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Old 08-30-2006, 12:45 PM   #1
Shade of Carn Dûm
zifnab's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: omni-presence
Posts: 331
zifnab has just left Hobbiton.
Back to my basic reading roots.

“What Tolkien wrote is obviously not “serious” but “escapist”.

“Those who read “seriously” have no possibility of escape. They are never inside the world of the story (or at least cannot admit it in their “serious” discussion of it – God forbid they should be caught committing the misdemeanor of Naïve Identification). They remain in their present reality, perpetually detached from the story, examining it from the outside, until – aha! – the sword flashes and the literador stands triumphant, with another clean kill. It is a contest from which only one participant can emerge alive.

“Escapist” literature, on the other hand, demands that readers leave their present reality, and dwell, for the duration of the story, within the world the writer creates. “Escaping” readers do not hold themselves aloof, reading in order to write of what they have found. Escapists identify with protagonists, care about what they care about, judge other characters by their standards, and hope for or dread the various outcomes that seem possible at any given moment in the tale. When the story is over, escapists are reluctant to return to the prison of reality – so reluctant that they will even read the appendices in order to remain just a little longer in a world where it matters that Frodo bore the ring too long ever to return to a normal life, that the elves are leaving Middle-earth, and that there is a king in Gondor.”

- Taken from “How Tolkien Means” by Orson Scott Card – Meditations on Middle-Earth (pg 157-158)
Although I don’t fully agree with this, the basis is solid for me. My experience reading LOTR the very first time was magical. Never will I read it the same again. That applies to all novels of course, but must novels I read I do go into them with an “escapist” mentality. The other times I have read LOTR I went to work with a “serious” mentality, trying my hardest to break down structures, over turn rocks for hidden meanings, searching my heart and soul for all symbols, metaphors and allegories (even though Tolkien declared his distaste for allegory in all its form, when Catholicism is such a part of you…) The experience just hasn’t been the same. I actually hadn’t even noticed it until I read Mr. Cards essay.

“Because Tolkien, like most storytellers in most societies throughout history, values stories as stories, not as essays in disguise.” - OSC

I think the next time I read it, I shall, ‘Get back to my reading roots’ and enjoy it all over again. My experience will never be the same as anothers, but at least I'll have one.
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