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White Query

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  • SusanPal@aol.com
    Hello! Does anyone know if Tolkien ever read THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING? (I d imagine that he didn t, since he was so unenthusiastic about literature after
    Message 1 of 13 , Sep 30, 2002
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      Hello! Does anyone know if Tolkien ever read THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING? (I'd
      imagine that he didn't, since he was so unenthusiastic about literature after
      Chaucer, but wondered if anyone knows for sure.) Or, better yet, does anyone
      know of articles dealing with with TOAFK and LOTR? It strikes me that there
      are certain similarities (treatment of epic and of a British mythology,
      etc.), although certainly there are also plenty of differences.

      Do any scholars work on White? I loved TOAFK when I was growing up -- and my
      parents, who haven't read JRRT, both love it too, even though they don't
      consider themselves fantasy fans -- but I never seem to hear people talk
      about it. Perhaps it's been too tarred with the "Camelot" brush? I took a
      poll in my Tolkien class today, and only three of my students have read it.
      It's a glorious book, and if folks aren't reading it, there needs to be a
      revival of some sort.

      Thanks,
      Susan
    • JP Massar
      ... http://www.scoop.co.nz/archive/scoop/stories/74/f0/200006281751.c16f3edb.html Not much there, but something...
      Message 2 of 13 , Sep 30, 2002
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        At 01:44 AM 10/1/02 -0400, SusanPal@... wrote:
        >Hello! Does anyone know if Tolkien ever read THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING? (I'd
        >imagine that he didn't, since he was so unenthusiastic about literature after
        >Chaucer, but wondered if anyone knows for sure.) Or, better yet, does anyone
        >know of articles dealing with with TOAFK and LOTR?

        http://www.scoop.co.nz/archive/scoop/stories/74/f0/200006281751.c16f3edb.html

        Not much there, but something...
      • Croft, Janet B
        I can t recall coming across any articles doing a point-by-point comparison of White and Tolkien, but Shippey includes T.H.White in his list of traumatized
        Message 3 of 13 , Oct 1, 2002
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          I can't recall coming across any articles doing a point-by-point comparison
          of White and Tolkien, but Shippey includes T.H.White in his list of
          "traumatized authors". His article "Tolkien as a Post-War Writer" goes into
          a bit of detail as to what he sees as White's response to evil in the 20th
          century.

          Shippey, Thomas A. "Tolkien as a Post-War Writer." Proceedings of the J.R.R.
          Tolkien Centenary Conference. Eds. Patricia Reynolds and Glen H. GoodKnight.
          Keble College, Oxford: The Mythopoeic Press, 1992. 84-93.

          There's also a little bit in his _Tolkien: Author of the Century_.

          I do have one article just on White in my files for future reference:

          Gallix, Francois. "T.H. White and the Legend of King Arthur: From Animal
          Fantasy to Political Morality". In _King Arthur: A Casebook_. Edited by
          Edward Donald Kennedy. New York: Garland Publishing, 1996. 281-297.

          A quick search on the MLA Bibliography online turns up only 15 articles,
          compared to hundreds and hundreds for Tolkien, so there is obviously plenty
          of room for research...

          Neither the Carpenter _Biography_ nor the _Letters_ mention T.H. White, but
          there is some mention of Arthur in both if you check the indexes. Tolkien
          started but never finished a poem about Arthur, and I don't know if it was
          included in _The History of Middle-earth_ somewhere or if Oxford or
          Marquette has it. But Carpenter quotes a few lines from it about Guenivere:
          "lady ruthless,/ fair as fay-woman and fell-minded,/ in the world walking
          for the woe of men." NOT the tragic heroine...

          (Actually Tolkien did like some science fiction at least and spoke highly of
          Asimov, and liked Dorothy Sayers before she introduced Harriet Vane to the
          Lord Peter Wimsey novels. He also enjoyed E.R. Eddison and Mary Renault
          (which surprises me because her books are sometimes earthily sexual and very
          tolerant of homosexuality, which doesn't entirely fit Tolkien's image). See
          Letters p.377. You know what I want? A list of all the books that were in
          his personal library at the time of his death...and in spite of being a
          librarian and being all for reader privacy, I'd like to know what he checked
          out of the library, too!)

