Mainstream literary acknowledgements of Tolkien and Lewis
- Just recently I came across two mainstream literary mentions of Tolkien and
Lewis that seemed surprisingly favorable. One was in a new reference book
called _The salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors_, edited by
Laura Miller with Adam Begley. This is a reference guide to "225 of the most
fascinating writers of our time," sponsored by Salon magazine, with almost
two pages on each author. Salon (www.salon.com) is an online
literary/cultural/political magazine, somewhat in the line of, say,
_Harper's_, _The New Republic_, or _The New York Review of Books_ (but with a
more casual style). Tolkien is one of the authors discussed, and the
interesting thing is that he's discussed favorably and with the same
enthusiasm as, say, Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, or Thomas Pynchon. Most
mainstream literary sorts in the past have barely even deigned to notice
The other reference is that the company called The Teaching Company, in their
series The Great Courses on Tape has just put out a course called _The Life
and Writings of C. S. Lewis_ by Louis Markos (of Houston Baptist University).
This is a series of courses recorded on audio and/or video tape of
professors from around the U.S. who the company decided gave the best course
in their subject. I've been listening to their tapes while driving for the
past year or so (well, ever since they dropped their prices on selected tapes
so that they cost $4 or $5 an hour of audiotape rather $10 to $12 as before).
It's interesting that with just a few dozen courses available, they make one
of them a course on C. S. Lewis. Again, this is something like mainstream
literary acknowledgement of Tolkien and Lewis. Strange that I've never heard
of Louis Markos, though.
Unfortunately this isn't one of the selected tapes with lowered prices. It's
$89.95 plus $15 shipping and handling for twelve 30-minute lectures. I've
ordered this and plan to write a review of it for _Mythprint_ or _Mythlore_
or something. Call 1-800-832-2412 if you're interested.
- On Sat, 30 Sep 2000 WendellWag@... wrote:
> Just recently I came across two mainstream literary mentions of Tolkien andI've looked at this book, and should have mentioned it. The selection
> Lewis that seemed surprisingly favorable. One was in a new reference book
> called _The salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors_ ...
> Tolkien is one of the authors discussed, and the
> interesting thing is that he's discussed favorably and with the same
> enthusiasm as, say, Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, or Thomas Pynchon. Most
> mainstream literary sorts in the past have barely even deigned to notice
> Tolkien's existence.
process was very curious: it's mostly authors of high literary
reputation, either famous or unknown, with a few megahit monsters like
King and Crichton salted in. Some areas of literature are scanted, and I
was particularly struck by the difference in their treatment of fantasy
and of science fiction. There are a good number, and a good selection,
of SF authors, from Philip K. Dick among deceased authors down to the
cyberpunk stars Gibson and Stephenson; but apart from Tolkien, King (if
you count him as fantasy), and Le Guin (who was surely chosen as an sf
author) there are no genre fantasy writers at all. I suppose that Robert
Jordan is not enough of a megahitter to compare with King and Crichton;
but the total omission of anyone of the order of Beagle or McKillip,
where authors of similar fame and reputation in other areas of literature
are present, suggests that they merely didn't have any editor who knows
fantasy at all. Against that, the fact that someone remembered Tolkien,
and had the guts to include him, weighs little. He may merely have been
another megahit courtesy turn. (None of the entries I read are snide.)
Yes, please do review that Louis Markos tape course on Lewis.
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