Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [mythsoc] Re: Article in The New Yorker about Tolkien (or whatever)

Expand Messages
  • David Bratman
    I don t think it s a terrible article, though more useful on Paolini than it is on Tolkien. It points out the way the Tolclones puff along in the original s
    Message 1 of 18 , Dec 4, 2011
    • 0 Attachment
      I don't think it's a terrible article, though more useful on Paolini than it is on Tolkien. It points out the way the Tolclones puff along in the original's wake, how they are different from LOTR and what they lack. But it also points out, as C.S. Lewis would have, that however bad a writer Paolini may be, he must have _something_ that's appealing to readers.

      Gopnik's problem in dealing with Tolkien is that he likes LOTR but feels guilty about doing so. See his revealing comments here: http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Guest-Books/Adam-Gopnik/ba-p/6333

      What he really, really doesn't get is the role of good and evil. He says that "Modernist ambiguity ... is unknown to Tolkien," and if by "ambiguity" he means "doubt as to what is good and what is evil" and if by "Tolkien" he means "LOTR" it's correct as far as it goes; besides leaving out the Silmarillion (previously dismissed as "dull as dishwater"), where as often as not no course of action is desirable, he then confuses the clarity of morality in LOTR with clarity of the characters; nor does he have any idea _why_ Gandalf and Aragorn show no "inner doubts" (whether that's true depends on what you mean by "inner doubts", and they're the only protagonists who don't).

      As for Tolkien's teaching and his subject, it's telling that he should cite Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin, very bright and intelligent men who preferred to feign a sort of lowbrow common-man ignorant mulishness. Ask somebody like W.H. Auden or Robert Burchfield and you'd get a very different answer.
    • Sara Ciborski
      Well, I m going to take this opportunity (the noting of Gopnik s praise for THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING) to express my opinion of that book, which (my opinion) I
      Message 2 of 18 , Dec 4, 2011
      • 0 Attachment
        Well, I'm going to take this opportunity (the noting of Gopnik's praise for THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING) to express my opinion of that book, which (my opinion) I usually suppress because it seems to be shared by so few:     it was one of the worst books I've ever read, or tried to read---I gave up not too far along when there was something about the brutal murder of a unicorn. Just now I checked Amazon to see what negative reviewers, if any, may have said,  to remind me about its defects. Comments include that it is a desecration, a dull-witted hatchet job on a thing (the legend) of uncommon beauty, and that it's full of pop culture references that jar you out of the story and that it's very boring (lots of them say that).  The minority view for sure, but I agree with it.
        Sara Ciborski

        On Sat, Dec 3, 2011 at 11:09 AM, Mike Foster <mafoster@...> wrote:
         

        Wendell,
        It’s worth reading.  Gopnik anecdotalizes Tolkien’s teaching foibles, then moves on. He gleefully slags the Eragon book as the pastichiest of the imitators.  His final point is worth discussion: he suggests the one work that may be superior to LotR in the medieval fantasy is T.H. White’s THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING for adding elements Tolkien lacks, such as sex. 
         
        Mike
         
        Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2011 9:55 AM
        Subject: [mythsoc] Article in The New Yorker about Tolkien (or whatever)
         
         

        There is an article in the December 5th issue of The New Yorker by Adam Gopnik.  It's about Tolkien and, um, recent young adult fantasy . . . or something.  I'm not sure.  It looks like such a mess that I'm not going to bother to read it.  If someone else does, perhaps they might want to discuss it.
         
        Wendell Wagner




        --
        Sara Ciborski
        603-313-2625
        655 Gilsum Mine Road
        Alstead, NH 03602
      • David Bratman
        At someone else s impetus, I ve performed a full-scale fisking of Gopnik s article. If you care to read it, it s at
        Message 3 of 18 , Dec 5, 2011
        • 0 Attachment
          At someone else's impetus, I've performed a full-scale fisking of Gopnik's
          article. If you care to read it, it's at
          http://kalimac.blogspot.com/2011/12/tolkien-reconstructed.html
        • Doug Kane
          ... Nice title. ;-) dck
          Message 4 of 18 , Dec 5, 2011
          • 0 Attachment
          • Bill West
            Further discussion on the New Yorker blog: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/backissues/2011/11/tolkien-tedious-or-tremendous.html As for Paolini, I tried
            Message 5 of 18 , Dec 5, 2011
            • 0 Attachment
              Further discussion on the New Yorker blog:

              http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/backissues/2011/11/tolkien-tedious-or-tremendous.html

              As for Paolini, I tried to read the first book but couldn't finish it.
              However it is quite an accomplishment for a then 16year old(or
              thereabout in age). I hope he finally attended
              college and I have hopes that his writing will improve with maturity.

              Bill West
            • Croft, Janet B.
              ... Nice title. ;-) dck **And nice fisking. Janet ... The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
              Message 6 of 18 , Dec 5, 2011
              • 0 Attachment
                > http://kalimac.blogspot.com/2011/12/tolkien-reconstructed.html

                Nice title. ;-)

                dck

                **And nice fisking.

                Janet

                ------------------------------------

                The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
              • nmb@kingcon.com
                I just joined the group and noticed you discussed Adam Gopnik s article in the New Yorker a couple of months ago. I too thought it was a mess, but for
                Message 7 of 18 , Jan 27, 2012
                • 0 Attachment
                  I just joined the group and noticed you discussed Adam Gopnik's article in the New Yorker a couple of months ago. I too thought it was a mess, but for different reasons. Here's a letter I wrote to the magazine, which unfortunately they didn't publish.

