Defending Middle Earth, by Patrick Curry

June 7, 2011 at 11:53 (Book Reviews, Literature, Poorly Rated Books) (, , , , , )


Curry makes some excellent points in this book, the chief of which are modern criticism’s tendency to arrogantly dismiss non-“literary” books, and commit itself blindly to genres which have more “grown-up” themes; the other key point he makes is the difference between reading a thing allegorically, and reading it with application. These two points aside, this book is little else than a lengthy essay, written in the essay style and about as interesting to read as can therefore be expected. He is unfortunately repetitive, and has a propensity for quoting lengthily from all manner of authors and poets, whose words only occasionally have much relevence to his subject.

His ecological agenda he defends quite ably, pleading with some merit that it was in fact Tolkien’s agenda first: but the vitriol and scorn and soft, quiet seething are all Curry’s. His railing denouncement against the critics who in their arrogance dismiss The Lord of the Rings and especially The Hobbit as childish books, and therefore unworthy of attention loses a great deal of the strength that it should rightfully have held when Curry looks down his nose time and time again at other works of fiction that he considers to have imitated Tolkien’s world (or even that he considers indicative of a general deterioration of literary standards). Altogether a interesting book, let down badly by the author’s agendas and prejudices, and by its own unwieldy length and shallow exploration of its subject.


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