Sunday, February 10, 2013

On finishing LOTR and picking up Jeeves

Last week, I finally finished Lord of the Rings--the entire six books. My life intervened while reading, so the last few books took me longer than I had hoped, especially since I was quite involved in the story by then and wanted to be able to bury my nose in the book until I was finished. Even with all the hecticness going on, I was able to complete it. Now that I've finished, I can safely say that I am a fan of The Lord of the Rings.

One of the many aspects of the book that I appreciate is the ending. Some books wrap up the ending far too quickly for me--just when the climax of the book hits, the ending smacks you in the face, and I'm left with this awful of being ripped off. Like something else should or could have happened, but I'll never know if it did or not. Books like that leave me feeling unsettled. And while a little unsettledness might be good if the author can pull it off well, many authors don't. So I rather appreciated that when the moment comes that the ring is destroyed (the ultimate climax), there were still something like 100 pages left of the story, which gave Tolkien plenty of time to take me from the climax to a more settled ending. I appreciate that he recognized that far too much was going on in the story to simply wrap it up in a few pages.

Another of the many aspects I enjoyed is the play with languages. I love invented languages, and the book had plenty of them mentioned and demonstrated to keep my heart happy. The entire storyline, in fact, was borne out of Tolkien's invented languages--he invented the languages and worked on the back story to go with them. If any of you have invented a language, you will know just how involved you need to be with the speakers of the language to figure out how words are formed and what words are needed; if you haven't done that particular task, then you might be surprised how much culture and context and history and politics play into inventing a language. One of the entire reasons I decided I needed to read LOTR in the first place was Tolkien's languages. And so I am happy to report that I was not let down. Now I just need to reconsider The Hobbit and decide if I should go back and give that book another go.

After I finished LOTR, I went back to my shelves and still wanted to read another of the long books awaiting my perusal. If you recall from a past post, I had chosen LOTR out of a trio of long books, including Pillars of the Earth and Just Enough Jeeves. Since LOTR was epic (and I can safely use that word here without meaning the overused EPIC applied to everything these days), I needed something a little more light-hearted. So I chose Just Enough Jeeves, a collection of three Jeeves novels by P.G. Wodehouse.

I've just finished the first novel in the collection, Joy in the Morning, and I'm in love. Wodehouse was a brilliant man who played with the English language to perfection. There are such subtle turns of phrases that I have to go back and re-read passages just to get all the fun out of them and marvel at Wodehouse's genius (while at other times the turns of phrases are not subtle at all and leave me giggling to myself). I also will admit that I had no idea until about a year ago that the AskJeeves website was actually based off a literary character--the very same Jeeves in Wodehouse's books. Jeeves is a butler who is a great source of knowledge and helps the other characters get out of scrapes. As such, the oft-repeated phrase "ask Jeeves" plays a prominent role in the books.

My first interaction with Wodehouse was reading his short story "The Romance of an Ugly Policeman" (which you can find for free online!); that was nearly six years ago, and since then, I've kept saying that I need to read more of his works because I enjoyed the short story so much. It really makes me happy, then, to know that his novels are of the same quality, and I look forward to finishing the other two novels in the collection.

1 comment:

Billy Longino said...

Wodehouse is pretty great. Not something I would normally read, but there's quite a bit to learn from in reading him if you're trying to write funnily. He manages to write somewhere between cynical ass and playful observer. I need to read more of him.

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