August 2018 Reading thread

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,554
#81
Even this easy access to knowledge can be detrimental. It's certainly "better" in the sense that kids without access to a local library, or a decent/sufficient access to the school library, or books at home, are now more equal than they used to be in my day, but many teachers (my wife and colleagues included)believe that this ease of access reduces kid's attention span. They expect immediate results and don't have to work too hard to get them.
I've just retired after 31 years as a full-time college English teacher + four years as a graduate teaching assistant + two years as a high school English teacher. It seems to me that, in the liberal arts at least, there has been a loss of the sense of the learned life. This has come about in several ways, one of which is relevant to the present discussion.

The loss is partly due to the "long march through the institutions" of cultural Marxism. There's more than one aspect to this, one of which is the aversion felt towards orthodox Christianity, which is so closely interwoven with most of the Western cultural heritage. The subtle message is that this heritage isn't really worth knowing deeply because it is so badly corrupted by religion (=anti-science), patriarchy, racism, etc. If some young person arrives in college on fire to learn about Milton, Raphael, and Bach, her or his teachers will, in effect, conspire to stomp out those flames, overtly or subtly. The student will be compelled to read such classic works as he or she does read, through "critical lenses" each and all of which are politicized -- e.g. queer, colonial, etc. Thus even if the student reads, say, Twelfth Night,

A second factor is the academy's embrace in the past forty years or so of "popular culture." If a student finds watching the complete Buffy the Vampire, he or she will probably easily find some professor who will encourage that. In fact, the student will likely enough be led to Buffy by the prof. Time spent on Buffy won't be spent on Chaucer.

And universities often fail to make the distinction between access to information and being a learned person. I suppose the distinction is obvious, but how often it's overlooked! And how little the universities now seem to uphold the ideal of the learned life and the learned person (which, of course, is at odds with the fetish for "equality," since people are not equally learned, and many, including many in the universities, are not learned, never will be learned, and probably are incapable of becoming learned).
 

Hugh

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Mar 27, 2016
Messages
612
#82
I've just retired after 31 years as a full-time college English teacher + four years as a graduate teaching assistant + two years as a high school English teacher. It seems to me that, in the liberal arts at least, there has been a loss of the sense of the learned life. This has come about in several ways, one of which is relevant to the present discussion.

The loss is partly due to the "long march through the institutions" of cultural Marxism. There's more than one aspect to this, one of which is the aversion felt towards orthodox Christianity, which is so closely interwoven with most of the Western cultural heritage. The subtle message is that this heritage isn't really worth knowing deeply because it is so badly corrupted by religion (=anti-science), patriarchy, racism, etc. If some young person arrives in college on fire to learn about Milton, Raphael, and Bach, her or his teachers will, in effect, conspire to stomp out those flames, overtly or subtly. The student will be compelled to read such classic works as he or she does read, through "critical lenses" each and all of which are politicized -- e.g. queer, colonial, etc. Thus even if the student reads, say, Twelfth Night,

A second factor is the academy's embrace in the past forty years or so of "popular culture." If a student finds watching the complete Buffy the Vampire, he or she will probably easily find some professor who will encourage that. In fact, the student will likely enough be led to Buffy by the prof. Time spent on Buffy won't be spent on Chaucer.

And universities often fail to make the distinction between access to information and being a learned person. I suppose the distinction is obvious, but how often it's overlooked! And how little the universities now seem to uphold the ideal of the learned life and the learned person (which, of course, is at odds with the fetish for "equality," since people are not equally learned, and many, including many in the universities, are not learned, never will be learned, and probably are incapable of becoming learned).
I could probably say a fair bit about the above, but it seems much more important to say:

Many many congratulations on this transition!


I hope very much that it is a smooth one, and that it leads you in all manner of nourishing directions.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,554
#83
I've just retired after 31 years as a full-time college English teacher + four years as a graduate teaching assistant + two years as a high school English teacher. It seems to me that, in the liberal arts at least, there has been a loss of the sense of the learned life. This has come about in several ways, one of which is relevant to the present discussion.

