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Re: [mythsoc] Another Tolkien Article: Lord of Literature

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  • Ted Sherman
    The online version reads ber fantasy. The umlauted u might have been dropped off. I ll write the writer and ask and report back. Ted ... Dr. Theodore J.
    Message 1 of 16 , Oct 24, 2001
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      The online version reads "ber fantasy." The umlauted u might have been
      dropped off. I'll write the writer and ask and report back.

      Ted
      ------------------------------
      Dr. Theodore J. Sherman, Editor
      Mythlore: A Journal of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and
      Mythopoeic Literature
      Associate Professor of English
      Box X041, Middle Tennessee State University
      Murfreesboro, TN 37132
      615 898-5836 Office
      615 898-5098 FAX
      tsherman@... Office
      tedsherman@... Home

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: <Stolzi@...>
      To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2001 11:38 AM
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Another Tolkien Article: Lord of Literature


      > In a message dated 10/24/2001 10:04:52 AM Central Daylight Time,
      > tedsherman@... writes:
      >
      > > I'm not sure about the "uber" fantasy hypothesis, for it doesn't make a
      lot
      > > of sense. The "over" or "super" fantasy?? I think "ur" would have been
      > > better in the sense of "first" or "proto,"
      >
      > Well, but the letters "ber" were there. Probably the writer wrote Uber,
      > =meaning= Ur.
      >
      > The way to find out is to go back and look at the text if it still exists
      on
      > the Web.
      >
      > Or are you holding out for "beer fantasy" ? :)
      >
      > Mary S
      >
      >
      > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
      >
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
      >
      >
      >
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      This is a rather typical sloppy newspaper article. ... No, they read their works to each other in Lewis s rooms. They just talked generally when they met in
      Message 2 of 16 , Oct 25, 2001
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        This is a rather typical sloppy newspaper article.

        > It began, as many things do, in a bar. An Oxford pub, circa 1940, called the
        > Eagle and Child, or the Bird and the Baby to the locals. At Tuesday
        > luncheons, one table was occupied by an odd assortment of men--a couple of
        > middle-aged dons, a writer or two or three--who smoked and drank and read to
        > each other from scratched-out, scrawled-down pages. The Inklings they called
        > themselves.
        >

        No, they read their works to each other in Lewis's rooms. They just talked
        generally when they met in the Eagle and the Child. In some sense, _The Lord
        of the Rings_ began long before 1940. It began in the 1910's as Tolkien
        began creating the myths that came together in _The Silmarillion_.


        > As a group, the Inklings were remarkably prolific--core members included
        > Charles Williams and Tolkien's college-mate C.S. Lewis--but no other novel
        > produced by anyone in the group, or, some argue, by any other writer of the
        > time, has had the impact and influence of "The Lord of the Rings." The
        > product of 17 years of writing and a lifetime of scholarship and
        > thought--Tolkien was 60 when it was published--the trilogy defined fantasy
        > as a genre and left a legacy Homeric in its catalog. From Dungeons and
        > Dragons to "Dune," from the computer game Myst and all its knockoffs to the
        > "Star Wars" series, the influence of Tolkien's themes, characters and
        > devices continues to resonate. Without Tolkien, some believe, there might be
        > no Ursula Le Guin, Kurt Vonnegut or even Thomas Pynchon. Without his hero,
        > Frodo Baggins, there would probably have been no Harry Potter.
        >

        Tolkien was 62 when it was published. (If it was the product of 17 years of
        writing, it began in 1937, not 1940.) Vonnegut? Pynchon? How were they
        influenced by Tolkien? For that matter, how was _Dune_ influenced by Tolkien?

        > But more important, "The Lord of the Rings" inflamed the imaginations of
        > readers everywhere. Since its publication, 50 million copies of the
        > trilogy--and 40 million copies of its precursor, "The Hobbit"--have been
        > sold in 35 languages, which puts the Tolkien oeuvre somewhere between the
        > Bible, Mao's "Little Red Book" and that boy wizard. (The first four books of
        > J.K. Rowling's Potter series together have sold close to 100 million
        > copies.)
        >

        The Bible has sold more than 2 billion copies in the 20th century alone.
        _The Little Red Book_ was well into the upper 100 millions. Tolkien isn't in
        that league.

