Ah, I've had a bad day and I welcome something to be angry about.

    The latter is the third part of Jackson’s “The Hobbit” sequence, a book once considered a delightful fable that has been torn asunder to make its story fit in with the vast continuity of the earlier films, while also trying to honor every one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s footnotes, appendices, and letters.

This is not why the book was torn apart. Hobbit second edition was entirely continuous with LotR. The above, as stated, would not be difficult to do, which is why someone is doing it. "Continuity" and multifarious footnotes etc are not problems. Jackson's individual take on the style and atmosphere is. Don't blame Tolkien for Hollywood-created tripe.

    Gollum and Sauron and Aragorn were drawn from mythic tropes

Sauron and Aragorn, yes, but I defy the author to point to a single myth involving a character remotely alike to Gollum. Hobbits (Gollum is a sort of Fallen Hobbit) are famously Tolkien's own creation. In addition, bringing myth to life -- popularizing the Kalevala and Beowulf and so on -- was a groundbreaking idea in 1937.

    Moorcock thinks Tolkien’s vast catalogue of names, places, magic rings, and dwarven kings is, as he told Hari Kunzru in a 2011 piece for The Guardian, “a pernicious confirmation of the values of a morally bankrupt middle class.”

That's dumb. And meaningless. If Moorcock is one of the five people I meet in hell I will kill him, and then myself.

    Nevertheless, Moorcock might be someone to trust in these matters. From his first job, editing a Tarzan fan magazine at the age of seventeen, to his seventieth novel,

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that anyone who has written 70 "novels" is not a good novelist. Tolkien wrote four (basically). People are still talking about him. Moorcock's name will die when he does, thankfully.

    Moorcock and his peers had become tired of the dominant science-fiction landscape: vast fields of time travel, machismo, and spaceships, as well as the beefcake heroes of the fantasy subgenre “Sword and Sorcery.” The Golden Age of Science Fiction, held aloft by authors like Frederik Phol, John W. Campbell, and Robert Heinlein had, by the nineteen-sixties, sputtered out into a recycling of the same ideas.

These are two distinct ideas; trope-y scifi and hero's journey fantasy. Trope-y scifi I'll give him, not that he ever wrote anything better, but hero's journey fantasy was simply not a fantasy subgenre at that point. It is now -- though actually it's been destroyed by idiots like Moorcock. The content doesn't matter; the quality does. Zelazny and Delaney could write, or else "New Wave" scifi would've imploded. Almost all modern "political/realist" fantasy sucks, that I've read.

    In 1978, Moorcock did a more thorough takedown in an essay called “Epic Pooh,” in which he compares Tolkien and his hobbits to A. A. Milne and his bear.

Yes, and he's probably stupid enough not to realize that's a compliment.

    Tolkien could be found in songs, Harvard Lampoon parodies

Yeah; I've read this, it's pretty clever at times. Manages to call Tolkien a whatever-the-fuck of middle class conformity and make me laugh, unlike Moorcock, whose name I've been trying to turn into a dirty joke this whole time. I'm about to stoop to the obvious.

    Because Moorcock is a fiction writer, it was only fitting that he would offer a critique of Tolkien through his own work. In the nineteen-seventies, swimming in the shadows like a remora alongside Tolkien’s legacy, was a hero of sorts with a slightly darker nature than that of Bilbo or Gandalf. His name is Elric, a frail, drug-addicted albino and the reluctant ruler of the kingdom of Melniboné, where revenge and hedonism are abiding characteristics, and human beings are enslaved.

Aha. Ha. Holy fucking christ. Elric the drug-addicted albino never got a movie, Michael? I'm not sure why.

There's a fundamental misunderstanding present in modern fantasy, in Moorcocksucker and in anti-Tolkienites. Yes, Tolkien's stories are (kinda) black and white. So is Narnia, so is Prydain, etc. No, that isn't a valid criticism. Morally-based fantasy was a vital stepping-stone on the way to a more complex genre. Allegories for the Bible or other ancient mythology don't have room for goddamn one-legged albinos with drinking habits, or for moral relativism, for which the albinos are a metaphor. That's not the message of Lord of the Rings or any other foundational example of the genre. Even George RR Martin, the preeminent modern proponent of "realistic fantasy" has perhaps missed the point, regarding his comments in the past about Tolkien. His books are great, but they shouldn't be set up as some antithesis of Tolkien. They wouldn't exist without Tolkien.

This article is fucking confused. It started off with half a thesis, decided to involve the Hobbit trilogy to maintain relevance, and let whatever feeble point it did have slip through its fingers in the wash.


    In 2008, The Times newspaper named Moorcock in their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Yes. He was 50th, probably undeservedly, although I didn't read the rest of it, save to ascertain that, lo, behold, Tolkien was in the top ten (and should have been first or second).

posted by user-inactivated: 1568 days ago