OT: Tolkien criticism

alexandra.bolintineanu at utoronto.ca alexandra.bolintineanu at utoronto.ca
Tue Apr 17 20:54:47 EDT 2001

On Tue, 17 Apr 2001 HSchinske at aol.com wrote:

> Oh, Gawd, is that the anthology with the awful, awful essay that suggests 
> that Halfast should be pronounced Half-assed? Note: the Carleton library is 
> not a good place to experience an extreme desire to roar "I know who's the 
> half-assed one here!" I nearly died of suppression.

<Alexandra wafts waves and billows of sympathy in your direction>
Fortunately, I didn't find that essay (though mind you, I only managed to
read a small portion of the book before righteous indignation got the
better of me).  I choked on this one essay that refers with breezy
condescension to "the writings of Tolkien's donnish colleague and friend
C. S. Lewis" who "was much concerned ... with the Problem of Good and Evil
(the capitals--and the simplification of the issue--are his)", as well as
to "the learned but muddle-headed Dorothy L. Sayers."  The same essay
complains about the "almost total absence of femininity" in LOTR.  "By
absence of femininity," the author goes on, "I mean the lack of any true
gentleness, grace or what the Oxford dictionary calls 'passivity' in the
characters..."  It's wrong in so many ways that I couldn't even choose
between ways of reviling it--one of those terrible, terrible papers that
seem to combine several kinds of illogic and ignorance, to the point that
no contradiction seems worthwhile anymore.


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