Tuesday, May 22, 2012

review of my Bombadil article

So, had I had time and better access to the internet while at Kalamazoo, I wd have posted this the weekend before last (specifically, on the 11th). Better late than never in this case, I think.

It's a review of the new McFarland book PICTURING TOLKIEN, edited by Jan Bogstad & Phil Kaveny, in which I have an essay looking at the eight adaptations of THE LORD OF THE RINGS so far (films, unproduced scripts, radioplays, musical) and the different ways they handle the Bombadil material. I forget who gave Jan & Phil the link, but I'm grateful to them for passing it along to me.

Here's the review:

I'm particularly pleased by this review because (a) the reviewer says nice things about my essay, and I always like that, and (b) he or she concludes by saying that some of these essays actually have worthwhile things to say about the books and thus have a value that transcends just a discussion of the films.

If this were not enough, on the Teaching Tolkien roundtable at Kalamazoo one person (Jan B.) said mine was one of two essays from PICTURING TOLKIEN* she used in her course to help people get beyond the idea that a comparison or contrast between the film and the book had to end in praising one and condemning the other.

So, altogether I'm v. pleased that my Bombadil piece seems to have turned out okay. Now I have my fingers crossed that my next one, due out later this year, will also go down well. Guess we'll see.

--John R.
current book: MY FRIEND RONALD by Arne Zettersten (a.k.a. J. R. R. TOLKIEN'S DOUBLE WORLDS)
current audiobook: THE DARK IS RISING

*I think she said Verlyn Flieger's was the other


David Bratman said...

I hope it doesn't surprise you that I am an advocate of having comparisons of Tolkien and Jackson end without praising one and condemning the other.

But that requires treating them as two totally independent works of art that just happen to bear interesting resemblances, the same way scholars treat any other pair of works they wish to compare in their articles. It requires freeing one's mind from any idea that Jackson's work either is, or is intended to be, either a faithful adaptation of Tolkien's or an improvement on Tolkien's stodgy outdated work or any such rot. My own published criticism was less of Jackson than of Jackson's enthusiasts, and was addressed solely to their claim that it was a great adaptation.

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi David

No, it doesn't surprise me.

". . . either a faithful adaptation of Tolkien's or an improvement on Tolkien's stodgy outdated work or any such rot."

Well, I don't believe Tolkien is stodgy, or outdated, or that the film improves upon his work. In fact, v. much the reverse. And my current re-reading has bathed me in delight at the texture of his work all over again; wonderful stuff.

". . . their claim that it was a great adaptation."

There we part company: it is a great adaptation. It has flaws, like most things in this world, but that doesn't prevent it from achieving greatness. It's simply not as great as it could be, and (of course) not as great as the book itself.

--John R.