12486Re: [mythsoc] Newest Greenman Review
- Jul 7 10:25 AMAt 06:52 AM 7/7/2004 -0400, Jack wrote:
>Grey never claimed to be a Tolkien expert, just a fan.On the contrary.
First off, of course, "fan" and "Tolkien expert" are not mutually exclusive
categories. But in any case Grey Walker says nothing about being "just a
fan," but rather makes statements claiming status as a Tolkien expert.
If Walker had merely said "Tyler's is a good book," I would merely have
pointed out that there was a better one. After all, it's unreasonable to
expect that every reviewer will always be familiar with all the prior
literature in the field, even though it is rather bad form to review a
reference book while apparently being unaware of the standard text on the
But Walker didn't say that. Walker said, "If you only have one reference
book on Tolkien on your shelf, it ought to be this one."
That IS a claim of being a Tolkien expert. It states that the writer has a
thorough knowledge and has made a considered judgment of the entire field.
Anyone who writes such a sentence without this background is a blowhard.
And if a reviewer does have the knowledge claimed and therefore is an
expert, then in this case that expert knows s/he is going against the
considered judgment of the expert scholarly community in prefering
something other than the standard work. In that case, one owes it to one's
readers to explain why. Then we can discuss whether the reviewer's
judgment is faulty.
But no comparison was offered. And I did not impugn Walker's judgment. As
I said, nothing but ignorance can excuse this.
>What's more I suggest that simply because Christopher has somethingI certainly never said that everyone should have it. But everyone _who
>on his shelf doesn't mean that everyone else should have it too.
wants a Tolkien reference book_ should have it. Why shouldn't I make such
a statement? Walker made one, in favor of Tyler. If you've actually read
Walker's review, you'll know the context was, "If you only have one
reference book on Tolkien on your shelf," what that book should be. And
for that, Christopher Tolkien's use (in The History of Middle-earth) of
Robert Foster's book as the measuring tool of readerly understanding of
what his father actually published should indeed, as I said, be
recommendation enough for anyone. If you think otherwise, I'd like to read
why. Or have I stumbled onto a coterie of people with a habit of making
sweeping unconventional judgments without backing them up?
(For more on my own take on Tyler, see next post.)
- David Bratman
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