Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tolkien Over Pullman, No Contest

Picked up The Wand in the Word, an excellent book at the American Library Association Conference in New Orleans (ah, New Orleans). The subtitle is "Conversations with Writers of Fantasy" and it is compiled and edited by Leonard S Marcus. Some of my favourite fantasy writers are included such as Susan Cooper, Garth Nix, Brian Jacques, and Madeleine l'Engle. (The two women I read as a child, the two men as an adult.) The only sour note is Philip Pullman attacking, yet again, JRR Tolkien. A dwarf insulting a giant. Yes, I enjoyed His Dark Materials but it is not the masterpiece that is The Lord of the Rings, nor is it a work I would ever re-read. More importantly, it is not a work that would change my life, help me through a dark time, or inspire me to be a better person. These latter descriptions describe the writings of the two great men that Pullman constantly attacks -- CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. At this point, me thinks he doth protest too much. There's something personal here. Did the two professors fail to recognize the 'genius' of the young Pullman when he was at Oxford? Is he still fuming over that fact and taking his revenge now that they are dead and cannot defend themselves? A petty little man when all is said and done.

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