Greetings from Edinburgh


This is a forum for all new members. Please post an introduction and tell us about yourself here

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar

Posts: 77

Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:39 am

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Post Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:05 am

Re: Greetings from Edinburgh

Stormbringer - thanks a lot for sharing that essay about Epic Pooh - I've never read it before, so it was fascinating (like you I'm a big Tolkien fan, but I also have a warm spot for Moorcock).

My own view is that it's unsurprising that Moorcock wanted to take a bite out of Tolkien. That's a natural impulse when he borrowed so much from Tolkien himself (including, among many other things, themes of the passing away of high magic so that a darker, more mundane world could take over). This impulse to attack the ones you borrow from is fairly well documented -- the literary critic Harold Bloom has written about how much of Western literature is based on this pattern... here's a quote from his wikipedia entry:

"Bloom's theory of poetic influence regards the development of Western literature as a process of borrowing and misreading. Writers find their creative inspiration in previous writers and begin by imitating those writers in order to develop a poetic voice of their own; however, they must make their own work different from that of their precursors. As a result, Bloom argues, authors of real power must inevitably "misread" their precursors' works in order to make room for fresh imaginings."

I also think it's important to put Moorcock's criticism of Tolkien in its proper context. Moorcock was from the counter-cultural 60's. Any self-respecting counter-cultural warrior would have to take on the old guard like Tolkien.
Matthew

"Krogar need horse. Horse cost plenty. So Krogar take horse. Man on horse try to hit Krogar. Stupid. Krogar pull head off."

My blog: http://www.oldenhammer.com
User avatar

Posts: 408

Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:00 pm

Location: Edinburgh

Post Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:38 pm

Re: Greetings from Edinburgh

Matthew,

Thanks for the response. It may well be true that Bloom's theory of coming to resent your source of inspiration is the basis for Moorcock's antagonism toward Tolkien in 'Epic Pooh', but I feel that if one has to visciously attack one's influences in order to set oneself apart, then it doesn't say much about the quality of an author. I don't think I'll ever be able to look past Moorcock's Tolkien-bashing, even if I take some enjoyment from reading his fiction some day.

George R. R. Martin has managed to earn the title (wrongly, in my opinion) as the 'American Tolkien', but he's done that by gaining popularity through his work, not by attacking (to my knowledge) bygone literary masters who have influenced him.
Something in my aspect and speech seemed to excite vague fears and aversions in everyone I met, as if I were a being infinitely removed from all that is normal and healthful.
User avatar

Posts: 1931

Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:14 pm

Post Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:55 pm

Re: Greetings from Edinburgh

Stormbringer wrote:George R. R. Martin has managed to earn the title (wrongly, in my opinion) as the 'American Tolkien', but he's done that by gaining popularity through his work, not by attacking (to my knowledge) bygone literary masters who have influenced him.


That's because he doesn't have time--he's too busy getting angry at his fans for asking when the next book comes out.
User avatar

Posts: 77

Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:39 am

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Post Sat Mar 07, 2015 5:19 am

Re: Greetings from Edinburgh

Stormbringer wrote:... but I feel that if one has to visciously attack one's influences in order to set oneself apart, then it doesn't say much about the quality of an author...


That's an interesting point, Stormbringer. But on the other hand, Bloom (I think) would say that you *need* to denigrate your predecessors, because it's the only way to benefit from their influence without allowing yourself to become intimidated by their genius. After all, if someone like Moorcock said to himself "Tolkien is perfect fantasy", it would be difficult for them to know how to write their own fantasy without simply copying Tolkien, which would just be sad and derivative. Focusing on what he didn't like about Tolkien (even if that criticism was unfair), may have given Moorcock room to innovate. But that sort of attack would only be necessary if Moorcock first felt the weight of Tolkien's genius bearing down on him.

In this sense, "Epic Pooh" might actually be extremely well disguised flattery.
Matthew

"Krogar need horse. Horse cost plenty. So Krogar take horse. Man on horse try to hit Krogar. Stupid. Krogar pull head off."

My blog: http://www.oldenhammer.com
User avatar

Posts: 408

Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:00 pm

Location: Edinburgh

Post Sun Mar 08, 2015 12:22 am

Re: Greetings from Edinburgh

Perhaps, Matthew.

I would still question Bloom's idea of the 'need to misread', though. Sure, you may envy another author -- even one you secretly admire -- for their success in dominating a genre in which you desire to stake a claim, but do you absolutely need to publish an essay assaulting them for every way in which you find them not to your liking? If you deliberately misunderstand another author, it just seems, to me, a rather desperate, dishonest and mean-spirited method of grasping attention.

I would like to think that fiction authors can attempt to outshine their forebears honestly by the quality of their work alone, rather than by tearing them down on the basis of their political or religious views. It just makes the later authors look jealous and bitter.

Philip Pullman is another classic example of somebody who has done this, against both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. No, it's not enough for him to write his own stories, he has to compare himself to his forebears and lay into them as well. I'm not impressed by that behaviour and it only serves to turn me off whatever they have to say.

All that said, I'm curious enough about Moorcock -- if only because of his apparent inspirational role in the imagining of the Warhammer World -- to at least say I'll give his works a look some day. But I'm not in any hurry.
Something in my aspect and speech seemed to excite vague fears and aversions in everyone I met, as if I were a being infinitely removed from all that is normal and healthful.
User avatar

Posts: 77

Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:39 am

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Post Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:14 pm

Re: Greetings from Edinburgh

That is all fair enough. Myself, I think a lot of great authors tend to be jerks -- I'm not sure if it's an occupational necessity, but sometimes it seems like it might be.
Tolkien, of course, is a great exception to that. Everything I've ever read about the man makes him sound lovely and big-spirited.
Matthew

"Krogar need horse. Horse cost plenty. So Krogar take horse. Man on horse try to hit Krogar. Stupid. Krogar pull head off."

My blog: http://www.oldenhammer.com
Previous

Return to Introductions

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
Designed by ST Software.