Picked up by Parmar-kenta

It is lovely to see that my blog posts about Corey Olsen’s ideas have been picked up on Troels Forchhammer’s blog, Parmar-kenta. I regularly peruse the wonderful Tolkien Transactions and find them an indispensable resource.

With each entry Troels usually provides a little commentary, and this was also the case with his precis of my blog post, ‘The Children of Hurin, God and Pride’. Troels seems to acknowledge that Olsen’s views tend toward the simplistic but also chastises me for failing to expand my own analysis. Troels, I intend to do this at some stage, but those posts really were about responding to Olsen’s views.

Troels then makes a good point about the notion that death is a kind of “gift” in Tolkien’s fiction. He says that we should remember that the gift is one of “freedom” from determinism (exemplified by the Music of the Ainur). Once again I think this is reading Tolkien a little too programmatically, as though he were a philosopher. I still think that the Children of Hurin cannot really be reconciled to the idea that death is a gift in any way, shape or form, but of course I am open to debate.

Lastly I want to say something about my previous post. I want to make it clear that I don’t have some kind of personal dislike of Dr. Olsen – I’m sure he’s a lovely guy. The exasperation that is evident in that post (for which I make no apology) comes from a place of irritation.

Primarily, it is that Olsen’s ideas and perspectives are so rarely criticized. Being an archaeologist, I come from a field where people with clashing points of view are not afraid to voice disagreement, and it frustrates me that Tolkien scholars are just a little too nice sometimes. Good scholars like Nagy and Drout (and I agree with Troels that a great deal of good scholarship has been done on the Turin material) are starting to change the culture, but it is a long time coming. Criticism and conjecture are the essential ingredients of a flowering academic field, whether that field abide in the humanities or science departments.

I also want to make it clear that I’m not going to be talking about Dr. Olsen in every post, his lectures have just been on my mind recently and I felt compelled to air my thoughts.

But yes, I intend to take Troels up on his criticism (which I welcome) and offer my own thoughts of CoH.


2 thoughts on “Picked up by Parmar-kenta

  1. Troelsfo says:

    Firstly, thank you for the kind words! I will look forward to seeing your own analysis of The Children of Húrin 🙂

    I missed the point that your first post were meant primarily as review of Olsen’s treatment, sorry! If you should find the time for it, I am sure that a proper review of one or more of Olsen’s podcast series would be welcomed at both the Mythopoeic Society or the Tolkien Society (I know that there was at one point a call for such reviews for Mythprint, but I don’t think any has come forward with such a review).

    As for the matter of the Gift of Ilúvatar, I think I had better take up that particular discussion at another point 🙂 For now I’ll just add that my comment was more directed at the tendency (as I perceive it) to speak of the Gift of Ilúvatar as referring only, or mainly, as referring to death.

  2. Point taken about the gift of death issue – i think I actually agree with what you’re saying there.

    As for a review, that is an interesting idea, and I hadn’t thought of it. I’ll definitely consider doing something like that. Which podcast series would most benefit from a review do you think? I wouldn’t be particularly keen on going through the Riddles in the Dark sequence as I don’t think they’re particularly relevant to Tolkien scholarship in any case…perhaps I could select a sample of the Silmarillion Seminar series…

    Anyway again thanks again for dropping in!

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