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22722Re: New article series: Interviews with the Scholars

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  • Michael Martinez
    Oct 14 5:31 PM
      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "David Bratman" <dbratman@...> wrote:
      > "Michael Martinez" <michael.martinez@...> wrote:
      > > I invite you to read "An Interview with Janet Brennan Croft":
      > > http://middle-earth.xenite.org/2011/10/14/an-interview-with-janet-brennan-croft/
      > I really like reading "How I Discovered Tolkien" stories. I don't
      > see them as self-indulgent, but as enlightening and unimpeachable
      > personal testimony, and cumulatively as evidence of patterns of
      > dissemination. I hope you keep asking that.

      I will keep that in mind, but I am striving to tailor the interviews to each interviewee. I'm also trying to stick to a 10 question format (although how I settled on that, I don't know, but so far everyone has been sent 10 questions and now I'll feel like I cheat someone if I don't send EVERYONE ELSE who participates in the series their fair 10 questions).

      > I knew that Edmund Wilson disliked Sayers, but other than that he
      > found _The Nine Tailors_ dull and boring (he hated genre mysteries
      > in general), I don't remember what else he may have said about her.
      > Moral clarity, which LOTR does have in common with genre mysteries,
      > might be part of it, but if so Wilson was too dim to realize what
      > was driving his own distaste.

      I admit that I may play up Wilson more than I should. When I was in college in the early 80s I wrote a couple of term papers on Tolkien (and getting my professors to approve the topic was interesting -- one even thought I was talking about THE LORD OF THE FLIES for 2 minutes), I kept running into references to Wilson's review.

      I never actually read it until after I graduated college. I don't think our library had it and it never occurred to me to try to get it on microfiche through an interlibrary loan.

      So it's always had a "legendary" position in my repertoire of earliest Tolkien commentary.

      > I wouldn't describe Sam's role as as mundane as "taking care of all
      > the hum-drum details for his master." He's the quartermaster of
      > this little two-man expedition. That's a dignified and vital role
      > in any military duty; modern armies have more support troops than
      > fighting men. Part of Tolkien's genius is that throughout the
      > journey (even with the full Fellowship) he always keeps the reader
      > aware of the supplies situation and its effect on the plans for the
      > journey, without ever getting boring or mechanical about it.

      Your comment reminds me of something Paul Kocher wrote in MASTER OF MIDDLE-EARTH about Tolkien almost always noting what the weather was like. I remember when I first read his book that I grabbed a copy of LOTR and started thumbing through it and found that there were indeed many passing references to the weather.

      They were not obstructive to the story, but subtle enough to be informative (in terms of setting the scene) and consistent. I don't think I have changed my mental picture of very many scenes in the book since I first read it.

      > I'll chime in and concur that there's no reason to flatten Tolkien's
      > feelings about Shakespeare. Tom Shippey explored the complexity of
      > this in _The Road to Middle-earth_ and plenty of others have
      > expanded on this, even before Janet's collection came out. But
      > then, it's constantly necessary to fight off oversimplified
      > misapprehensions of this kind.

      About ten years ago, on this very list, I asked if there was still need to defend Tolkien, and you replied with a list of examples of recent criticisms and (I think) misconceptions about his work that convinced me there was still debate.

      Since then the news media have convinced me it will be a never-ending struggle to correct the erroneous trivia that seeps out with every article about any major author.

      Michael Martinez

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