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Another Tolkien article

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  • David S. Bratman
    Not sure what to think about this one: a strange mixture of perceptive and blind. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v23/n22/turn2322.htm
    Message 1 of 11 , Nov 16, 2001
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      Not sure what to think about this one: a strange mixture of perceptive and
      blind.

      http://www.lrb.co.uk/v23/n22/turn2322.htm
    • Ginger L. Zabel
      Isn t this the same article Wendell sent out on the 11th? I d love to hear his final reaction to it. -G.Z. --On Friday, November 16, 2001, 10:11 AM -0800
      Message 2 of 11 , Nov 16, 2001
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        Isn't this the same article Wendell sent out on the 11th? I'd love to hear
        his final reaction to it.

        -G.Z.

        --On Friday, November 16, 2001, 10:11 AM -0800 "David S. Bratman"
        <dbratman@...> wrote:

        > Not sure what to think about this one: a strange mixture of perceptive and
        > blind.
        >
        > http://www.lrb.co.uk/v23/n22/turn2322.htm
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
        >
        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        >


        "To be ignorant is not such a shame as to be unwilling to learn." - G. W.
        Hoss
      • WendellWag@aol.com
        In a message dated 11/16/2001 8:30:23 PM Eastern Standard Time, ... I m afraid I don t have any very deep reaction to it. I saw it mentioned on a message
        Message 3 of 11 , Nov 17, 2001
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          In a message dated 11/16/2001 8:30:23 PM Eastern Standard Time,
          glzabel@... writes:


          > Isn't this the same article Wendell sent out on the 11th? I'd love to hear
          > his final reaction to it.
          >

          I'm afraid I don't have any very deep reaction to it. I saw it mentioned on
          a message board and looked briefly at it before sending a message to everyone
          here about it. I still haven't read it extrememly carefully. It struck me
          as being by someone who likes Tolkien but thinks that saying that outright
          would get them rejected in their highbrow literary circles. So instead of
          simply praising it, she offers an occasional bit of offhand praise while
          trying desperately to look like she's above caring about Tolkien.

          Wendell Wagner


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        • Trudy Shaw
          Just skimmed this when it was first posted; took a little more time to read it today. I d agree with David s strange mixture of perceptive and blind, and
          Message 4 of 11 , Nov 18, 2001
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            Just skimmed this when it was first posted; took a little more time to read it today. I'd agree with David's "strange mixture of perceptive and blind," and add that the writer has a tendency to take one of the usual questions about Tolkien (was he sexually repressed, etc.) and find what I'd almost call "proof texts" to support whatever answer she's decided on. For each quote she uses (from Tolkien or a critic), I'm sure each of us could come up with ones to list on the other side of the argument. Interestingly, she even does this herself; early on, when it fits the point she's making, she says Tolkien's letters are all well-mannered and contain no irony (!), then, later (when she's making a different point), quotes one of his more sarcastic examples. I had an unusually high number of mental, "Yes, but..."'s while reading this article. Of course, it _is_ an opinion piece; she's not promising us a balanced study.

            She also goes quite deeply into fields in which I'm not sure she's an expert. She seems to be well-versed in 20th century literature, although _I'm_ not knowledgeable enough in that field to really make a judgment. I can say from personal _and_ medical knowledge that she doesn't have a clue about the nature of clinical depression, and she also seems to have missed the fact that, while 21st century psychiatry still (in general) respects Freud as someone who opened doors to scientific study of the mind, it's far outstripped many of his specific theories that she uses as support for her positions. This makes me wonder how much faith to put in her arguments when they come from fields in which I'm ignorant: e.g., warfare, Edwardian English society, 20th century literary criticism.

            She almost seems to be trying to explain away the unexplainable, and so make her own "terrifying" attraction to Tolkien's writings a little less scary for her--she can rationalize it all through Freud. (Or am I getting a little too Freudian there?)

            One thing gave me a smile: other than myself, she's the first person I've seen compare _LotR_ to _Casablanca_. But the similarities I see are in the endings, not the singing.

