Why didn’t Tolkien like Frank Herbert’s Dune?
Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the most important sci-fi stories in literature, but JRR Tolkien had his own opinions on it.
that of Frank Herbert Dune is one of the most influential and impactful works of science fiction. The political, religious and ecological themes that surround the story have helped shape future novels for generations. That being said, while he is primarily seen as extremely important to the masses, there is an equally important fantasy writer who had his own divergent views on the story – JRR Tolkien.
Tolkien is best known for creating the equally sprawling work, The Lord of the Rings. Like Herbert, Tolkien’s contribution to fantasy helped reshape the genre in a way that is still felt today. As the foundation of high fantasy, the series is told and retold through various outlets. In this direction, Dune and The Lord of the Rings are like cousins because of the importance that each job carries.
In 1966 Tolkien wrote a letter to a man named John Bush regarding obtaining a copy of Herbert’s book. When asked about his opinion, Tolkien gave Bush a cordial but straightforward description of how he was feeling. According to the letter, Tolkien prefaced by saying that he found it impossible for one author to talk about another who is working on a similar subject. He then adds: “In fact, I don’t like Dune with some intensity, and in this unfortunate case, it is far and away best and fair for another author to remain silent and decline to comment. what he thinks of the book.
Following this letter, Tolkien never explained why he hated Herbert’s book so much, at least not publicly. As a result, his feelings on the story can only be speculated. But given that Tolkien was so adept at creating living, breathing worlds with real-world themes, it sparks curiosity as to why he didn’t like something so layered. It also appears that Tolkien was in the minority, as the series has never lost its appeal and is releasing a new movie in October as well.
In defense of Tolkien, Dune is not for everyone. The series has a lot to say and ultimately covers six books written by Herbert. In these stories, themes ranging from the human condition to political morality are discussed in detail. The action exists but isn’t as plentiful as the constant plot between the characters resulting in a revealing ending. Conveying these themes and keeping a large following is difficult, and it’s entirely possible that Tolkien simply lost interest. However, without him here to say it, everything remains in the realm of speculation.
However, Dune is just as important as Tolkien’s work and is consistently regarded as such. The new film will also be able to reach an even wider audience than ever before. But with a modern new release, it will be a test to see if Tolkien’s feelings about the book are reflected by new viewers.
Dune premieres October 22 in theaters and on HBO Max.
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