Tolkien's diction is somewhat archaic, which is fun: the stories are full of "thralls", and "doom" in the neutral sense of "fate", and people "dwelling" instead of "living"; plus lots of "henceforth"s and "unto"s; and lots of sentences starting with "And" and "But" and "For". Most of his sentences would sound strange if spoken today
A typical, if long, example:
Tolkien wrote:Who knows now the counsels of Morgoth? Who can measure the reach of his thought, who had been Melkor, mighty among the Ainur of the Great Song, and sat now, the dark lord upon a dark throne in the North, weighing in his malice all the tidings that came to him, whether by spy or by traitor, seeing in the eyes of his mind and understanding far more of the deeds and purpose of his enemies than even the wisest of them feared, save Melian the Queen. To her often his thought reached out, and there was foiled.
Some of his sentences can be complex and hard to parse at first, but figuring them out is entertaining, and often it seems that Tolkien's sentence is more precise and gives the reader a better sense of what he is talking about that it would if it was simplified or broken into separate sentences. I get the same thing with Shakespeare sometimes.
Finally, I feel like Tolkien goes to some lengths to avoid Latin-based words in these works, preferring words with roots in Old English and such. This fits with a letter by Tolkien printed in the second edition of The Silmarillion, in which he says that "I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend... which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country" -- Tolkien perceived that while the rest of the world was rich in stories and legend, England was lacking in this area. I think this goes a long way toward producing the atmosphere that he is trying to create. I play a text-based medieval roleplaying game, and after reading Tolkien I find myself avoiding Latin-based words in my roleplay as well (though my knowledge of etymology is slim). Words that are broken down into distinct roots seem less--potent, less emotionally charged, than one whole word to mean one thing. An example of me imitating Tolkien:
The_Duck wrote:Then the captain spoke of all his journeying in the inner sea. Tales he told of the island realms of Raviel and Nebel, and the strange land of Libidizedd, and the distant outpost of Valkyrja upon Yggdramir, and of Giask, the greatest of them all, whose spires were said to be visible from twenty leagues away in fair weather. And at the captain's word the sea was scattered with atolls and peopled with fierce marauders, who stole what they could and sunk what they could not. Therefore he told also of his struggles against the pirates and the valor of his crews in moments of peril. And by the time the tale drew on to the captain's waning years the sky had lightened in the east, and the sun's first rays touched upon the approaching shores of Madina.
My questions are:
-Was Tolkien's writing style typical for his time, or archaic even then?
-Are there other works, modern or otherwise, written in the same general style?
-Is anyone else interested in this kind of stuff?