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Mainstream literary acknowledgements of Tolkien and Lewis

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  • WendellWag@aol.com
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 30, 2000
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      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
      Tolkien's existence.

      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.

      Wendell Wagner
    • David S. Bratman
      ... I ve looked at this book, and should have mentioned it. The selection process was very curious: it s mostly authors of high literary reputation, either
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 30, 2000
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        On Sat, 30 Sep 2000 WendellWag@... wrote:

        > 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_ ...
        > 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.

        I've looked at this book, and should have mentioned it. The selection
        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.

        David Bratman
        - not responsible for the following advertisement -
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