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Re: Smith of Wootton Major as beloved book of childhood

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  • Anthony and Jessica
    Greetings all, Thank you David et al for this thread, I modified the subject of this post to Smith rather than Silmarillion as it originally had been, call me
    Message 1 of 18 , Oct 22, 2007
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      Greetings all,
      Thank you David et al for this thread, I modified the subject of this
      post to Smith rather than Silmarillion as it originally had been, call
      me a lil behind but I am not just getting to Flieger's Smith and the
      incredible essay that Tolkien wrote in regards to Smith. Some fleeting
      thoughts regarding it, has there ever been a study done since its
      release or reviews of this piece? At first when I ready somewhere that
      it was a writer saying goodbye to his art, I related this to his 1951
      letter to Milton Waldman (though not dated according to Carpenter)
      that "[Tolkien's] crest has long since fallen." He felt this as early
      as 1951 and is writing a goodbye to his art in his last story of
      Smith. Yes? No? Maybe so?
      I also love the examination of our view on enchantment as part of
      human development, this has so much to say and I will have more
      concise thoughts on it after a second read, but I find this all
      fascinating and inspiring, how can we as writers broaden the appeal
      and relation this has to human growth, continue with our own art? SO
      many people miss the point of Art and thank you David for clarifying
      so well that as we know Tolkien is different from run of the mill
      fantasists, he gives us access to his world and allows us to run with
      the fellowship, Lewis brings his world through portals to us, and
      Williams contemporary supernatural tales are here and now in modernity--
      I may have run too long in thought but will share more clearly for
      this essay was just so fulfilling to read and write about in my notes,
      which I will share in my review of it...

      Anthony


      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
      >
      > Fascinating, especially considering where the comment occurred. I'm old
      > enough, though Prof. Wilson (who read the Silmarillion in childhood)
      > presumably is not, to remember the uncomprehending and dismissive
      review of
      > that book in that very magazine.
      >
      > I know others, some of them on this list, for whom the Silmarillion is
      > their favorite Tolkien. Speak up, now!
      >
      > My own favorite? Smith of Wootton Major. It's the essence of what
      makes
      > Tolkien different from run of the mill fantasists, the perfect
      distillation
      > of the distinction between Elfland and Poughkeepsie (in the terms of Le
      > Guin, another writer who really gets it).
      >
      >
      > At 04:44 PM 9/5/2007 -0400, Ernest Davis wrote:
      >
      > >Interesting comment in an article in this week's New Republic:
      > >
      > >[Hesiod's] Theogony was even more disappointing. Here were the great
      > >tales of the clash of the Titans with the Olympian gods, the formation
      > >of Chaos, Earth, and Sky --- but all lacking the sense of the numinous
      > >that I had glimpsed in Milton and Blake, or for that matter in
      > >Tolkien's Silmarillion and Roger Lancelot Green's Old Greek Fairy
      > >Tales, the beloved books of my childhood.
      > >
      > >--- Emily Wilson, "Early Harvest", Review of a new translation of
      > >Hesiod by Glenn Most
      > >
      > >Emily Wilson, incidentally, teaches classics at U. Penn.
      > >
      > >My nephew has been telling us since he was 14 that he preferred the
      > >Silmarillion to LotR, but apparently it's a more common taste than
      I would
      > >have guessed.
      >
    • Jason Fisher
      ... Anthony, I couldn t agree more on the new edition. I m not sure exactly what sort of study you might be looking for, but I published a piece you might be
      Message 2 of 18 , Oct 22, 2007
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        > Thank you David et al for this thread, I modified the subject
        > of this post to Smith [...] had been, call me a lil behind but
        > I am now just getting to Flieger's Smith and the incredible
        > essay that Tolkien wrote in regards to Smith. Some fleeting
        > thoughts regarding it, has there ever been a study done
        > since its release or reviews of this piece?

        Anthony,

        I couldn't agree more on the new edition. I'm not sure exactly what sort of study you might be looking for, but I published a piece you might be interested in tracking down. You'll already know some of what I discuss, having now read Flieger's edition; but I also undertake some (perfunctory) comparison of Tolkien's fiction for children with MacDonald's, and I even dare to venture some character analysis of Tolkien, vis-�-vis the souring of his attitude toward MacDonald. I'd be curious for any feedback if you end up reading it. It appears very few people subscribe to the journal of the George MacDonald Society � forgive me stifling a snicker at that. ;)

        The piece is:
        Fisher, Jason. �Reluctantly Inspired: George MacDonald and the Genesis of J.R.R. Tolkien�s Smith of Wootton Major.� North Wind: A Journal of George MacDonald Studies 25 (2006): 113-20.

