Peter Jackson’s ‘Kuduk’ trailer and the book of Jonah

Peter Jackson’s ‘Kuduk’ trailer and the book of Jonah December 29, 2011

I was excited to see the trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

And now that I’ve seen the trailer, I’m excited to see the movie.

From the title of the film, we see that Jackson is sticking with J.R.R. Tolkien’s invented term for Bilbo Baggins and his people. As Tolkien wrote:

Hobbit is an invention. In the Westron the word used, when this people was referred to at all, was banakil “halfling.” But at this date the folk of the Shire and of Bree used the work kuduk, which was not found elsewhere. Meriadoc, however, actually records that the King of Rohan used the word kûd-dûkan “hole-dweller.” Since, as has been noted, the Hobbits had once spoken a language closely related to that of the Rohirrim, it seems likely that kuduk was a worn-down form of kûd-dûkan. The latter I have translated, for reasons explained, by holbytla; and hobbit provides a word that might be a worn-down form of holbytla, if that name had occurred in our own ancient language.

That’s from one of the appendices in The Return of the King, titled “On Translation.” It’s an odd little metafictional touch at the end of Tolkien’s epic. He had already established the conceit that his stories were his “translations” from the “Red Book of Westmarch,” a history compiled by the hobbit-protagonists of his fantasy novels. The full title, according to Tolkien, was actually, “The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King (as seen by the Little People; being the memoirs of Bilbo and Frodo of the Shire, supplemented by the accounts of their friends and the learning of the Wise).”

“On Translation” is great fun and even, in a way, kind of funny — a joke told by an old linguistic scholar with a twinkle in his eye. But it’s just sort of tacked on at the end and doesn’t really fit with the rest of the books. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings don’t read like memoirs. They’re third-person accounts told from an omniscient perspective. They are, unmistakably, stories told by a storyteller — and not stories that are being, or that could be, told by any of the characters in them.

The storyteller sees things, knows things and tells things that none of his characters could see or know or tell. That includes things that Bilbo, Frodo, their friends and “the Wise” could not have included in their version of the story even if they had supplemented their own accounts with extensive research. They would have had to spend years tracking down and interviewing obscure figures — some of whom were already dead — in order to collect all the other perspectives portrayed in the story from dozens of peripheral figures, such as Bard, Eowyn, Butterbur, Shagrat, or the puzzled fox who remarks on the strangeness of finding four hobbits sleeping in the wilderness.

The inclusion of all those different perspectives can only be the work of a storyteller who is not himself a part of the story. The presence and work of that storyteller — the fact of that storyteller — undermines the conceit of the appendix “On Translation.” As whimsically delightful as that appendix is, we’re not really expected to believe it. Tolkien isn’t really asking us to accept the historicity of the Red Book of Westmarch because that’s not really the kind of story he has given us.

The talking fox tells us that this is not a memoir and is not meant to be read as a historical account.

And this has nothing to do with whether or not one finds the idea of a talking fox believable. Let’s stipulate, for the sake of argument, that foxes can talk. The problem with this particular talking fox is not that he can talk, but that no one else in our story heard him talk. Bilbo and Merry weren’t there. Frodo, Sam and Pippin were sound asleep. The only witness to the brief visit from the talking fox is the omniscient, third-person storyteller who describes the scene:

A fox passing through the wood on business of his own stopped several minutes and sniffed.

“Hobbits!” he thought. “Well, what next? I have heard of strange doings in this land, but I have seldom heard of a hobbit sleeping out of doors under a tree. Three of them! There’s something mighty queer behind this.” He was quite right, but he never found out any more about it.

That tells us all we need to know about the kind of story we are reading. Whatever the playful conceit of “On Translation,” Tolkien himself has given us a text that shows us and tells us what kind of story it is, and it is neither a memoir nor a historical account.

It is a story told by a storyteller — a delightful story artfully told by a storyteller. To read it otherwise and to treat it otherwise is to misread it and mistreat it.



