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Re: [mythsoc] Following Gandalf, and

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  • David Bratman
    ... Perhaps the mere act of reading a whole new book about Tolkien, by someone whose work I didn t already know, which was almost entirely free of
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 7, 2004
      At 07:50 AM 7/7/2004 -0500, David Lenander wrote:

      >It's very nicely
      >written, and while I was NOT blown away by its insights--I can't think
      >of anything that surprised or delighted me (as Verlyn Flieger seems to
      >in every essay), but there was much with which I entirely agreed.

      Perhaps the mere act of reading a whole new book about Tolkien, by someone
      whose work I didn't already know, which was almost entirely free of
      wrongheadedness, filled me with delight because it's such a rare experience.


      >In the end, this book seems to focus on
      >many things that I think are much more important to Tolkien's work than
      >the arguments of many of these schlockier books appearing everywhere.

      Absolutely.


      >On the other hand, I found many single essays in _Tolkien the
      >Medievalist_ more valuable than the whole of _Following Gandalf_.

      Many of them, yes, but not all. Which ones did you like? I gave top
      rankings to Verlyn Flieger (of course), Richard C. West, and two scholars
      whose work I hadn't known, Gergely Nagy and Christine Chism.

      On the other hand there were at least two essays in the book I thought
      utterly incompetent.


      >And it's worth noting that all of the Inklings
      >finalists, and most of the general Mythic and Fantasy Studies nominees
      >are remarkably clear and easy to read, free of abstruse academese, this
      >year.

      Clarity of thought and writing are among my chief criteria as a Scholarship
      Award jury member.

      - David Bratman
    • Croft, Janet B.
      ... Many of them, yes, but not all. Which ones did you like? I gave top rankings to Verlyn Flieger (of course), Richard C. West, and two scholars whose work
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 7, 2004
        David Bratman wrote:

        >On the other hand, I found many single essays in _Tolkien the
        >Medievalist_ more valuable than the whole of _Following Gandalf_.

        Many of them, yes, but not all. Which ones did you like? I gave top
        rankings to Verlyn Flieger (of course), Richard C. West, and two
        scholars whose work I hadn't known, Gergely Nagy and Christine Chism.

        On the other hand there were at least two essays in the book I thought
        utterly incompetent.

        *** Which ones didn't you like? My favorite was Leslie Donovan's "The
        Valkyrie Reflex", which is already being cited in one of the essays on
        Jackson's depictions of the female characters for the _Tolkien on Film_
        book. I agree on the Fleiger (both of them) and Chism pieces. I also
        liked Michael Maher's essay on Marian imagery in the depiction of
        Galadriel, though it seems to me I have seen some of this material
        elsewhere.

        But I still liked _Following Gandalf_ better as a whole, though that may
        be because I am just personally more interested in Tolkien's thoughts on
        war and on free will than in his medieval roots.

        And I have to agree with the criticisms of the review of _Artist and
        Illustrator_. It seemed like the reviewer read a different book from
        the one I have found so interesting and useful!

        Janet Brennan Croft
      • Larry Swain
        ... I haven t read the book; I heard most of these papers delivered at Kalamazoo a few years back. I have to say that my assessment is much like David s,
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 7, 2004
          > *** Which ones didn't you like? My favorite was Leslie Donovan's "The
          > Valkyrie Reflex", which is already being cited in one of the essays on
          > Jackson's depictions of the female characters for the _Tolkien on Film_
          > book. I agree on the Fleiger (both of them) and Chism pieces. I also
          > liked Michael Maher's essay on Marian imagery in the depiction of
          > Galadriel, though it seems to me I have seen some of this material
          > elsewhere.
          >
          > But I still liked _Following Gandalf_ better as a whole, though that may
          > be because I am just personally more interested in Tolkien's thoughts on
          > war and on free will than in his medieval roots.
          >
          > And I have to agree with the criticisms of the review of _Artist and
          > Illustrator_. It seemed like the reviewer read a different book from
          > the one I have found so interesting and useful!
          >
          > Janet Brennan Croft
          >

          I haven't read the book; I heard most of these papers delivered at Kalamazoo a few years back. I have to say that my assessment is much like David's, though I don't know which ones he didn't like and would be curious.

          Having said that, I have to say that unless the Valkyrie article has been substantially revised in the printed version, I can not recommend it. At the time that I heard it read, I thought it a very poorly argued piece, no matter how much others are citing it. Now I'll have to get the book and give it a read.

          I was delighted to see that Nagy's article made it; at the time he was a graduate student in Hungary. I know he has done subsequent work on Tolkien in Chance's Kalamazoo sessions too, so hopefully we'll be seeing more from him in print in the near future.

          Larry Swain
          >
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