Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Write or Wrong Wednesday, Part 1

In light of the recent comments floating throughout the blogosphere pertaining to pet blogging, the creation of this mini-series occured. For the next four weeks on Wednesday, The Zeus Excuse will be presenting a brief, informative article on an author from the past who has withstood harsh literary criticism but has gained tremendous fame and respect. Consider this a reminder that good writing can happen concerning any subject, in any form, and at any time.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien, if you prefer!) has been the source of much literary criticism throughout the years. Such condemnation has seemed to be oblivious to the millions of readers Tolkien has touched with his writings. His most prolific writing was The Lord of the Rings, but to those who would think of it as a trilogy, refrain from such heresy!

Coming off of the success of The Hobbit in 1937, Tolkien was asked to repeat the process with similar stories. In response, he had produced The Silmarillion, a five-part mixture of poetry and prose relating the stories of Middle Earth prior to The Hobbit. Unfortunately, when this work was shown to his publishers, George Allen and Unwin, it was turned down because the novel was viewed as not commercially viable.

Tolkien had been crushed by the news concerning The Silmarillion; however, he agreed to try again to craft a sequel to The Hobbit. As he wrote, Tolkien held great concern for The Lord of the Rings. He often penned a letter to his publishers that displayed his personal critique for his writing and his internal debate as to whether or not his style would be accepted (which included invented names, invented languages, and invented writing systems). He continued nonetheless, keeping in constant contact with Allen and Unwin.

The first edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring had 3,000 copies released in July, 1954 in Britain. Houghton Mifflin in the United States had purchased the rights to print the American copy, and several months after the initial release in Britain, published 1,500 copies. When the second installment, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, was published in 1954, there had been 3,250 copies printed for Britain and only 1,000 in America. By the time The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was prepared for print in 1955, more than 7,000 copies were prepared by Allen and Unwin while in America, 5,000 copies were bound.

Amazingly, the novels were met by equal love and disgust. On one hand, they developed a huge cult following where, on occasion, people would secretly clamber into the subways and spraypaint "Frodo Lives!" along the dilapidated brick. The phone calls and letters Tolkien received were numerous and overwhelming, so much so that he and his wife were forced to remove their phone number from public listings and move. On the other side of the proverbial coin, critics deemed his work to be too eclectic and hard to follow. Others felt that his books were encouraging people to deny progress and to fantasize about a world long gone. Regardless of how one feels about Tolkien's work, it is undeniable the influence he has had on our imaginations, our spirit, and our culture.

For more information concerning J.R.R. Tolkien, please visit:

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biographical Sketch

Tolkien.co.uk

A listing of books and pamphlets concerning Tolkien

16 comments:

George, Tipper, Max & Misty said...

Obviously a classic case of one who was ahead of his time.

Anonymous said...

Zeus, you certainly should come along. We should probably be chaperoned on our first date, don't you think? Mom loves Tom Jones, 'What's new pussycat, woahwoahwhoah'.~Zippy

Aloysius said...

Where can I find these negative comments about pet blogging that you refer to? I feel like biting someone, and anti-pet bloggers seem like good candidates.

Kukka-Maria said...

You know what they say...It takes 30 days for a behavior to become a hobbit.

That's what I've read anyway!

Scooby, Shaggy & Scout said...

Very informative Zeus! The world could use a little more imagination.

Furry Logic said...

The Mother is a huge Tolkien fan. Well, she isn't huge but her fanaticism is. The Silmarillion is her favorite. She has read it many, many times to us. Frankly, being cats, we don't care but we humor her.

PrincessMia said...

That is very thought provoking, Zeus. I feel misunderstood sometimes, myself.

Kimo & Sabi said...

He kinda looks like a Hobbit :)

Carmen said...

I fell so edumacated now. :) Never liked the Hobbit stuff, but my uncle things Tolkien is the bee's knees!

Anonymous said...

Yes, we want to know about these negative comments too!

Anonymous said...

I figgers if they don't like catbloggin they shouldn't read cat blogs. But I guesses that's way too simple for 'em. A'course, Tolkein fellow is ree-quired reedin around here. For the humans anyways. hehehe
Purrrrrrrrs,
Sanjee

Beau said...

I would also like to know more about the negative comments. I've been in a biting mood for several days now. Mom said she would appreciate me biting some bad people instead of her for a change.

Anonymous said...

Mom always says, Reality is fur People who lack Imagination. If sumone don't like my blog, they can go read anofur, but they'd better not pick it off my blogroll cuz it's fulla ofur cat bloggers!

Anonymous said...

Both of my humans enjoy reading Tolkien. Well, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. They haven't been able to get through The Silmarillion however.

As for cat blogs, yes, we've read some people complaining about them. One complaint is that some of the cat blogs are hard to read (since some cats use their own spelling) - which I admit can be true. But they are still fun to read!

Karen Jo said...

I like Tolkien very much, especially The Hobbit. I can't understand why cat blogging would annoy people. It's fun, informative and a great way for me to wind down after a hard day at work.

Anonymous said...

Forget the biteys on anti-catbloggers. Let's bring out the real ammunition: stinky times!