[LMB] Tolkien and Bujold

Bart Kemper bkemper at bigdogz.com
Thu, 27 Dec 2001 20:05:25 -0600

From: "Jagoda, Lynette K" <lynette.jagoda at pnl.gov>

In the paper was an article about a.) the Roman Catholic
influences on
the work (and the fact that while the professor denied it in the
forward to the books he also admitted it in later essays) b.) the
of the professor who are steadfastly denying the influence,
having not
read the essays where he admits it.
End Snip--

Having read both referred to essays (I think), I believe both
statements are
true in context.  The Lord of the Rings was not intended to be
"teaching story" the way Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia were. 
However Tolkien,
being a devout Roman Catholic could no more segregate those parts
of his being
and world view from his writing than Lois could segregate being a
mother from
her writing.  And for that I say, Thank Goodness!!  As Susan goes
on to expound
eloquently upon, what makes classics better than entertaining
formula fiction is
the ability to take the reader to someplace without actually
having to
experience it directly. To learn by insight rather than "direct
pain" of
mistakes, to experience joys and perspectives that one could
never know
otherwise.  These are some of the ultimate benefits of being an
avid reader.
And part of what makes the best writers is their ability to
invest "themselves"
into the work, often on a "back brain" sort of level. So Tolkien
in both places
was stating "truth" as he knew it. First in the forward that this
intended to be a commentary on either WW 2 or a subtle "Catholic
work.  However later in other essays, acknowledging that "his"
world view was
strongly influenced by both the War and his strong relationship
with God though
the Catholic faith and as such couldn't help but be reflected in
his writings.
...end snip

First, in the copy of LoTR I read last year, Tolkien addresses
the war issue directly in an appendix or forward or something:
that the only parts of the book which reflect his war experience
was the Clearing of the Shire since there were ruffians who took
over in the absence of the "better men."  Incidently, "his" war
was WWI, *not* WWII.  The other stuff might have rolled in there,
but intentionally was not part of the story.  He had been working
on this story prior to WWII, so while there may be some of it in
there, it would be just as any other current event affecting the
story that is NOT part of the writer's personal experience.

Second, I do agree that Lois' feelings as a mom is a strong voice
in her work, as is her respect for science and engineering. (Her
dad is a big influence for her, which is why she keeps the middle
name McMaster as part of her pro name....he is VERY well known in
many tech circles.)  The old saying, "writing is simple, just
open a vein" holds true, and it takes a measure of bravery to
spill that much of yourself into something for the world to see. 
It's probably also why her work rings stronger at the gut level
then, say, many of Asimov's works.  I love reading his stuff, and
he's a wonderful storyteller, but his intellectual nature did
produce stories inheritly different than Lois'.  I don't get as
wrapped up in his characters (with the exception of Lije Bailey,
but I have a childhood connection to the original Robot stories)
as I do in Lois'.