Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Michael Drout's Old English course in less than five minutes

Michael Drout is a leading expert in Old English literature and the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. He is also a witty and charming man.

Now, thanks to an anonymous student or students in his Spring course, you can learn everything you need to know about Old English literature in a matter of minutes.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Michael Bérubé talks about Tolkien, Lewis, and Pullman

And how good was the blog post? Good enough to inspire this response:
I’ve discovered, through writing my own fiction, that at some point you just have to lay your thesis all out there and say,"look, here’s what I’m getting at: women f**king isn’t the end of the world,” or what have you.

This is simply part of story telling mechanics. And yes, it’s reductionist, but that’s because a book (film, play, painting, etc.) is a self contained picture of a world, not the world itself. Your themes have to come to fruition, so either you obscure them in esoteric symbolism and creaky archaic language or you let the dramatic flow carry you to the end and have your characters duke it out in plain site of the Pope and everyone, shouting curses and bloodying their knuckles while they discuss quantum physics, Manicheanism, or the meaning of life. But they do have to defend their thesis until the last author is standing. If you let the other side linger, you get into ambiguity, which is fine for some stories but doesn’t work well for all themes (Manicheanism, for example. Good and Evil can’t have a cup of tea together after the final battle, conceding that the other has some valid point).

And that was hardly the only good one, or even necessarily the best.

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