We try not to favor any one source when we link out to interesting items, but sometimes a source seems to have a “hot hand”. Just after noting one great, short item of enormous consequence we can recommend another longer item (click the image to the right) for anyone–especially parents of those most likely to read this series–for whom quality of writing in the English language is a concern. Not to mention that yesterday we had a completely unrelated reason to mention visiting Oxford…
Here is the shocking opening line that should get you reading this piece (and as always we encourage subscription to that publication, without which we would not get so much vivid, varied and valuable reportage):
At Oxford in the nineteen-forties, Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was generally considered the most boring lecturer around, teaching the most boring subject known to man, Anglo-Saxon philology and literature, in the most boring way imaginable.
Modernist ambiguity, or realist emotional ambivalence, is unknown to Tolkien—the good people are very good, the bad people very bad, and though occasionally a character may be tossed between good and evil, like Gollum, it is self-interest, rather than conscience, that makes him tip back and forth. Betrayal and temptation happen; inner doubts do not. Gandalf and Aragorn never say, as even the most patriotic real-world general might, “I don’t know which side I should be on, or, indeed, if any side is worth taking.”