                  Adam Gopnik, in his review of Christopher Paolini's "Inheritance" ("The Dragon's Egg," December 5th), seems to have muddled up his Eddas and Sagas. There is nothing remotely approaching "big Icelandic romance" in the Elder or Poetic Edda. This anonymous collection of obscure and disjointed medieval poems is hard to even make sense of without reference to the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson, written c. 1220, or to the anonymous Volsunga Saga. "Big Icelandic romance" better refers to another work of Snorri's, Heimskringla, his collection of sagas of the kings of Norway, or to Egil's Saga, also attributed to Snorri. If Paolini's Eragon books "are effectively co-written with Tolkien," then Tolkien's books are effectively co-written with Snorri Sturluson. Snorri created the character of the wandering wizard and loremaster with the long grey beard, broad-brimmed hat, and magical staff; he called him Odin. Tolkien called Gandalf an "Odinic wanderer." It was on Snorri's templates that Tolkien modeled his dwarves and trolls, heroes and kings, shapeshifters, wargs, dragon, valkyries, giant eagles, magic swords, and cursed ring of power. And he expected his readers to know it. Reviewing "The Hobbit," C.S. Lewis wrote, it "has the air of inventing nothing. [Tolkien] has studied trolls and dragons at first hand and describes them with that fidelity which is worth oceans of glib `originality.'" Lewis was also the one to compare Tolkien's work to a marriage between "The Wind and the Willows" and—not the Elder Edda—but the grand and sweeping Njal's Saga.

                  Nancy Marie Brown
                  author of The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman (Harcourt 2007) and the soon-to-be-published Song of the VIkings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myth (Palgrave-MacMillan 2012)
                • Travis Buchanan
                  Excellent response Nancy, and thanks for the information! Cheers, Travis Not all those who wander are lost. - J. R. R. Tolkien ... Excellent response Nancy,
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jan 27, 2012
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Excellent response Nancy, and thanks for the information!

                    Cheers,

                    Travis



                    Not all those who wander are lost.
                                            - J. R. R. Tolkien



                    On Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 1:40 PM, <nmb@...> wrote:
                     



                    I just joined the group and noticed you discussed Adam Gopnik's article in the New Yorker a couple of months ago. I too thought it was a mess, but for different reasons. Here's a letter I wrote to the magazine, which unfortunately they didn't publish.

                    Adam Gopnik, in his review of Christopher Paolini's "Inheritance" ("The Dragon's Egg," December 5th), seems to have muddled up his Eddas and Sagas. There is nothing remotely approaching "big Icelandic romance" in the Elder or Poetic Edda. This anonymous collection of obscure and disjointed medieval poems is hard to even make sense of without reference to the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson, written c. 1220, or to the anonymous Volsunga Saga. "Big Icelandic romance" better refers to another work of Snorri's, Heimskringla, his collection of sagas of the kings of Norway, or to Egil's Saga, also attributed to Snorri. If Paolini's Eragon books "are effectively co-written with Tolkien," then Tolkien's books are effectively co-written with Snorri Sturluson. Snorri created the character of the wandering wizard and loremaster with the long grey beard, broad-brimmed hat, and magical staff; he called him Odin. Tolkien called Gandalf an "Odinic wanderer." It was on Snorri's templates that Tolkien modeled his dwarves and trolls, heroes and kings, shapeshifters, wargs, dragon, valkyries, giant eagles, magic swords, and cursed ring of power. And he expected his readers to know it. Reviewing "The Hobbit," C.S. Lewis wrote, it "has the air of inventing nothing. [Tolkien] has studied trolls and dragons at first hand and describes them with that fidelity which is worth oceans of glib `originality.'" Lewis was also the one to compare Tolkien's work to a marriage between "The Wind and the Willows" and—not the Elder Edda—but the grand and sweeping Njal's Saga.

                    Nancy Marie Brown
                    author of The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman (Harcourt 2007) and the soon-to-be-published Song of the VIkings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myth (Palgrave-MacMillan 2012)


                  • davise@cs.nyu.edu
                    Hi Nancy! Welcome to Mythsoc! ... I suppose that you also noticed that we discussed your article Practical Education and your book The Abacus and the
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jan 28, 2012
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Hi Nancy! Welcome to Mythsoc!

                      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, nmb@... wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > I just joined the group and noticed you discussed Adam Gopnik's article in the New Yorker a couple of months ago.

                      I suppose that you also noticed that we discussed your article "Practical Education" and your book "The Abacus and the Cross" back in November.

                      I have since then read "The Abacus and the Cross" (biography of Pope Sylvester II), and immensely enjoyed it.

                      -- Ernie
                    • nmb@kingcon.com
                      What a nice welcome! I should have found this group years ago. --Nancy Marie Brown
                      Message 10 of 18 , Jan 30, 2012
                      • 0 Attachment
                        What a nice welcome! I should have found this group years ago.
                        --Nancy Marie Brown

                        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, davise@... wrote:
                        > I suppose that you also noticed that we discussed your article "Practical Education" and your book "The Abacus and the Cross" back in November.
                        >
                        > I have since then read "The Abacus and the Cross" (biography of Pope Sylvester II), and immensely enjoyed it.
                        >
                        > -- Ernie
                        >
                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.