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  • We Must Dissent

    Gene Wolfe is one writer who has used the conceit of author as translator. In his Book of the New Sun series, the device is that he is translating the memoir of someone from the far future, which results in many neologisms and the stretching of the meanings of many other words. For example, there will be mention of horses, then later on something about their claws. In his Soldier series, the device is that the books are translations from abbreviated Latin of a Roman mercenary who, after a head wound, cannot remember from one day to the next so keeps a diary so that he knows something about what’s going on around him. Unlike Tolkien, the results are first-person accounts with horribly unreliable narrators.

    I think that lighter tone of The Hobbit is closer to Jackson’s sensibilities than The Lord of the Rings was, and I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  • Dan W

    This movie is definitely one I want to see when it comes out. Peter Jackson did a good job with the Lord of the Rings films, and I trust The Hobbit will also be good.

  • eyelessgame

    Matthew 21:24-27.

    Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”    They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
     So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
       Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

  • The talking fox scene, incidentally, has a C.S. Lewis-esque air about it akin to the Narnia books describing talking beasts.

  • Colin Smith

    I’ve read for a while now without commenting, but I value your writing and perspective immensely.

    As a child of a large literalist family and a giant Tolkien nerd, this is one of the most personally meaningful and quietly brilliant things I’ve ever read. Thank you Fred.

  • Oh yes very interesting. However, what’s this in your title about the book of Jonah? You didn’t say anything about…


  • James

    Another favorite trope of Gene Wolfe’s might be applicable here, too– maybe Bilbo and Frodo are not always reliable narrators and may fill in bits here or there or embellish in the name of better conveying the tale. Unlike Wolfe’s narrators, who are often straight-up liars, I think if you were to take LOTR as a historical account written as a narrative you could more or less trust Frodo that anything added is added in the name of truth. Bilbo, on the other hand…

  • Froborr

    Point of order: The fox never actually talks, only thinks. He may not be a talking fox, though he is clearly an astonishingly verbal fox.

    I am a gigantic, enormous, obsessive Tolkien nerd… but I found this trailer singularly underwhelming. Cannot really explain why; I enjoyed the LoTR movies immensely (except for one scene in each film), but I am just not that excited about The Hobbit. I will almost certainly see it, but I am not into the hype.

  • Anonymous

    The main vibe I got from the Hobbit trailer was, “We made a sequel to our earlier blockbusters. Look! It has the same actors playing the same parts! And the same color filters, and the same special effects! Please come see it.” Which I will, but that doesn’t mean I’m particularly fired up about it.

  • Anonymous

    I still find it interesting that Lewis uses a talking fox as the first character we see turned to stone in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  We know he and Tolkien were friends and colleagues–perhaps there was some minor copying of notes, or this was some sort of inside joke?

  • Anonymous

    That, and it only makes sense that a bard re-telling an epic like this might add in little touches like that as a sort of artistic flourish.  To me, it gives it a Homer-esque “oral tradition that was later written down” feel, which is always wonderful in fiction. :)

  • Anonymous

    Despite being one of those seemingly rare Tolkien fans who feel Peter Jackson botched LOTR, I’m looking forward to seeing his version of The Hobbit, thanks to the trailer.

    May I digress and say why I don’t like Peter Jackson’s LOTR?  For me, the one essential moment in the entire trilogy, the moment that everything turns on, is this:

    “And who [are the messengers who are sent with the Ring]
    to be? That seems to be what this Council has to decide, and all that it
    has to decide. Elves may thrive on speech alone, and Dwarves endure
    great weariness; but I am only an old hobbit, and I miss my meal at
    noon. Can’t you think of some names now? Or put it off till after

    No one answered. The noon-bell rang. Still no one spoke. Frodo
    glanced at all the faces, but they were not turned to him. All the
    Council sat with downcast eyes, as if in deep thought. A great dread
    fell on him, as if he was awaiting the pronouncement of some doom that
    he had long foreseen and vainly hoped might after all never be spoken.
    An overwhelming longing to rest and remain at peace by Bilbo’s side in
    Rivendell filled all his heart. At last with an effort he spoke, and
    wander to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small

    “I will take the Ring,” he said, “though I do not know the way.”

