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Re: [mythsoc] Claims of expertise (was Re: Newest Greenman Review)

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  • Margaret Dean
    ... From my days in the publishing industry I also recall that Anne McCaffrey was extremely generous in the handing out of encomiums to put on book covers.
    Message 1 of 22 , Jul 5, 2004
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      Berni Phillips wrote:

      > "Best book I've read all year!" -- Marion Zimmer Bradley ---> seen on
      > so many books it's become a catch phrase in the Bratman household.

      From my days in the publishing industry I also recall that Anne
      McCaffrey was extremely generous in the handing out of encomiums
      to put on book covers.


      --Margaret Dean
      <margdean@...>
    • David Bratman
      ... Unfortunately, what Tyler says and what Tyler does are two different things. From my own review of the new edition (Mythprint, December 2003): A reliable
      Message 2 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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        At 08:52 AM 7/7/2004 -0400, Wayne G. Hammond wrote:
        >The latest edition of Tyler's book is,
        >however, of at least intellectual interest for its use (such as it is) of
        >Tolkien sources later than _The Silmarillion_, and for Tyler's abandoning
        >of his previous conceit that the Red Book of Westmarch, etc. were "real".

        Unfortunately, what Tyler says and what Tyler does are two different
        things. From my own review of the new edition (Mythprint, December 2003):

        "A reliable source but a very poor second choice to Robert Foster's
        _Complete Guide to Middle-earth_ (less detail, more omissions, few dates,
        hardly any page references), Tyler's tome now includes entries from
        _Unfinished Tales_, 24 years after that book was published. It ignores
        almost everything else since then, whether it fits into the (illusory)
        "final" legendarium or not. Tyler claims he's dropped his pretence that
        Middle-earth is real, but entries like that for Orcs, identifying them as
        the true origin of mythic goblins, show that he hasn't."


        >Is Robert Tilendis not aware that Ruth Noel's _Languages of Middle-earth_
        >is utterly notorious for the number of its errors? Has he never seen it
        >called "the little red horror"?

        I found Tilendis's review excusable. He neither claims expertise on the
        subject nor pretends to expertise he doesn't have. Yet he is wise enough
        to detect a certain odor of unreliability in Noel's book. Though I suppose
        if you're going to review a 25-year-old treatise it might be a good idea to
        check up on what previous scholarly reviewers have had to say before
        publishing your own thoughts.

        More puzzling was Tilendis whining about how boring the scholarly apparatus
        was. And Jack Merry, reviewer of Swann's _The Road Goes Ever On_, is bored
        by sheet music. Spare me from the easily bored, or at least spare me from
        reviews about how easily bored they get.


        >And then there is Wes Unruh's review of _J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and
        >Illustrator_, which he cannot have read too carefully.

        Certainly not. Unruh says, "I would have preferred a chronological order
        that his creative process might be more easily inferred." I am astonished
        by the implication that A&I has anything other than a chronological basis
        within the various threads of Tolkien's visual imagination. Unruh also
        calls it an "incomplete survey," and at the word "incomplete" I give up.
        As a survey, "incomplete" is the last word for it. It was never intended
        or advertised as "The Complete Artwork of J.R.R. Tolkien," and by any other
        standards the book is comprehensively inclusive almost to a fault.

        Again I'd like to quote from my own review, at
        <http://www.mythsoc.org/jrrtairev.html>:

        "This magnificent volume is a full, detailed, and definitive study of
        Tolkien's artwork in all its manifestations ... About three-quarters of
        Tolkien's artwork in _Pictures_ is reproduced in this book, usually smaller
        in size but often more clearly and usually in better color. The overlap,
        and the exclusions, are designed to enable this book to cover Tolkien's art
        thoroughly and completely without rendering _Pictures_ superfluous. ... A
        few early drafts of particular scenes from _Pictures_ are not included
        here, but this book makes up for that by including other previously
        unpublished drafts of the same scenes. ... Few authors are fortunate
        enough to have their works served so well."


