View Full Version : Epic Pooh, or how not to sympathize with a protagonist


CivCube
Mar 13, 2010, 04:05 AM
Michael Moorcock's essay. It's just as much a good piece on how to write well as it is a scathing critique of Tolkien.

http://www.revolutionsf.com/article.php?id=953

Ideally fiction should offer us escape and force us, at least, to ask questions; it should provide a release from anxiety but give us some insight into the causes of anxiety.

Reminds me of RedLetterMedia's deconstruction of Episode I. It's when he compares different authors' writing styles that his point hit me. I feel less inclined to pick up LOTR again, the hobbit that I am.

Plotinus
Mar 13, 2010, 04:33 AM
I'm not entirely convinced by the criticism of Tolkien. He lambasts Tolkien for his supposed Toryism and love of convention and cowardice, but doesn't give examples of these things. He also criticises him for overlooking death, which ignores the ending to The lord of the rings, which is basically Frodo's death. Still, he is certainly right to despair of Tolkien's writing style. The criticisms of Lewis are of course entirely justified.

CivCube
Mar 13, 2010, 04:46 AM
That's true. The Elves present the theme of the world inevitably dying or moving on. Maybe Tolkien is more like William Blake in contrasting innocence with experience.

aelf
Mar 13, 2010, 06:19 AM
I always thought the big deal about LOTR is the myth-making dimension, the thoroughness of which is probably not in question.

So why all the LOTR hate?

classical_hero
Mar 13, 2010, 06:41 AM
I just found it so boring to read. It makes such a better movie than an novel.

aelf
Mar 13, 2010, 10:00 AM
I'm halfway through the piece and I get the feeling that some of the criticisms can also be leveled at Shakespeare.

Well, I never really liked Shakespeare. If I had read LOTR today instead of 10 years ago, I might not like it either. But at least LOTR does appeal to young people's imagination.

Earthling
Mar 17, 2010, 11:20 PM
This invalidates virtually all ethos any of this man's arguments ever had. Some of his points may be right but only so because they are and better reasons have been given by others or are self-evident; like Tolkien being certainly preferable to Lewis, and throwing a bone to good contemporary writers like Pratchett.
I grew up in a world where Joyce was considered to be the best Anglophone writer of the 20th century.
It is to his credit that he'd be so quick to lambast his countrymen, but essentially the whole piece is a nicely drawn out way of saying why the British and UK collectively haven't kept up with their American counterparts. I'll take that and leave it there then, :goodjob:

(I mean seriously, it's always been more of their problem if they have a weird obsession with an idyllic rural past ;))

CivCube
Mar 18, 2010, 09:35 PM
And certain Americans don't have that obsession? :crazyeye:

Moorcock's argument is more compelling if "comfort" writing is all you have read, or prefer to read. It just opened up how good writing can be enjoyed in other ways.

I'm halfway through the piece and I get the feeling that some of the criticisms can also be leveled at Shakespeare.

How's that? Shakespeare's often anything but comforting. Unless you read about suicides and cannibalism with Enya playing in the background...

aelf
Mar 20, 2010, 01:43 AM
How's that? Shakespeare's often anything but comforting. Unless you read about suicides and cannibalism with Enya playing in the background...

Since when is something bad merely for being 'comforting'?

What I'm saying is you don't have to like the kind of politics or moral background behind the work (I often don't in Shakespeare's case) to think that it's good. And the fact that a story is a bad piece of narrative doesn't mean it can be good for other reasons that have to do with the writing.