        > Tolkien wrote "Rings" as a single, continuous novel, but it was published as
        > a trilogy because of the postwar paper shortage--"The Fellowship of the
        > Ring" debuted in 1954, followed by "The Two Towers" in 1955 and "The Return
        > of the King" in 1956.
        >

        Is this true? Was it the paper shortage that caused it to be published as a
        trilogy?

        > Tolkien was baffled by the predilections of such an audience of his life he
        > was often awakened at 3 in the morning by some American calling to ask the
        > significance of some bit of dialogue, some passing character. The literati
        > shivered at the thought of such fans and pointed to them as proof that
        > "Rings" was not serious literature.
        >

        Was Tolkien awakened more than once by a fan who had gotten his phone number?
        I know that Tolkien said this happened once, but did it happen multiple
        times?

        > When Waterstone's handed "Rings" the book-of-the-century title, Germaine
        > Greer took to the chain's own magazine to declare that "ever since I arrived
        > at Cambridge as a student in 1964 and encountered a tribe of full-grown
        > women wearing puffed sleeves, clutching teddies and babbling excitedly about
        > the doings of hobbits, it has been my nightmare that Tolkien would turn out
        > to be the most influential writer of the 20th century. The bad dream has
        > been realized."
        >

        "Clutching teddies [teddy bears, I guess]"? Did that ever happen?

        > He remembered that Tolkien had sold his papers to Marquette University for
        > the princely sum of $2,000 shortly after the book was published. Soon,
        > Foster was making trips back to his alma mater to read through the
        > then-uncataloged collection. Since then, the drafts and letters have been
        > organized and, when combined with others found by Tolkien's son, form a
        > fascinating and painstaking paper trail through the creation of an alternate
        > universe.
        >

        I can't look this up right now, but wasn't it 1,250 pounds that Tolkien was
        paid for the manuscripts, which would have been equal to $5,000 at that time?

        Wendell Wagner


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Wayne G. Hammond
        ... It does have quite a few errors. ... And in Tolkien s. ... published as ... No -- nor is _The Lord of the Rings_ a trilogy, but a single work often
        Message 3 of 16 , Oct 25, 2001
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          Wendell wrote:

          >This is a rather typical sloppy newspaper article.

          It does have quite a few errors.

          >No, they read their works to each other in Lewis's rooms.

          And in Tolkien's.

          >> Tolkien wrote "Rings" as a single, continuous novel, but it was
          published as
          >> a trilogy because of the postwar paper shortage--"The Fellowship of the
          >> Ring" debuted in 1954, followed by "The Two Towers" in 1955 and "The Return
          >> of the King" in 1956.
          >
          >Is this true? Was it the paper shortage that caused it to be published as a
          >trilogy?

          No -- nor is _The Lord of the Rings_ a trilogy, but a single work often
          published in three volumes. It was initially divided into three to spread
          the cost to readers, and to minimize the risk to the publisher. If the
          first volume hadn't sold well enough, Allen & Unwin would have reduced the
          print run of the second, and so forth.

          >Was Tolkien awakened more than once by a fan who had gotten his phone
          number?
          >I know that Tolkien said this happened once, but did it happen multiple
          >times?

          There's no evidence for multiple occurrences that I can recall. I think
          that this sort of thing has been blown out of proportion.

          Wayne Hammond
        • David S. Bratman
          ... I agree. What makes it less harmful, if not less excusable, than the similarly sloppy articles of the 1960s is that, due to the intervening years of
          Message 4 of 16 , Oct 25, 2001
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            At 08:38 AM 10/25/2001 , Wendell Wagner wrote:

            >This is a rather typical sloppy newspaper article.

            I agree. What makes it less harmful, if not less excusable, than the
            similarly sloppy articles of the 1960s is that, due to the intervening
            years of scholarship, it's a lot easier for readers to learn the actual
            facts. It also has some nice quotes from its interviewees.

            >No, they read their works to each other in Lewis's rooms. They just talked
            >generally when they met in the Eagle and the Child.

            And they weren't meeting as a group in the Eagle and Child as early as
            1940. Tolkien and Lewis had been meeting in pubs as early as the mid
            1920s, occasionally with friends, and sometimes handing over manuscripts to
            each other there (but rarely reading them aloud), and this was long before
            the reading meetings in Lewis's rooms started, probably in the mid 1930s;
            but that's not what the writer has in mind.

