“The Lord of the Rings” may be the most fully-fleshed out fantasy series of all time. J.R.R. Tolkien’s attention to detail is famed. He constructed usable languages and maps to make the world as immersive as possible for readers. Botanist Walter Judd and artist Graham Judd have taken that level of immersion a step further in the new book “Flora of Middle-Earth.”
Judd uses the real-life origins of Tolkien’s flora to examine how the plants fit into Middle-Earth. When the book examines coffee, for example, Judd writes:
[Tolkien] considered the presence of coffee in Middle-Earth as representing an independent, and earlier, introduction from the mountains of northeastern Africa — a plant brought into lands controlled by Gondor as a result of its trade with Haradwaith and Khand … Additionally, he may have thought that coffee (in contrast to the tomato) was more in keeping with the essentially English nature of the Shire.
So Tolkien considered the climate of each region he invented, what flora might grow there, and how that flora might be traded to different regions in Middle-Earth. These entries will be joined by Graham Judd’s drawings, which demonstrate the flora in the world. This book will break fun facts down, and will assuredly make your next read through of the series that much more gripping!
It has been said that “art begets art.” Never has this been so true than in the case of bands inspired by books!
We’ve compiled some of the best examples of musicians who have written songs about their favorite works of fiction. From Taylor Swift to The Velvet Underground to Kate Bush, here is the bookworm’s essential summer playlist, guaranteed to get you in the mood for some sunny summer reading!
One of Taylor Swift’s most catchy hits is inspired by Shakespeare’s timeless ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ The song tracks the lovers from their first meeting ‘We were both young when I first saw you / I close my eyes and the flashback starts / I’m standing there on a balcony in summer air’ to an imagined happier ending for the famously doomed pair ‘I talked to your dad, go pick out a white dress / It’s a love story, baby just say yes”
Jefferson Airplane’s most famous song, written by frontwoman Grace Slick, was directly inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The children’s classic was read to her often as a child, and every lyric references it. Slick stated that for her following ‘the white rabbit’ meant following her curiosity, and the song became an anthem for 60s psychedelics.
Written when she was just 18 years old, Bush’s song was inspired by Emily Bronte’s haunting tale of love and obsession. The famous lines ‘Heathcliff, it’s me, it’s Cathy, I’ve come home/ I’m so cold/ Let me in at your window’ references the chilling return of Catherine Earnshaw’s ghost. This year, thousands gathered in locations across the globe, on July 15, to imitate Bush’s iconic dress and dancing in the video. That day became coined as The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever.
This emo classic references Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic Ender’s Game. Though the lyrics are vague, there is much discussion online about how they link up to the text of the novel. This song will be a nostalgia trip hard enough to send anyone who listened to it as a teenager flying right back to their youth and their favorite dystopian world.
Bowie’s 1974 track from the album Diamond Dogs was originally written for a staged musical of George Orwell’s 1984 (the musical never came to be). This is not the only song inspired by Orwell’s seminal work; Marilyn Manson, Coldplay, and The Clash are just some of the other artists who have been inspired by it!
Lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong was forced to read J.D Salinger’s coming-of-age novel, The Catcher in the Rye, while in school. He was not happy about it. While this book is universally beloved of angsty teens, the fact that he had no choice in reading it enraged Armstrong. Years later, he wrote this song as a tribute to teens feeling apathetic as a result of adult authority. That’s something Holden Caulfield could definitely relate to!
Another Lewis Carroll-inspired hit, this beloved Beatles track references the poem The Walrus and the Carpenter. John Lennon received a letter from a school student saying that his English teacher had been analyzing Beatles lyrics in class. Lennon was so amused by this that he decided to make the lyrics of his next song the most confusing yet. No wonder he turned to Carroll for inspiration!
This dreamy ballad is an ode to J.R.R Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings and was used in the closing credits of the 2003 movie The Return of the King. It’s sung from the point of view of Elvish queen Galadriel and several phrases are taken from the book.