          Janet

          -----Original Message-----
          From: SusanPal@... [mailto:SusanPal@...]
          Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2002 12:44 AM
          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [mythsoc] White Query


          Hello! Does anyone know if Tolkien ever read THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING?
          (I'd
          imagine that he didn't, since he was so unenthusiastic about literature
          after
          Chaucer, but wondered if anyone knows for sure.) Or, better yet, does
          anyone
          know of articles dealing with with TOAFK and LOTR? It strikes me that there

          are certain similarities (treatment of epic and of a British mythology,
          etc.), although certainly there are also plenty of differences.

          Do any scholars work on White? I loved TOAFK when I was growing up -- and
          my
          parents, who haven't read JRRT, both love it too, even though they don't
          consider themselves fantasy fans -- but I never seem to hear people talk
          about it. Perhaps it's been too tarred with the "Camelot" brush? I took a
          poll in my Tolkien class today, and only three of my students have read it.

          It's a glorious book, and if folks aren't reading it, there needs to be a
          revival of some sort.

          Thanks,
          Susan

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

          Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service
          <http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/> .




          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • David S. Bratman
          For what it s worth, in 1947 C.S. Lewis wrote to T.H. White, issuing him an open-ended invitation to visit Oxford and meet some admirers, probably a
          Message 4 of 13 , Oct 1, 2002
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            For what it's worth, in 1947 C.S. Lewis wrote to T.H. White, issuing him an
            open-ended invitation to visit Oxford and meet "some admirers," probably a
            reference to the Inklings. I don't think there's a record of whether White
            responded to this, and there's certainly no record that he ever came.

            (Info from an article by Joe Christopher - hi, Joe! - on Lewis letters held
            at the Univ. of Texas, published in CSL, Nov. 1980)

            A few years earlier, Lewis had written similarly to E.R. Eddison, who not
            only came and met some of the Inklings, but had such a good time he came
            back for another visit the next year, and might have done so again had he
            not soon died.

            - David Bratman
          • Croft, Janet B
            That reminds me that one of the articles in my quick & dirty MLA search compared Lewis and White. For what it s worth. Janet ... From: David S. Bratman
            Message 5 of 13 , Oct 1, 2002
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              That reminds me that one of the articles in my quick & dirty MLA search
              compared Lewis and White. For what it's worth.

              Janet

              -----Original Message-----
              From: David S. Bratman [mailto:dbratman@...]
              Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2002 10:45 AM
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [mythsoc] White Query


              For what it's worth, in 1947 C.S. Lewis wrote to T.H. White, issuing him an
              open-ended invitation to visit Oxford and meet "some admirers," probably a
              reference to the Inklings. I don't think there's a record of whether White
              responded to this, and there's certainly no record that he ever came.

              (Info from an article by Joe Christopher - hi, Joe! - on Lewis letters held
              at the Univ. of Texas, published in CSL, Nov. 1980)

              A few years earlier, Lewis had written similarly to E.R. Eddison, who not
              only came and met some of the Inklings, but had such a good time he came
              back for another visit the next year, and might have done so again had he
              not soon died.

              - David Bratman



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

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              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • David S. Bratman
              ... And some years before that, of course, Lewis also wrote to Charles Williams, in almost exactly the same terms in which he later wrote to Eddison and White,
              Message 6 of 13 , Oct 1, 2002
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                At 08:45 AM 10/1/2002 , I wrote:

                >A few years earlier, Lewis had written similarly to E.R. Eddison, who not
                >only came and met some of the Inklings, but had such a good time he came
                >back for another visit the next year, and might have done so again had he
                >not soon died.

                And some years before that, of course, Lewis also wrote to Charles
                Williams, in almost exactly the same terms in which he later wrote to
                Eddison and White, and Williams did attend as a guest, at least once or
                twice, before becoming a regular Inkling on his move to Oxford in 1939.

                So there's a pattern here, but it's more about Lewis than about White, let
                alone Tolkien. I would not take Lewis's comment that White had "some
                admirers" among his friends as evidence of Tolkien's views, given Lewis's
                record of over-assuming that his enthusiasms were shared. (In writing to
                Williams, he'd named Tolkien as one of those "buzzing with excited
                admiration" over _The Place of the Lion_: this appears to have been
                somewhat wide of the mark.)