            >Tolkien was 62 when it was published. (If it was the product of 17 years of
            >writing, it began in 1937, not 1940.)

            That's not the only age it gets wrong - the date information on Tolkien's
            marriage is also incorrect. Tolkien did begin writing LOTR in 1937, and
            actually completed it in 1948 - some revision followed, but most of the
            remaining interval until 1954 was devoted to the difficulty of getting it
            published.

            >Is this true? Was it the paper shortage that caused it to be published as a
            >trilogy?

            It is not true. The decision to publish it in three volumes (not "as a
            trilogy", as the article has it) was Rayner Unwin's, and was a sales and
            costs decision, not one of supplies availability. Primarily, Unwin thought
            it unwise to sell a book by a little-known author at the high price a
            single-volume edition would demand. A Part One could be priced much lower,
            and its readers could then purchase its successors with a much better
            notion of what they were paying for (as well as being caught up in
            eagerness to know what happened next). Secondarily, there was the costs
            efficiency of being able to set the size of first-printing runs of parts
            two and three based on the sales figures of part one: if the book had
            flopped, the publisher would have lost much less money.

            >Was Tolkien awakened more than once by a fan who had gotten his phone number?
            > I know that Tolkien said this happened once, but did it happen multiple
            >times?

            Not as far as I know.

            >> When Waterstone's handed "Rings" the book-of-the-century title, Germaine
            >> Greer took to the chain's own magazine to declare that "ever since I arrived
            >> at Cambridge as a student in 1964 and encountered a tribe of full-grown
            >> women wearing puffed sleeves, clutching teddies and babbling excitedly about
            >> the doings of hobbits, it has been my nightmare that Tolkien would turn out
            >> to be the most influential writer of the 20th century. The bad dream has
            >> been realized."
            >
            >"Clutching teddies [teddy bears, I guess]"? Did that ever happen?

            Far more likely that Greer is referring to a type of women's
            undergarment/nightgown which is called a teddy or teddie in the UK.

            Strangely enough, there is a documented case of a British college student
            who really did walk around carrying a teddy bear, but not at Cambridge in
            the 1960s. This was John Betjeman, who was at Oxford in the 1920s (where
            he was tutored by C.S. Lewis to the satisfaction of neither). It was a
            deliberate affectation by Betjeman, in an age of many cutesy student
            affectations, to which Lewis's bluff/hearty air was partly a reaction.

            David Bratman
          • WendellWag@aol.com
            In response to my asking about Germaine Greer speaking of full-grown women . . . clutching teddies : In a message dated 10/25/01 12:28:48 PM Eastern Daylight
            Message 5 of 16 , Oct 26, 2001
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              In response to my asking about Germaine Greer speaking of "full-grown women .
              . . clutching teddies":

              In a message dated 10/25/01 12:28:48 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
              dbratman@... writes:


              > Far more likely that Greer is referring to a type of women's
              > undergarment/nightgown which is called a teddy or teddie in the UK.
              >

              I considered that, but it doesn't really make any more sense than the teddy
              bear meaning for the word. I just did a search on Google for the phrases
              "clutching teddies" and "clutch teddies" and "clutching a teddy" and "clutch
              a teddy," and all the results (other than the ones quoting Greer) are clearly
              about children holding teddy bears. I thought about all the senses of the
              word "teddy" that I found in the OED. (It can also mean "Teddy boy," one of
              a group of English young men in the 1950's who dressed in a old-fashioned but
              snazzy way.) None of the possible meanings of the word make much sense in
              this context. Is Germaine Greer insane? Was it really true that in England
              in 1964 the main fans of Tolkien were infantile-acting college women?

