Of course I'd hoped to get through more than I did, and the two other projects I'd thought of spending a little time on after I finished with my main task (a look at Taum's papers and some more time with Boorman's LotR script) will, like my hoped-for time at the Wade to work some more on THE DARK TOWER and the Major's diaries, have to wait for Another Time.
I did have one nice bit of serendipity, when Richard asked me if I'd seen the new Wm Gray book. I had not, but he pointed out that I was listed in its index. So after he'd had a look at it, he let me borrow it for a minute. In full its title is FANTASY, MYTH AND THE MEASURE OF TRUTH: TALES OF PULLMAN, LEWIS, TOLKIEN, MACDONALD, AND HOFFMAN (Palgrave Macmillan ). So many books have been coming out about Tolkien these last few years that I've slacked off buying the ones focused on multiple authors which only have a chapter or so devoted to JRRT,*** but I see from the Gray that I'll have to mend my ways.
Of its entires relating to me, two were to MR. BAGGINS, which of course I was happy enough to see. But to my surprise and delight the rest were to my essay from the 2004 Blackwelder conference: "And All the Days of Her Life Are Forgotten: LotR as Mythic Prehistory". I had put a lot of effort into this piece and been pleased with how it turned out, feeling I was on to something, an aspect of Tolkien's work that hadn't gotten the attention it deserved. So I confess I'd been disappointed when my contribution met with the dismissive review by Brian Rosebury (himself the author of an excellent bk on Tolkien's style), in which he summed up what he thought was my thesis and then asked "Why should this matter . . . ?" (TS.IV.284-285). My 1981 Haggard piece, the 1985 Wms & Tolkien piece, and my 1992/1996 Tolkien & Lewis piece had all been quoted from or referred to a fair number of times, so I was a bit disappointed that this piece, aside from David Bratman's scrupulously neutral summary in The Year's Work (TS.VI.330), had apparently sunk without a trace.
Gray, by contrast, devotes most of a brief section of his book ("More Trouble with Human History"--specifically, pages 80-87) to a summary and critique of my argument. In the process he makes exactly the kind of point I wd make if I were revising the essay today: that CSL describes something v. like what I think Tolkien was doing on one level with the term "supposals" -- something I only noticed about two years ago when re-reading the CSL collection ON STORIES when researching another project. I'm only sorry I didn't have a chance to look at Gray's book in more detail; now I'll have to order a copy. Unfortunately, being from Palgrave Macmillan,**** it will not be cheap (indeed, checking just now I see it's fifty pounds).
So, a good visit. As always, too brief, but it did feel good to be back in the Archives again.
***e.g. Dickerson's HOMER TO HARRY POTTER, which I only picked up the night of his Wade lecture. I've only had a chance to skim this so far, and can report that he v. much does not like Phillip Pullman.
****also the publisher of Dimitra Fimi's book, winner of this year's Mythopoeic Award.