    That moment of pregnant silence in the book is a truly wonderful thing.  It is a silence that requires filling, and it is that silence that ultimately draws Frodo to say the words that put him on the road to Mount Doom.

    And Peter Jackson turned that moment into a cacophony, a moment where everybody at the Council is arguing so loudly that nobody can hear anyone else.  Yecch.

    That was only the first key moment he botched, but it was certainly the most important one.

    I’m less worried about The Hobbit, because it’s not playing at the same level as LOTR.  If you take a bit of license with it, you’re altering a pretty good story, rather than drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa.  The closest thing to a key moment in the book is Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum, and I think Jackson can handle that one, as long as he doesn’t try to overdo it. I hope he remembers that the One Ring’s identity isn’t remotely apparent – in this story, it’s just a useful magical trinket that makes the wearer invisible, and that’s all.

  • Gene Wolfe is the perfect example, for me, because the same way that Tolkien’s works consumed my tweens & teens, Wolfe’s work has consumed my twenties & early thirties.

  • Scott Hanley

    I have to quibble with describing the LOTR narrator as omniscient. The fox is an aberration, probably a holdover from Tolkien’s earlier attempts at writing a Hobbit sequel in the same style (everything between Chapter 2 and the arrival at Bree still displays Tolkien’s lack of overall direction at that point). Through the rest of the book, he is quite scrupulous about describing only things that the hobbits witnessed or could have learned of; when a tale has to be completed without eyewitness testimony, the account is qualified with “It is said that” and similar phrases.

  • Richard Hershberger

       “Despite being one of those seemingly rare Tolkien fans who feel Peter Jackson botched LOTR…”

    You are far from alone in this, but I think we are restricted to those of a certain age, being old enough to have not only grown up with the LoTR, but with the LoTR as a cultural touchstone.  This is to say, old enough to have read it in the ’60s, ’70s at the latest.  I am at the tail end of this cohort, but I also absorbed a lot from older siblings.  Tolkien underwent a gradual decline through the rest of the century.  Younger readers cut their teeth on high fantasy derived, directly or indirectly, from Tolkien.  This inevitably reduced the impact of reading Tolkien, while changes in stylistic fashions made Tolkien’s prose seem a bit musty and dull.  Peter Jackson’s films had the salutary effect of reviving interesting in a new generation, but this changed expectations such that new readers are more likely to wonder why Gimli isn’t a comic character than they are to be appalled at what Jackson did to Gimli. 

    I watched all three films, but after the first one it was more from a sense of cultural obligation:  very much like watching the Star Wars prequels.  I haven’t watched them again.  I don’t know if I will see the new one.  As has been noted, the stakes are much lower.

  • Richard Hershberger

    To touch on Fred’s point implicit in the title of the post, this is yet another discussion of Scripture and genre.  The key is that no one actually reads all of the Bible literally.  Even people who break out in hives at the word “metaphor” are perfectly happy to read the Psalms as poetry, with poetic conventions such as metaphor.  The insistence on literalism is only sporadically applied.  The more thoughtful will acknowledge this, but can only provide rather unconvincing reasons why, say, the first two chapters of Genesis require a literal reading when other sections of the Bible do not.  The less thoughtful substitute careful mental compartmentalization.  As for Jonah (or Ruth), it is a dark mystery to me why anyone with even a modest amount of sense would mistake the genre.

  • J L

    Also an interesting parallel to the tug-of-war in verbal slurs’ histories.

  • hapax

    As for Jonah (or Ruth), it is a dark mystery to me why anyone with even a modest amount of sense would mistake the genre.

