Moorcock's essay on conservativism in fantasy

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Tanniel, Nov 18, 2016.

  1. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    Von Bek is cool and takes a different approach. This year I plan on finally reading Cornelius. ( it was described to me as the eternal champion was hardboiled and a spy)
  2. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    On Watership down
    Think of it as a British young readers version of Grapes of Wrath. The Warren is a quaint rural farming community where they all take care of each other and themselves. They then get tractor'd off in the name of progress so larger farms can produce for larger populations further away.

    They are both political commentaries on the current (then) situations going on. In one they move off looking for a better situation, finding it is actually worse. In the other they find another idyllic setting to be a rural community.
  3. Tanniel

    Tanniel Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    That's one valid interpretation, but I also think it diminishes the content of the book if we say that's all it is (i.e. some kind of idealisation of rural living or the past). I never found reading the book to be a "comforting lie" as Moorcock claims. Maybe because I was living in a different time and society, so I didn't hone in on the political commentary as much. Personally, I was fascinated the most by the mythopoetic aspects of the book, and also its ability to make a society of rabbits seem so real. I think what I most protest against is how this essay seems to disregard any qualities that Watership Down has due to a difference in political observations.
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  4. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    Hmm. I did find the book a comforting lie. In Watership down don't they end up existing in the same blissful state they did before, just somewhere else. This sets up the idea that you can return to the way things were, you can't. The homesteaders in grapes end up in California, some try to go back and learn a new trade. Others accepted the shifty reality around them and populate the trailer parks around Bakersfield to this day.

    But that could still be opinion..

    Yes the books he tears a new one are all great...generally. and have wonderful aspects beyond the criticisms. Would it help to tell you he may have an alternative reason beyond railing against cutesy adult fairytale with political references on only one side?

    He was advertising. If all the fantasy that was selling fits only one small sub category and you don't want to write that. Rail until you convince the publishers to expand the options to more expansive sub categories.
  5. Matticus Primal

    Matticus Primal Journeyed there and back again

    I read the article finally and gave it a big shrug. He had an interesting point, and I had never looked at any of those books from a rural/ urban divide (which is turning out how politics it going these days, so fairly prescient). But yeah, while it's useful to add a new way to look at literature, it should just be one facet of interpretation. Sort of like Marx saying all wars are reduced down to economics. It was a new way to look at history, which added to our collective means of examining things. But once it becomes almost religious in its interpretations, in that there is one, and only one, way to examine history, then it should be met with a shrug.
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  6. Anti_Quated

    Anti_Quated Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune

    For my part, Tolkien's academic credentials are what give his monolithic corpus of work a wide latitude of 'unfuckable-with' I'd not readily accede to dressing most other authors with, particularly in the Fantasy genre. I've no beef with commercial fiction or fantasy, but Tolkien's earnest historical inquiries and linguistic background give his work a greater pedigree in my eyes than most others, specifically because I've read much of the same literature and share an affinity for that noble, northern spirit that permeates his efforts. And his mythic paeans for the humility and bountiful simplicity of bucolic idealism I find infectious, even if it is increasingly fanciful romanticism.
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  7. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Journeyed there and back again

    Just had a thought, the essay is on fantasy strictly. If he extended it to scifi he'd have a lot more authors to critique. Scifi authors typically make there political views very clear in their books. Ie Larry niven, Heinlein, ayn Rand, ORWELL, Wolfe, and dostoyevsky all come to mind immediately as very very conservative writers.

    I think writing about politics is one of the cornerstone s for a lot of science fiction.
  8. David Sims

    David Sims Told lies with Locke

    If I wrote science fiction, I might load up my character with some political opinions. For example, a very, very smart girl protagonist has gotten accepted by a very exclusive (to high-IQ students) school, and she has a difference of opinion with one of her teachers. But she hesitates to make her point clearly in the classroom, fearing that it might reflect adversely in her grades.

    Written by me:
    I don't see anything wrong with science fiction experimenting with politics. I do think that it can be done either well or poorly, though.
  9. Brandon Stubbs

    Brandon Stubbs A Muggle

    Interesting topic! I'd have to disagree with many of Moorcock's assertions, especially in regards to Tolkien. Tolkien was fascinated with mythologies and linguistics, and his works were heavily influenced by languages and cultures from the Middle East to Northern Europe but more than anything by Nordic mythologies. I'd say 80 - 90% of the content in the books can be traced back in some way to Nordic myths and beliefs. So you can't really judge the books in a modern context, because they in so many ways reflect the beliefs of an ancient culture. He never wrote a word with the modern world in mind (or at least he said so). His head was swimming with heroes like Sigurd Sigmundson and Bryndhildr the Valkyrie (probably one of his inspirations for Eowyn).

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