four types are! But we could speculate . . .
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Riv Res
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Location: Walking the fields of the Pelennor with the King

Post by Riv Res » Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:47 am

It could dovetail with the teamwork models used in corporate America (which I used to have to train). The four types are. . . Analyzers . . .Promoters . . . Supporters . . . Controllers.

Analyzers: They are objective (the anchor of reality), conscientious and steady. They seek a lot of data, and behave methodically and systematically. Gandalf?

Promoters: Have high energy and move quickly. Enjoyable to be around. Competitive spirit and goal oriented. They get excited. Gimli and Pippin?

Suppoters: They have a sense of dedication and commitment. Loyal team member. Patient and sympathetic. Peacekeepers. Dependable and cause oriented. Good at reconciling factions. Legolas, Merry and Sam?

Controllers: Task accomplishers Self-motivated and forward looking. Initiates. Disciplined. Likes to control self and others. Aragorn and Frodo? Boromir is a bit of a stretch here, but was certainly a solid controller in his duties in Gondor. Maybe his ultimate failure was precipitated by having to play second fiddle to Aragorn. Trust me...controllers like to take up all the air in the room. :wink:

Thoughts?

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