    Cynic that I am, I would hazard a guess that it’s because if they acknowledge that those two stories are obviously moral fables, they would then be forced to grapple with the blatant lessons they impart (i.e., that Them is not always as hated by God as much as by Usns)

  • Kirala

    As a Tolkien fan born in the 80s, I can say that Fellowship came across so brilliantly that I was willing to forgive much in the other two. I was irritated by the cacophany at the Council, sure, and also by the scrawny, underfed Frodo, the omission of the Barrows, the addition of Action!Arwen, and dwarf-tossing… but I loved it for humanizing Boromir and for playing up so pitch-perfectly the false ending at Rivendell. (I remember clearly when reading the book for the first time, I wondered, “Where will it go from there?! It’s all done!”)

    Two Towers struck me this way almost exactly. (“Faramir was way off! You can’t like what they did to Faramir!”) ROTK failed to recover ground and, most unforgivably, parted Frodo and Sam prior to Shelob omitted the Scouring of the Shire.

    And despite my violent hatred for the ways in which Jackson marred it, I’m still about where I was after TTT. No, more inclined to forgive Jackson. For the most part, his errors were made despite care and devotion, not for lack of it. (And slavish fidelity to books lands us with the first two Harry Potter movies, which are seriously substandard cinema in general. Better to risk and lose.) I still consider Fellowship one of the best book adaptations I’ve seen on film; possibly the only film I first loved as a book that left me undisappointed in the balance.

    So, not sure where that puts me on the scale – as a typical or atypical younger-generation Tolkien lover. I can say that I read ’em all in middle school, prior to encountering any contemporary epic fantasy or realizing that I liked fantasy as a genre at all.  Lil sis, who picked up the books only after watching Fellowship in middle school, thinks “they did a bit better than half-decent job of filming the books”.

    On the balance: some brilliance, some awfulness, and much merit. I dislike it when I have to choose between loving and hating.

    Wait: Lil sis just reminded me of Arwen’s fate being tied to the Ring.

    … my forgiveness may be contingent on my self-willed forgetfulness.

  • Jenny Islander

    I think the cacophony at the council in Rivendell and Arwen’s fate being tied to the Ring were both attempts to show the awful power of something that has the most effect, in the book, on people’s minds.  Not that they were necessarily the best choices, but I can see the reason.

  • Baf

    One thing that I’ve long felt that the Translator conceit does beautifully for LOTR is explain the tonal shifts. You have an opening few chapters that are in a similar style to The Hobbit, all very jolly and twee like it’s a storybook for children, and then after a while you’re in a more lyrical mode full of wonder and awe and deliberate archaicisms. And thanks to that appendix, we can explain that the former is Bilbo’s writing style and the latter is Frodo’s. I even managed to convince myself at one point that I could pinpoint the the start of Sam’s bit on the basis of word choice alone.

  • I suspect that the talking fox bit shared between them is intentional.  They put each other in their books as well – Treebeard is based on Lewis’s tendency to constantly clear his throat, while Elwin Ransom in Lewis’s Space Trilogy is based on Tolkein (he’s a linguist and Cambridge don).

  • I love the singing in the trailer — that seemed very Dwarvish.

    Re: cacophony. If you have the DVD, go watch again. When Elrond says, one of you must complete this task. There is complete silence that lasts 30 seconds. Then Boromir goes into his speech. (I’m going by the extended version, which differs from the movie version). 

    As everyone is arguing, Frodo watches the ring and sees how the arguing is the work of Sauron as the ring fills with flame over the reflection of the arguing crowds — then volunteers. I thought it was an effective bit of film-making.

  • Anonymous

    I liked the movie.  And I think my nickname should attest to my huge Tolkien nerditude.   Bonus points to those who get the reference.

    There are of course, some bits of the book that are much, much better than some bits of the movie (Charge of the Rohirrim, Faramir (!), The Council at Rivendell, Total Lack of Ghân-buri-Ghân) but in converse, there are some bits of the movie that are better than the book. (Grey Havens, Death of Boromir, Fight at Balins Tomb)  I consider it a brilliant adaptation.

