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  1. #1
    Fat Pang's Avatar
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    J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    My wife and I occasionally while away the monsoon hours by playing scrabble or discussing the relative merits of the good men of Oxford, Tolkien and Lewis, fathers of fantasy literature.

    I'm all for Tolkien, my wife for Lewis.

    Where might the clan stand in such a suprisingly polarising debate?


  2. #2
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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    Well, I first must contest the description of Tolkien and Lewis as the "Fathers of Fantasy Literature." I'd give that title to Homer, as most modern fantasy literature borrows quite a bit from the heroic ideals of The Illiad and from the adventure stories from The Odyssey.

    That said, back on topic...

    I think the appeal of the Chronicles of Narnia is that it brings a fantasy world within grasp. Just find the magic wardrobe and you too can visit the land of fawns, witches, centaurs and talking lions. Lewis' work has strong religious undertones, but kids enjoy the stories at face value as adventure tales.

    Tolkien's work is far more detailed. I think we know more about the geography of Middle Earth and the specific characteristics of elves, dwarfs, orcs, hobbits and wizards than we do about the geography and inhabitants of Narnia.

    My personal preference goes to Tolkien.

    Other fantasy works that are very worthwhile are Richard Adams' classic, Watership Down and a modern anthropomorphic tale called Firebringer by David Clement-Davies.

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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    Avenger sums it up nice and I am a Tolkien fan myself.


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    coy bacon is offline Registered User
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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    I think if you're comparing their Sci Fi work, Tolkien's is much more indepth and detailed.

    But if you compare their body of work as a whole, Tolkien cannot touch Lewis. They are not even close.

    In this case, Fat is comparing Tolkien's strength, to a Lewis' side show.

    Many people know Lewis because of Narnia. But, I've read Lewis long before. His religious writings and reasonings are his strength, not his Sci Fi.

    His "Mere Christianity", may be his top selling work (aside of any recent spike in Narnia sales). His "Screwtape letters", are also popular and contain an element of fantasy.

    Actually, the more I think about it, if you want to know Lewis, read his Mere Christianity. The Narnia stuff is a really a poor way to evaluate Lewis.

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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    Coy, I deliberately left out any mention of religion, because as you know, I'm a stickler for the rules in here.

    You snuck it in though........................

    As far as Tolkien is concerned,I think his works and language developments owe far more to Anglo-Saxon,Briton and Finnish heroic saga's and traditions than the more classical works of Homer,Hesiod et al.

    Always makes me smile when the lastest 'hot' author of fantasy is compared to Tolkien. That blurb on the front of those awful 'Wheel of time' books by Robert Jordan, where it claims that he "Dominates the world Tolkien began to reveal" is fantasy in itself.

    Too much one-dimensional tedium in that genre at the moment.

    'Gormenghast' by Mervyn Peake was ok.....................

  6. #6
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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    I prefer Tolkien don't ask why though.

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    coy bacon is offline Registered User
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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    I have a book of Lewis' poetry, most of it written before his conversion to Christianity. There are some wonderful fantasy-like stories in a couple of his poems. I've read them many times, and I always got the sense that deep inside of him, he wanted to be a novelist. You could see the seeds of story telling, doing whatever they do before they sprout, buried in his poems. You knew that this guy wanted to tell stories.

    And so he did.

    At the same time, his religious writings outdid his fantasy writings, and Lewis should be properly known as a Christian apologist, not a fantasy writer.

    If you guys really want to know Lewis' work, read his Mere Christianity.

    Also, wasn't a movie made about Lewis' life a number of years ago, starring Debra Winger, and Anthony Hopkins?" Surprized by Joy" is the title I think.

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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    Quote Originally Posted by Coy
    Also, wasn't a movie made about Lewis' life a number of years ago, starring Debra Winger, and Anthony Hopkins?" Surprized by Joy" is the title I think.
    Wasn't that "Shadowlands"?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  9. #9
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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    Quote Originally Posted by coy bacon
    I think if you're comparing their Sci Fi work, Tolkien's is much more indepth and detailed.

    But if you compare their body of work as a whole, Tolkien cannot touch Lewis. They are not even close.

    In this case, Fat is comparing Tolkien's strength, to a Lewis' side show.

    Many people know Lewis because of Narnia. But, I've read Lewis long before. His religious writings and reasonings are his strength, not his Sci Fi.

    His "Mere Christianity", may be his top selling work (aside of any recent spike in Narnia sales). His "Screwtape letters", are also popular and contain an element of fantasy.

    Actually, the more I think about it, if you want to know Lewis, read his Mere Christianity. The Narnia stuff is a really a poor way to evaluate Lewis.
    Ah, but then we would have a discussion entitled C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton! (and Chesterton would win in a heartbeat. On the other hand, both Lewis' and Tolkien's fantasy is more mature than Chesterton's)

  10. #10
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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    Tolkien, to me it has more grown-up appeal.

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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    On the one hand ...

    "... literature should do some good to the reader: must quicken his perception though dull, and sharpen his discrimination though blunt, and mellow the rawness of his personal opinions."

    - A. E. Housman

    On the other hand, "Fantasy is literature for teenagers."

    - Brian Aldiss

    It may just boil down to what you think the reason is for writing ...

    "I'm not here to confirm your myths, prejudices, or biases. I'm here to make you nose run, your ears hurt, and your eyes bleed ...."

    - Harlan Ellison

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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    I think it really depends on how old you are. I loved both of them when I read them, but the Chronicles of Narnia are much better when you're younger. With Lewis, it was a fantasy escape not unlike Peter Pan. With Tolkien it was more like reading about a fantastized history. It was an epic.

    I don't want to stray too much towards religion, but I would point out one interesting aspect of Lewis' books for young children: When I read the Chronicles of Narnia with my parents (I think it was like 2nd grade), I had a pretty good understanding that this was all made up, so when Aslan died and was reborn, I asked myself "now wait, if just anybody can make this stuff up and write it down, how do I know the stuff we read out of the Bible is true?" Talk about deriving the wrong analogy. Rather than reinforcing the Christian message, I picked up on the message and turned around and questioned the original source of the message. My mom says she's still not sure how I ever came to a satisfactory conclusion on that one.

  13. #13
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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    Quote Originally Posted by adarian_too
    On the one hand ...

    "... literature should do some good to the reader: must quicken his perception though dull, and sharpen his discrimination though blunt, and mellow the rawness of his personal opinions."

    - A. E. Housman

    On the other hand, "Fantasy is literature for teenagers."

    - Brian Aldiss

    It may just boil down to what you think the reason is for writing ...

    "I'm not here to confirm your myths, prejudices, or biases. I'm here to make you nose run, your ears hurt, and your eyes bleed ...."

    - Harlan Ellison
    Hey adarian, maybe you could put down your Big Book of Obscure Quotes and actually tell us what YOU think.

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    coy bacon is offline Registered User
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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    No no no!

    Keep that book of quotes handy. They are always appreciated by me.

    Av, never fear the event, you may have missed it, but I for one understood Adarian's point.

    Quote away

    Time is everything; five minutes make the difference between victory and defeat. Sail on Adarian, sail on.

  15. #15
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: J.R.R Tolkien or C.S Lewis

    I understood his point (not that there was much of a point there), I would just rather he use his own words in addition to those of others.

    Anyone can look up an obscure quote and parrot it. Those who can put the quotes of others into a new, yet relevant, context are truly interesting.

    -- Armen Dacity

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