Bored of the Rings is a 1969 parody of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. This short novel was written by Henry Beard and Douglas Kenney, who later founded National Lampoon. It was published in 1969 by Signet for the Harvard Lampoon, and, unusually for a parody, has remained in print for over 40 years. It has been translated into at least eleven languages.
|Author||Henry Beard, Douglas Kenney|
|Illustrator||William S. Donnell (map)|
|Subject||The Lord of The Rings|
|Publisher||Signet (New American Library)|
The parody closely follows the outline of The Lord of the Rings, lampooning the prologue and map of Middle-earth; its main text is a short satirical summary of Tolkien's plot. The witty text combines slapstick humour and deliberately inappropriate use of brand names. For example, the carbonated beverages Moxie and Pepsi replace Merry and Pippin. Tom Bombadil appears as "Tim Benzedrine", a stereotypical hippie married to "Hashberry". Her name alludes to Haight-Ashbury, a district of San Francisco nicknamed Hashbury for its hippie counterculture at that time. Saruman is satirised as Serutan, a laxative, who lives in a "mighty fortress" with "pastel pink-and-blue walls" and a "pale-lavender moat crossed by a bright-green drawbridge", giving access to an amusement park for tourists. Minas Tirith appears as Minas Troney, designed by Beltelephon the senile. Other characters include the boggies (Hobbits) Dildo Bugger of Bug End and Frito Bugger (Bilbo and Frodo Baggins), Goddam (Gollum), and Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt (Aragorn, son of Arathorn).
The main text broadly follows the plot of The Lord of the Rings, its ten chapters roughly corresponding to key chapters of Tolkien's novel.
- The parody starts with "It's My Party and I'll Snub Who I Want To", mocking the opening of I:1 "A Long-expected Party" and Bilbo's leaving party. The Boggies are excited at the prospect of free food, especially the drooling and senile Haf Gangree, who has retired on the takings from his thriving blackmail business.
- "Three's Company, Four's a Bore" parodies I:3 "Three is Company". Goodgulf translates the writing on the Ring, beginning "'This Ring, no other, is made by the elves, / Who'd pawn their own mother to grab it themselves.' 'Shakestoor, it isn't, said Frito'".
- "Indigestion at the Sign of the Goode Eats" derides I:9 "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony" in the village of Whee in Wheeland, "a small and swampy region populated mostly by star-nosed moles".
- "Finders Keepers, Finders Weepers" is a parody of II:1 "Many Meetings" and II:2 "The Council of Elrond". Orlon (Elrond) and the Lady Lycra sit at the head of the table in dazzling whiteness: "Dead they looked, and yet it was not so". An ancient lament of the Auld Elves runs "A Unicef clearasil / Gibberish 'n' drivel ... Sing hey nonny nembutal", mocking the Sindarin hymn A Elbereth Gilthoniel.
- "Some Monsters" echoes II:3 "A Journey in the Dark" and II:5 "The Bridge of Khazad-Dum". In a parody of the Fellowship's encounter with the Watcher in the Water, the chapter includes: "'Aiyee!' shouted Legolam (Legolas). 'A Thesaurus!' 'Maim!' roared the monster. 'Mutilate, mangle, crush. See HARM.'" They enter the dread Andrea Doria (Moria), and fight the ballhog (Balrog). "'Dulce et decorum', said Bromosel (Boromir), hacking at the bridge." Goodgulf dies. The chapter continues with a parody of II:6 "Lothlórien". They meet Lord Cellophane and Lady Lavalier (Celeborn and Galadriel). "'You have much to fear', said Cellophane. 'You leave at dawn', said Lavalier." The travellers are given magic cloaks "that blended in with any background, either green grass, green trees, green rocks, or green sky". Spam (Sam Gamgee) gets a gift of insect repellent.
