13959RE: [mythsoc] New Narnia stories?
- Mar 2, 2005
> From: David BratmanSeparate events in separate media; apples & oranges. You're free to disagree with Tolkien but I think he's right.
> About Jackson's films, you said, "Tolkien himself came down firmly on the
> side of 'better a glimpse of Noakes' cake than no faerie at all'." If
> that's true, then why not a cheap knockoff latter-day Narnia book than no
> Narnia book at all?
> And you said, "By an overwhelming majority, most people like both the bookSee below.
> and the films." What if it turns out that most people like both the
> original Narnia books and the knockoffs?
> Comments that others have made in claiming that Jackson's excretions areIf you read carefully what I wrote, you'll find I don't share your fear of adaptations into other media, whether it's films, music, spoken-word recordings, plays, graphic novels, art, or whatever. My distaste is for authors so unoriginal that, instead of creating their own worlds or characters they have to munch and mumble the bare old bones of other authors. I think it's a mistake to try to write in another author's voice rather than your own. There are exceptional cases where genius has pulled it off, but it's a bad idea as a rule.
> tolerable are even more clearly applicable than these to knock-off Narnia
In short: creating a new work, or adapting a work into a wholly new medium (such as Jackson making films based on LotR) does not harm the original work in any way, however well or badly the adaptation is done. Writing new stories by another hand, whether it's pseudo-Conan, pseudo-Herbert, pseudo-Barrie, pseudo-CLS, or whatever, doesn't harm the original author's work either but it's tacky and not to be encouraged.
For the record, though, in this particular instance I'd be perfectly happy with no Narnia at all (again, I agree with Tolkien*). It's not my ox being gored, but I still think it's a bad idea, motivated by greed rather than artistic inspiration. That said, I'm sure Disney will produce some amusing bits of fluff of no great consequence. They did a good job with their early Milne shorts (which I've been surprised to not find referenced in this discussion before as examples of good adaptations that stand beside the originals in quality).
Finally, I think there's a consensus (everywhere except on this list) that Jackson's films aren't "excretions" and they're far more than merely tolerable: they're great works as well as successful adaptations. I wish they'd been more faithful, but my irritation (which can at times grow quite sharp) doesn't distract from Jackson's achievement, nor does his achievement detract from Tolkien's in any way.
*that said, it doesn't bother me that other people like them; more power to them for finding enjoyment in something that didn't do much for me. I have better things to do than play F.R. Leavis. Literary quality is either self-evident or unprovable: there's really no middle ground.
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