        - David Bratman
      • Jack
        ... What I said was: Now before you run out as a Tolkien fan and purchase the 2002 edition which was released only in Britain by Harper Collins (with a CD of
        Message 3 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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          >More puzzling was Tilendis whining about how boring the scholarly apparatus
          >was. And Jack Merry, reviewer of Swann's _The Road Goes Ever On_, is bored
          >by sheet music. Spare me from the easily bored, or at least spare me from
          >reviews about how easily bored they get.

          What I said was:

          Now before you run out as a Tolkien fan and purchase the 2002 edition which
          was released only in Britain by Harper Collins (with a CD of the songs to
          boot!) be advised that this is mostly sheet music, something that even most
          of the regular members of the Neverending Session in the Green Man Pub
          would find boring. Really boring. But if you're interested in a relatively
          practical look at how some of Tolkien's poetry is as song, this is the book
          for you.

          David, are you a fiddler? Most fiddlers including myself do not find sheet
          music all that exciting. If we did, than such tunes as Simon Jeffe's 'Music
          for a Found Harmonium' would never ahve come to be considered traditional
          by Irish musicians!

          Not everything Tolkien wrote is interesting. This work is a bit of a minor
          fluff.

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Patrick Wynne
          On Jul 7, 2004, at 12:36 PM, Jack wrote, assessing the value of ... The first sentence is a matter of taste; the latter sentence is a bit of major nonsense.
          Message 4 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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            On Jul 7, 2004, at 12:36 PM, Jack wrote, assessing the value of
            _The Road Goes Ever On_:

            > Not everything Tolkien wrote is interesting. This work is a bit of a
            > minor
            > fluff.

            The first sentence is a matter of taste; the latter sentence is a bit
            of major nonsense.

            The scholarly value of Tolkien's linguistic commentaries on
            _Namárië_ and _A Elbereth Gilthoniel_ included at the end
            of RGEO is well known to anybody who has delved into the
            serious study of Tolkien's invented languages. There is much
            information here that is found nowhere else, and RGEO is a
            major text that is regularly cited in linguistic analyses. I should
            know; I've written a lot of them myself.

            To cite one example: RGEO gives a unique version of
            _Namárie_ in which the poem is rearranged in "a clearer
            and more normal style". Comparison of this "Prose
            Namárie" with the poetic original provides an invaluable
            opportunity -- available nowhere else that I know of
            in Tolkien's writings -- to compare poetic word order in
            Quenya with normal, prosaic word order. Whatever
            fiddlers may think of RGEO, to scholars of Tolkien's
            languages the book is anything BUT "minor fluff".

            -- Patrick H. Wynne
          • David Bratman
            ... Oh, are you that Jack? Your e-mail header doesn t give a last name. ... I know a fair number of folk musicians, and they re all happy to learn from sheet
            Message 5 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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              At 01:36 PM 7/7/2004 -0400, Jack wrote:

              >What I said was:

              Oh, are you that Jack? Your e-mail header doesn't give a last name.


              >David, are you a fiddler? Most fiddlers including myself do not find sheet
              >music all that exciting.

              I know a fair number of folk musicians, and they're all happy to learn from
              sheet music if they read music at all. There are plenty of traditional
              Irish fiddle-music books and other traditional folk sheet-music books out
              there, and the folk musicians I know all own plenty of them. And they find
              them pretty interesting books, too. I've never heard a folk musician whine
              about how sheet music is boring. Instead, their interest is in taking
              those printed notes and bringing them alive through their playing. You
              must know a quite different circle of folk musicians than I do.

              If you don't read music and learn everything aurally, that's OK too; but
              then you'd be musically illiterate and therefore as incompetent to review a
              book of sheet music as a person who doesn't read French would be to review
              a book written in French.

              _The Road Goes Ever On_ isn't particularly interesting as Irish fiddle
              music, but then it's not Irish fiddle music. It's a classical art-song
              cycle with piano, a totally different musical tradition, and it should be
              judged as one. If you don't like that kind of music, then say so. But
              that's not because sheet music as such is boring.


              >If we did, than such tunes as Simon Jeffe's 'Music
              >for a Found Harmonium' would never ahve come to be considered traditional
              >by Irish musicians!

