Monsters And The Critics And Other Essays How To Wright A Essay
This tells us little about why : ‘This is not a work that many adults will read right through more than once’?
These three books, in their different ways, are attempts to make sense of the diverseness of Tolkien’s activities., have previously been published (some of them more than once), and the book provides further evidence, if evidence be needed, of Christopher Tolkien’s enterprising combination of filial piety and commercial flair. Shippey, sets out to explore Tolkien’s imaginative writing in relation to the texts he studied and to the scholarship he published.Consider, for example, Shippey’s treatment of the first thing Tolkien ever published: the poem ‘Goblin’s Feet’ which appeared in the collection I am off down the road Where the fairy lanterns glowed And the little pretty flittermice are flying: A slender band of grey It runs creepily away And the hedges and the grasses are a-sighing. Observing that ‘it may seem perverse to seek to identify this road, but on the other hand it isn’t very hard,’ Shippey goes on to inform his reader about two Roman roads near Oxford, speculates as to whether might have been performed in a village near one of them (probably not), asks whether Tolkien might have told G. Smith about the Old English elegy ‘The Ruin’ (probably not), and wonders whether Tolkien’s poem is a ‘translation of the quest for the romantic realities of history’ (certainly not).The air is full of wings And of blundering beetle-things That warn you with their whirring and their humming. I hear the tiny horns Of enchanted leprechauns And the padding feet of many gnomes a-coming.‘This,’ notes Shippey, ‘is not very good.’ He then offers a gratuitous parody of the objections a literary critic might make to the poem (for, in the course of this book, the crude debate between ‘Lang.’ and ‘Lit.’, conducted by certain members of the Oxford English School during Tolkien’s lifetime and now defunct in the place of its origin, is lent a new and dreary lease of life). Shippey concludes – on the evidence of this text – that Tolkien shared with his school friend a ‘feeling for ancient roads’ which ‘could possess a creepiness for him’ and that he was making up words as early as 1915.‘Yes’ is Shippey’s answer, for ‘no compromise is possible between what one might call “the Gandalph mentality” and Tolkien’s.Tolkien’s mind was one of unmatchable subtlety.’ By adopting this combative position, and by attributing the views of Tolkien’s critics to what the first subheading of Chapter One disdainfully describes as ‘old antipathies’, Shippey commits himself to an unclear and unargued overstatement of his case.But it does not ‘show us why the appeal of will be timeless,’ as the dust-jacket promises, nor does it explain much about ‘the problems of reading archaic literary modes’.One does not have to be a personal enemy of Tolkien’s, nor insensible to the element of fantasy in literature, to think it an exaggeration to set .The intensity of their interest is remarkable and perhaps surprising, for Tolkien, unlike literary and linguistic scholars such as Erich Auerbach and E. Dodds who achieved and deserved fame in this century, was not an intellectual.The reasons why one might take up his scholarship or his fiction are not the same as those that make us read – books that transformed, and continue to influence, our understanding of significant problems in European intellectual and cultural development.The impact of Tolkien’s example is amply displayed in T. Shippey’s book, which offers, to say the least of it, a highly personal view of his subject.The facts that Shippey was born abroad, was educated in Birmingham at Tolkien’s old school, taught Medieval English and English language at Oxford, and now holds Tolkien’s first Chair at Leeds, make him, in the words of the dust-jacket, ‘ideally suited to write about his predecessor ... Perhaps this is so: but Shippey lacks one of the qualities that make his predecessor a pleasure to read – Tolkien’s elegant, robust and witty style.