Insert_blank wrote:I think Tolkien is a great writer. He's clear, concise... I never felt like he was overwriting or adding stuff we didn't need.
Really? Those are the biggest complaints I hear about him. Definitely why I've got beef with him.
I mean sure I guess he's clearer and conciser than like, Milton and Chaucer, and I totally get how he's going for more or less the same ideas that they did, but even Shakespeare tells better stories in a shorter time.
Yeah, sorry Insert_blank. Tolkien's place in popular literary history can't be overstated, but by modern writing standards his writing is indulgent, his characters are flat, his plotting is hamfisted, and he has no understanding of pacing. Like, to point out the elephant in the room: what the heck is Tom Bombadildo even doing in this story?
But on the other hand, Tolkien had zero tradition to draw from. He made up the idea of having epic fantasy in the first place. Like he didn't just come up with our modern idea of elves and dwarves and orcs and all the rest, but of good versus evil in a way we hadn't seen since Beowulf or Gilgamesh or the Norse sagas, put into the form of the modern novel. This was something no one had ever even conceived of before, so it's not surprising that he carried forward a lot of the features that characterize epic sagas of the old world, but badly weaken novels in our modern understanding. There was nothing else to draw from.
The writers who followed after Tolkien were able to build on the concepts he developed and give them a lot more of the polish we associate with modern writing, but Tolkien was the granddaddy. There wouldn't be a fantasy genre without him.