    One of the great things about LOTR, book or movie is the way that you can read into it what ever you want.  For instance, the LOTR book for me was always about the necessity of resistance.  Frodo and Sams voyage is completely hopeless (and in fact, without the intervention of the Eagles, they’d have died trying… you could argue that Frodo DOES in fact die trying, coming back one of those thousand-yard-stare war vet types.)  The movie has elements of that in it, but has a lot more to say about service and loyalty than the book really touches on.

    I’m looking forward to the Hobbit movie, and I hope it’s good, although it looks radically different from the book.  I’d like to see them do episodic stuff from the Silmarillion too.  Beren and Luthien would make an AWESOME movie.  I want to see Kevin McKidd as Finrod Felagund.

    I think this would nicely fulfill Tolkien’s ambition to create a “new mythology” for the West.

  • I have the extended versions as well, and I’ve got to say, whoever made them unextended should not have done so. :P

  • You guys remind me of this Foxtrot.

  • Revelshade

    I have twin 5-year-old boys, so it’s foreordained that I will see these movies. But I think it’s worthwhile to keep in mind that Jackson is not filming an adaptation of beloved children’s book The Hobbit. He is making a two part prequel to his LOTR trilogy, using the basic plot of The Hobbit interpolated with material from the LOTR appendices. That is a whole other animal, for better or worse. Expect a lot of foreshadowing and some inconsistencies of tone.

  • To me, what is lacking in this trailer is looming threat.  In LOTR, the threat was Sauron, his minions, and the ring.  In the Hobbit, the threat goes by the name of Smaug.

    Until we see some Smaug, this will just be a camping holiday for little people.

  • Anonymous

    And I think my nickname should attest to my huge Tolkien nerditude.   Bonus points to those who get the reference.

    Holy smokes, I know what story you’re referencing now, but I would never have made the connection if you hadn’t identified it as a reference.

  • For me, the one essential moment in the entire trilogy, the moment that everything turns on, is this:

    May I respectfully suggest that quite possibly it is a mistake to pivot the entirety of six* books of woven mythology and storytelling around a single moment in a single scene in the first book?

    Further, might I suggest that it not just the moment, but the context within which that moment occurs that is crucial? And to go a bit farther still, that the context of the book is, by the very virtue of being a different medium, quite starkly dissonant from that of the film?

    For non-Tolkien folks, in the book, the Council of Elrond involves many parties coming together with no common purpose and discovering this opportunity wrought with peril.  (the dwarves came about Moria and an emissary of Sauron, Legolas was reporting on the escape of Golumn, and Boromir was following a mystic vision) For the reader, it is the first time the entire history of the ring, and the depths of the evils of Sauron, are laid bare. In one scene, we learn of the likely doom of Balin, the betrayal of Sauroman, the back-story of Gollum, and basically the entire history of the Ring of Power. It is a massive info-dump of a scene, taking all day.

    It works well in large part because books can do that kind of info-dumping. We, as readers, can take in all the disparate information as well as feel the growing sense of shock that even though they all came for different reasons, there is one thing they must all do together.

    There’s another bit of context, and that is that before Elrond asks “who will do this thing”, there’s a nice bit of discussion about “Well, do we have to do this thing? Can’t we use it/take it West over the sea/throw it in the ocean/hide it with Tom/do anything else at all?” Elrond’s question is about a very grim choice, a suicide mission that is the only option.

    In the film, Elrond summons these folks to talk about what to do with the ring. We, the viewer, have gotten to see most of the back-story along the way (the prologue, Gandalf’s trips to Minas Tirath and Orthanc) so we already have some sense of the ring’s evil, but not a sense of urgency. Elrond says “you can’t use the ring”, but it’s hardly a settled question.

    Basically, in the book, the question is “Who will do what must be done, no matter the cost?” while in the film, the question is “Who will do what is right, no matter the temptation?” (a theme echoed first with Galadriel, and then Boromir)

    It’s a very different tone, but I’m not willing to say it’s inherently better or worse. I think the limitations of film as a medium force certain choices, and I’m not certain the Council scene, as written in the book, could be made to work better in film than it does.

    *Yes, six books. I know, three novels, but Tolkien broke ’em each out into two books for a reason.

