Thursday, January 22, 2004

Just some scattered details about some characteristics of these books...Tolkien's style often matches the kind of activity his characters are doing. I forgot to mention that the style of the encounter with Tom Bombadil is quite lighthearted...words like leaping, flowing, singing, merry, etc. appear often and give the text a lilting style. Nowhere does the reader lose the sense that Tom is wise, but the style assures us that he is whimsical.

Similarly, Tolkien uses words like tramping, plodding, frugal, cheerless, thicket, etc. to characterize the Fellowships' journey on the Road or across open country. After reading a couple of chapters in which the hobbits travel to Weathertop and beyond it (and Frodo is stabbed by the greatest Ringwraith), I feel as if I've been walking the forests and fields of Middle-earth with the company. (Part of this may be due to our three-hour walk around Oxford this afternoon...we tried to visit all the medieval sites we could, despite a constant drizzle and the complications of keeping thirty people together!) At any rate, Tolkien does an excellent job of matching the style to the scene. Young adulthood is the time when many readers first begin to notice style, not as an extension of boring grammar rules but as something that has meaning in itself. Authors like Tolkien are an excellent tool for teaching young readers how to appreciate good writing style.


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