One book to rule them all?

This month’s debate over at the Classics Club was:

‘Contemplate your favorite classic to date. When was this book written? Why would you say it has been preserved by the ages? Do you think it will still be respected/treasured 100 years from now? If it had been written in our own era, would it be as well received?

My favourite is without doubt Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien.  Published around 1954?  Written as a sequel to The Hobbit it is apparently the second best selling novel ever written (according to Wiki that is) and had a massive impact on not only fantasy in literature but also in artwork, gaming and film playing a major influence on future fantasy works.  Whether it would be as well received if it was written today is difficult to say although I like to think it would.  This book had such a major impact on the fantasy genre that without it it would be interesting to see how fantasy would have developed.  Perhaps another author would have come up with something similar or maybe something in a totally different vein that would have steered this genre in a different direction altogether.  Oh for a time machine!

The books are still very popular and seem to attract new readers all the time – I dare say that in more recent years the popularity of the film franchise has added to the books readership.  In terms of looking ahead I still think the book will be popular.  It doesn’t have anything to really ‘date’ it after all.  It’s a fantasy world – it’s not trying to predict what things will be like in the future and is set in a mediaeval type world that won’t really age.  The story – it’s an adventure, being undertaken against massive odds, to save the world!  What’s not to like??

For me, the writing is just lovely and descriptive, which some people criticise but I actually enjoy.  The characters are amazing.  The author came up with a different language for goodness sake not to mention enough appendices to fill another small book (he’s thorough that’s for sure!).  But ultimately it’s just an excellent story about the fight between good and evil.  I think the added appeal to this is the creation of middle world which along with fantasy creatures such as orcs, wizards, elves, goblins and tree herders also contains regular humans!  I have no idea what the first ever fantasy book is but for me LoTR is my number one classic.  I still love it. It’s preciousss.