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Bored of the Rings

New American Library, New York, 1969
(price: 80p; 160 pages)

The blurb on the back:

'Never have I laughed so hard at any other book. The Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings is unquestionably a comic masterpiece as well as a brilliant parody of JRR Tolkein's famous The Lord of the Rings trilogy. A gem of irreverence ... filled with an incredible menagerie of mad characters including lustful Elf-maidens and a roller-skating dragon. A side-splitting swipe at the Eternal Quest and the castles, wizards and other folderol of 'ancient' lore ... a Catch-22 for lovers of the days of yore.' - Book Note, Harvard Daily News

A statement from the authors about this Lampoon edition:
This paperback edition, and no other, has been published solely for the purpose of making a few fast bucks. Those who approve of courtesy to a certain other living author will not touch this gobbler with a ten-foot battle-lance.

I think it was Waterstone's (or someone like that) who did a survey of the British reading public a couple of years back to discover the book of the 20th century. And the winner was ... Lord of the Rings.

Lord of the Rings? Really? In a century that gave us Waugh, Huxley, Orwell, Wodehouse, Milne? And that's just a few British names off the top of my head. Lord of the Rings don't enter into it.

JRR Tolkein was a fine academic, one of the great authorities on Norse saga, but why the hell he thought there was any need to recreate the old tales as a novel - worse, as a bloody trilogy - is anyone's guess. The sagas are of interest partly because of the economy of the story-telling, and partly because of the historical value that derives from their centrality to an entire culture. Tolkein fails horribly on the first count, whilst on the second, popularity is not the same as significance: Lord of the Rings has plenty of devotees, but I don't believe the books mean anything more than escapism to them. Course, I could be wrong.

Meanwhile, we have this book before us. Dating from the days when Lord of the Rings was huge with hippies, it may or may not have been funny at the time, but sure as hell ain't now. The principal jokes are (a) telling us that this book has been written to make money off the back of Tolkein, and (b) making puerile references to (hyuck, hyuck) sex. If you find the name Dildo Bugger inherently funny, then perhaps this is the book for you. If not, don't bother. Also don't bother if you're looking for a full-on parody of Lord of the Rings - this is only 160 pages long and hardly gets the story going.

The authors were Henry N Beard and Douglas C Kenney, then of The Harvard Lampoon but soon to found the National Lampoon to take the schoolboy-level humour to a wider audience. Kenney also went to on co-write the movie National Lampoon's Animal House, which was just about the one time their version of humour worked, as far as I could see. (Been devalued since, of course, but it was okay at the time, and - importantly - it didn't have Chevy Chase in it.)