                - David Bratman
              • SusanPal@aol.com
                Thanks to all of you for the extremely helpful information! Susan
                Message 7 of 13 , Oct 1, 2002
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                  Thanks to all of you for the extremely helpful information!

                  Susan
                • SusanPal@aol.com
                  In a message dated 10/1/2002 9:16:12 AM Pacific Daylight Time, ... Right. And I strongly suspect that Tolkien would have been appalled by THE ONCE AND FUTURE
                  Message 8 of 13 , Oct 1, 2002
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                    In a message dated 10/1/2002 9:16:12 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
                    dbratman@... writes:


                    > I would not take Lewis's comment that White had "some
                    > admirers" among his friends as evidence of Tolkien's views, given Lewis's
                    > record of over-assuming that his enthusiasms were shared.

                    Right. And I strongly suspect that Tolkien would have been appalled by THE
                    ONCE AND FUTURE KING on a tremendous number of stylistic levels, most notably
                    anachronistic language and authorial intrusion. But they certainly shared
                    (with each other, as with many other writers then and since) the project of
                    struggling with the notion of how to confront abuses of power. White's Round
                    Table functions as an anti-Ring, in that respect. And both are elegies for
                    lost cultures and possibilities.

                    I'll be especially interested to read the Lurie article Ernie mentioned. I
                    think Tolkien's view of evil is deeper and more disturbing than many people
                    give it credit for -- but White's may appeal more to modernist sensibilities.

                    Susan


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • David S. Bratman
                    ... I agree that Tolkien is likely to have strongly disliked those aspects of OFK, but he would also have been attracted by the themes so congruent with his
                    Message 9 of 13 , Oct 1, 2002
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                      At 09:27 AM 10/1/2002 , Susan wrote:

                      >I strongly suspect that Tolkien would have been appalled by THE
                      >ONCE AND FUTURE KING on a tremendous number of stylistic levels, most notably
                      >anachronistic language and authorial intrusion. But they certainly shared
                      >(with each other, as with many other writers then and since) the project of
                      >struggling with the notion of how to confront abuses of power. White's Round
                      >Table functions as an anti-Ring, in that respect. And both are elegies for
                      >lost cultures and possibilities.

                      I agree that Tolkien is likely to have strongly disliked those aspects of
                      OFK, but he would also have been attracted by the themes so congruent with
                      his own. And since those are more important matters, and since White got
                      them right (by Tolkienian standards), he might, in the end, have admired
                      the book. He admired and liked the works of Eddison, dispite being
                      appalled by Eddison's nomenclature and philosophy: their splendid invention
                      and literary merit (also qualities shared by White) saved them for him.

                      - David Bratman
                    • jamcconney@aol.com
                      In a message dated 10/1/2002 7:40:16 PM Central Daylight Time, ... I really have some trouble imagining that Tolkien would have been appalled by a writer s
                      Message 10 of 13 , Oct 1, 2002
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                        In a message dated 10/1/2002 7:40:16 PM Central Daylight Time,
                        dbratman@... writes:


                        > >I strongly suspect that Tolkien would have been appalled by THE
                        > >ONCE AND FUTURE KING on a tremendous number of stylistic levels, most
                        > notably
                        > >anachronistic language and authorial intrusion.

                        I really have some trouble imagining that Tolkien would have been 'appalled'
                        by a writer's chosen style. He might not have liked it, and wouldn't have
                        dreamed of using it himself, but would he have written off a story just
                        because of style? I don't like "anachronistic language and authorial
                        intrusion" either--but I've read some very good stories where they were
                        intentionally used with good effect.

                        Anne


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • SusanPal@aol.com
                        In a message dated 10/1/2002 6:50:39 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... Well, David points out that JRRT liked Eddison despite stylistic differences. But if there s
                        Message 11 of 13 , Oct 1, 2002
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                          In a message dated 10/1/2002 6:50:39 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
                          jamcconney@... writes:


                          > He might not have liked it, and wouldn't have
                          > dreamed of using it himself, but would he have written off a story just
                          > because of style?