Oscar Wilde’s only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is referenced in this track from the Peter Doherty-fronted indie rock outfit. They use Dorian Gray’s fixation with maintaining his youth at any cost to critique modern day society’s obsession with beauty: ‘all your models in magazines and on the walls/ You wanna be just like them/ Cause they’re so cool/ They’re just narcissists/ Well wouldn’t it be nice to be Dorian Gray?’
This punk classic is inspired by the Stephen King novel appeared in the 1989 movie adaptation. King is a huge Ramones fan and apparently gave Dee Dee Ramone a copy of Pet Cemetary. Ramone, in turn, used to write the lyrics to this hit!
This haunting melody is based on Flannery O’Connor’s short story of the same name about a boy who is brought to a river baptism by his babysitter, and, feeling neglected by his parents, agrees to be baptized when told by the preacher that this will make him ‘count.’
The opening track of Bloc Party’s album A Weekend in the City is inspired by Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. The song pays homage to Easton Ellis’s main character Clay, and many images from the text appear in the lyrics, including the sign “Disappear Here” and the line “people are afraid to merge on the freeways.”
This song, first released in 1967 and sung by frontman Lou Reed, references the two lead characters from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s novel of the same name from 1870. The song deals with themes of sexuality and dominance, and it is from von Sacher-Masoch’s name that the term “masochoism” derives. “Venus in Furs” is an iconic song of the 60s and 70s as The Velvet Underground were key players in the music and art scene during that time, hanging out with the likes of Nico, Andy Warhol, and Edie Sedgewick.
This song is a direct reference to Penelope Farmer’s classic 1969 children’s novel of the same name. The titular character Charlotte, when sent to boarding school, discovers she has traveled 40 years into the past and has taken the place of a girl called Clare. Frontman Robert Smith claimed this novel was the most direct literary influence on the band.
Written for Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaptation of F. Scott FitzGerald’s beloved novel The Great Gatsby, this song references some of the key images in the text, including Daisy’s yellow dress and the green light of the lighthouse across the bay. Florence Welch frequently talks about the impact that literature has had on her music. According to her band’s fan club site, she even hosts a monthly book club for fans called “Between Two Books!”
Featured images courtesy of Film Forum and Plan Wallpaper.
Missed connection: you were two characters in the same novel. You had every opportunity to fall in love and make my dreams come true, but you didn’t! You were perfect for each other, and I don’t know why others can’t see that.
It’s so frustrating when two characters who are meant to live happily ever after end up taking different paths without one another. We’re here to talk about a few couples who we felt had potential, and we’re still sad they’re not an item.
You can’t deny it: There’s a certain charm in returning to your home town to get “the one that got away.” It’s a cliché that we love. Even though Catherine died before Heathcliff had a chance, it’s said at the end that sometimes you can see their souls walking along the moors. At least she’s not with Edgar anymore.
I liked the idea of Harry ending up with Hermione at the end of Rowling’s series. I’m sure many fans will disagree, but I thought that they had a really great bond and I would have liked to see more. Oh well, the Weasleys deserve love too right?
Slowly learning about Clarissa and Sally’s love that could never be broke my heart while reading Virginia Woolf’s classic. Instead, Clarissa married Mr. Dalloway, who let’s be honest, is a total snooze.
It’s possible for men and women to just be friends, but I think many of us wanted Jo and Laurie to just kiss already! Honestly, marrying the professor seems way less exciting, but more true to who Jo is.
That’s right, I’m #TeamGale. He knows her better than anyone, he’s always been there for her, and he wanted to run away with her; what more do you need? Peeta would be fine without Katniss, he has one of the most reliable friends — bread.
I know there’s tons of fan art and fiction about this duo, but can we talk about how it would actually be really sweet? Sam is always talking about how he’d do anything for Frodo, and it’s clear that Frodo felt a lifetime bond with Samwise.