              Wendell Wagner


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Matthew Winslow
              ... Or is this just simply a misquote and we re making too much of it? I mean, look, we already had ber for uber , and we ve noted that there are factual
              Message 6 of 16 , Oct 26, 2001
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                WendellWag@... [WendellWag@...] wrote:
                > I considered that, but it doesn't really make any more sense than the teddy
                > bear meaning for the word. I just did a search on Google for the phrases
                > "clutching teddies" and "clutch teddies" and "clutching a teddy" and "clutch
                > a teddy," and all the results (other than the ones quoting Greer) are clearly
                > about children holding teddy bears. I thought about all the senses of the
                > word "teddy" that I found in the OED. (It can also mean "Teddy boy," one of
                > a group of English young men in the 1950's who dressed in a old-fashioned but
                > snazzy way.) None of the possible meanings of the word make much sense in
                > this context. Is Germaine Greer insane? Was it really true that in England
                > in 1964 the main fans of Tolkien were infantile-acting college women?

                Or is this just simply a misquote and we're making too much of it? I mean,
                look, we already had 'ber' for 'uber', and we've noted that there are factual
                mistakes in the article, so I think it's probably just a misquote. I'm
                guessing Greer meant something along the lines of 'wearing a teddy' and was
                mis-heard, or the author of this article mistranscribed, or something.

                And why, I must ask myself, am I worrying about all this? <g>

                --
                Matthew Winslow mwinslow@... http://x-real.firinn.org/
                "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's
                draft."
                --H.G. Wells
                Currently reading: Why Things Bite Back by Edward Tenner
              • David S. Bratman
                ... I ve done a proximity quotation search on the online OED (which I have access to) and found nothing, even under other words, using this phrase at all. So
                Message 7 of 16 , Oct 26, 2001
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                  At 08:45 AM 10/26/2001 , Wendell Wagner wrote:

                  >I just did a search on Google for the phrases
                  >"clutching teddies" and "clutch teddies" and "clutching a teddy" and "clutch
                  >a teddy," and all the results (other than the ones quoting Greer) are clearly
                  >about children holding teddy bears.

                  I've done a proximity quotation search on the online OED (which I have
                  access to) and found nothing, even under other words, using this phrase at
                  all. So perhaps you're right, though the absence of something on a web
                  engine is the weakest of proofs that it doesn't exist.

                  >None of the possible meanings of the word make much sense in
                  >this context. Is Germaine Greer insane? Was it really true that in England
                  >in 1964 the main fans of Tolkien were infantile-acting college women?

                  Much as it would be pleasant to dismiss her as insane, I don't think that's
                  an adequate response.

                  First, Greer never says that these were the _main_ fans of Tolkien. They
                  were undoubtably the ones she found in her women's college in Cambridge.
                  (Note: Greer had received her undergraduate degree in her native Australia,
                  and came to Cambridge at age 25 to get a doctorate in English.) Whatever
                  type of teddies these women were clutching - I bet there were only one or
                  two of them - they were probably wandering the corridors of the college on
                  their way to the bathroom down the hall, not walking out on the streets a
                  la John Betjeman.

                  Her original article appeared in a magazine not accessible to me, and it
                  doesn't appear to be on the web, but I've been collecting quotes from it
                  from Lexis/Nexis and web searches. Here's some excerpts, then:

                  "As a 57-year-old lifelong teacher of English, I might be expected to
                  regard this particular list of books of the century with dismay. I do. ...
                  [One thing about the list is certain:] that it has not been compiled by
                  pundits. Indeed the list seems to have been compiled in defiance of the
                  intellectual establishment. Out of ninety-five winners of the Nobel Prize
                  for Literature, only six mean anything to this reading public, who likewise
                  respect only five Pulitzer Prize winners and only four of the twenty-eight
                  authors who have received the Booker Prize. ... Apparently the late 20th
                  century reader has a penchant for any kind of fantasy, infantile, macabre,
                  sadistic, pornographic, pseudo-scientific, supernatural or tortuous." She
                  imagines when "like-minded folk foregather to put together their
                  alternative list of 100 much better books of the century and argue the case
                  for books their children have never even heard of."

                  Further snipes on Tolkien: he ignores "the great struggles of the twentieth
                  century ... politics, war, the black movement, and sexual revolution ...
                  flight from reality is their dominating characteristic." (Good lord, now
                  we KNOW she hasn't read LOTR.)

                  Snipes on other entries:

                  "Delia Smith [popular British cooking writer] writes for people who don´t
                  cook much, are unacquainted with classic cuisine and fundamentally
                  uninterested in cooking."

                  Proust is includes, but he "is a ring-in, at least in the sense that his
                  'book' has been nominated by people who have never read it but wouldn´t
                  want to seem philistine."