            --Trudy


            ----- Original Message -----
            From: David S. Bratman
            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Friday, November 16, 2001 12:11 PM
            Subject: [mythsoc] Another Tolkien article


            Not sure what to think about this one: a strange mixture of perceptive and
            blind.

            http://www.lrb.co.uk/v23/n22/turn2322.htm



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          • WendellWag@aol.com
            I think I ve noticed before the resemblance of _The Lord of the Rings_ to _Casablanca_. They re both about the way ordinary people have to make decisions that
            Message 5 of 11 , Nov 18, 2001
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              I think I've noticed before the resemblance of _The Lord of the Rings_ to
              _Casablanca_. They're both about the way ordinary people have to make
              decisions that forego ordinary happiness for a bigger goal.

              Wendell Wagner
            • WendellWag@aol.com
              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=006660550419210&rtmo=a59954JJ&atmo=rrrrrrrq& pg=/et/01/11/24/bfanw24.html Like most things by A. N. Wilson, this is largely
              Message 6 of 11 , Nov 27, 2001
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                http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=006660550419210&rtmo=a59954JJ&atmo=rrrrrrrq&
                pg=/et/01/11/24/bfanw24.html

                Like most things by A. N. Wilson, this is largely crap.

                Wendell Wagner
              • David S. Bratman
                ... Well, let s see. Yes, there s a lot of crap in it. Particularly outstanding are his garbled account of Frodo and Sam taking a meal with Faramir and his
                Message 7 of 11 , Nov 28, 2001
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                  At 10:22 PM 11/27/2001 , Wendell Wagner wrote:

                  >Like most things by A. N. Wilson, this is largely crap.

                  Well, let's see. Yes, there's a lot of crap in it. Particularly
                  outstanding are his garbled account of Frodo and Sam taking a meal with
                  Faramir and his men at Henneth Annun, the usual scurrilous sneering at
                  Tolkien fans, his misuse of the word "enormity", several instances of the
                  "post hoc" fallacy (if it resembles Tolkien and came before him, he must
                  have copied it), and the astonishingly inaccurate "The Lord of the Rings is
                  ... Wagner without a brooding sense of spiritual catastrophe." If Wilson
                  had searched high and low, he could not have found a work with a greater
                  sense of ... well, it's Wagner who lacks this, straining to inflate what
                  comes across as a petty soap-opera family quarrel into The Twilight Of The
                  Gods. Does anyone feel that the destruction of Valhalla at the end of
                  Goetterdaemerung flows organically from what came before? It sure seems
                  pulled out of a hat to me.

                  But I also see this:

                  Wilson begins by correcting the latest fashionable anti-Tolkien libel
                  (which I've seen at least twice). I cannot help feeling thankful for this
                  service.

                  He clearly and eloquently explains that LOTR is not an allegory, of WW2 or
                  anything else.

                  The provocative title, "Tolkien was not a writer," proves - if you read to
                  the end - to mean "writer" only in a certain very limited sense, a judgment
                  only partially unfair even if entirely (in my view) mistaken. And Wilson
                  tempers his criticism by prominently mentioning that C.S. Lewis and Iris
                  Murdoch admired Tolkien, as well as by emphasizing that there are aspects
                  of Tolkien's writing that he greatly admires. Though by calling LOTR
                  "sub-William Morris" but admiring The Silmarillion, he shows that he's on a
                  different wavelength from just about everybody else, even those few other
                  people who consider The Silmarillion to be Tolkien's best work.

                  Still, his last words are a tribute to "[Tolkien's] hypnotising skill as a
                  storyteller."

                  About half crap by volume, I'd say, and in the end moves eloquently in the
                  right direction rather than the wrong. Not a good article, I suppose, and
                  definitely worth criticizing, but Wendell's sweeping dismissal, plus
                  another one I've received privately, strike me as more the continuation of
                  a grudge against Wilson for his Lewis biography rather than a fair
                  appraisal of this piece.

