Friday, December 09, 2005

Quote for the Day: The Fatality of Christian Fantasy

"The Arthurian world, powerful as it is, is imperfectly naturalized... For one thing its 'faerie' is too lavish, and fantastical, incoherent and repetitive. For another and more important thing: it is involved in, and explicitly contains the Christian religion... That seems to me fatal. Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth (or error), but not explicit..." (J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters, #131, to Milton Waldman)

No wonder Tolkien hated Narnia.


Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

What did Tolkien think of Milton's Paradise Lost?

Jeffery Hodges

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Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hey Loren, I'm serious. What did Tolkien think of Paradise Lost?

Blogger Loren Rosson III said...

Jeffery, I don't recall anywhere Tolkien comments on Paradise Lost, but I suspect that if there is one piece of literature from post-1100 that he approved, it might have been this one. The attractive Lucifer seems to have inspired his portrait of Sauron in the Second Age -- the charismatic Annatar, who seduced the elves into making the Rings of Power.

The quote I cited here probably doesn't apply to Paradise Lost in any case, since Milton was writing about the Christian myth itself. Tolkien objected to the Christian myth being made explicit in works which weren't about the biblical story (like the Arthurian legends), just as he objected to the biblical story being retold in by way of cheesy allegory (Narnia).


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