It was going perfectly until Willoughby had to be a complete jerk and leave Marianne for a wealthy woman. I would have loved to have seen their happily ever after, but at least Marianne ended up marrying a good guy.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s incredible Lord of the Rings series has inspired generations of fantasy lovers around the globe to imagine the intricately detailed world that is Middle Earth. You may consider yourself a fan of the series or the movies, but let’s see if you know everything! Here are 8 facts about Tolkien’s epic tale.
1) Legolas may not have had beautiful golden locks!
While Orlando Bloom looked incredible in the movies, Tolkien never actually describes Legolas’ appearance in full detail. Yet, he describes every other elf! Why not our archer? Does this mean that he’s been a red head this whole time!?
2) There’s actually something more evil than Sauron
Originally Sauron was a vassal of Morgoth, who is basically Middle Earth’s version of Satan. Morgoth’s right hand man Sauron was just carrying out his demands, who knows what could have happened if he prevailed!
3) Shelob the spider is not your average vermin
Okay, besides the obvious reasons, Shelob is a thousand times scarier than the eight-legged insects we’re used to. She’s the daughter (Yes, daughter) of Ungoliant — an evil ancient spirit thing that chooses to take the form of a spider. Why? We don’t know either.
4) ‘The Silmarillion’ has some differences from the original story
Because The Silmarillion was put together after Tolkien’s death, there are a few small differences from what he planned for the series. As an example, the origin of the orcs is contested because of differing evidence found between the series and The Silmarillion.
5) Wizards can change forms?
The five wizards, our friends Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, Allatar, and Pallando, are part of the Maiar race who are able to change forms. Think of all the pranks they can pull off.
6) Tolkien typed all 1,200 pages with just two fingers
Science fiction is full of awesome desert planets (even Star Wars has one) but Arrakis is the most iconic of them all. Dune is considered by many to be the greatest science fiction novel of all time, and it’s centered entirely around Arrakis. Arrakis’ deserts are fascinating because they are utterly endless – and hold the spice mines that make the planet so valuable.
Science fiction tries pretty hard to be realistic these days, and it doesn’t thrill George R.R. Martin. Martin, like a lot of us, longs for the days of crazy science fiction landscapes. Landscapes like Edgar Rice Burroughs’ version of the Red Planet, which is full of canals, alien civilizations, and other other cool stuff.
Fantasy world-builders like George R.R. Martin owe a huge debt to the original master, J.R.R. Tolkien. Just about any spot in Middle Earth would qualify as a great literary landscape. We chose the dark, stormy, and stunning landscape of Mordor, which is bordered on three sides by enormous mountain ranges. Very cool.
Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series include mentions of neighboring lands, but it’s Narnia itself that seems the most beautiful. While its neighbors sometimes feature more extreme landscapes (one bordering land is very arid, while another is very mountainous), Narnia is described as having gorgeous scenery of its own. Lewis’ vision of was inspired by the scenery of his own home country, Ireland.
Neverland is Peter Pan’s magical world, and it’s got it all: pirates, mermaids, you name it. It’s a fantastic island with, of course, fantastic scenery. Grottoes, forests, lagoons: Neverland has it all!
In Hilton’s book Lost Horizon, Shangri-La is located in a breathtaking valley in the middle of Asia’s Kunlun Mountains. It’s a mystical place where people live peaceful and very long lives. No wonder “Shangri-La” has become a term for an earthly paradise! The image above is from the 2004 film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which made use of Hilton’s Shangri-La myth.
There’s some man-made wonder here, too: the super-cool castle with carved dragons on it. But you can’t ignore the awesome spectacle of the mountainous island. A Song of Ice and Fire has a ton of cool landscapes (and even more cool man-made structures), but this is probably our favorite.
The name says it all! Wonderland is one of fiction’s classic fantasy worlds. We’re particularly excited about the interpretation you see in the image above, because Tim Burton is bringing that world back to the silver screen with a sequel to his 2010 film Alice in Wonderland. Alice Through the Looking Glass will hit theaters in 2016.