        Best,
        Jason

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • David Bratman
        ... I ll just bet you do. I m looking forward to seeing the article. Do you venture ideas of exactly what it is in MacDonald that earned Tolkien s distaste?
        Message 3 of 18 , Oct 22, 2007
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          Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:

          >I also undertake some (perfunctory) comparison of
          >Tolkien's fiction for children with MacDonald's, and
          >I even dare to venture some character analysis of
          >Tolkien, vis-à-vis the souring of his attitude toward MacDonald.

          I'll just bet you do. I'm looking forward to seeing the article. Do you venture ideas of exactly what it is in MacDonald that earned Tolkien's distaste?
        • Jason Fisher
          ... I suppose it depends on just what you mean by exactly , hahae. But yes, I take a stab at it. As much as an eight-page comparison permitted — and as much
          Message 4 of 18 , Oct 22, 2007
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            > --- David Bratman wrote ---
            > I'm looking forward to seeing the article. Do you venture
            > ideas of exactly what it is in MacDonald that earned
            > Tolkien's distaste?

            I suppose it depends on just what you mean by "exactly", hahae. But yes, I take a stab at it. As much as an eight-page comparison permitted — and as much as the evidence available to me supported. It's a jumping-off point for further, more involved research I would like to complete on the subject. Maybe it will spark some wider interest in comparative studies of the two as well. I hope so.

            And I will certainly welcome any thoughts — complimentary or critical — when you get a chance to read it, David.

            Jason
          • William Cloud Hicklin
            Although my teeneaged self pre-ordered the Silmarillion and even marked on the calendar the day I could triumphantly collect it at Waldenbooks, and I loved it
            Message 5 of 18 , Oct 23, 2007
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              Although my teeneaged self pre-ordered the Silmarillion
              and even marked on the calendar the day I could
              triumphantly collect it at Waldenbooks, and I loved it
              from the start (unlike, I expect, many< I didn't then
              fully apprecioate it. It took perhaps collegiate study
              in both philosophy and Old English to enable deeper
              levels of understanding.

              I think for a considerable time I valued the Sil as too
              many still do: as mere backstory to The LR, the
              Appendices extended, an infodump, a mine of trivia.
              Substantial appreciation of its grandeur as a whole, of
              the elegance of its convoluted web of cause and long-
              delayed effect, of its powerful meditations on the nature
              of Evil, really began to dawn when I read it on a long,
              long deployment at sea in the Navy.

              Nowadays I don't believe the two can be ranked relative
              to one another: they are simply too different. I suppose
              that if one views The Lord of the Rings as Tolkien's 9th
              Symphony, glorious, uplifting, at times ferocious,
              inspiring, spiritual, but nonetheless 'popular'; then the
              Sil is his Late Quartets: spare, un-'popular',
              discursive, numinous in a manner harder to pin down,
              uncompromisingly driven by its own unique internal
              logic...and unfinished.
            • Walter Padgett
              Wow. That s really heavy. That s the best thing I ve read all day. Thanks for rendering so eloquently your profound appreciation. I especially like your
              Message 6 of 18 , Oct 23, 2007
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                Wow. That's really heavy. That's the best thing I've read all day.

                Thanks for rendering so eloquently your profound appreciation.

                I especially like your observation of "the elegance of its convoluted
                web of cause and long-delayed effect."

                I feel that _The Silmarillion_ is like a fine wine, or maybe a fine
                esoteric blend of tobacco, or chese or something like that. First
                you've got to develop a taste for that, and then as your sensibilities
                become more refined your appreciation of it becomes more substantial.

                There seems something quite romantic about your experience with _The
                Silmarillion_ on that long deployment at sea.

                Wonderful.

