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ignorant Edmund Wilson

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  • David Lenander
    I can t recall what Stimpson had to say, but I do retain some memories of Wilson s famous essay/review, from reading it 30 years ago or so. It was not
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 4, 2007
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      I can't recall what Stimpson had to say, but I do retain some
      memories of Wilson's famous essay/review, from reading it 30 years
      ago or so. It was not ignorant, and though of course I disagree with
      it on many points, I've always admired his insights about book 4,
      Frodo & Sam's journey in Mordor, and I also admire his snarky but
      skilled attack on the books. It's funny and clever. It's not
      ignorant, even if it's unfair or careless in part.


      On Sep 4, 2007, at 5:15 AM, mythsoc@yahoogroups.com wrote:

      > Yes, it surely did. And so has ignorant criticism of Tolkien, from the
      > Edmund Wilsons and Catharine Stimpsons of the world.

      David Lenander
      d-lena@...
      2095 Hamline Ave. N.
      Roseville, MN 55113

      651-292-8887
      http://www.umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Merlin DeTardo
      ...
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 4, 2007
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        ---David Lenander <d-lena@...> wrote:
        << ...I do retain some memories of Wilson's famous essay/review, from
        reading it 30 years ago or so. It was not ignorant, and though of
        course I disagree with it on many points, I've always admired his
        insights about book 4, Frodo & Sam's journey in Mordor, and I also
        admire his snarky but skilled attack on the books. It's funny and
        clever. It's not ignorant, even if it's unfair or careless in part.
        >>

        Well, Book 4 covers Frodo and Sam's journey before they reach Mordor,
        but Wilson, in his 2,100-word review, has little to say about either
        Book 4 or Mordor that could be called insightful. This is about as
        deep as he gets, referring to the effect of the Ring on its bearers:

        "Now, this situation does create interest; it does seem to have
        possibilities. One looks forward to a queer dilemma, a new kind of
        hair-breadth escape, in which Frodo, in the Enemy's kingdom, will
        find himself half-seduced into taking over the enemy's point of view,
        so that the realm of shadows and horrors will come to seem to him,
        once he is in it, once he is strong in the power of the ring, a
        plausible and pleasant place, and he will narrowly escape the danger
        of becoming a monster himself. But these bugaboos are not magnetic;
        they are feeble and rather blank; one does not feel they have any
        real power. The Good People simply say 'Boo' to them."

        Certainly Wilson's is a learned review, but it seems to me willfully
        blind to Tolkien's achievement: "These characters who are no
        characters are involved in interminable adventures the poverty of
        invention displayed in which is, it seems to me, almost pathetic."

        By the way, Wilson's review was cited approvingly by Vincent Canby,
        the New York Times film critic, in his negative review of Bakshi's
        _LotR_ [1]; Canby seemed to feel the film's problems are due to the
        source material as much as anything else.

        -Merlin DeTardo


        [1] http://www.nytimes.com/1978/11/15/movies/tolkien-bakshi.html
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