Epic Pooh - Moorcock Review of Tolkein/Lewis

pambaddeley

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It has to be acknowledged that (and I enjoyed them as a teen) much of Moorcock's output in the Elric/Hawkmoon/Eternal Champion etc canon was knocked out rapidly to pay the rent or whatever, whereas for Tolkien his was a life's work.
 

pyan

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Thanks for the link. Edmund Wilson's critique (which I had not read before) is hilarious, although I believe he's trying to be serious.
Sorry: of course I meant Edmund Wilson, not Edmund Cooper! :confused:
 

Narkalui

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Moorcock's critique just puts in my mind the image of an ill informed middle class twit who calls himself a socialist yet speaks disparagingly of the economically vulnerable as 'chavs' and makes jokes about the virtues of struggling, put upon single parents; all the while wearing a grubby, hotrock-burned tee-shirt that bears the mantra: "It's not worth liking if other people like it."

Yes, I have unfortunately known people like this.
 

Garam Masala

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While I am highly inspired by Tolkien's ability to create a worlds and languages, I agree that some elements of his books have much to be desired. His narratives are quite one sided. The most interesting character for me and many other people I know was Gollum/Smeagol because unlike most of the other characters, he actually has some moral ambiguity and is an interesting insight into multiple personality disorder. The other characters have fairly black and white motives.

Not to mention the more problematic elements of the story. Tolkien wasn't exactly progressive in terms of race or gender. It can safely be said that he was a staunchly conservative writer.
It is an interesting requirement of a writer that he/she adhere to a future progressive morality that had not yet been developed at the time of writing.

However, I agree with your comment about Gollum. I would also add that there is pervasive element throughout LOTR of "going to the Dark Side" which was much later adopted by George Lucas for Star Wars.

Saruman, and his downfall, is a good case in point:

"It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the Enemy, for good or for ill. But such falls and betrayals, alas, have happened before." - Elrond on Saruman - the Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring

Frodo too, that paragon of morality who, except for Tom Bombadil, was the least affected by the Ring - he has his moment of turning when standing over the fires of Mount Doom, succumbing to the Rings power. It is only through the actions of Gollum that he is saved, the same Gollum of whom it was said:

"My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many - yours not least." - Gandalf on Gollum, The Shadow of the Past

LOTR illustrates well that the veil separating good and evil, the light of day and the darkness of night, is not quite so clear, and can easily be crossed, in some cases almost without noticing the event. Denethor was the epitome of the Tragic Hero in this regard, deeming himself greater than the power of the Ring or the palantir. In the end, his mind was overthrown, and in his deep despair, he decides to burn himself and his son to death.

IMO - LOTR is a set of books steeped in the tradition of Greek pathos and tragedy, and as such worthy of the term "a classic".
 
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