                  David Bratman
                • Stolzi@aol.com
                  In a message dated 11/28/01 11:48:37 AM Central Standard Time, ... As the former privateer, I concede you may be right. (though I actually said that man s
                  Message 8 of 11 , Nov 28, 2001
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                    In a message dated 11/28/01 11:48:37 AM Central Standard Time,
                    dbratman@... writes:

                    > Wendell's sweeping dismissal, plus
                    > another one I've received privately, strike me as more the continuation of
                    > a grudge against Wilson for his Lewis biography rather than a fair
                    > appraisal of this piece.
                    >

                    As the former privateer, I concede you may be right. (though I actually said
                    "that man's writing," which =covers= the CSL book) But would you wish to
                    drink from a cup containing (by your own appraisal) half cr*p?

                    In singling out what you didn't like, you missed (except by implication) the
                    one which raised =my= eyebrows - the "derivation" of the talking Trees from
                    Dante and more egregiously, from the WIZARD OF OZ film - do we even know that
                    Tolkien saw the film? It's not just that the trees talk, anyway! There's
                    so much more =to= the concept of the Ents.

                    Bah,

                    Diamond Proudbrook
                  • David S. Bratman
                    ... I ve read comments you ve made previously about other writings of Wilson, and they also struck me as continuing a grudge against his Lewis biography in the
                    Message 9 of 11 , Nov 28, 2001
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                      At 10:26 AM 11/28/2001 , Mary S. wrote:

                      >As the former privateer, I concede you may be right. (though I actually said
                      >"that man's writing," which =covers= the CSL book)

                      I've read comments you've made previously about other writings of Wilson,
                      and they also struck me as continuing a grudge against his Lewis biography
                      in the same way.

                      >But would you wish to
                      >drink from a cup containing (by your own appraisal) half cr*p?

                      I wouldn't want to drink from a cup containing even .01% crap. Even Tom
                      Shippey nods on occasion, but I wouldn't disrecommend him for that reason.
                      So I don't think cup-drinking is a good analogy. One can take or discard
                      from an article at will; it is much harder with a cup.

                      >In singling out what you didn't like, you missed (except by implication) the
                      >one which raised =my= eyebrows - the "derivation" of the talking Trees from
                      >Dante and more egregiously, from the WIZARD OF OZ film - do we even know that
                      >Tolkien saw the film?

                      There's no reference to it, or Baum, in Tolkien's letters. Possibly
                      Wilson, who was born in 1950, thinks the film was much more ubiquitous in
                      its early years than it was.

                      I didn't mention that specifically, because there were a couple other
                      instances of the "post hoc" fallacy in the article.

                      >It's not just that the trees talk, anyway! There's
                      >so much more =to= the concept of the Ents.

                      Very true, and Ents are not just talking trees.

                      David Bratman
                    • David S. Bratman
                      Paul Reidinger, San Francisco Bay Guardian Don t be put off by the opening discussion of uses of magic power that would make even Boromir blanch: it s a pretty
                      Message 10 of 11 , Dec 10, 2001
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                        Paul Reidinger, San Francisco Bay Guardian

                        Don't be put off by the opening discussion of uses of magic power that
                        would make even Boromir blanch: it's a pretty good and thoughtful article,
                        I thought.

                        http://www.sfbg.com/lit/dec01/lord.html
                      • Stolzi@aol.com
                        Entertainment Weekly. Not bad once you get past the ghastly pun title. Long. Quotes Verlyn Flieger and Tom Shippey amongst others.
                        Message 11 of 11 , Aug 14, 2002
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                          Entertainment Weekly. Not bad once you get past the ghastly pun title.
                          Long. Quotes Verlyn Flieger and Tom Shippey amongst others.

                          http://www.ew.com/ew/report/0,6115,189019~5|14236~,00.html

                          <A HREF="http://www.ew.com/ew/report/0,6115,189019~5|14236~,00.html">http://www.ew.com/ew/report/0,6115,189019~5|14236~,00.html</A>

                          Diamond Proudbrook


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