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Monday, April 11, 2005

Frodo, Ged and Hazel, Introduction

For a couple of days, I have been mulling over posting on the 3 greatest works of fantastic literature. Greatest by what criterion, you may ask? My desire to read them. When I decided to take the plunge, and actually post, I discovered, as I typed, that the names of the main characters begin with consecutive letters of the alphabet.

Note that I didn't include the work of C. S. Lewis here. Anyone who has read more than about two posts on this blog knows that I appreciate his work. I suppose that, more than any other human author, he has influenced me (and a lot of other people) for the good. His Narnia books are great reads. If I could find my copy of Till We Have Faces, I would probably start over, and include Orual in the title of this series. However, I don't consider the Narnia books to have quite the depth of the items selected, perhaps because they were written for a younger audience.

I hope to comment on some of the things that J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, and Richard Adam's Watership Down have in common.

First, a thing they don't have in common--setting. Middle-Earth seems to be an alternate Western Europe, perhaps a long time ago. Earthsea is some world that's mostly water, with no indication of the time. Watership Down is set in a few square miles of England, apparently a real section of it, in the twentieth century. Second--characters. A hobbit, a young man growing up, and a rabbit. Third--world view. Tolkien was a Catholic Christian. Le Guin is a Taoist. I don't know enough about Adams to characterize him.

Now to plot summaries:
A hobbit reluctantly agrees to try to destroy the most powerful object in existence, and succeeds, against great odds.
A boy becomes a man, in the process bringing healing to himself, after a terrible choice almost ruins him; to his world, by repairing the most powerful object in it; and to his world, by closing a gap between the worlds of the dead and the living. (Against great odds, of course)
A rabbit leads other rabbits to found a warren based on freedom for all. (Against great odds, again. Would we really consider any book great if someone didn't strive against great odds? I doubt it.)

I know that all three of these authors have written more about their sub-created worlds, and, in Le Guin's case, about her central character, but will concentrate on the two trilogies, and the single book.

The second of these posts is here, the third is here, and the final post is here.

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Rhonda Black said...

Hi Dr. LaBar! April gave me your blog page...I just thought I would send you a quick comment to say hello! I hope you remember me...if not, my feeling will not be hurt...because you have taught a lot of students since 1964. (didn't know you had been there that long) Anyway, guess I should tell you who I am... :)) Rhonda Black...I graduated in 1998. I played basketball and ran cross country. I'm still teaching at Walhalla Middle School. Managed to get my master's in educational leadership a couple of years ago. Still single and looking for the right man for me. Hopefully you remember me. When you get a chance send me an email. Would love to hear from you.