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Re: Tolkien and literary recognition

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  • Joe Christopher
    For what it s worth, when my views were requested for _The Norton Anthology of English Literature_, 7th ed., I suggested that Tolkien s Leaf: By Niggle be
    Message 1 of 12 , Oct 23, 2000
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      For what it's worth, when my views were requested for _The Norton Anthology
      of English Literature_, 7th ed., I suggested that Tolkien's "Leaf: By
      Niggle" be included. But any of you who have looked at Vol. 2 since its
      appearance will realize that not only is Tolkien not included, he isn't
      mentioned in the introduction to the 20th century. *sigh* It will take a
      while before the romance is treated as equal in value to the realistic
      novel. (My name is listed in the front of the book in the long list of
      English teachers who filled out an evaluation of the 6th edition. It would
      be interesting to know how many mentioned Tolkien.)

      --Joe
    • ERATRIANO@aol.com
      In a message dated 10/23/2000 3:39:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time, jchristopher@tarleton.edu writes:
      Message 2 of 12 , Oct 23, 2000
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        In a message dated 10/23/2000 3:39:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
        jchristopher@... writes:

        << But any of you who have looked at Vol. 2 since its
        appearance will realize that not only is Tolkien not included, he isn't
        mentioned in the introduction to the 20th century. *sigh* It will take a
        while before the romance is treated as equal in value to the realistic
        novel. >>

        It's as if there's some sort of rule that for works to be valued in the
        canon, they need to have a higher unpleasantness factor, like war, tragedy,
        gruesome deaths, madness.... It's amazing that so many of us still enjoy
        reading after high school English classes.... No fault of the teachers, in
        fact, I have some of those teachers to thank for pointing me towards more
        enjoyable reading than the things we had to ingest in class. _All Quiet on
        the Western Front_, _Catcher in the Rye_, and other things full of swear
        words and so on....

        Lizzie
      • Christine Howlett
        The unpleasantness factor as you put it, Lizzy, has been terribly common for some decades. When I went to college in the 70 s, I took the mandatory English
        Message 3 of 12 , Oct 23, 2000
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          The 'unpleasantness factor' as you put it, Lizzy, has been terribly common
          for some decades. When I went to college in the 70's, I took the mandatory
          English courses and no more. Couldn't make heads or tails of the professor
          who seemed to be striving to be 'interesting' rather than informative. (Is
          that not totally clear?) Not long after I got my degree (Russian Studies),
          I was mooning around a friend's house bored to death. Not much in the way
          of books available, but then I've been known to read cereal boxes in a
          pinch. Picked up "Pride and Prejudice" and my doom was sealed. I mourn
          that Ms. Austen wrote only five. But having discovered that Literature
          could actually be an excellent read, I started tearing through Dickens,
          Trollope, Thakeray, Meredith.

          I wonder if Dickens is more pleasant only because his society is more
          distant, or if he is just that much fun?

          Then I became a Christian and discovered whole new worlds of literature, and
          started rooming with an sci-fi/fantasy nut, and God only knows when I'll be
          able to quit.
          Christine

          -----Original Message-----
          From: ERATRIANO@... <ERATRIANO@...>
          To: mythsoc@egroups.com <mythsoc@egroups.com>
          Date: Monday, October 23, 2000 5:12 PM
          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and literary recognition


          >In a message dated 10/23/2000 3:39:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
          >jchristopher@... writes:
          >
          ><< But any of you who have looked at Vol. 2 since its
          > appearance will realize that not only is Tolkien not included, he isn't
          > mentioned in the introduction to the 20th century. *sigh* It will take a
          > while before the romance is treated as equal in value to the realistic
          > novel. >>
          >
          >It's as if there's some sort of rule that for works to be valued in the
          >canon, they need to have a higher unpleasantness factor, like war, tragedy,
          >gruesome deaths, madness.... It's amazing that so many of us still enjoy
          >reading after high school English classes.... No fault of the teachers, in
          >fact, I have some of those teachers to thank for pointing me towards more
          >enjoyable reading than the things we had to ingest in class. _All Quiet on
          >the Western Front_, _Catcher in the Rye_, and other things full of swear
          >words and so on....
          >
          >Lizzie
          >
          >
          >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
          >
          >
        • WendellWag@aol.com
          In a message dated 10/23/00 5:19:16 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ERATRIANO@aol.com writes:
          Message 4 of 12 , Oct 23, 2000
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            In a message dated 10/23/00 5:19:16 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
            ERATRIANO@... writes:

            << It's as if there's some sort of rule that for works to be valued in the
            canon, they need to have a higher unpleasantness factor, like war, tragedy,
            gruesome deaths, madness.... >>

            But Tolkien does have all that, doesn't he?