The loss is partly due to the "long march through the institutions" of cultural Marxism. There's more than one aspect to this, one of which is the aversion felt towards orthodox Christianity, which is so closely interwoven with most of the Western cultural heritage. The subtle message is that this heritage isn't really worth knowing deeply because it is so badly corrupted by religion (=anti-science), patriarchy, racism, etc. If some young person arrives in college on fire to learn about Milton, Raphael, and Bach, her or his teachers will, in effect, conspire to stomp out those flames, overtly or subtly. The student will be compelled to read such classic works as he or she does read, through "critical lenses" each and all of which are politicized -- e.g. queer, colonial, etc. Thus even if the student reads, say, Twelfth Night,

A second factor is the academy's embrace in the past forty years or so of "popular culture." If a student finds watching the complete Buffy the Vampire, he or she will probably easily find some professor who will encourage that. In fact, the student will likely enough be led to Buffy by the prof. Time spent on Buffy won't be spent on Chaucer.

And universities often fail to make the distinction between access to information and being a learned person. I suppose the distinction is obvious, but how often it's overlooked! And how little the universities now seem to uphold the ideal of the learned life and the learned person (which, of course, is at odds with the fetish for "equality," since people are not equally learned, and many, including many in the universities, are not learned, never will be learned, and probably are incapable of becoming learned).
Thus even if the student reads, say, Twelfth Night, he or she is forced to read it as an exercise in self-indoctrination in the professor's politics.

As someone has said, "those of us who care about learning must promote and nourish the Academy that stealthily functions within the University." Well, I tried to do that. It was kind of fun sometimes.

But I feel that I, at least, am getting close to writing about politics as we used to do here at Chrons in the days before the moderators rightly shut down the political discussions here, so I will stop.
 
Last edited:

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,554
#84
I could probably say a fair bit about the above, but it seems much more important to say:

Many many congratulations on this transition!

I hope very much that it is a smooth one, and that it leads you in all manner of nourishing directions.
Thank you, Hugh.

So far, retirement is great! Far from feeling at a loss for what to do, with too much time on my hands, I find the days go by all too quickly, and that I'm enjoying various reading projects. Perhaps most excitingly, I'm having probably the best creative writing surge of my life. I'm working on a follow-up to Lady Stanhope's Manuscript and Other Stories, and in the past two months have written two stories for The Ivy and the Wind: Strange Stories, which seem to me and some first readers to be pleasing. They are called "The Pageant at Willowton" and "The Bark Bread Symphony." Now I am working on a third story. This isn't the place to say more about them, but is by way of responding to your kind comment. Oh, and I'm enjoying playing with my retirement kitten, Tess.
IMG_8205.jpg
 
Last edited:

Hugh

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Mar 27, 2016
Messages
612
#85
Thank you, Hugh.

So far, retirement is great! Far from feeling at a loss for what to do, with too much time on my hands, I find the days go by all too quickly, and that I'm enjoying various reading projects. Perhaps most excitingly, I'm having probably the best creative writing surge of my life. I'm working on a follow-up to Lady Stanhope's Manuscript and Other Stories, and in the past two months have written two stories for The Ivy and the Wind: Strange Stories, which seem to me and some first readers to be pleasing. They are called "The Pageant at Willowton" and "The Bark Bread Symphony." Now I am working on a third story. This isn't the place to say more about them, but is by way of responding to your kind comment. Oh, and I'm enjoying playing with my retirement kitten, Tess.
Wonderful! Fantastic!
 

Bick

A Member of the Forum
Supporter
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,827
Location
Auckland, NZ
#86
And how little the universities now seem to uphold the ideal of the learned life and the learned person (which, of course, is at odds with the fetish for "equality," since people are not equally learned, and many, including many in the universities, are not learned, never will be learned, and probably are incapable of becoming learned).
Fascinating point; and brings me to consider the imbalance I think may exist in the west between the prevailing view regarding the search for personal financial wealth (viewed as a good thing we should all aspire to) and becoming more learned (a bit snobby and elitist). This would seem to be a cause for concern. However, I would far rather become more learned than become any wealthier, and I suspect people used to think like this more, but not so much these days (a change that occurred predominately post Thatcher and Reagan, perhaps).