                          Well, David points out that JRRT liked Eddison despite stylistic differences.
                          But if there's ever been a reader for whom style was nearly inseparable from
                          content, it was Tolkien, and I can imagine that some of White's stylistic
                          quirks might have been sufficiently distracting to severely compromise his
                          enjoyment of the narrative. That happens to me -- sometimes I have such a
                          style allergy to a story that I can't force myself to read it, even when I
                          can tell that the plot's original and interesting -- and I'm probably far
                          *less* sensitive to such things than Tolkien was.

                          And the anachronism issue is one on which he had vehement ideological views,
                          not simply stylistic tastes. See, for instance, Letter 171 (which,
                          coincidentally, I'm having my class read for tomorrow). He might have
                          acquitted White of the charge of "parochialism of time" on the grounds that
                          White *did* use more ancient language in some scenes; but the "modern" ones
                          surely would have been painful for him (and perhaps all the more so if he
                          knew that White *could* write more authentic language when he chose).

                          Samuel R. Delany has a wonderful essay in his collection THE JEWEL-HINGED JAW
                          arguing that style and content aren't separable, that the distinction is a
                          false dichotomy. I'm not sure I completely agree with him, but I do think
                          that the more style-sensitive the reader, the harder it is to divorce the
                          two.

                          Susan


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • jamcconney@aol.com
                          In a message dated 10/1/2002 9:43:14 PM Central Daylight Time, ... I agree. I m one of the style-sensitive readers myself, and I could count any number of
                          Message 12 of 13 , Oct 2, 2002
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                            In a message dated 10/1/2002 9:43:14 PM Central Daylight Time,
                            SusanPal@... writes:


                            > I'm not sure I completely agree with him, but I do think
                            > that the more style-sensitive the reader, the harder it is to divorce the
                            > two.
                            >

                            I agree. I'm one of the "style-sensitive readers" myself, and I could count
                            any number of books that I've put down and never finished because the style
                            was simply...what? ...offensive, painful, unreadable, what-have-you. But that
                            is a matter of personal taste and enjoyment. I think one has to make a
                            distinction between "this book isn't for me" and "this book is a rotten,
                            no-good book, period." The point I was making is that
                            I think Tolkien, as a scholar, would have been unwilling to make the second
                            of these judgments on style alone.

                            As a sort of tangential comment, there is one well-known fantasy writer whose
                            early books I was unable to read for just the reasons given, but who has
                            developed what seems to be a much better 'ear' and is now producing books I
                            love--so sometimes it pays to give a writer a second chance.

                            Anne


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                          • Pauline J. Alama
                            For T.H. White scholarship, I d look at an Arthurian journal I used to know -- it was called Quondam et Futurus when I published an article in it, but it
                            Message 13 of 13 , Oct 4, 2002
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                              For T.H. White scholarship, I'd look at an Arthurian journal I used
                              to know -- it was called Quondam et Futurus when I published an
                              article in it, but it merged with another Arthurian journal and I
                              think the combined name is Arthurian Interpretations. I am almost
                              certain that my grad school mentor Alan Lupack wrote about THE ONCE
                              AND FUTURE KING. Try the Camelot Project website of the University of
                              Rochester Library System.
                              http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/acpbibs/bibhome.stm

                              Pauline J. Alama
                              THE EYE OF NIGHT
                              Bantam Spectra 2002

                              In mythsoc@y..., SusanPal@a... wrote:
                              > Hello! Does anyone know if Tolkien ever read THE ONCE AND FUTURE
                              KING? (I'd
                              > imagine that he didn't, since he was so unenthusiastic about
                              literature after
                              > Chaucer, but wondered if anyone knows for sure.) Or, better yet,
                              does anyone
                              > know of articles dealing with with TOAFK and LOTR? It strikes me
                              that there
                              > are certain similarities (treatment of epic and of a British
                              mythology,
                              > etc.), although certainly there are also plenty of differences.
                              >
                              > Do any scholars work on White? I loved TOAFK when I was growing
                              up -- and my
                              > parents, who haven't read JRRT, both love it too, even though they
                              don't
                              > consider themselves fantasy fans -- but I never seem to hear people
                              talk
                              > about it. Perhaps it's been too tarred with the "Camelot" brush?
                              I took a
                              > poll in my Tolkien class today, and only three of my students have
                              read it.
                              > It's a glorious book, and if folks aren't reading it, there needs
                              to be a
                              > revival of some sort.
                              >
                              > Thanks,
                              > Susan
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