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Re: [mythsoc] Boston Globe article

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  • David S. Bratman
    ... What I m seeing is the appearance in book form, and hence a new prominence, to a long-standing gap between two different types of Tolkien readers. I won t
    Message 1 of 10 , Nov 18, 2003
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      At 05:11 AM 11/17/2003 , Wayne G. Hammond wrote:
      >another was the idea that there's bad blood
      >between Tolkien fans and Tolkien scholars (we remarked that these
      >categories are not mutually exclusive)

      What I'm seeing is the appearance in book form, and hence a new prominence,
      to a long-standing gap between two different types of Tolkien readers. I
      won't say fans or scholars, because this goes beyond that. It has
      something to do with one's approach to the richness and complexity of
      Tolkien's sub-creation.

      I don't know how well I've managed to convey this in my written work, but
      the scholars I most respect do it: that Tolkien's Arda is not just a thing
      to marvel at in its complexity, but a thing of beauty, an art object to
      wonder at, a thing of subtlety and nuance. Shippey, Flieger, and Kocher
      are the best at this.

      Whereas some of the newer writers seem to me to treat the sub-creation as
      nothing more than an accumulation of undifferentiated trivia. I wonder if,
      to them, Tolkien is the master not because he created the most beautiful
      and complex world, but because he gives rise to the longest encyclopedias.
      The common factor is that they iron out all the mystery and wonder of
      Tolkien's work and leave it a dead thing, rather than enriching and
      enlarging upon one's appreciation as good criticism should.

      The books that most struck me this way were Michael Perry's _Untangling
      Tolkien_ and Michael Stanton's _Hobbits, Elves and Wizards._ What is it
      about some authors named Michael? Michael White's book didn't discuss the
      sub-creation much, but stomped the complexities of Tolkien's life flatter
      than a pancake. Some of the books on Tolkien and mythology have the same
      effect, like that "Middle-earth for Dummies" thing.

      - David Bratman
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