I'm still enjoying my Alan Dean Foster book by the way, which, as it happens, is in no regard making me more learned (or any wealthier come to that).
 

Paul_C

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2016
Messages
445
Location
Northampton UK
#87
I'm half way through Noumenon by Marina J. Lostetter, but I've hit a plot line that I'm struggling to get past, so I might give it up.

I'm in a reasonable mood though, so it might be time to give The Ocean at the End of the Lane a second go.

I found it sorely lacking the first time I read it, but I'm prepared to consider the possibly of being wrong.
Well, second time around I finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane without disappointment, and can't see why I disliked it so much the first time.

I don't think it's the best thing he's ever written, but nevertheless it's perfectly readable and tells a good story, I'm sure Mr Gaiman will be relieved. ;)
 

picklematrix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2018
Messages
199
#88
Ive just started The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks. Not without his flaws, but part of a nostalgic series for me. Shaping up to be a pretty decent addition to the series, characters are fairly likeable. I hope he end it with a Bang with Fall of Shannarra.
 

thaddeus6th

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2007
Messages
6,194
Location
UK, Yorkshire
#89
I'm about three-quarters into Joan Alcock's A Brief History of Roman Britain. Lots of good detail, although one or two small errors that should've been caught by a proofreader or suchlike (Hippocrates/Harpocrates both used as the name of Isis' son, for example). Particularly in-depth knowledge of the foodstuffs consumed (still on that chapter). The book's a mix of a chronological account of conquest, colonisation, and departure by the Romans, and specific chapters on particular areas.

In that way, it seems like a bit of a mix between Adrian Goldsworthy's The Fall of Carthage (single volume on the three Punic Wars) and Ian Mortimer's Time Traveller's Guide mini-series, which deals with everyday life in Medieval England, Elizabethan England, and Restoration Britain.
 

soulsinging

the dude abides
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
2,140
#91
Sounds like an interesting writer - thanks for pointing me to him.

And of course, some things are a lot 'better', but some things are demonstrably a lot 'worse' too - whether one thinks things are overall better depends on perspective I guess and what issues you feel are important to you. I think the health issue is an interesting one - we are better at treating disease and have smoked out a lot of communicable disease, but in many areas, we are demonstrably much less healthy. So, its certainly not clear cut. I tend to fall into the "more things I care about are getting worse than they are better' camp. Many of the things I care about are either disappearing in the name of progress (bookshops!) or being slowly wrecked (the environment). Maybe in time, people will look around at the complete lack of books, the lack of any kind of preserved town character that long disappeared at the hands of grasping developers, or at the paucity of animal life in the dwindling countryside and they wont care. They will say, 'life is better now because we're told it is by statisticians', and they will be happy about things because they wont get sick at all until they die at 70 of complications from diabetes and until then they'll be able to watch any reality show ever made whenever they want in 3D on a 7 foot screen that only cost them $10. Brilliant!

A last thought - access to knowledge is now fantastic (t'internet) - but the knowledge in peoples heads (esp. in the US) doesn't exactly fill me with awe - how else to explain Trump as POTUS? This seems to sum up a common mistake of those who argue how great our modern developments are; its one thing to invent a clever technological breakthrough, but its quite another for folk use it in a way that exploits it's capacity to educate and inform - the major use of the interweb seems to be to stream reality TV or watch porn, not to engage in interesting discussions (such as this).
I don't think I'm doing a great job of conveying his points, because this is not at all what the book is about. It's not a screed singing the praises of commercial development at all costs. It's about ways to view data and statistics more critically and use that information to inform our priorities and efforts, instead of reacting emotionally to flawed findings.

