- Paperback: 198 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; New title edition (Oct. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 061847885X
- ISBN-13: 978-0618478859
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,945,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Defending Middle-Earth: Tolkien, Myth and Modernity Paperback – Oct 2004
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Reading the book, it very rapidly becomes clear that Curry has an agenda; he has a chip on his shoulder, and he wants you to know about it. Sometimes that can be a good thing - a polemic approach to a text can be illuminating and invigorating. Curry's is neither. To start with, he badly misrepresents or misreads (i think 'misreads' to be fair) the intentions of previous critics of LOTR [Lord of the Rings]. To cite just one example from many: on page 35 Curry writes:
"It is not surprising, then, that his [the critic, Raymond Williams] treatment of pastoralism terminates in mere abuse of Tokien's work as , absurdly, 'half-educated' and 'suburban.' Oxford professors may be many things, but they are not yet half-educated; and Tolkien actually complained to his son in 1943 that 'the bigger things get the smaller and duller or flatter the globe gets'."
What's happened here is that Williams, as Curry observes, is criticising Tolkien's *work* - LOTR. Curry, in the very next sentence, attempts to defend it by asserting that 'Oxford professors may be many things, but they are not yet half-educated' - which is something entirely different from what Williams was arguing. Also, Williams was accusing LOTR of exhibiting a 'suburban' attitude to rural life - a romantic, idealised and, yes, pastoral view of it. In this context, Curry's quotation of Tolkien's complaint against suburbia is mystifying - a suburban mentality does not mean an exaltation of suburbia, it means an exaltation of rurality *from* suburbia.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It is, at times, also rather too defensive of Tolkien, which distracts from the presentation of the positive argument of the book.
Within these limitations, however, it's a reasonable attempt to extract some valid (& overdue) lessons from Tolkien's work.
Also, as one reviewer has stated, Curry is eminently obvious in his disregard towards the Christian aspects of The Lord of the Rings. He spends most of the chapter devoted to the spiritual downplaying the Christian nature of the work, attempting, it would seem, to nullify it all together. And yet Tolkien himself defended LotR as a preeminently Catholic work! I was also slightly disgusted with the author's clear lack of understanding regarding Tolkien's views on the veracity of myth as proved through the meeting of Truth and Myth in Jesus Christ. This meeting does not refute all other myth or thought but substantiates it. We were made by God, the Creator, in His likeness. Therefore we are drawn to sub-create. As we are God's children, anything we create is also in the image and likeness of His creation and the ultimate Truth. Possibly Curry's lack of clarity on this topic lies with his lack of respect for the legitimacy of contemporary religion.