  • friendly reader

    If I can back us off from the Tolkien for a moment (I’m in the camp of “the books as they are could not have been turned into a movie because Tolkien wrote them that way, and while I was pissed off by some of Jackson’s changes the first time watching it, the second time, after seeing everything he was doing, the changes made sense and I grew to appreciate what he did and I now love them”) and get us to Jonah…

    I think a lot of people assume the “swallowed by a fish” is the main clue that this is a novel, but I think to the author’s readers the biggest clue would have been Nineveh. They were closer to it in history and knew that it was nowhere near the size the book describes it to be (three day’s journey across) because no city was that size back then. They would know that Nineveh never did a mass repentance, that mass repentance after a one-sentence declaration is rather ridiculous, and that generally one did not make one’s animals wear sackcloth. All of this is so preposterous that anyone living when the book was written would have guffawed and known it was a story and not a history.

    It’s only as we got further away from Nineveh and from sackcloth-wearing that people without much knowledge of biology could try to justify the big fish.

    And why wouldn’t they want to justify the fish? It lets you stop early in the plot. Most people don’t want to finish Jonah because they don’t like the message of Jonah. Heck, I have to give Veggie Tales credit that they made the end of Jonah the point of their whole movie (and also made it a comedy, since it really is).

  • Tonio

    All of this is so preposterous that anyone living when the book was
    written would have guffawed and known it was a story and not a history.

    I’ve heard that argument ridiculed by both fundamentalists and some atheists, although they do so for different reasons. The former group insists that if scripture was “just” story it would have no authority. The latter group operates from a similar assumption while using it as a weapon against religions. While I oppose both on general principles, I think the second group indirectly raises a legitimate question – should the Gospels be read as a story and not a history as well? Should the virgin birth and the feedings of the multitudes serve as clues? if not, then why? Outside of Unitarian Universalism, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a Christian who didn’t believe that Jesus was resurrected, and this includes the ones who agree that Genesis and Jonah are stories.

  • Anonymous

    I’m SERIOUSLY conflicted about Tolkien. There’s aspects of him that I love, that I admire hugely, and that are obviously inescapable in our culture. And there are parts that are problematic, both morally and as literature.

    I tend to agree with this guy:

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone else think that Jackson got Aragorn essentially … wrong?  The way I see it, Aragorn in the book is almost a perfect servant-leader. Just when Elrond tells him of his high lineage and he’s feeling his oats a bit, he sees himself through Arwen’s eyes as a wet-behnd-the-ears-kid (she is about 2,500 years his elder). From that point he tries to be worthy of both his heritage and Arwen. He spends time as a servant in both Rohan and Gondor. Travels, learns, and hunts down evil all over Middle Earth. And the next time he meets Arwen, she falls in love with him.

    In the movie, they make him out to be a reluctant king. He’s not reluctant; he’s been training for the last 80+ years for the job. He is just wise enough to know that getting to that point is a dicey proposition and actually ruling might be even more dicey. He doesn’t want to be king for self-aggrandizement.

    By warping Aragorn’s character, they end up screwing up Elrond too. He wants to see Sauron defeated for the sake of his beloved Middle Earth and he loves his fosterling, Aragorn, enough that he wants him to gain his kingdom, but if these things come to pass, he will lose his daughter, forever.

    I also thought Jackson missed a good dramatic opportunity by not doing the bit where Aragorn takes control of Saruman’s palantir from Sauron. I always wondered in what ‘guise’ Aragorn appeared to Sauron.

    In the movie, is Arwen really supposed to be tied to the ring? It makes no sense since she had no connection to any of the rings, really. I thought she was reacting to all the trauma and bloodshed going on in Middle Earth. Which doesn’t make all that much sense either, but …

  • Anonymous

    Of everyone in this discussion so far, I am probably the one with the most negative perception of the films; the scene in the beginning with Merry and Pippin acting like a pair of chucklefuck kender* engaging in “wacky” shenanigans was the first warning that this was going to be an unpleasant experience.  And an unpleasant experience it certainly turned out to be. 

