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22811Re: Article in The New Yorker about Tolkien (or whatever)

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  • davise@cs.nyu.edu
    Dec 4, 2011
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      I enjoyed the article, though certainly it is a mess. The main point is the dominance of LotR in the fantasy literature and the proliferation of books that borrow liberally from themes that it created, in particular Eragon.

      The argument that "The Once and Future King" is superior to LotR on account of its moral ambiguity has been made before; there was an article by Alison Lurie to the same effect 25 or 30 years ago. I'm not buying it. I'm not a huge fan of "The Once and Future King" and it seems to me that the weaknesses of the book much outweigh its advantages.

      A more interesting issue as regards moral ambiguity, for me, is that the Hobbit, despite in general being for younger readers, has more moral ambiguity than LotR. Neither the dwarves nor the elves in the Hobbit are anything like the pure-hearted good guys that they (mostly) are in LotR. The Silmarillion, again, is full of moral ambiguity. Has anyone proposed any explanation of why Tolkien went to such a comparatively black and white point of view in LotR? Troels is certainly right that LotR is not at all as purely black and white as some critics paint it, but I don't think it can be denied that it is much more so than the Hobbit or the Simlarillion.

      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Foster" <mafoster@...> wrote:
      > Wendell,
      > It’s worth reading. Gopnik anecdotalizes Tolkien’s teaching foibles, then moves on. He gleefully slags the Eragon book as the pastichiest of the imitators. His final point is worth discussion: he suggests the one work that may be superior to LotR in the medieval fantasy is T.H. White’s THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING for adding elements Tolkien lacks, such as sex.
      > Mike
      > From: WendellWag@...
      > Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2011 9:55 AM
      > To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [mythsoc] Article in The New Yorker about Tolkien (or whatever)
      > There is an article in the December 5th issue of The New Yorker by Adam Gopnik. It's about Tolkien and, um, recent young adult fantasy . . . or something. I'm not sure. It looks like such a mess that I'm not going to bother to read it. If someone else does, perhaps they might want to discuss it.
      > Wendell Wagner
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