              I'm not sure how that follows.

              Are you saying that they consider it traditional because they learned it
              aurally and therefore didn't know where it came from? If they read Patrick
              Street's CD liner notes, they'd know.

              Or are you saying that if they had only come across it in sheet music, they
              would have ignored it because sheet music is boring?


              >Not everything Tolkien wrote is interesting. This work is a bit of a minor
              >fluff.

              As a book by Tolkien, _The Road Goes Ever On_ is a collection of reprinted
              poems, with some attractive calligraphy, and it should be judged as such.
              As such, it is not "minor fluff."

              As a work by Swann, it is sheet music of a song cycle, and should be judged
              as such. As such, it is not "minor fluff" either.

              If you're going to review a book for something it's not intended to be, why
              not review it for its usefulness at swatting flies? As such, _Road Goes
              Ever On_, a lightweight tome with a big flat surface, is very useful indeed.


              - David Bratman
            • David Bratman
              At 01:09 PM 7/7/2004 -0500, Patrick Wynne wrote ... Oh yeah, and it s got that linguistic (and Middle-earth historical) stuff in the back, too. - David Bratman
              Message 6 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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                At 01:09 PM 7/7/2004 -0500, Patrick Wynne wrote ...

                Oh yeah, and it's got that linguistic (and Middle-earth historical) stuff
                in the back, too.

                - David Bratman
              • Elizabeth Apgar Triano
                Who is Verlyn Flieger? thanks Lizzie Elizabeth Apgar Triano lizziewriter@earthlink.net amor vincit omnia
                Message 7 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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                  Who is Verlyn Flieger?

                  thanks

                  Lizzie

                  Elizabeth Apgar Triano
                  lizziewriter@...
                  amor vincit omnia
                • Anne Petty
                  ...why not review it for its usefulness at swatting flies? As such, _Road Goes Ever On_, a lightweight tome with a big flat surface, is very useful indeed.
                  Message 8 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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                    "...why not review it for its usefulness at swatting flies? As such,
                    _Road Goes Ever On_, a lightweight tome with a big flat surface, is
                    very useful indeed."

                    > - David Bratman

                    David, you absolutely stop me in my tracks sometimes - thanks for
                    giving me my first howling laugh of the day!

                    Anne Petty
                    acp@...
                  • Michael Martinez
                    ... [snipping to get to the point] ... I don t agree. It is an expression of opinion, or preference. It is also an endorsement, but anyone is free to endorse
                    Message 9 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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                      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, David Bratman <dbratman@e...> wrote:
                      > At 06:52 AM 7/7/2004 -0400, Jack wrote:
                      >
                      > >Grey never claimed to be a Tolkien expert, just a fan.
                      >
                      > On the contrary.

                      [snipping to get to the point]

                      > 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.

                      I don't agree. It is an expression of opinion, or preference. It is
                      also an endorsement, but anyone is free to endorse anything. Idiots
                      and fools make endorsements on every topic every day. Experts do,
                      too. In almost any given field of study, you pretty much have to be
                      or become an expert in order to weed out the informed (unsupported)
                      opinions from the uninformed ones (regardless of whether the latter
                      offer support).
                    • Michael Martinez
                      ... It is a very good resource for the study of the mythological world itself, not simply the linguistics. There are historical and cultural details in this
                      Message 10 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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                        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Patrick Wynne <pwynne@g...> wrote:
                        > On Jul 7, 2004, at 12:36 PM, Jack wrote, assessing the value of
                        > _The Road Goes Ever On_:
                        >
                        > > Not everything Tolkien wrote is interesting. This work is a bit of a
                        > > minor
                        > > fluff.
                        >
                        > The first sentence is a matter of taste; the latter sentence is a bit
                        > of major nonsense.
                        >
                        > The scholarly value of Tolkien's linguistic commentaries on
                        > _Namárië_ and _A Elbereth Gilthoniel_ included at the end
                        > of RGEO is well known to anybody who has delved into the
                        > serious study of Tolkien's invented languages. There is much
                        > information here that is found nowhere else, and RGEO is a
                        > major text that is regularly cited in linguistic analyses. I should
                        > know; I've written a lot of them myself.

