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Re: [mythsoc] response to review of Tolkien.

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  • Bill
    I m not surprised by all this new wave of anti-Tolkien articles. The sad fact is that genre fiction overall outsells mainstream. Check out the NYT fiction
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 9, 2001
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      I'm not surprised by all this new wave of anti-Tolkien articles.
      The sad fact is that genre fiction overall outsells mainstream.
      Check out the NYT fiction bestseller list sometime and see
      how many sf, fantasy, mystery, or romance books are on it.
      Usually the highest non-genre work will be that month's
      Oprah book club selection.
      This, I am sure, grates the nerves of purists. They are most
      likely reeling still after the Harry Potter invasion, and now
      face a oncoming Tolkien movie and the ensuing wave of
      fantasy novels no doubt to be released to cash in on
      the release.
      I find all this less a comment on geekiness than a
      indication of just how scarce readable "serious"
      fiction has become.
      I'll write more later on this...
      The barbershop closes in an hour...<g>

      Steve Schaper wrote:

      So the main complaint of academia and New York circles is
      that Tolkien's
      works don't represent post-modern beliefs.

      It is true, they don't.

      The idea that because his works are Catholic, they are
      therefore void of
      worth is well, bigoted.

      But one comes to expect that from those circles.

      One wonders: perhaps it is -because- his works are
      neither modernist nor
      post-modern that they have such lasting appeal. It is
      difficult for
      despair to sustain much enthusiasm.

      The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      In a message dated 6/9/01 11:08:54 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... Yeah, but I don t think that the reporters writing many of these articles care much about
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 9, 2001
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        In a message dated 6/9/01 11:08:54 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
        sschaper@... writes:


        > So the main complaint of academia and New York circles is that Tolkien's
        > works don't represent post-modern beliefs.
        >
        > It is true, they don't.
        >
        > The idea that because his works are Catholic, they are therefore void of
        > worth is well, bigoted.
        >
        >

        Yeah, but I don't think that the reporters writing many of these articles
        care much about modernism or post-modernism. I don't think many of them
        could define those words on a bet. I think the reason that they write
        articles like this is the same reason that articles about science fiction
        conventions that I've seen (with maybe one or two exceptions) have never come
        remotely close to understanding what's going on. They always search the con
        desperately looking for somebody - anybody - who's wearing a funny costume
        and take that as an indication of the mindset of all of the people there.
        They ignore anything in their interviews of con-goers who seem to have some
        intelligent appreciation of the genre and only quote the geekiest comments
        they've recorded.

        It's not clear why they do this. Perhaps it's that they can't believe that
        someone would be passionately interested in something without being a geek.
        These sorts of people seem to believe that you're just not cool if you
        actually take any avocation seriously. According to them, you have to treat
        everything you do with irony or else you're a dork.

        In the case of other jounalists, they have been thoroughly indoctrinated by
        their high school and college English teachers into believing that there is
        an absolute, fixed canon of literature, which doesn't include science fiction
        or fantasy. Far from being post-modernists, these sorts of people read the
        kind of books that would have been taught in a college literature course in
        about 1950 - pre-20-th century classics and a few recent works of fiction and
        poety. These people are literary snobs, not post-modernists. (The ironic
        crowd of journalists might consider literary snobs to be geeks too.)

        I don't think any of the writers of these articles are exactly anti-Catholic
        or anti-religious, but there is a certain amount of ignorance about religion
        among journalists. A surprisingly large amount of them have never been
        regular church-goers and don't have anyone in their circle of friends who is
        a regular church-goer. Perhaps this is also an example of their attraction
        to irony. Being a regular church-goer would be like being passionate about a
        subject and thus would mark you as a geek.

        If you said that this said that this desire to appear ironic about everything
        is a symptom of post-modernism, I suppose that might be true, depending how
        you define the term. I don't think these people learned their post-modernism
        from reading Derrida and Foucault though.

        Wendell Wagner


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Michael Martinez
        ... articles. ... It may be fashionable to trash Tolkien among book critics and reviewers, but I believe there is a much more mundane force at work. I
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 9, 2001
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          --- In mythsoc@y..., Bill <lunacy@i...> wrote:
          > I'm not surprised by all this new wave of anti-Tolkien
          articles.
          > The sad fact is that genre fiction overall outsells mainstream.

          It may be fashionable to trash Tolkien among book critics and
          reviewers, but I believe there is a much more mundane force at work.
          I subscribe to a number of mailing lists for authors. The word on
          the Net is that many publications are either only accepting negative
          reviews or are at least encouraging some negativity in the reviews.
          It is supposedly more "honest" when a reviewer finds something to
          object to, than when a reviewer merely acts like a cheerleader.

          So, Tolkien has a lot of company.

          Whether some people are pursuing personal agendae in their reviews is
          another matter. I don't doubt that some of these latest articles are
          reactions to the movie hype. But the negativity that we're seeing in
          today's news publications may simply be an indication of current
          editorial preferences, and there is nothing unique in that kind of
          attention as it is being directed at Tolkien.
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