LoTR and dwj

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Feb 20 08:07:36 EST 2004


Charlie:

>Minnow:
> If Tolkien is the "poor man's Spenser", is it for the work itself that he
>> is a lesser figure or is it for the followers/imitators that work has
>> garnered, seems to be what that makes me wonder, in other words.
>FWIW, Spenser spawned a lot of imitators too! Where are they now...?

That was rather my feeling.

>I think the reason Tolkien is less highly regarded by the academy is that -
>well, to be frank, he's nothing like as good a writer -

Shall we agree not to have the discussion about how one defines a "good"
writer, and who gets to do so?  :-)

>but also and less
>defensibly there has over the last century (perhaps longer) been a decisive
>shift in academic taste away from fantasy and grandeur of language, towards
>realism and irony. (True, postmodernists have toyed with fantasy but they do
>it in a self-consciously ironic way that still leaves Tolkien out in the
>cold.) I don't approve of this, you understand, but that's my feeling
>anyway.

Well-a-day, there may even be an element of jealousy involved: Tolkien is
simply very popular and influential, and if one happens to prefer realism
(whatever that may mean) and irony to fantasy and grandeur of language, it
must be very annoying.  Particularly if one can't actually oneself write in
a way that sells in large quantities.  There must be something wrong with
the readers when they ignore one's realistic and ironical work in droves,
so the malign influence of Tolkien upon them is handy to blame.

Cynical?  *Moi*?  How can you *say* such a thing?

Minnow


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