Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Critic Trashes Lord of the Rings Author JRR Tolkien

Responding to Criticism

Here's a good story you could use to help your students to overcome undeserved criticism.

JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was crowned Britain’s best loved book. With over 150 million copies sold, it’s the third best-selling novel ever written. The movie trilogy, based on the book, was the 6th greatest money-making film ever. These achievements give strong, if not irrefutable evidence that Tolkien is one of the greatest story-tellers to ever wield a pen. Yet, even Tolkien gets criticized by so-called experts in literature. 

Although he was nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature (by no less than literary scholar C.S. Lewis), the most influential literary critic for determining the prize dismissed Tolkien’s work as poor writing. In his words, Tolkien "has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality." In other words, he accused Tolkien of being a mediocre writer. 

My point? Critics, even brilliant critics, are often dead wrong. So don’t let criticism stop you from chasing your dreams. Listen to criticism and learn from it, but don’t make it the final judge of your worth.
Fifty years after Tolkien lost his chance for a Nobel Prize, we’ve all heard of Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings. Yet, you’ve probably never heard of Tolkien’s critic, Anders Ă–sterling. Enough said. 

Discussion with Students

1) How many of you saw or read Lord of the Rings?
2) Why do you think it was so popular?
3) When you read movie reviews or book reviews, how often do you end up disagreeing with the reviewers? What does that tell you about critics? (Their opinions are often based on subjective rather than objective factors. Sometimes they’re right; often they’re wrong.)
4) Why do we often respond so strongly to criticism about our own work?
5) How can we learn from criticism without being devastated by it?  

By J. Steve Miller. Source: Alison Flood, JRR Tolkien's Nobel Prize Chances Dashed by 'Poor Prose', in guardian.co.uk, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012.

Find more stories and life skills lessons at Legacy Educational Resources at www.character-education.info .