            Wendell Wagner
          • Christine Howlett
            One can cry over Tolkien s tragedies and his heroes clay feet (Alas, poor Boromir!) without being repulsed by them, and ultimately his is a very humanising
            Message 5 of 12 , Oct 23, 2000
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              One can cry over Tolkien's tragedies and his heroes' clay feet (Alas, poor
              Boromir!) without being repulsed by them, and ultimately his is a very
              humanising and positive approach.
              Christine

              -----Original Message-----
              From: WendellWag@... <WendellWag@...>
              To: mythsoc@egroups.com <mythsoc@egroups.com>
              Date: Monday, October 23, 2000 7:55 PM
              Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and literary recognition


              >In a message dated 10/23/00 5:19:16 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
              >ERATRIANO@... writes:
              >
              ><< It's as if there's some sort of rule that for works to be valued in the
              > canon, they need to have a higher unpleasantness factor, like war,
              tragedy,
              > gruesome deaths, madness.... >>
              >
              >But Tolkien does have all that, doesn't he?
              >
              >Wendell Wagner
              >
              >
              >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
              >
            • WendellWag@aol.com
              In a message dated 10/23/00 8:05:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time, chowlett@erols.com writes:
              Message 6 of 12 , Oct 23, 2000
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                In a message dated 10/23/00 8:05:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                chowlett@... writes:

                << One can cry over Tolkien's tragedies and his heroes' clay feet (Alas, poor
                Boromir!) without being repulsed by them, and ultimately his is a very
                humanising and positive approach. >>

                O.K., but Lizzie didn't mention repulsiveness, just unpleasantness.

                Wendell Wagner
              • ERATRIANO@aol.com
                In a message dated 10/23/2000 8:11:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time, WendellWag@aol.com writes:
                Message 7 of 12 , Oct 23, 2000
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                  In a message dated 10/23/2000 8:11:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                  WendellWag@... writes:

                  << O.K., but Lizzie didn't mention repulsiveness, just unpleasantness.
                  >>

                  Come to think of it, repulsive describes some of my HS reading a lot better
                  than merely "unpleasant." It is often hard to find le mot juste, as we all
                  know. And whenever did I read that awful story about that poor flayed colt?
                  Some time in elementary school? Is such gruesomeness really a necessary part
                  of our literary common denominator, or whatever it is that education is
                  supposed to be achieving? I'd rather have had early exposure to another
                  language, or have learned the Latin names for plants and animals....

                  Anyway, back to Tolkien. Sure, poor Gollum was around the bend by the end,
                  and Boromir didn't incite the hero worship that both Strider and Gandalf did,
                  but it was all to the greater epic yet real sweep of the work. Hm, can't
                  such things be said of Shakespeare as well?

                  Lizzie

                  Lizzie
                • Stolzi@aol.com
                  In a message dated 10/23/00 6:58:19 PM Central Daylight Time, ... tragedy, ... You have to have all those things and also find them depressing, irremediable,
                  Message 8 of 12 , Oct 23, 2000
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                    In a message dated 10/23/00 6:58:19 PM Central Daylight Time,
                    WendellWag@... writes:

                    > << It's as if there's some sort of rule that for works to be valued in the
                    > canon, they need to have a higher unpleasantness factor, like war,
                    tragedy,
                    >
                    > gruesome deaths, madness.... >>
                    >
                    > But Tolkien does have all that, doesn't he?
                    >

                    You have to have all those things and also find them depressing,
                    irremediable, and hopeless. Tolkien offers what some would call hope, others
                    would call sugar-coating.

                    The latter are those who run the literary establishment. (See, the writers
                    Christine has now discovered, came along too soon to share the assessment
                    that everything is depressing, irremediable, and hopeless. )

                    Just mho,

                    Mary S
                  • Sophie Masson
                    My feeling is that in the future the 20th cent will not be remembered for the highly-praised works of the lit crits, but indeed for those that were denigrated
                    Message 9 of 12 , Oct 23, 2000
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                      My feeling is that in the future the 20th cent will not be remembered for
                      the highly-praised works of the lit crits, but indeed for those that were
                      denigrated in the present.
                      Sophie
                      Author site:
                      http://www.northnet.com.au/~smasson

