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News: I moved the keyboard to my room and now I feel strongly inclined to tell the world that I adore Phantom of the Opera. Everything is perfectly normal and no, I don't have access to any secret underground labyrinth...yet.

--12 August 2017 --

Quote: Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest of hearts. --Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

The Fellowship

August 5, 2010

Classical Tales: Why Do They Still Live?


Classics such as the Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Lord of the Rings, and Pride and Prejudice have long been cherished by mankind. The question I ask today is why? Such tales of love, war, peace, deceit, and far away worlds should (and the key term here is “should”) have disintegrated into the mesh of novels and novellas from the past. Yet they have endured. Why is this so?
What follows is my own, and simply my own, opinion on why classical tales have continued to survive in our world of literature.
One of the most curious things that pops to my mind when I think of classical books is the style of English used in the writing. Foremost, one can see the long scenes describing inanimate objects and sensations, and then there are the large words that have lost their meaning these days in our own literature of the 21st century (Chronicles of Narnia is exempt from this section of discussion).
I remember during my journey through LOTR I stumbled quite heavily through the long, monotonous sections of Tolkien’s descriptions. In fact, I cannot get two chapters into the Silmarillion or any other Tolkien history-based book due to the continuously boring tone used. I have tried hard to appreciate this diversity and unique usage of my language, yet for some reason that emotion never wells up inside me. It simply is not there.
Descriptive scenes are important in fantasy novels, particularly to create an image in the reader’s mind that shows them what your world that you’ve created looks like. Yet if such descriptions are long then I become terribly bored and may even shut the book and never open it again (I almost did this with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, unfortunately I had to finish the book for school). On the other hand, the descriptive scenes in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra have captured my heart and I would love to see more books written in that tone (although the theological debates of the tale are quite tedious).
I therefore must come to the conclusion that it is the way the author introduces the scene and how they tell of what is going on that captures the reader and holds them. Too many large words and precise grammatical sequences tire the reader and turn them off. On the other hand, too many simple words and imprecise grammatical sequences cause the reader to disrespect the writer and their knowledge of the English language.
That leads me to my next point; how the writer treats their language. English is so beautiful yet so very complicated. In fact, I do believe it is one, if not THE, most complicated languages to learn. As a writer myself, I find everyday when I write my sessions are becoming more and more like competitions. I race to tell the story yet, when I re-read my work, I find that I have used the simplest English terms available and those terms are perhaps not even the best to describe what I am trying to convey to the reader. My grammar, too, tends to wobble on the brink of good and not-so-good. Because of this, I fear that if I were to publish anything it would be lost in the rubble heaps of the publishing houses. My readers would not respect my writing talent, although they might enjoy the story it would not stick with them for the rest of their lives.
Tolkien, Lewis, and other such authors have gained the respect of the public because of their ability to wield language as a weapon as well as a thoughtful touch. They know how to manipulate the words so that they dance across the pages and filter into ones very soul. Overall, it is an enchanting effect.
Although there are plenty more reasons as to why classical books and their authors continue to be cherished, I will stop here; you should have plenty of food for thought :)

Squeaks.

5 comments:

  1. I have developed quite a taste for language of all types and lengths. And as for the theological dicussions in Perelandra, I thought the discussion at the end was great.

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  2. Very good article, Squeaks! I also find myself wondering about classics such as these. In high school, we only focused on classics such as 'To Kill a Mockingbird' or 'Of Mice and Men', both of which bored me to tears as I read them.

    I'll be taking a creative writing class in college later on this year, so when I need some inspiration, I'll come and read this!

    I think I may have had a salleradious after reading this. ;) It's very good insight.

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  3. I love language, especially the older way of saying things. Language has become less beautiful since the days of Shakespeare and Spenser.

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  4. I was quite impressed with much of the needed description in LOTR. :) The charge of the Rohirrim in ROTK is breathtaking. Literally breathtaking.

    Have you ever read Cyrano de Bergerac? It's an old play that I'd highly recommend--it's most likely free somewhere on the internet. However, the beginning is quite boring, but once you get through that it's quite good. :) The amazing, flowing eloquence from Cyrano is amazing.

    But enough of that. I enjoyed your article immensely. :) And don't worry--the rough draft is just that; rough. Don't worry about the inadequate description and grammar--that's what editing is for! Editing, if possible, is more important than the actual writing. Editing, not writing, makes the book. :) I can't believe how much different--and better--my novel is after I have edited it for so long. :D

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  5. neat post, Squeaks, and hey, I'm not disagreeing with you, I respect your opinion. Want to know a secret? Long discription is what made me fall in love with LotR and why I can't stand some books because there isn't enough...

    But anyways, don't take that as me disrespecting what you prefer in books... really, I don't mind :) Really weird things shut me off in books ;) And other things open my heart to loving the book... I'm really weird like that. But I do appreciate what you brought to this post! K? Not upset? ;)

    Ithilwen

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