You mention the environment... a key part of the book is that this IS a serious problem we're not addressing, and we're not addressing it mainly because 1) the change is too slow for people to really notice/understand and 2) we're too distracted by political tribalism or the risk of being killed by a terrorist (which is lower than the risk of being killed by a wild animal, lightning, etc) to care. His point is that we generally don't understand what's really happening in the world as well as we each think we do, and it applies regardless of education, religion, nation of birth, location, political persuasion, etc. This is because so much of the information we get is distorted or outdated and our human thought processes are biased in a behavioral (not political) sense. Our instinct is to react to the most immediate perceived threat (fight or flight). The news says that is terrorism, so we focus on that and ignore climate change, where the impact is more abstract and distant. Or we are convinced certain social trends exist as a constant because of unchanging "culture" and use this to write off large chunks of the world as hopeless or deplorable, but the reality is that culture is very changeable. When the author grew up in Sweden, abortion was illegal there and women seeking one had to run off to Poland (yes, Catholic Poland!) to get one. In a matter of years, that had flipped. The gay marriage debate in the US underwent a similarly dramatic reversal in a matter of years.

It's not that all old things are bad and all new things are good, it's that we struggle to determine whether any given thing is good or bad because we tend to learn "facts" as a constant instead of something that needs to be constantly updated and separated from fiction. The underpinning of the book is a survey he did for years encompassing nobel laureates, professors, businessmen and persons-on-the-street from countries all over the globe and finding that most people are 100% wrong about basic facts about the world (such as education, vaccination and poverty rates), including our best and brightest. Most of us, even Nobel-prize winners, haven't really updated our knowledge of what's going on in the world since we were in high school, as we've been too busy necessarily specializing in whatever pays our bills.

When you wonder how Trump can get away with saying some of the outrageous and demonstrably false things he says, this is how we get the notion of alternative facts. What he is saying matches what his supporters already believe is true regardless of the facts. This exists on all points of the political and human spectrum (see also efforts to reconcile Bill Clinton's behavior with the metoo movement). If we're told something that aligns with what we feel is true or thought we already knew, we embrace it with minimal questions or investigation of the underlying facts/premise. If we're told something contradicts what we feel is true or thought to be the case, we ignore or dismiss it rather than analyzing the source of our knowing conviction to see if it still holds up.

The ultimate conclusion is not that you should give up caring about your local culture, but rather that we should all be cognizant of the fact that our time and energy are limited, and we should be careful and conscientious about how we use them. We should strive to constantly check our presumptions and turn a critical eye to what we're told about how the world works, especially anytime someone is demanding immediate action and attention or insisting that things are all one way or the other. If you're being told you must act NOW or there is only one all-encompassing problem or solution, there's a good chance whoever's doing the telling doesn't want you thinking things through or looking too close at the reasons underpinning that argument.
 
Last edited:

Randy M.

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2012
Messages
1,236
#92
Fascinating point; and brings me to consider the imbalance I think may exist in the west between the prevailing view regarding the search for personal financial wealth (viewed as a good thing we should all aspire to) and becoming more learned (a bit snobby and elitist). This would seem to be a cause for concern. However, I would far rather become more learned than become any wealthier, and I suspect people used to think like this more, but not so much these days (a change that occurred predominately post Thatcher and Reagan, perhaps).

I'm still enjoying my Alan Dean Foster book by the way, which, as it happens, is in no regard making me more learned (or any wealthier come to that).
Not to disagree about the Reagan/Thatcher years, since the problem may have been exacerbated then ("Greed is good"), but in the U.S. I would guess the turbo-charger for materialism and the glorification of acquiring wealth was the Great Depression, and was maybe accelerated after WWII in the atmosphere of economic boom and complacency from being the victor. And for all that, I believe there has been an anti-intellectual streak throughout U.S. history, possibly coming from some combination of the religious tenets the country was established on accentuating faith over thought, that we were largely an agrarian country up to late in the 18th century, politics or anyway politicians promoting gut reaction over reasoned thought, and distrust of the wealthy who, prior to the 20th century, were mainly the people sent to University/College. This hasn't always been calmed or diminished by the pronouncements by those people who saw themselves as intellectuals who also enjoyed an equivalent if different in quality tone-deafness to certain current U.S. political leaders. (And too, distrust of the wealthy and the rise of Marxist thought was pretty much earned by many of the actions of the wealthy, another indication history is a messy place, with a lot of push-me pull-you moments and movements, and any one argument sowing the seeds of its counter-argument.)

