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Re: [mythsoc] Ed[d!]ison

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  • David Bratman
    On the other hand - and _far_ more relevantly for Tolkien criticism - just because some critic reading a book is reminded of something by some other author, it
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 23, 2009
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      On the other hand - and _far_ more relevantly for Tolkien criticism - just because some critic reading a book is reminded of something by some other author, it doesn't mean that other author influenced the first one.

      In context, especially because Tolkien put the word "influence" in quotes when saying that Eddison was not one, Tolkien merely means that he hadn't been specifically inspired by Eddison the way he had been by, say, William Morris (an inspiration he acknowledges in Letters p. 303).


      -----Original Message-----
      >From: WendellWag@...
      >Sent: Mar 23, 2009 5:48 AM
      >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ed[d!]ison
      >
      >The fact that a writer says that they weren't influenced by some other
      >writer is not perfect evidence that they weren't influenced. The things we are
      >influenced by are often things we have consciously forgotten. Sometimes they
      >are things that we'd like to forget.
    • David Emerson
      ... See Diana Glyer s The Company They Keep (if you haven t already) for an excellent illumination of the concept of influence . It can be conscious (I
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 23, 2009
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        >>From: WendellWag@...
        >>
        >>The fact that a writer says that they weren't influenced by some other
        >>writer is not perfect evidence that they weren't influenced. The things we are
        >>influenced by are often things we have consciously forgotten. Sometimes they
        >>are things that we'd like to forget.
        >
        >From: David Bratman <dbratman@...>
        >
        >On the other hand - and _far_ more relevantly for Tolkien criticism - just because some critic reading a book is reminded of something by some other author, it doesn't mean that other author influenced the first one.
        >
        >In context, especially because Tolkien put the word "influence" in quotes when saying that Eddison was not one, Tolkien merely means that he hadn't been specifically inspired by Eddison the way he had been by, say, William Morris (an inspiration he acknowledges in Letters p. 303).


        See Diana Glyer's "The Company They Keep" (if you haven't already) for an excellent illumination of the concept of "influence". It can be conscious (I want to write like X) or unconscious (you mean I'm writing like X? fancy that!), and can be negative as well (I certainly don't want to write like Y).

        Also, Marjorie Burns pointed out that a statement of Tolkien's to the effect that he didn't like "things Celtic" was at odds with the definite Celtic elements in his works. So Tolkien's denial of influence by something or someone cannot really be taken as a true description of the situation. (Similar conclusion by Glyer on Inklings' statements that they weren't "influenced" by each other.)

        On David Bratman's first comment, I recall a book by Giddings & Holland wherein the authors found parallels (which they interpreted as influences) between LOTR and "Lorna Doone". Influences from "King Solomon's Mines" and "The 39 Steps" I can see, but "Lorna Doone" is stretching it too far. (When the authors insisted that the map of Middle-earth was based on Palestine rather than north-eastern Europe, that's when I flung the book against the wall.)

        emerdavid

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      • David Bratman
        I didn t even want to get into the whole issue of influence not being the same as similarity that Diana discusses. But not only is it true that one author
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 23, 2009
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          I didn't even want to get into the whole issue of "influence" not being the same as "similarity" that Diana discusses. But not only is it true that one author can be influenced by another without similarity (would anyone have guessed that "Smith of Wootton Major" was specifically inspired by a feeling of irritation at George MacDonald if Tolkien hadn't said so?), it's also true that two authors can be remarkably similar without any influence at all.

          That's the part that a lot of critics don't get, and it's associated with a tendency to push similarities farther than they will go. Giddings and Holland are remarkably bad, but there are many other such instances. I remember with pain a paper arguing an uncanny parallel of structure between _The Hobbit_ and _King Solomon's Mines_. At the beginnings of their books, Bilbo Baggins is a wealthy squire while Allan Quatermain is an impecunious hunter, so they are clearly exactly alike.



          -----Original Message-----
          >From: David Emerson <emerdavid@...>
          >Sent: Mar 23, 2009 12:08 PM
          >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          >Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ed[d!]ison
          >
          >
          >See Diana Glyer's "The Company They Keep" (if you haven't already) for an excellent illumination of the concept of "influence". It can be conscious (I want to write like X) or unconscious (you mean I'm writing like X? fancy that!), and can be negative as well (I certainly don't want to write like Y).
          >
          >Also, Marjorie Burns pointed out that a statement of Tolkien's to the effect that he didn't like "things Celtic" was at odds with the definite Celtic elements in his works. So Tolkien's denial of influence by something or someone cannot really be taken as a true description of the situation. (Similar conclusion by Glyer on Inklings' statements that they weren't "influenced" by each other.)
          >
          >On David Bratman's first comment, I recall a book by Giddings & Holland wherein the authors found parallels (which they interpreted as influences) between LOTR and "Lorna Doone". Influences from "King Solomon's Mines" and "The 39 Steps" I can see, but "Lorna Doone" is stretching it too far. (When the authors insisted that the map of Middle-earth was based on Palestine rather than north-eastern Europe, that's when I flung the book against the wall.)
        • John D Rateliff
          ... Believe it or not, Holland actually restrained Giddings from putting in some things he wanted to that were further out there than Galadriel living in
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 25, 2009
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            On Mar 23, 2009, at 9:08 AM, David Emerson wrote:
            > I recall a book by Giddings & Holland wherein the authors found
            > parallels (which they interpreted as influences) between LOTR and
            > "Lorna Doone". Influences from "King Solomon's Mines" and "The 39
            > Steps" I can see, but "Lorna Doone" is stretching it too far.
            > (When the authors insisted that the map of Middle-earth was based
            > on Palestine rather than north-eastern Europe, that's when I flung
            > the book against the wall.)

            Believe it or not, Holland actually restrained Giddings from putting
            in some things he wanted to that were further out there than
            'Galadriel living in Galatia'.
            Let us all be grateful for small favors.
            --JDR
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