Saturday, July 17, 2010

Back from the ArkLaTex

So, last night we finally got back from a two-part trip that ran a little over a week. First we flew down to Dallas, stayed a night with some friends (a former co-worker of Janice's in Allen, Texas), then went to MYTHCON, which was held in a beautiful hotel designed to make acrophobiacs suffer.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Among the highlights were getting to meet a lot of people I've exchanged e-mails with but never encountered in person before (Jason Fisher, Randy Hoyt, David Oberhelman, Janet Croft), getting the chance to visit with friends I don't see often enough, like David Bratman and Gary Hunnewell and Bruce Leonard and Diana Pavlac, and newer friends like Merlin de Tardo, and meeting new folks -- like Tom Simon, or the Eddison scholar from New Zealand who's just spent a month with the Eddison papers at Leeds and another month at the Bodleian*, or the guy who did the presentation on folklore monsters of Japan, China, and Korea, or any of several others I'd mention if I had my program book (which is in my suitcase) or my 'Red Book' in which I took all my notes all weekend long (which is also in my suitcase).

And where's my suitcase? According to the airline it'll be here soon. Well, soon-ish. Any time now. Certainly no later than a few hours ago.


In any case, it was a great Mythcon. The panel I was on (with David Bratman and Jason Fisher, chaired by Merlin de Tardo) went well, and my talk on Haggard's influence on Tolkien seems to have gone okay (although the near dead silence that met me when I ended surprised me a bit). I got to go to a number of good presentations, including a reading of Ch. Wms' THE MASQUE OF THE MANUSCRIPT (which I first read in the British Library back in 1981 and never thought to see performed) and, one of the standout events of the weekend, THE MAJOR AND THE MISSIONARY, a reading of the correspondence between Major Warnie Lewis and a medical missionary in New Guinea during the last five years of WHL's life; his personality comes out as strongly here as in BROTHERS & FRIENDS. Also, I was delighted that Dimitra Fimi's book won the Mythopoeic Award -- as last year's winner, I got to read out Dimitra's acceptance speech in her absence.

Then it was on to Arkansas, where I spent some time dealing with a family crisis, more or less successfully for now; I'll be returning there soon for round two. More on this later. For now, I'm just grateful to be back home -- even after a good trip, it's nice to be home with the cats (who assure us they are Starved For Affection). Now after a good night's sleep we're settling back in. I've walked the cats and started making a few preparations for the next trip -- regarding which the arrival of my luggage wd help no end. We'll see how long it takes . . .



*the other three authors his dissertation focuses on being MacDonald, Lovecraft, and Peake.


Extollager said...

John, my guess about the quiet response to your paper on Haggard's influence on Tolkien is that very few people hearing it will have read Haggard. While I suspect that more than a few people become interested in works of medieval literature on account of an early interest in Tolkien and/or Lewis, somehow the two authors' enjoyment of Haggard (and Buchan) doesn't seem to prompt people to read H and B for themselves. I suppose some people assume that Haggard, especially, wrote Wordy Victorian Prose to tell stories that we can enjoy better by watching Indiana Jones movies. If, however, more people start reading novels such as Haggard's She and Montezuma's Daughter, or Buchan's Greenmantle and Huntingtower, they may catch on! I hope your paper will prompt some people to give those authors a serious try. It seems to me that Haggard's influence on Tolkien is really important, even pervasive. And Lewis's Magician's Nephew gains a lot when one has read not only Chesterton's vigrous Man Who Was Thursday but Haggard's She. Jadis storming through the London streets seems to owe much to the earlier books.

I do hope you have your Red Book by now. That sounds like an awful loss.

Lynn said...

David Bratman actually managed to stage The Masque of the Manuscript with the music at Mythcon 32 (2001) - author GOH Peter Beagle sang one of the parts (I forget which; I'm sure David remembers). Pretty amazing!

I'm really glad you enjoyed Mike & Diana Pavlac Glyer presenting The Major and the Missionary-- I had to miss it at Mythcon because I had to do some final paper-clean-up work (I'm sure that NEVER happens to you!) but I've seen it twice before and know how wonderful it is.

I confess to not having read Haggard or Buchan but I thoroughly enjoyed your plenary presentation; your argument made sense to me.

David Bratman said...

I just came across this thread while rummaging through the back files for something else, so I should add here that the part Peter Beagle sang in the 2001 Masque of the Manuscript production was Colin (the part Mike Glyer read in this year's stage reading).