Isildur story - Even better than the real thing?
From: Mark Nelson
Claims of making use of Tolkien's style are vastly overblown.
I doubt very much the JRRT would use "irritated" to describe the growing anger/wrath/fury of the one of the mightiest heroes of the Dunadan. Remember, his was a geneology most high and puissant. Tolkien would never have humanized him to the point of actually conversing with that dirty little mountain king.
Granted, it's a nice attempt at getting to the man behind the myth. But Tolkien never intended for such to happen. Consider the immensity of the curse he lays upon the king and his people. Isildur's was a power and personality matched by only one other Man, Elendil, and surpassed by only a few Eldar-folks like Galadriel and Gil-Galad.
Tolkien didn't rely on dialogue to humanize his characters. He comes closest probably with Samwise and his fount of colloquialisms. For much of LOTR he has character relating data rather than chatting.
For example, Gandalf nearly chapter long account of the ring in chapter two of FOTR. In fact, the only ones in the entire work who come close to "sounding" normal are the four hobbits (five if you count Bilbo).
I guess this attempt, all 144,000 words of it it may well be, are a good example of the potential pitfalls when one attempts to de-mythologize a myth or legend. It is all well and good with a personality like Arthur. But Tolkien was much too exacting a planner and presenter to allow for such extensive speculation. True, his world is full of tantalizing, unexplained stuff - "those things" are, after all, a large part of the charm of Middle-earth.
Another thing to consider is Aragorn.
He is stated to resemble Isildur in stature and demeanor (to a point). Even when he was at his scruffiest, sitting in that chair at the "Pony," he still had his dignity.
Obviously, this tale is not a disaster, but it is thoroughly modern in tone and delivery.
Tolkien was a romantic. He'd lived through a war. He understood about the pathos/passion inherent in Mortality. Hence his elevated style.
I've been dabbling a little more in this "thing" that Crawford has created, and while I have to admire the scope of the attempt, I still contend that he botched it from the beginning.
In my review I took issue with his characterization of Isildur. I thought he was much too solicitous of the mountain king. He was, afterall, the second greatest mortal on the planet. He also wasn't altruistically inclined. Consider how quickly he falls prey to the power of the ring. He didn't come to Morthond "asking" for anything. He was there to make sure those little guys did their part in the grand design. If he wasn't imperious, then I question whether or not he would have laid such a curse on the region. Isildur was a high Dunadan and he had his pride.
I mentioned in my rationale, I wish I had saved it, I referred to Aragorn's likeness to Isildur. Even when he was his scruffiest puffing on that pipe at the "Pony," he still had his dignity. He didn't suffer fools 'gently' - and I don't think Isildur did either.
Isildur demanded aid from those foolish men of twilight, and when he didn't get it he got mad. "Irritated" is just not the right word to use! The great never get peeved in LOTR, their "wrath" grows, their "ire" intensifies, if you are going to use the Professor's world, then you have to use the language that fits it best.
I focused some of the criticism in the review at Crawford's inexpert use of dialogue.
The tone is all wrong. Tolkien's characters rarely "chat" - he was too steeped in the narrative tradition. He comes closest to achieving that quality in the deliveries of the hobbits, especially Samwise. Frequently, he used his characters to add to the narrative of the story. Consider Gandalf's chapter long explanation of the nature of the ring to Frodo in the second chapter of FOTR. In fact, hardly any of the "great" figures in the novel "discuss" small matters. Gandalf maybe at various times. But the tone and texture of much of the verbage in the novels is very much High Fantasy. I think this may well be a real sticking point for modern novelists. Very few, in my opinion, are able to achieve that same tone in the writing.
You mentioned a reference to "rockets" - and that is exactly my point. Since the second world war the idioms we use have been changing. Words going in and out of style at an alarming rate. Tolkien was all about Time with a capital "T". The very best High Fantasy always is.
Rats, I've lost the thread - not that I had much of it anyway. There was more - all of it eloquent and pompous I'm sure.
I like your web page!
Zillah High School
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