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Re: [mythsoc] White Query

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  • 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 1 of 13 , Oct 1, 2002
      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


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    • 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 2 of 13 , Oct 2, 2002
        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


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • 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 3 of 13 , Oct 4, 2002
          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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