                  I hardly need to reply to any of this, since most of these quotes come from
                  articles dissecting it better than I could.

                  David Bratman
                • Stolzi@aol.com
                  In a message dated 10/26/2001 12:12:52 PM Central Daylight Time, ... There certainly are, or were, many college students in the US who were quite fond of
                  Message 8 of 16 , Oct 26, 2001
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                    In a message dated 10/26/2001 12:12:52 PM Central Daylight Time,
                    dbratman@... writes:

                    > type of teddies these women were clutching

                    There certainly are, or were, many college students in the US who were quite
                    fond of stuffed animals to decorate their dorm rooms, though I can't give you
                    the exact time period (maybe still today, I dunno). And why would they
                    clutch =underwear=? No, I vote for bears.

                    One had thought of women students in the UK as being much stronger-minded,
                    along Dorothy Sayers lines, but one could always be wrong.

                    On another line entirely: I cd not communicate online Friday, being on a
                    trip, but picked up the USAToday newspaper for that day at breakfast to find
                    a very interesting article on the various UK locations for filming used in
                    the HARRY POTTER movie. If you can still get your hands on it, take a look.

                    The article was otherwise good but made a startling statement about the
                    Bodleian Library containing "a copy of every book ever printed." Surely this
                    cannot be true?

                    Mary S
                  • WendellWag@aol.com
                    In a message dated 10/26/01 11:55:06 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Stolzi@aol.com ... The Library of Congress contains 24,000,000 books and yet does not contain
                    Message 9 of 16 , Oct 26, 2001
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                      In a message dated 10/26/01 11:55:06 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Stolzi@...
                      writes:


                      > The article was otherwise good but made a startling statement about the
                      > Bodleian Library containing "a copy of every book ever printed." Surely
                      > this
                      > cannot be true?
                      >

                      The Library of Congress contains 24,000,000 books and yet does not contain
                      every book ever written. I can't find out how many books are in the
                      Bodleian, but it's less than are in the British Library in London, which is
                      the largest library in the U.K. and only has 15,000,000 books. So it's not
                      anywhere close to being true.

                      Wendell Wagner


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Juliet Blosser
                      ... Four years ago, I roomed in dorms with plenty of women who kept teddy bears. They didn t necessarily run around campus with them, but certainly several
                      Message 10 of 16 , Oct 26, 2001
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                        On Fri, Oct 26, 2001 at 11:54:08PM -0400, Stolzi@... wrote:
                        > In a message dated 10/26/2001 12:12:52 PM Central Daylight Time,
                        > dbratman@... writes:
                        >
                        > > type of teddies these women were clutching
                        >
                        > There certainly are, or were, many college students in the US who were quite
                        > fond of stuffed animals to decorate their dorm rooms, though I can't give you
                        > the exact time period (maybe still today, I dunno). And why would they
                        > clutch =underwear=? No, I vote for bears.
                        >
                        Four years ago, I roomed in dorms with plenty of women who kept teddy bears.
                        They didn't necessarily run around campus with them, but certainly several
                        slept with them. I vote with Mary.
                      • David S. Bratman
                        ... A perusal of Sayers s Gaudy Night would show that even she did not consider strong-mindedness to be a universal trait of female college students.
                        Message 11 of 16 , Oct 27, 2001
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                          >At 08:54 PM 10/26/2001 , Mary S. wrote:

                          >One had thought of women students in the UK as being much stronger-minded,
                          >along Dorothy Sayers lines, but one could always be wrong.

                          A perusal of Sayers's "Gaudy Night" would show that even she did not
                          consider strong-mindedness to be a universal trait of female college
                          students. Remember, Greer wasn't saying that teddy-clutching hobbitomanes
                          were universal either.

                          >The article was otherwise good but made a startling statement about the
                          >Bodleian Library containing "a copy of every book ever printed." Surely
                          this
                          >cannot be true?

                          The grain of truth in this absurdity is that the Bodleian is, I believe, a
                          copyright deposit library, a standing it has held for centuries. Every
                          book published in the UK is supposed to have a copy sent there. That
                          doesn't mean this always happens, nor that the Bodleian is obliged to keep
                          them all.

                          David Bratman
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