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12486Re: [mythsoc] Newest Greenman Review

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  • David Bratman
    Jul 7 10:25 AM
      At 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 something
      >on his shelf doesn't mean that everyone else should have it too.

      I certainly never said that everyone should have it. But everyone _who
      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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