                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: <ERATRIANO@...>
                      To: <mythsoc@egroups.com>
                      Sent: Tuesday, 24 October 2000 10:51
                      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and literary recognition


                      > In a message dated 10/23/2000 8:11:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                      > WendellWag@... writes:
                      >
                      > << O.K., but Lizzie didn't mention repulsiveness, just unpleasantness.
                      > >>
                      >
                      > Come to think of it, repulsive describes some of my HS reading a lot
                      better
                      > than merely "unpleasant." It is often hard to find le mot juste, as we
                      all
                      > know. And whenever did I read that awful story about that poor flayed
                      colt?
                      > Some time in elementary school? Is such gruesomeness really a necessary
                      part
                      > of our literary common denominator, or whatever it is that education is
                      > supposed to be achieving? I'd rather have had early exposure to another
                      > language, or have learned the Latin names for plants and animals....
                      >
                      > Anyway, back to Tolkien. Sure, poor Gollum was around the bend by the
                      end,
                      > and Boromir didn't incite the hero worship that both Strider and Gandalf
                      did,
                      > but it was all to the greater epic yet real sweep of the work. Hm, can't
                      > such things be said of Shakespeare as well?
                      >
                      > Lizzie
                      >
                      > Lizzie
                      >
                      >
                      > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                      >
                    • WendellWag@aol.com
                      In a message dated 10/23/00 9:05:17 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Stolzi@aol.com writes:
                      Message 10 of 12 , Oct 24, 2000
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                        In a message dated 10/23/00 9:05:17 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Stolzi@...
                        writes:

                        << You have to have all those things and also find them depressing,
                        irremediable, and hopeless. Tolkien offers what some would call hope,
                        others
                        would call sugar-coating. >>

                        I know that Tolkien also offers hope. That was part of the point I was
                        trying to make. Tolkien offers all of the things that mainstream literary
                        critics want in a novel (to quote Lizzie: "war, tragedy, gruesome deaths,
                        madness...."), but he offers more (he is not, to quote you, "depressing,
                        irremediable, and hopeless"). My point is that Tolkien should satisfy all
                        the mainstream realist types, if they actually bothered to read him, because
                        he understands how hard life can be, but he also sees that there is hope. My
                        original post was because Lizzie referred to the things that those people
                        want as mere unpleasantness (which doesn't bother me as a requirement,
                        because life is often unpleasant).

                        Wendell Wagner
                      • ERATRIANO@aol.com
                        In a message dated 10/24/2000 8:48:24 AM Eastern Daylight Time, WendellWag@aol.com writes:
                        Message 11 of 12 , Oct 24, 2000
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                          In a message dated 10/24/2000 8:48:24 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
                          WendellWag@... writes:

                          << My
                          original post was because Lizzie referred to the things that those people
                          want as mere unpleasantness (which doesn't bother me as a requirement,
                          because life is often unpleasant). >>

                          LOL Life is often unpleasant. Why do I want to read a book that plunges me
                          even further into the despairs that I already know exist? Louise Erdich, for
                          example, has been recommended as a modern writer full of heart and depth... I
                          made it through some of her works, but in others, the realities are too
                          tragic for me.

                          In a message dated 10/23/2000 9:05:23 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                          Stolzi@... writes:

                          << (See, the writers
                          Christine has now discovered, came along too soon to share the assessment
                          that everything is depressing, irremediable, and hopeless. ) >>

                          LOL I usually agree that it is, but I'd rather it weren't. Maybe cos I'm a
                          Libra, I dunno, I argue both ways. Maybe that makes me more sensitive to the
                          depressing stuff, not in need of my own depression being strengthened, lol,
                          and more desirous of the hopeful arguments.

                          Lizzie
                        • Trudy Shaw
                          ... From: Sophie Masson To: Sent: Monday, October 23, 2000 10:09 PM Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and
                          Message 12 of 12 , Oct 24, 2000
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                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: Sophie Masson <smasson@...>
                            To: <mythsoc@egroups.com>
                            Sent: Monday, October 23, 2000 10:09 PM
                            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Tolkien and literary recognition


                            > My feeling is that in the future the 20th cent will not be remembered for
                            > the highly-praised works of the lit crits, but indeed for those that were
                            > denigrated in the present.
                            > Sophie
                            > Author site:
                            > http://www.northnet.com.au/~smasson
                            >


                            It's happened before. Dickens was looked down on because his stories were
                            often published as installments in magazines. I'm sure people who have more
                            literature background than I do could come up with many more examples.
                            -- Trudy
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