Will Discworld Endure Like Lord Of The Rings Other Famous Books and Series ?

BAYLOR

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Do you think the series will endure or will it gradually fade away? Does it have the timelessness of LOTR and other books and series and other popular literary characters?

Thoughts?:)
 
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Ray McCarthy

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All the Pratchett books (not just Discworld) are much better IMO than some fiction that has endured.
It will outlast Dan Brown and Harry Potter.
 

BAYLOR

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All the Pratchett books (not just Discworld) are much better IMO than some fiction that has endured.
It will outlast Dan Brown and Harry Potter.


How many people remember James Branch Cabell? He was the Terry Pratchett of his era.
 

Toby Frost

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I think in the past they would have endured pretty well, especially the less-formulaic, less parody-based novels. However, given the general distain for comedy as a form of literature, and the lack of obvious “issues” in the stories*, I expect that “serious” critics will have forgotten them already. Among science-fiction fans, though, I think the better books will last for quite a while.

*I realise that actually quite a lot of Pratchett’s stuff touches on issues, in an allegorical but usually pretty obvious way. But his books aren’t set in reality – in particular, not on a university campus in America – and hence probably don’t count.
 

Toby Frost

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I was being slightly facetious here, but I was thinking specifically of books by Jonathan Franzen and Zadie Smith and a criticism made by B.R. Myers that literary fiction had a tendency to be about the world of liberal intellectual readers of literary fiction. At any rate, the campus comment was an exaggeration and doesn’t really mean much. I'd edit it out now if I could.

However, the point I would make is that Pratchett’s books “don’t count” because they don’t explore issues in a direct and obvious way (although it’s usually pretty clear what Pratchett is saying). Also, Pratchett’s touch tends to be light and his outlook rather wry, as opposed to the earnest realism that one might expect from an “issues” book. I think people associate “issues” with “gritty”, and hence Pratchett’s work runs the risk of being seen as light jolly fluff even when it has a bit more weight behind it.
 

Ray McCarthy

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Lots of perennially (eternally?) popular books don't "explore issues". In fact such explorations can become outdated or incomprehensible. Surely fiction is primarily entertainment?
 

Vladd67

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When it comes to light hearted books covering issues, how many people now remember what Gulliver's Travels parody? Yet it survives.
 

Michael Colton

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It won't have the level of endurance of Lord of the Rings, but I see no reason why it will not endure to some extent. The thing about Lord of the Rings is that it has mainstream household recognition. Everyone knows about it, people that have no interest in fantasy have probably seen the films, etc.

I don't see that level of endurance from Discworld or most other successful genre work. It will endure for fans of the genre, but not a mainstream juggernaut of culture kind of endurance. I mean, even Asimov has barely endured in the mainstream culture.

Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are anomalies of genre fiction because they also dominated the mainstream across multiple mediums. Fifty years from now, more people will know about and have some level of experience with Hunger Games than Discworld.
 

Brian G Turner

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It's not about the stories, but the issues that he covers in them. IMO Terry Prachett is not simply a writer, but one of the foremost philosophers of our age. And that will ensure he's remembered for a long time.
 

Randy M.

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I have yet to read my first Pratchett, but that doesn't stop me having an opinion based on the general run of fantasy fiction: In spite of a relatively small portion of the reading public being invested in fantasy, we can still find print reissues of Lud-in-the-Mist, the Gormenghast books, Evangeline Walton, George MacDonald, E. R. Eddison, and numerous others. With E-publishing more aging fantasy should remain available longer and longer. The question may not be whether it's available -- which has been the question throughout the history of paper publishing -- but how will potential readers find out about it?

There are still champions for Lord Dunsany and James Branch Cabell, so I'm guessing Pratchett will have his advocates, too.

About "light-hearted" books: I believe Mark Twain's work is still in print; also Jerome K. Jerome, S. J. Perelman and even Robert Benchley pop up now and again; James Thurber has a Library of America volume (Twain does, too). And I think Alexander Pope is still taught in universities.


Randy M.
 

Michael Colton

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About "light-hearted" books: I believe Mark Twain's work is still in print; also Jerome K. Jerome, S. J. Perelman and even Robert Benchley pop up now and again; James Thurber has a Library of America volume (Twain does, too). And I think Alexander Pope is still taught in universities.


Randy M.

If Twain ever goes out of print, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong in America.

And yes, Pope is still taught in universities. (Just poked my head across the hall to the Literature department here and they said yes.)
 