Concerning what's taught in college English, I blame the Lost Generation, darn them! They complained their professors wouldn't consider teaching anything post-Henry James (and some begrudged teaching anyone that recent, if I recollect my reading of Edmund Wilson correctly, and if I assume he was correct) so when they became the instructors they allowed into the canon Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald rather than sticking to good old Latin classics with maybe a grudging nod to Johnny-come-latelies like Chaucer. Later generations followed their example.

Of course that was also one of our earlier generations largely suppressing the output of "...that damned mob of scribbling women ..." (Hawthorne), an attitude contributing greatly to the surge of feminist thought from the late '60s on. I agree with Extollager on the single-mindedness of Marxism -- all human experience shoved through that one filter often makes for ludicrous results. I did see some good, vigorous work stemming from feminist thought, though, since they tended to use Marxism and Deconstruction (among other things) as tools to view literature and the society it is a product of rather than as the end-all, be-all, and since feminism is a perspective trying to take into account more or less half the population, it seemed more reasonable to me than some of the others. On the other hand, as practiced in the '80s when I looked into it, feminism had the limitation of being mainly from white women who enjoyed a level of privilege not allowed minority women ...

And as Vonnegut noted, so it goes.


And just to get back to topic: I finished The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford. Anyone who enjoyed Bradbury's Green Town stories or Stephen King's earthier stories of kids coming of age will find this one of interest. It's a mystery that incorporates the paranormal in interesting and reasonable ways. And beautifully written in the voice of a preteen boy from the mid- to late 1960s.

Randy M.
(P.S.: Also, I like Buffy and think it's a good intellectual judo move on young students to use relatively current pop culture as an entry point for examining earlier art and as a shoe-horn for entering the discussion of broader and deeper social/cultural issues grappled with by art at all levels. The question is, as an instructor, how to do this so as not to trivialize what came before, and how to allow as broad a range of views to be expressed as possible. That last seems to be in real danger in colleges and universities.)
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,554
#93
Fascinating point; and brings me to consider the imbalance I think may exist in the west between the prevailing view regarding the search for personal financial wealth (viewed as a good thing we should all aspire to) and becoming more learned (a bit snobby and elitist).
The love of learning, though, doesn't necessarily partake of snobbery -- although that is how it is viewed by those who fear it or resent it.

It would be a shame to be ashamed of a disinterested love of learning because some people (whose good opinion is hardly worth having anyway) don't like it.

I'm sure there are learned people who are snobs, and who became learned in part because that seemed to meet emotional needs for self-esteem over against other people. On the other hand, there are those learned people who respond with delight when they catch a glimpse, in others, of a flicker of the love of learning. C. S. Lewis was like that.

Many of us -- certainly I include myself -- will never be truly learned people; at least, I would say that a learned person ought to be proficient in several modern languages plus Latin and Greek, conversant with the literary and artistic legacy of some sizeable portion of the world, etc.

I have personally known well only one person, in my teaching career, who seems to me truly and obviously to qualify as a learned person. Her most recent book, published since her retirement, is this:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01F2AEM2O/?tag=id2100-20

If I'm not mistaken, in order to write it, she needed to be able to read Finnish. So she learned Finnish.

She writes about writing it:

Mystery Fanfare: On Writing an Encyclopedia (The Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime Fiction): Guest Post by Mitzi M. Brunsdale

Read that. She loves the learned life, but is more alive to life as a whole than most people. She was a woman in full.

How adolescent and half-formed seemed, next to her, her colleagues (male and female), with their buzz words about "learning styles," "critical thinking," measurable "learning outcomes," Theory, "Be the guide by the side, not the sage on the stage," etc etc.