- "The Riders of Roi-Tan" parodies III:2 "The Riders of Rohan". "Vere ist you going und vat are you doing here" asks the leading Rider from the back of her bull merino sheep. The text continues, mocking III:3 "The Uruk-Hai"; "'Okay, okay', sobbed Pepsi. 'Untie me and I'll draw you a map.' Goulash (Grishnakh) agreed to this in his greedy haste..." Pepsi and Moxie escape into the forest, for III:4 "Treebeard", where they meet the terrifying Birdseye, Lord of the Vee-Ates, the jolly green giant, who makes puns about vegetables (lettuce go...). Meanwhile, echoing III:5 "The White Rider", Arrowroot, Legolam, and Gimlet (Gimli) meet the reborn Goodgulf who is wearing new clothes from a boutique in Lornadoon (Lothlórien).
- "Serutan Spelled Backwards is Mud" parodies chapters including 3:7 "Helm's Deep" and III:10 "The Voice of Saruman". The travellers "stare with apprehension at the motionless wheels and tarpaulined exhibits" of the fairground of Serutanland. Birdseye and his vegetables arrive and bombard Serutan's fortress with giant suicide scallions and kamikaze kumquats. "The ramparts were littered with chopped parsley, diced onion, and grated carrots."
- "Schlob's Lair and Other Mountain Resorts" mocks much of Book IV as Frito and Spam meet Goddam, cross the "mucky pools" of the Ngaio Marsh (the Dead Marshes), pass the black chimneys of Chikken Noodul (Minas Morgul), "the dread company town that stood across from Minas Troney", and climb the Sol Hurok, the great cliffs of Fordor (Mordor). They enter Schlob's (Shelob the giant spider's) lair. Frito slashes at Schlob's "sharp red fingernails" with his sword Tweezer, "only managing to chip the enamel". "As the ravenous creature closed in, Frito's last memory was of Spam frantically schpritzing insect repellent into Schlob's bottomless gullet".
- "Minas Troney in the Soup" parodies V:4 "The Siege of Gondor" and V:6 "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields". The boggies are dressed in armour; Goodgulf "wore only an old deep-sea diver's suit of stoutest latex. ... In his hand he carried an ancient and trusty weapon, called by the elves a Browning semi-automatic".
- "Be it Ever so Horrid" briefly mocks Frodo's homecoming, ignoring the tales of VI:8 "The Scouring of the Shire" and VI:9 "The Grey Havens": "he walked directly to his cozy fire and slumped in the chair. He began to muse upon the years of delicious boredom that lay ahead. Perhaps he would take up Scrabble".
Aside from the main text, the book includes:
- Inside cover reviews from a variety of supposed sources such as "This book ... tremor ... Manichean guilt ... existential ... pleonastic ... redundancy ..." by a Mr Orlando di Biscuit of the publication Hobnob, and concluding with a quotation by a Professor Hawley Smoot in the publication Our Loosely Enforced Libel Laws.
- A list of other books in the "series" including The Matzoh of Casterbridge and Matzoh Dick, with the rider "Unfortunately all of these books have been completely sold out".
- A double-page map by William S. Donnell, with places such as "The Square Valley Between the Mounts",[a] "The Intermittent Mountains", the lands of "Fördør" and "Gönad", "The Big Wide River", "The Legendary Drillingrigs", and the "Lümbar" region.
- A text that purports to be a salacious sample from the book, in which an elf-maiden sets about seducing Frito.
- A "Foreword" and "Prologue" that mock the equivalent sections in The Lord of the Rings.
- A laudatory back cover review, written at Harvard, possibly by the authors themselves.
Goodgulf sat dejectedly before the obstinate portal, mumbling spells.
"Pismo", he intoned, striking the door with his wand. "Bitumen. Lazlo. Clayton-Bulwer."
Save for a hollow thud, the door made no sign of opening.
"It looks grim", said Arrowroot.
Suddenly the Wizard sprang to his feet. "The knob", he cried...
II:5, "Some Monsters"
The Tolkien critic David Bratman, writing in Mythlore, quotes an extended passage from the book in which Frito, Spam Gangree (Sam Gamgee), and Goddam jostle on the edge of the "Black Hole" (a tar pit), commenting "Those parodists wrought better than they knew". He explains that Tolkien, in his many drafts, came very close to "inadvertently writing the parody version of his own novel", though in the end he managed to avoid that, in Bratman's view, remarkably completely.
The author Mike Sacks, quoting the book's opening lines, writes that the book has had the distinction, rare for a parody, of being continuously in print for over 40 years, was one of the earliest parodies of "a modern, popular bestseller", and has inspired many pop culture writers including those who worked on Saturday Night Live and The Onion.