                On 10/23/07, William Cloud Hicklin <solicitr@...> wrote:
                >
                >
                > Although my teeneaged self pre-ordered the Silmarillion
                > and even marked on the calendar the day I could
                > triumphantly collect it at Waldenbooks, and I loved it
                > from the start (unlike, I expect, many< I didn't then
                > fully apprecioate it. It took perhaps collegiate study
                > in both philosophy and Old English to enable deeper
                > levels of understanding.
                >
                > I think for a considerable time I valued the Sil as too
                > many still do: as mere backstory to The LR, the
                > Appendices extended, an infodump, a mine of trivia.
                > Substantial appreciation of its grandeur as a whole, of
                > the elegance of its convoluted web of cause and long-
                > delayed effect, of its powerful meditations on the nature
                > of Evil, really began to dawn when I read it on a long,
                > long deployment at sea in the Navy.
                >
                > Nowadays I don't believe the two can be ranked relative
                > to one another: they are simply too different. I suppose
                > that if one views The Lord of the Rings as Tolkien's 9th
                > Symphony, glorious, uplifting, at times ferocious,
                > inspiring, spiritual, but nonetheless 'popular'; then the
                > Sil is his Late Quartets: spare, un-'popular',
                > discursive, numinous in a manner harder to pin down,
                > uncompromisingly driven by its own unique internal
                > logic...and unfinished.
                >
                >
              • William Cloud Hicklin
                ... your experience with _The ... Well, there s an added resonance to all the stuff about Ulmo and water when there s nothing to look at but ocean, day after
                Message 7 of 18 , Oct 24, 2007
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                  --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "Walter
                  Padgett" <wpadgett@...> wrote:

                  > There seems something quite romantic about
                  your experience with _The
                  > Silmarillion_ on that long deployment at sea.
                  >


                  Well, there's an added resonance to all the stuff about
                  Ulmo and water when there's nothing to look at but ocean,
                  day after day after day....... :)
                • Walter Padgett
                  I thought it was MacDonald s grand-fatherly uncular stance that earned Tolkien s distaste, and that Tolkien saw some of this in his own writing in _The
                  Message 8 of 18 , Oct 25, 2007
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                    I thought it was MacDonald's grand-fatherly "uncular" stance that earned
                    Tolkien's distaste, and that Tolkien saw some of this in his own writing in
                    _The Hobbit_, detesting it all the more. But where I read that, I can't
                    remember.

                    On 10/22/07, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > > --- David Bratman wrote ---
                    > > I'm looking forward to seeing the article. Do you venture
                    > > ideas of exactly what it is in MacDonald that earned
                    > > Tolkien's distaste?
                    >
                    > I suppose it depends on just what you mean by "exactly", hahae. But yes, I
                    > take a stab at it. As much as an eight-page comparison permitted � and as
                    > much as the evidence available to me supported. It's a jumping-off point for
                    > further, more involved research I would like to complete on the subject.
                    > Maybe it will spark some wider interest in comparative studies of the two as
                    > well. I hope so.
                    >
                    > And I will certainly welcome any thoughts � complimentary or critical �
                    > when you get a chance to read it, David.
                    >
                    > Jason
                    >
                    >


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Walter Padgett
                    Oops! the word is avuncular (`_ ;) ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    Message 9 of 18 , Oct 25, 2007
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                      Oops! the word is "avuncular" (`_';)






                      On 10/25/07, Walter Padgett <wpadgett@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > I thought it was MacDonald's grand-fatherly "uncular" stance that earned
                      > Tolkien's distaste, and that Tolkien saw some of this in his own writing in
                      > _The Hobbit_, detesting it all the more. But where I read that, I can't
                      > remember.
                      >
                      > On 10/22/07, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:
                      > >
                      > > > --- David Bratman wrote ---
                      > > > I'm looking forward to seeing the article. Do you venture
                      > > > ideas of exactly what it is in MacDonald that earned
                      > > > Tolkien's distaste?
                      > >
                      > > I suppose it depends on just what you mean by "exactly", hahae. But yes,
                      > > I take a stab at it. As much as an eight-page comparison permitted � and as
                      > > much as the evidence available to me supported. It's a jumping-off point for
                      > > further, more involved research I would like to complete on the subject.
                      > > Maybe it will spark some wider interest in comparative studies of the two as
                      > > well. I hope so.
                      > >
                      > > And I will certainly welcome any thoughts � complimentary or critical �
                      > > when you get a chance to read it, David.
                      > >
                      > > Jason
                      > >
                      > >
                      >
                      >


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Vincent Ferré
                      and do not forget Gandalf, in The Lord..., according to his depiction by Tolkien : Though he may seem testy at times, has a sense of humour, and adopts a
                      Message 10 of 18 , Oct 25, 2007
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                        and do not forget Gandalf, in The Lord..., according to his depiction by
                        Tolkien :

                        "Though he may seem testy at times, has a sense of humour, and adopts a
                        somewhat avuncular attitude to hobbits, he is a person of high and noble
                        authority, and great dignity. The description on I p. 239 should never be
                        forgotten"
                        (Letters #210)

                        Vincent

                        >
                        I thought it was MacDonald's grand-fatherly "uncular" stance that earned
                        Tolkien's distaste, and that Tolkien saw some of this in his own writing in
                        _The Hobbit_, detesting it all the more. But where I read that, I can't
                        remember.
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