NewsWire: After Half A Century, LotR Towers Over Fantasy Fiction - The Kansas City Star
"It was a characteristic of the publishing field for many years that fantasy was a forgotten category. Everybody thought it didn't sell well. ... Then a fantasy trilogy became a best seller. Nobody ever thought that could happen."
Below is an excerpt from their article.
After half a century, The Lord of the Rings towers over fantasy fiction - and now the films loom
By John Mark Eberhart and Matthew Schofield
The Kansas City Star
When the hobbit Frodo Baggins jumped a low spot in the hedge and left his home, Bag End, he set in motion not only the adventure of The Lord of the Rings but also a renaissance in fantasy literature.
Forty-six years later, J.R.R. Tolkien's epic trilogy remains the ultimate quest, the ultimate battle between good and evil, the ultimate chronicle of stewardship of the earth. Endlessly imitated, it never has been surpassed. Even J.K. Rowling's series for children, featuring the boy wizard Harry Potter, owes a debt.
Now the trilogy is poised to become a series of three movies filmed in New Zealand by Peter Jackson. At a cost of $120 million ($360 million in American dollars), the live-action movies will bring Tolkien's diminutive hobbits, doughty dwarfs, lustrous elves and cranky wizards to the screen.
The first installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, won't be released until late next year, but the buzz is building, thanks to the involvement of stars such as Ian McKellen and Liv Tyler and rumors of mesmerizing special effects. The Two Towers is to follow in 2002; The Return of The King should conclude the sequence in 2003.
Before the hype machine roars, though, this autumn presents a last chance to re-examine the trilogy on its own merits. For The Lord of the Rings is the perfect autumnal story: the tale of Middle-earth, a place of enchantment and menace -- a world that, even if it survives, will lose its innocence.
The fantasy scene
The 20th century dawned with the idea that science had answered all. Magic and darkness -- which had reigned from the ancient Beowulf through medieval epics like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to Victorian fantasies such as Bram Stoker's Dracula -- had been replaced by electricity.
And by futuristic dreams. The dominant speculative motif in the early 20th century was science fiction. The adventure tale had passed on to H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, with their visions of interplanetary treks.
In 1937 The Hobbit, Tolkien's prelude to The Lord of the Rings, changed that. It is the story of Bilbo Baggins, who helps a band of dwarfs reclaim treasure plundered by a dragon -- and in so doing, reminds readers that it isn't treasure that's valuable, but courage and camaraderie.
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