Leah Schnelbach, on the science fiction and fantasy site Tor.com, writes that the book is full of "interesting comedic thoughts ... stuffed in under all the silliness". In her view, it takes "an easy, marketable hook" and creates "a cutting satire of shallow consumerism and the good-old-fashioned American road trip". She remarks, too, on the rescue of the Boggies Frito and Sam by the eagle Gwahno. The eagle "is efficient to the point of rudeness, yelling at them to fasten their seatbelts, snapping at them to use the barf bags if necessary, and complaining about running behind schedule: he's the encapsulation of everything wrong with air travel". Schnelbach writes that after a picaresque journey through American kitsch, "they end firmly in the angry, efficiency-at-all-costs Jet Age. And thus this ridiculous parody becomes a commentary on the perils of modernism, just like Lord of the Rings itself."
The Signet first edition cover, a parody of the 1965 Ballantine paperback covers by Barbara Remington,[b] was drawn by Muppets designer Michael K. Frith. Current editions have different artwork by Douglas Carrel, since the paperback cover art for Lord of the Rings prevalent in the 1960s, then famous, is now obscure. William S. Donnell drew the "parody map" of Lower Middle Earth.
The book has been translated into several languages, often with a title that puns on The Lord of the Rings:
- Estonian: Sõrmuste lisand ("Addition of the Rings", sounding like Sõrmuste isand), was translated by Janno Buschmann and published in 2002.
- Finnish: Loru sorbusten herrasta ("A rhyme about the lord of Sorbus", Sorbus being a brand of rowan-flavored fortified wine manufactured by Altia; sounding like Taru sormusten herrasta) was translated by Pekka Markkula and published in 1983. Following the release of the Peter Jackson film trilogy, it was republished in 2002.
- French: Lord of the Ringards ("Lord of the Has-beens") was issued in 2002.
- German: Der Herr der Augenringe ("Lord of the Eye Rings"), was translated by Margaret Carroux, who also did the 1969–70 translations for Lord of the Rings.
- Hungarian: Gyűrűkúra ("Ring Course", as in rejuvenation course, sounding like Gyűrűk Ura). This version was published first in 1991.
- Italian: Il signore dei tranelli ("Lord of the Traps", sounding like Il Signore degli Anelli) was issued by Fanucci Editore in 2002. The cover was drawn by Piero Crida, the same person who designed the covers of the "Lord of the Rings" translations issued by Rusconi Libri s.p.a. in 1977.
- Polish: Nuda Pierścieni ("Boredom of the Rings") was translated by Zbigniew A. Królicki and issued by Zysk i S-ka in 1997 and republished in 2001.
- Portuguese (Brazil): O Fedor dos Anéis ("The Stink of the Rings", sounding like O Senhor dos Anéis) was published in 2004.
- Russian: Published in 2002 in a translation by Sergey Ilyin entitled Пластилин Колец (Plastilin Kolets, "Plasticine of the Rings", sounding like Властелин колец, Vlastelin kolets).
- Spanish: El Sopor de los Anillos ("The Doze of the Rings", sounding like El Señor de los Anillos) was translated by Jordi Zamarreño Rodea and Salvador Tintoré Fernández and published in 2001.
- Swedish: Härsken på ringen ("Angry at the Ring", sounding like Härskarringen) was translated by Lena Karlin and published in 2003.
- Beard 1969, pp. vi–vii.
- Bratman, David (2013) . "Parodies". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. pp. 503–504. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
- Barnett, David (8 February 2011). "After Tolkien, get Bored of the Rings". The Guardian Books Blog. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
- Bored of the Rings, 2012 Touchstone edition, footnote to page 28.
- Spann, Edward K. (2003). Democracy's Children: The Young Rebels of the 1960s and the Power of Ideals. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 111.
- Schnelbach, Leah (7 February 2018). "Hitting the Road with Bored of the Rings". Tor.com. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
- "How Bored Can You Get? Americanisms in Bored of the Rings: A Glossary for British Readers" (PDF). Cambridge Tolkien Society. p. 11. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
- Bratman, David (2000). "Top Ten Rejected Plot Twists from 'The Lord of the Rings.: A Textual Excursion into the 'History of "The Lord of the Rings"'". Mythlore. 22 (4 (86)): 13–37.
