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Lord of the Rings Re-Read: The Shadow of the Past

“[Sméagol] was interested in roots and beginnings; he dived deep into pools, he burrowed under trees and growing plants; he tunneled into green mounds; he ceased to look up at the hilltops, or the leaves on trees, or the flowers opening in the air: his head and eyes were downward.”

Welcome back! New month, new chapter of The Lord of the Rings. I was a bit tentative to dive into this month’s section. I remember “The Shadow of the Past” as little more than a long stretch of back-story, the sort of thing that readers complain about when they claim that Tolkien is boring or poorly-paced. In terms used in relation to modern fantasy writing, it’s an info-dump chapter.

…And that’s not entirely wrong. It is an info-dump chapter. But from a literary perspective it’s an exceptionally well-crafted one, which makes the mythological deeply personal, and clearly lays out many of the story’s over-arching themes without ever getting too heavy-handed. Once again, I’m left with the feeling that Tolkien knew exactly what he was doing.

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“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?…If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, Andrew Lang Lecture On Fairy-Stories, 1939

illicitemotions-deactivated2015 asked:

If you had a chance to go inside the world of either the Hobbit or Harry Potter, which one would you pick and why?

Harry Potter without a doubt, because people of color (and other minorities) exist in that world. They might not be the forefront of any of the Harry Potter books or movies (which is hella awkward considering that themes of racism and oppression that are all over the series), but at the very least, JK Rowling built a world in which I can earnestly imagine myself in. LOTRverse on the other hand, while an excellent fantasy/adventure, is written by a straight white man who would rather that everyone in his books looked and sounded like him. I very much enjoy The Hobbit and LOTR as literature, but I would never want to live in a world created by someone who’s never considered that a queer brown girl could be the rightful Queen of Gondor.