By the way, my students who had had classes with her tended to testify to how enjoyable and worthwhile the experience had been.

A real university is, in my view, the faculty (not, perish forbid, the non-scholar administrators!) if and when they are people like this. But the modern university, as I said yesterday, works against this arrangement.

Can you imagine, by the way, how a real learned person, a true scholar, like Tolkien, would have felt about being monitored (not "mentored") thus?

Male, pale and stale university professors to be given 'reverse mentors'

What a distraction from the learned life.
 

thaddeus6th

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2007
Messages
6,194
Location
UK, Yorkshire
#94
Extollager, the 'male, pale, and stale' [perverse how sexism, racism and ageism are deemed ok by some] reminded me of 1984, in which teachers were terrified of being reported by their students if they weren't loyal enough to IngSoc.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
21,956
Location
Highlands
#95
@Extollager - Dante? Milton, Raphael, Bach? These people were popular culture in their day!

Imagine someone contemporary to each, on fire to learn about them - only to have academia try to stomp out those flames for not instead reading Ambrose, Augustine, or Jerome!

But I feel that I, at least, am getting close to writing about politics as we used to do in the days before the moderators shut down the political discussions here, so I will stop.
Yes, let's leave politics off the reading thread, please! And I genuinely hope you enjoy retirement as I'm sure there's still plenty to be read and written about. :)


In the meantime, back to reading:

A few books I finished over the past week or so:

Brian G. Turner’s review of Master Of War: The Blooding Rich historical fiction, following an English longbowman through the start of the Hundred Years War with France. 5/5

Brian G. Turner’s review of The Midnight Line The latest - and one of the better - Jack Reacher thrillers. 5/5

Brian G. Turner’s review of Chapterhouse: Dune Finally! I have now read all of the original Dune series. But, what a terrible book it finished with. 1/5
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,554
#96
@Extollager - Dante? Milton, Raphael, Bach? These people were popular culture in their day!

Imagine someone contemporary to each, on fire to learn about them - only to have academia try to stomp out those flames for not instead reading Ambrose, Augustine, or Jerome!
As a matter of history, Brian, that's pretty dubious; discussion of the matter wouldn't necessarily be "political," but I wouldn't feel equipped to discuss the matter much without doing some reading I don't have time for now.

So, just a couple of paragraphs: For how Bach was seen in his own time, a marvelous book is Gaines's Twilight in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment. (He was seen as a practitioner of an exacting and outmoded art. In seeking to justify the ways of God to man, Milton wasn't addressing a popular audience even in his own day (hence his use of very elaborate sentences and his rich allusion to history, science, mythology, etc.) nor do I suppose Dante would have expected to be understood and appreciated the way Italian tellers of merry or sorrowful folk tales would, given the argumentativeness and extreme allusiveness of his poem.

But the thing about the popular culture of one's own day is this: why would you need a learned person to lecture to you about it? It is addressed to a wide audience of people who are your exact contemporaries. It takes, I suppose, no great learning to understand the cleverness of a current miniseries. Why spend precious time in college on that rather than on works that really do benefit by the careful, scrupulous unpacking conducted by someone richly learned? Do I need a professor to help me understand Star Trek? Am I going to miss a lot of the wisdom of Spock's Vulcan maxims if I don't study the prose of television script writers of the 1960s? Not really, but how great it might have been if, say, I had had the chance to study Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici with a professor deeply learned in the same lore that informed Browne's memory and imagination. Life is short and art is long, so I think we were better advised to focus our literary-study efforts in college, while we can, on works that have stood the test of time and demonstrated their depths and richness, but whose language and context, etc. are very different from our own. Honestly, isn't there 'something amiss with us if we are more curious about, and eager to study, Star Trek in college than the canonical works? I am already a native of the cultural country in which Star Trek and Buffy and Breaking Bad etc are common coin of conversation. But how great it would be, to be able to become -- somewhat -- at home in the country of Milton. And what a perspective on my own times doing so would be likely to provide me with. I'm thankful, among other things, for such sketchy learning as I have, that has given me some sense of how weird my own time is, in which the characteristic artifact, representing something distinctive about it, might be the smartphone... or the suicide note written by a healthy, well-fed, safe, not-overworked adolescent.....
 

