5 Reasons Tolkien Rocks

Considering that China Miéville has never been known for singing the praise of J. R. R. Tolkien, I found this article quite interesting.

Here's an excerpt:

The Author of the Century, of course, needs no help from anyone (least of all a speck like me). No force on earth could undermine either the juggernaut implacability of his sales, nor the world-historic scale of his influence, nor the truly enormous weight of his achievement. The man puts the 'epic' in 'epic win'. However--or, more accurately, because of that--every few years, certain as tides, someone will write a splenetic screed against the Professor, explaining why he's the devil/ worst things to happen to fantasy/voice of reaction/zomg most boring writer EVER /etc. The Oedipal Resentment motivating many of these attacks may be trivially obvious, especially in those from within fantastic fiction, but it doesn't follow that the substance of all the criticism is baseless. There are perfectly reasonable arguments to be had about the impact, nature, scale and success of Tolkien's work. The sheer religious zealotry with which some Tolkienistas defend the master, when it ignores those grounds for debate and refuses to countenance a flaw anywhere in the MiddleEarthian edifice, doesn't, then, help matters. Even more nuanced pro-Hobbit partisans sometimes--and acknowledging that there are always debates on this--choose what look to some of us to be questionable grounds for defence. Because there are arguments not only about what is regrettable in Tolkien, but about what is indispensible. Accordingly, what follows is a list of some Perhaps In Some Cases Somewhat Insufficiently Stressed Reasons We Should All Be Terribly Grateful To Tolkien. It may be redundant strictly qua defence, this defence of a corpus that is thriving, but perhaps it's not pointless anyway.

Follow this link to read the entire piece. For more information about China Miéville's latest novel, The City & the City: Canada, USA, Europe.

7 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Re: "Juggernaut implacability of his sales..." I bought the Tolkien books and found buying vs actually reading them two totally different things. Could not finish the books. So I'm wondering, how many other people have bought Tolkien but couldn't actually finish reading Tolkien.

ediFanoB said...

There are many people who never read The Lord of the Rings which is funny because so many peopletalk about th books.
I read it twice. My wife will never read the trilogy but she loves the movies by Peter Jackson.

Cecrow said...

I keep a cut-and-paste collection of fantasy defences, so this adds some new material. Particularly liked the last point, about the world building. I should look for that essay.

Trish-Harvey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I read it at least once a year from when I was 13 until my 30s (then I had kids and reading long works went out the window for several years). I still love it, but have always been very aware of the limitations/agenda/politics etc.

CyndiF said...

"Re: "Juggernaut implacability of his sales..." I bought the Tolkien books and found buying vs actually reading them two totally different things. Could not finish the books. So I'm wondering, how many other people have bought Tolkien but couldn't actually finish reading Tolkien."

Well, I probably balance out the statistics for you. When I was in junior high, I read it in a continuous loop. I've probably read it 20 times.

Marc said...

I've made the point before that people need to think of "Tolkien" as being more than just The hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. His body of work also includes extensive legends from the First Age.

These resemble Norse sagas, and are full of tragedy and pathos. There are no Hobbits in the First Age, and hardly any of the class-consciousness that so bothers some readers of LoTR. But the negative reviews of Tolkien routinely concentrate on LoTR, while ignoring the tales found in The Silmarillion, and expanded in Unfinished Tales, Morgoth's Ring, The War of the Jewels, and The Children of Hurin.

for some good critical writing on Tolkien that DOES consider much more of his body of work, I recommend The Cimmerian blogspot (which, as its name suggests, also focuses on Robert E. Howard).