BAYLOR

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If they do a big screen feature film and do it right that might very helpful. :)
 

soulsinging

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All the Pratchett books (not just Discworld) are much better IMO than some fiction that has endured.
It will outlast Dan Brown and Harry Potter.
Dan Brown yes, but just because you're too cool for Harry Potter doesn't make it historically negligible. Like it or not, HP is for this generation what Star Wars and Disney were to generations before. Harry Potter isn't going anywhere and is likely to outlast literally every single author/work listed on this entire message board not named JRR Tolkien. How did Homer and Shakespeare survive? They were so popular there were copies of their work all over the place. Nobody's going to come across a copy of Revelation Space or Mistborn in 50 years. But you're still going to see original Harry Potters...
 

Ray McCarthy

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I've read all the Harry Potter, I quite liked it. I suspect copies of HP and Dan Brown will be common.

If my grand children are keen on HP, perhaps you are right. So far the eldest has read a shelf of Enid Blyton (Adventure Series, Famous Five, Finder Outers etc) and all the the Oz books, but not yet HP.

Huge numbers of Stephanie Meyer, Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson, Cecilia Aherne etc in the Charity shops ... Much more than Harry Potter, so perhaps a good sign for HP that people holding on to them.

It would be interesting to compare quantity sold vs quantity in charity shops of books published 25, 20, 15, 10, 5 years ago.
 
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soulsinging

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I was being slightly facetious here, but I was thinking specifically of books by Jonathan Franzen and Zadie Smith and a criticism made by B.R. Myers that literary fiction had a tendency to be about the world of liberal intellectual readers of literary fiction. At any rate, the campus comment was an exaggeration and doesn’t really mean much. I'd edit it out now if I could.

However, the point I would make is that Pratchett’s books “don’t count” because they don’t explore issues in a direct and obvious way (although it’s usually pretty clear what Pratchett is saying). Also, Pratchett’s touch tends to be light and his outlook rather wry, as opposed to the earnest realism that one might expect from an “issues” book. I think people associate “issues” with “gritty”, and hence Pratchett’s work runs the risk of being seen as light jolly fluff even when it has a bit more weight behind it.

God I read too many of those authors... I'd expand to add Delillo, Updike, Roth, Irving, Pynchon... an entire generation of male writers bemoaning how hard it is for intellectual middle aged men to get laid. If I never read another book like that again it will be too soon.

As to Pratchett, comedy does not age well. Shakespeare's "comedies" are of a different sort, and even then they are generally regarded as less important than Hamlet, Macbeth, etc. Twain is something of an exception, and there is Gulliver's Travels, but even Oscar Wilde is already remembered almost as much for his glib quotes (he'd have killed if they had twitter back then) than his actual books. How many classic comedy films are there? Dr. Strangelove, Some Like It Hot, and a few Marx brothers flicks. Even then, they have aged and are known by devotees but not the general public. Does anyone under the age of 50 get turned on to old I Love Lucy reruns? Heck, even Seinfeld is seen as passe by younger viewers.

Comedy has a short shelf life as it tends to depend heavily on the reader/viewer's familiarity with the targets of the jokes and a certain shock factor. Is two men dressing up as women really as hilariously unexpected (Some Like It Hot) as it was in 1950 to a generation of viewers that saw Bruce become Caitlyn Jenner?

Don't get me wrong, I love comedy but it almost always ages poorly. It even struggles to cross cultural lines. Many Americans do not get Monty Python's appeal and think the original Office is too "Brit humor." I'm sure many Brits feel the Hangover is too bawdy and low brow to be very interesting. And we're pretty close culturally... look into Japanese humor and their love of animals/mascots. Some things just don't translate well across time and culture and I think humor is one and that makes it pretty difficult and unlikely that works done in that vein will outlast the generation that birthed them.
 

soulsinging

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I've read all the Harry Potter, I quite liked it. I suspect copies of HP and Dan Brown will be common.

If my grand children are keen on HP, perhaps you are right. So far the eldest has read a shelf of Enid Blyton (Adventure Series, Famous Five, Finder Outers etc) and all the the Oz books, but not yet HP.

Huge numbers of Stephanie Meyer, Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson, Cecilia Aherne etc in the Charity shops ... Much more than Harry Potter, so perhaps a good sign for HP that people holding on to them.

It would be interesting to compare quantity sold vs quantity in charity shops of books published 25, 20, 15, 10, 5 years ago.
No offense, but having seen your posts here I suspect your children and grandchildren have much better examples for challenging and inspiring reading than most children do (y) In the same sense that me reading Grisham novels in 4th grade was very odd to most people but since my dad was a lawyer and both my parents were heavily involved in politics it makes sense that I wound up reading a bit off the beaten path. I agree most of those authors will fade (I honestly think Dan Brown benefited from Harry Potter in that the Da Vinci Code was a perfect pot-boiler released shortly after HP reminded adults of how fun leisure reading could be), but I don't think HP is one of them. As you point out, they don't show up in secondhand shops like the others, and I think it's not just that people are holding onto them, but that they're planning to give/read them to their own kids eventually, the way my aunt turned me on to Lord of the Rings. I know I am.
 

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