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.