    After watching the travesty that was The Fellowship of the Ring, I refused to watch the next two films because I was certain that they would piss me off even worse.  And they still did, even though I never watched them.  Just hearing about both Faramir’s characterization and Frodo telling Sam to piss off put me in a fit of full-throated Khornate rage.  Peter Jackson has earned my everlasting hatred, and if I ever have the opportunity, I will have his balls on my mantlepiece.  I don’t even own a mantlepiece, but for him, I’ll build one.

    I was actually excited when I heard that del Toro was going to direct The Hobbit. but now that that fell through and Jackson is back at the helm, I remain cynical.

    *I am also one of the people who say “kender” the way most people say “tapeworm.”

  • I love this movie already!!!

  • Joshua

    I would like to see a film version of “The Children of Hurin.” It’s a brilliant story, and self-contained, unlike most of the rest of the Silmarillion. It could be lifted out of the context of the wider work without falling apart, and has a limited number of important characters.

    I just love the way that the dragon is vastly more sinister than Smaug, or any other dragon I’ve read, but his main weapon is his words. The fire-breathing barely comes into the story, and he can’t even fly, but if he says a word, you’re irrevocably doomed.

    Course, maybe the mass market isn’t there for a story where any cheerful or happy event is only briefly there to set you up for crushing bleak despair.

    Yeah, I am a fan of Battlestar Galactica, how did you guess?

  • From the linked article:

    We can see why people who read Tolkien often read nothing
    else; we can see why people who read real books hate Tolkien like a phobia.

    I’m trying to comprehend how someone could describe Tolkein the way that many here would describe LeHaye & Jenkins.

    And the writer’s talk of “people who read real books” reminds me of nothing else so much as all those English majors who convinced me not to be an English major.

    For the record: I read a lot of books. The Lord of the Rings is my favorite novel, and I think Tolkein’s writing is beautiful. I have a few issues with Jackson’s films, but overall love them and recognize the massive difference between books and films. Most of my issues are of the “this scene from the Extended Edition should be been in the theatrical cut/was cut for a reason” or “this scene really should have been edited differently” variety.

  • Anonymous

    When I read that article, I couldn’t help thinking, “You know, Michael Bay makes movies for people like you.”

  • Anonymous

    I agree with you on Jonah, but what’s the problem with Ruth?  Sure, it’s a moral fable, but nothing about it says to me that it was supposed to be fictional.  I took it as a family story David had heard passed down from his parents and grand-parents, and then wrote down at the same time he was writing all those psalms.  Such things may be exaggerated in the retelling, but they usually are more of less true.  i.e., I could probably figure out how my great-grandparents first met if I wanted to through family records.  I think I have a modest amount of sense, so please explain to me how I’m mistaking the genre.

  • Rakka

    I was raised on Tolkien, my father read the Hobbit to me while interpreting (because the translation that was out at the time altered between unintentionally hilarious and groanworthy, not that I would have minded at 4, but he did). And I’m definately younger than 70s reader. :)

    Turcano, I agree with you, although I did like the visuals. I was personally very annoyed with Galadriel’s lightshow and the whole totally unnecessary falling stairs bit. In the second movie I hated the way Rohirrim and the Ents and Faramir were mangled horribly. And playing Gimli as comic relief. Grr.

    The trailer… looks like they lifted the dwarves from extras in the Neverending Story. Light romp, little substance. Might still be enjoyable if they pay the same sort of attention to detail in visuals than in LotR, but I assume it will be pretty meh. And I bet my big toes there will be a Legolas scene or five.

  • Anonymous

    My mother has always identified deeply with one line from “The Hobbit”–she has, on more than one occasion, turned to me and said, very seriously, “Adventures ARE loathsome and dangerous.”

  • Anonymous

    Funny you should mention Dr. Ransom–guess which trilogy I was finally able to find when I was spending my bookstore gift cards Saturday?

  • “Nasty, uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner!”