                        It is a very good resource for the study of the mythological world
                        itself, not simply the linguistics. There are historical and cultural
                        details in this book which are found nowhere else.

                        So, I would strongly agree that THE ROAD GOES EVER ON is anything but
                        fluff.
                      • Berni Phillips
                        From: David Bratman ... I don t know who this Jack Merry is (I read the review, too), but if he s bored by sheet music, he s no
                        Message 11 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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                          From: "David Bratman" <dbratman@...>
                          >
                          > And Jack Merry, reviewer of Swann's _The Road Goes Ever On_, is bored
                          > by sheet music. Spare me from the easily bored, or at least spare me from
                          > reviews about how easily bored they get.

                          I don't know who this Jack Merry is (I read the review, too), but if he's
                          bored by sheet music, he's no musician! I would much rather have a copy of
                          the sheet music than recorded music. I find it quite helpful not to have
                          someone else's interpretation (many of which I dislike anyway) of music. I
                          much prefer the source.

                          Berni
                        • Berni Phillips
                          From: Jack ... Music ... David s not but I am. But you re talking about traditional folk music and _The Road Goes Ever On_ is
                          Message 12 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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                            From: "Jack" <jack@...>

                            > David, are you a fiddler? Most fiddlers including myself do not find sheet
                            > music all that exciting. If we did, than such tunes as Simon Jeffe's
                            'Music
                            > for a Found Harmonium' would never ahve come to be considered traditional
                            > by Irish musicians!

                            David's not but I am. But you're talking about traditional folk music and
                            _The Road Goes Ever On_ is *art song*, a whole other genre of music.

                            It's more like Shubert -- you must look at the original source, both text
                            and music. See how the composer set it. In art song, the piano and voice
                            are partners -- Schubert was really the first to make them equal partners in
                            his lieder. Listen to his "Gretchen am Spinnrade" and you can hear the
                            piano filling in the emotional moods in places where the text has broken.
                            After the singer sings about his kiss, the spinning wheel accompaniment of
                            the piano stops and makes a few tentative starts, unable to get back to
                            business, as it were. After a few measures, both singer and piano are back
                            on the main theme. This is the tradition which Swann is working in.

                            Berni

                            P.S. "Erlkoenig" is very mythopoeic, too.
                          • Berni Phillips
                            From: Michael Martinez ... Best book I ve read all year! -- Marion Zimmer Bradley --- seen on so many books it s become a catch
                            Message 13 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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                              From: "Michael Martinez" <Michaelm@...>
                              >
                              > It is also an endorsement, but anyone is free to endorse anything. Idiots
                              > and fools make endorsements on every topic every day. Experts do,
                              > too. In almost any given field of study, you pretty much have to be
                              > or become an expert in order to weed out the informed (unsupported)
                              > opinions from the uninformed ones (regardless of whether the latter
                              > offer support).

                              "Best book I've read all year!" -- Marion Zimmer Bradley ---> seen on so
                              many books it's become a catch phrase in the Bratman household.

                              Berni
                            • dianejoy@earthlink.net
                              A wonderful writer and scholar on the Inklings. The work I know of hers best is *Splintered Light: Logos and Light in Tolkien s World.* It s published by
                              Message 14 of 22 , Jul 7, 2004
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                                A wonderful writer and scholar on the Inklings. The work I know of hers
                                best is *Splintered Light: Logos and Light in Tolkien's World.* It's
                                published by Eerdman's in Grand Rapids, MI. An Amazon search may net you
                                some of her later work.

                                Original Message:
                                -----------------
                                From: Elizabeth Apgar Triano lizziewriter@...
                                Date: Wed, 7 Jul 2004 14:41:05 -0400
                                To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                                Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Newest Greenman Review


                                Who is Verlyn Flieger?

                                thanks

                                Lizzie

                                Elizabeth Apgar Triano
                                lizziewriter@...
                                amor vincit omnia






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