- Richlin, Amy (1992). The Garden of Priapus: Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor. Oxford University Press. p. 236 note 3. ISBN 978-0-19-802333-3.
- Houghton, John Wm, Jr. (2017). "Laughter in Middle-earth: Humour in and around the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien (2016) edited by Thomas Honegger and Maureen F. Mann". Journal of Tolkien Research. 4 (1): Article 4.
- Beard 1969, pp. 23–160.
- Beard 1969, p. 1.
- Beard 1969, p. v.
- Acks, Alex (1 August 2017). "Tolkien's Map and The Messed Up Mountains of Middle-earth". Tor.com. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
- Beard 1969, pp. ix–x.
- Beard 1969, pp. xiii–xxi.
- Beard 1969, back cover.
- Sacks, Mike (2014). Poking a Dead Frog. Penguin Books. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-1-10161327-6.
- Flavinscorner.com Overview of fantasy from the period, including the Ballantine edition of Rings.
- The World Wide Walrus. "Bored of the Rings". Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- "Bibliography: Cover: Bored of the Rings". The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- "Bibliography: Cover: Bored of the Rings". The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- LOTR Scrapbook Critical review of Ballantine cover art for the three books.
- Bored of the Rings Parody Map, on Internet Archive
- "Bibliography: Bored of the Rings (Map)". The Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- "Bored out of his skull". Sinclair User: 66. December 1985. Archived from the original on 12 September 2007.
- Burdge, Anthony (2013) . "Gaming". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
- "Bored of the Rings". Lysator (Linköping University). Retrieved 3 May 2020.
- Degas, Rupert (2013). Bored of the rings: a parody. London: Orion Audiobooks. ISBN 978-1-4091-4815-9. OCLC 1079039761.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2002). Sõrmuste (l)isand [Addition of the Rings] (in Estonian). Pegasus. ISBN 9985-9424-6-9..
- "Altia Annual Report 2019" (PDF). Altia. 2019. p. 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 November 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
Sorbus Cocktail Altia brought a modernised low-alcohol version of the leg- endary rowanberry cocktail Sorbus onto the Finnish market.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (1983). Loru sorbusten herrasta [A rhyme about the lord of Sorbus] (in Finnish). Kustannusosakeyhtiö Nemo. ISBN 951-9287-01-9. 2002 republication: ISBN 952-5180-57-3.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2002). Lord of the Ringards [Lord of the Has-beens] (in French). Bragelonne. ISBN 2-914370-69-5.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (1983). Dschey Ar Tollkühn, der Herr der Augenringe [Lord of the Eye Rings] (in German). Goldmann. ISBN 3-442-23835-8.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (1991). Gyurukúra (in Hungarian). Walhalla Páholy. ISBN 963-7632-00-X.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2002). Il signore dei tranelli [Lord of the Traps] (in Italian). Fanucci. ISBN 978-883470890-3.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2001). Nuda Pierscieni [Boredom of the Rings] (in Polish). Zysk i S-ka. ISBN 83-7150-202-8.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2004). O Fedor dos Anéis [The Stink of the Rings] (in Portuguese). Ver Curiosidades. ISBN 85-88210-52-5.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2002). Пластилин Колец [Plasticine of the Rings] (in Russian). Симпозиум. ISBN 5-89091-193-7.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2001). El Sopor de los Anillos [The Doze of the Rings] (in Spanish). Devir Iberia. ISBN 978-84-9571-255-4.
- Beard, Henry N.; Kenney, Douglas C. (2003). Härsken på ringen [Angry at the Ring] (in Swedish). Alfabeta Bokförlag. ISBN 91-501-0283-4.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to Harvard Lampoon.|
- Bored of the Rings (1969), available from the Internet Archive (registration required)
- Richard F. Drushel's parody of the LOTR Appendices in the style of BOTR
- Richard F. Drushel's parody of "The Scouring of the Shire" in the style of BOTR
- Review of BOTR with cover art
- Wilderness Poster
- Adventure game: information and screen shots