Terry Pratchett adds Rowling to list of enemies, gets academic support
- Terry Pratchett finally got a Carnegie Medal for children's
literature. In receiving his award, he blasted Tolkien once again:
"In a clear reference to Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings trilogy, he
said: 'Far more beguiling than the idea that evil can be destroyed by
throwing a piece of expensive jewellery into a volcano is the
possibility that evil can be defused by talking.'"
He also took on J.R. Rowling and the poor Harry Potter books.
Now, Pratchett's Tolkien-bashing is becoming old hat, but the article
where I found the above comment is accompanied by one of those
academic Tolkien bashers I have so ardently insisted are figments of
people's 1950s experiences <sheepish grin>:
AUTHORS WITH FANTASTIC STYLES
FANTASY has an extremely long history; it goes back to the middle
ages, writes Dr Alice Jenkins. Yet the genre has split into so many
directions, the label "fantasy" is perhaps inadequate to hold them
Terry Pratchett began by spoofing the conventions of fantasy fiction.
He took wizards and put them into real-world conversations.
Interactions are based on money, food - things that don't get talked
about in fantasy fiction.
He also deals with questions of social justice and how societies
work. In Jingo, two large civilisations clash over a tiny island,
which then disappears into the sea. It's about the futility of
conflict. Small Gods is a hostile attack on organised religion.
Pratchett deals with real-world questions with humour. In this sense,
he is likened to Jonathan Swift. He is becoming increasingly
satirical, using the mechanisms of fantasy in a fairly subversive
JRR Tolkien creates a very profound moral cosmos without much of a
direct connection to the real world, although many have read The Lord
of the Rings as an allegory of Hitler.
Tolkien was imbued with a sense of justice; how to be a good person,
the nature of evil. He gives a sense of real evil, whereas, for
Pratchett, most people are somewhere between good and bad.
Tolkien believes in absolute evil but also shows absolute evil being
He creates a world without culture or manners. It is based purely on
moral drama. He poses fairly profound questions, such as what can an
ordinary person do in the face of great evil?
Pratchett takes up some big questions and considers what kind of
conversations people would have. He has a wonderful ear for dialogue.
Tolkien's dialogue is just to move the plot along.
JK Rowling has learned a lot from Terry Pratchett . She tries to
represent pure evil, but because she doesn't have Tolkien's profound
commitment to a moral universe, her notion of evil is rather trivial.
Many readers are disconcerted by her return to hierarchical and
traditional social values. She marks a return to fictional values
which are not seen in Pratchett.
Dr Alice Jenkins is a lecturer in English literature at Glasgow
Now, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but how academics
can write nonsense like this (and I realize it's being filtered
through the media, so Jenkins' comments MIGHT have been distorted,
but I don't think so -- not in this case) is beyond me. One should
at least ATTEMPT to read a work before commenting on it, in my humble
This is the first time I can remember anyone saying Tolkien did not
have a way with dialogue. And since Tolkien himself denied the
existence of absolute evil, clearly the Glasgow lecturer is not
putting all the pieces together. Mr. "Nothing is evil in the
beginning, not even Sauron" Tolkien has been reduced to a handful of
convenient detrimental assertions for the sake of -- apparently --
boosting the posture of the zany Mr. Pratchett.
But, you know, in my opinion, book sales speak volumes. Pratchett
has certainly sold millions more books than I have, but Tolkien and
Rowling could eat him for breakfast. I think that is the crux of Mr.
Pratchett's continued venting toward Tolkien (and now Rowling).
- I agree wholeheartedly.
I'm tired of Pratchett and Moorcock and others of their
views pounding away at Tolkien, sneering at "phat fantasy"
and bleating about how much more superior their view of
fantasy is than that of Tolkien or Lewis.
If they patted themselves on the back any harder, they'd
knock themselves over on their faces, as my dad used
Small minds, big egos.
> But, you know, in my opinion, book sales speak volumes. PratchettADVERTISEMENT
> has certainly sold millions more books than I have, but Tolkien and
> Rowling could eat him for breakfast. I think that is the crux of Mr.
> Pratchett's continued venting toward Tolkien (and now Rowling).
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