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Date:Friday, March 5, 2004, 17:39
Roger Mills scripsit:

> As one who appreciates Tolkien-- but alas, not usually for his prose style--
Funny, one of my favorite bits.
> Nabokov's _Pale Fire_ is indeed well written and worth reading.
Which is to say, it is a brilliant work of literature composed of a mediocre poem accompanied by notes written by a downright incompetent critic.
> I don't recall the Slavic conlang bit,
The fictional country of Zembla from which the critic comes has its own Slavic language. David Peterson scripsit:
> I will none! I shall stick to my guns, and confront all genre fiction in > the spirit of hostility, for it truly has been the death of true writing
I deny that JRRT's work is an example of "genre fiction" in the sense that you mean, though I certainly agree that the work of his endless parade of epigones is. Tolkien is almost the paradigm case of a writer who forces his public to accept his taste rather than adhering to theirs, and as such is fitly compared with Joyce (whose works I also love, most especially FW).
> Simply because, as a community, we need diversity.
Hear, hear! Andreas Johansson scripsit:
> The phrases "genre fiction" and "genre writing" are used as pejoratives in > English language literary criticism.
Sheer snobbery and nothing but, I fear. And Rosta scripsit:
> Disdain on grounds (c) is more painful, because > it arises from a smallness of soul rather than from a smallness > of intelligence: it is dismissive of imagination, of subcreation > (in the tolkienian sense), and of course of conlanging.
Indeed. I urge you to read, in your copious spare time, the last chapter at least of Tom Shippey's _JRRT: Author of the Century_ (note, saith the canny Scot, the lack of an article at the beginning of the subtitle), which explores why it is that the _Sonnenkinder_ and their literary descendants to this day abhor Tolkien. If your university library doesn't have it (and it wouldn't surprise me), kick them hard until they do.
> Note, btw, that Tolkien publicly articulated his dislike for Shakespeare.)
His _cordial_ dislike for him; the same phrase he used about allegory, all the while he committed allegory whenever it suited him (notably in "The Monsters and the Critics" and in _Smith of Wootton Major_). No one who did not have a feeling for Shakespeare could have written the scene of the trees marching off to war in _The Two Towers_.
> Me, I find Shakespeare rather boring, but I am convinced that this is > due to the poverty of my own sensibility.)
I think that reading Shakespeare as such is futile: one must study him so that when one sees him performed, one understands and enjoys what is going on. It is a great mistake to suppose that great drama must be great literature, a point well studied by Robertson Davies in his essays on 19th-century melodrama. Peter Bleackley scripsit:
> One of the things I find most worthy of respect about > Shakespeare is that man writing populist theatre for a living created works > of literature that stand up 400 years later.
This reminds me of the Hollywood agent who said that he had the greatest respect for Shakespeare, because he had said that when he made enough money he would quit, and when he made enough, he indeed quit. :-) -- John Cowan <jcowan@...> Charles li reis, nostre emperesdre magnes, Set anz totz pleinz ad ested in Espagnes.