---David Lenander <d-lena@...> wrote:
<< ...I do retain some memories of Wilson's famous essay/review, from
reading it 30 years ago or so. It was not ignorant, and though of
course I disagree with it on many points, I've always admired his
insights about book 4, Frodo & Sam's journey in Mordor, and I also
admire his snarky but skilled attack on the books. It's funny and
clever. It's not ignorant, even if it's unfair or careless in part.
Well, Book 4 covers Frodo and Sam's journey before they reach Mordor,
but Wilson, in his 2,100-word review, has little to say about either
Book 4 or Mordor that could be called insightful. This is about as
deep as he gets, referring to the effect of the Ring on its bearers:
"Now, this situation does create interest; it does seem to have
possibilities. One looks forward to a queer dilemma, a new kind of
hair-breadth escape, in which Frodo, in the Enemy's kingdom, will
find himself half-seduced into taking over the enemy's point of view,
so that the realm of shadows and horrors will come to seem to him,
once he is in it, once he is strong in the power of the ring, a
plausible and pleasant place, and he will narrowly escape the danger
of becoming a monster himself. But these bugaboos are not magnetic;
they are feeble and rather blank; one does not feel they have any
real power. The Good People simply say 'Boo' to them."
Certainly Wilson's is a learned review, but it seems to me willfully
blind to Tolkien's achievement: "These characters who are no
characters are involved in interminable adventures the poverty of
invention displayed in which is, it seems to me, almost pathetic."
By the way, Wilson's review was cited approvingly by Vincent Canby,
the New York Times film critic, in his negative review of Bakshi's
_LotR_ ; Canby seemed to feel the film's problems are due to the
source material as much as anything else.