FIND in
<--prev V31 next-->

From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" <ddanehy@siebel.com>
Subject: Wolfe, Tolkien, Brooks...
Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2002 14:02:26 -0800

Adam wrote...

> (Has Wolfe ever mentioned Tolkien in print before?)  

I'm pretty sure JRRT is mentioned, at least in passing, in a couple 
of the essays on fantasy in _Castle of Days_. And I believe he's 
quoted at least once in _The Castle of the Otter_ (which is, of 
course, now a component of _Castle of Days_). 

> Some aspects of his work definitely need to be reconsidered in light 
> of it, such as the presentation of the Autarch's rule in BOTNS as the
> best possible under the circumstances, 

Well, the point here is that "the circumstances" are not merely the
specific political situation, nor even the specifics of the dying sun
and the Monsters Under the Sea; "the circumstances" most relevant to
this point is that the Autarchy is a governance in the Fallen World.
By this (Christian) view, no government can be better than "the best 
possible under the circumstances" until the Parousia and the Restored
World, of which Ushas itself is only a foreshadowing.

> I haven't looked at MEDITATIONS ON MIDDLE-EARTH, but possibly Wolfe's
> was rejected because the image of Tolkien as propagandist for a society in
> which the lower orders cheerfully obey and serve their betters was not one
> the editor wanted to project.

For me, this is one of the things most blatantly missing from the FotR
film: while they got the look of Middle-earth right, and didn't damage
the plot too badly, they did not carry most of the characters I know and
love into the movie very well. The most horrid examples:

o Saruman as a rug-chewing Mad Scientist from a Hammer movie (well, what
  _did_ I expect from Christopher Lee...?)
o Merry and Pippin as a couple of juvenile delinquents - frankly more
  remniscent of Pepsi and Moxie from BORED OF THE RINGS
o Gimli's horrendous "speaking to the modern audience" remark that
  "nobody tosses a dwarf!"
o Etc.

But in amongst this, subtle but utterly undermining one of my favorite 
characters: the very _essence_ of Samwise Gamgee in Tolkien is that his
relation to Frodo is an idealization of the Master-Servant relationship
- the British class system "as it should have been." And that's totally 
gone from the movie, dammit.

> And Terry Brooks again!  First Pullman praises him, then Wolfe
> criticizes his detractors.  

Note that this is not to praise him but to say that his enemies are 
Wolfe's. I think Wolfe has gone a bit around the bend here; Brooks's
first novel isn't so much imitation as borderline plagiarism: but I
see Wolfe's point, which is that originality is overrated, and Tolkien
is a model eminently worth emulating.

And Andy wrote:

> Wolfe is a Conservative Catholic Christian right-winger.   Deal With

Bingo. So, more or less, was Tolkien. Deal with that, too.

And Heinlein was a - well, whatever he was (since most of the labels 
usually used to slam him are blatantly untrue). Deal with it. 

And Le Guin is a rather muzzy Taoist liberal. Deal with it.

And Pullman is a rabid anticlerical nutcase. Deal with it.

Who gives a frog's bottom? They all write some astonishing stories,
filled with the kind of humanity that allows us, whatever our 
politics, whatever our religion, to attain (if only for a moment)
to a higher wisdom than daily life allows us.


<--prev V31 next-->