Bick

A Member of the Forum
Supporter
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,827
Location
Auckland, NZ
#97
The love of learning, though, doesn't necessarily partake of snobbery -- although that is how it is viewed by those who fear it or resent it.

It would be a shame to be ashamed of a disinterested love of learning because some people (whose good opinion is hardly worth having anyway) don't like it.
For sure - I was only suggesting what may be a prevailing view - its certainly not my view!
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,554
#98
@Extollager - Dante? Milton, Raphael, Bach? These people were popular culture in their day!

Imagine someone contemporary to each, on fire to learn about them - only to have academia try to stomp out those flames for not instead reading Ambrose, Augustine, or Jerome!
By the way -- just grinning -- but a closer analogy to what I was saying would be this scenario-- that someone living in the age of Milton arrived at university wanting to study Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome, and the faculty just wanted to talk about Milton.
 

Extollager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2010
Messages
5,554
#99
No, no -- what I should've said is

A closer analogy to what I was saying would be this scenario-- that someone living in the age of Bunyan arrived at university wanting to study Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome, and the faculty just wanted to talk about Bunyan.

-- because Bunyan (a contemporary of Milton) really was "popular culture."

But now I've gnawed this bone enough.
 

Hugh

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Mar 27, 2016
Messages
612
More Tolkien…

The Annotated Hobbit”. I thought this truly wonderful. I’m sure this has already been read by many on these forums. Although I felt I knew the Hobbit well (and was disappointed by the films), I had not read it for over fifty years. Reading this in hardback (old library copy) was a truly joyful experience. I loved everything about it: the illustrations from many worldwide editions, the unobtrusive notes in the margins that link the text with varied myths and fairytales, and the excellent story itself. Much to my surprise I was moved to tears by Thorin’s death bed scene. It also benefits from having a version of “The Quest of Erebor”, Gandalf’s somewhat convoluted explanation of the background to the recruitment of Bilbo, as an appendix.

Leaf By Niggle”. Lovely story.

A Well of Wonder: Essays on C.S.Lewis. J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings” Clyde S. Kilby.
This has been reviewed elsewhere by @Extollager (Clyde S. Kilby's Summer (1966) with Tolkien). There are around 110 pages on Tolkien, and Kilby’s impressions and reported conversations make interesting reading.
Kilby met Tolkien twice in 1964, then spent the college summer vacation of 1966 assisting Tolkien (well that was the intention) in moving the Silmarillion forward. Like Tolkien, Kilby was an English professor and a committed Christian, and just ten years younger, and it seems that they got on very well together.
I was less interested in the rest of the book, knowing little of C.S.Lewis’s writings on Christianity (and relatively little of Christianity), however Kilby’s Christianity is essentially joyful, spacious and inclusive and pleasant to read.
I valued reading of his Christian connection with Tolkien, given that this was so central to Tolkien's life. (“I do not recall a single visit I made to Tolkien’s home in which the conversation did not at some point fall easily into a discussion of religion, or rather Christianity”). He emphasises the argument that Tolkien did not set out to write a Christian story, but that others have since pointed out those elements within it. Many thanks for the recommendation @Extollager .

Apologia Pro Vita Sua” by John Henry Newman: this was a step too far for me and I abandoned it fairly soon. Newman was the charismatic founder of the Birmingham Oratory where Tolkien spent much of his early life, and Tolkien’s Guardian, Father Francis Morgan, would have known Newman well. This autobiography, a best seller in its time, is an account of Newman’s spiritual life and conversion to Catholicism, and it is very likely that the young Tolkien would have read it. I had hoped it might give me some insight into Tolkien’s own Catholicism, but I’m afraid I found it too hard going. Maybe another time.
 
Last edited:

Similar threads

Top