In any case, I don't think Osterling's charge shd pass unanswered. Even though made fifty years ago, its only being released now means that it'll soon be seized upon by Tolkien bashers as evidence that Tolkien's really not a literary figure but simply a pop-cultural phenomenon.**
Attacks on Tolkien's style are endemic, but oddly enough some of them come from people who are otherwise well-disposed to Tolkien's work, in the midst of essays which praise Tolkien and stress his importance as a writer, which is somewhat bizarre. Prime examples include Stephen Medcalf, whom I saw giving a major presentation in which he kept reading out loud individual sentences from LotR and saying how bad they were, as if it were self evident (neither I nor I think anyone else in the audience agreed). An early and influential example is Burton Raffel in his essay in Isaacs & Zimbardo (TOLKIEN & THE CRITICS, 1968) in which he pillories Tolkien's prose and suggests readers love this stuff purely because of the storytelling.
I don't know why Tolkien scholars have been so slow to challenging the Medcalfs and Raffels in their midsts, when they've been all too eager to take on clueless outsiders like Harold Bloom and Edmund Wilson. I've done what I cd in my recent articles, esp. the Marquette lecture that appeared in TOLKIEN STUDIES, "A Kind of Elvish Craft, Tolkien as Literary Craftsman", to argue that Tolkien is a v. careful stylist who deliberately weighed the effect of each word. The only person I know of who's made a spirited and detailed defense of Tolkien's style a major aspect of their work is Brian Rosebury in the two editions of his book (the first of which I greatly admire, the second of which I've only skimmed as yet). I hope there'll be more work along these lines, so that the Tolkien-bashers aren't met with silence or worse a half-grudging admission that one of the most widely read and obsessively re-read writers of our times really cdn't write v. well. Which is nonsense, pure and simple.
current reading: THE CHINESE LAKE MURDERS by Rbt Van Gulik
*does CSL's nominating him demonstrate that Lewis was prescient about a great writer in their midst who had not yet been recognized (which is how I'd like to take it) or simply prone to cronyism (which the evidence of the whole making Adam Fox Professor of Poetry and promoting his pad Ch. Wms as among the greatest poets of the century)? Or, perhaps, some mix of the two?
**there were no comments on the Guardian piece when I first read it, but later that same day there were a long string, and even a quick skim of a few showed the Tolkien-bashers were already out in force. Any popular author, or director, or actor, generates a crowd of anti-fans who delight to deprecate his or her work at any opportunity, and Tolkien is no exception.