Tolkien Revisited

I finished reading The Lord of the Rings last night. It left me a little cold. I expected to experience the story differently; after all two decades passed between my readings. Middle Earth is still an intricate and finely wrought world, but the actual story telling by Tolkien is a little bland. I find it amazing that he could flesh out languages, histories, geographies, different races and a panolply of ancient and puissant artifacts, but still fabricate such one dimensional characters. The stark light of Middle Earth’s manicheistic struggle between the forces of good and darkness drains the characters of depth and motivation. But Tolkien’s primary mode of storytelling is legends and histories, and the trilogy fits squarely into this style. At any rate, the storytelling in The Lord of the Rings is positively verbose compared to The Silmarillion. The Silmarillion is a dense compendium of edited histories and myth, with very little dialogue or character development.