Monday, October 20, 2008

"Well, I'm back."

Yes, with those words, the greatest work of fiction of the 20th century concludes. I mean the great and massive story usually called The Lord of the Rings. Thirty years ago I read it for the first time; I have just completed reading it again. It was even more rich, more inspiring than it was that first time. But I am not going to review it, or even try to comment further today. But at least this time I added a couple of notes to my collection of important quotes, and may try to fill you in on that someday... And I have two ideas for things to write about if I run out of my own story lines, which (at the present rate) will be somewhere in the middle of the 23rd century.

Yes, because (like Bilbo) it seems I have so much to do, writing, poems, and meals...

But you will be glad to know that I have completed a new short story:

That's the cover for the as-yet unpublished book - but you don't have to wait for that - you can read it now! It is called Special Guests and is a gift for my young friends over at ChesterTeens who are now known as Flying Ins.

And I have added two new chapters to the novel.

(So I guess I have to get busy on that Black Hole sequel now.)

But you may have come here wanting some Chesterton, and I am very glad to oblige. It will reveal to you my true motive in busying myself with writing, like Atreyu churning out the Collected Works of Bastian Balthazar Bux:
In the East the professional story-teller goes from village to village with a small carpet; and I wish that anyone had the moral courage to spread that carpet and sit on it in Ludgate Circus. But it is not probable that all the tales of the carpet-bearer are little gems of original artistic workmanship. Literature and fiction are two entirely different things. Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity. A work of art can hardly be too short, for its climax is its merit. A story can never be too long, for its conclusion is merely to be deplored, like the last halfpenny or the last pipelight. And so, while the increase of the artistic conscience tends in more ambitious works to brevity and impressionism, voluminous industry still marks the producer of the true romantic trash. There was no end to the ballads of Robin Hood; there is no end to the volumes about Dick Deadshot and the Avenging Nine. These two heroes are deliberately conceived as immortal.
[GKC "A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls" in The Defendant; emphasis added]
No, I do not have a carpet and travel from town to town. Like Treebeard, I don't - uh - bend easily. But one never knows. (Maybe the invitations have gotten lost in the mail? Alas.)

An interesting note: we here see another link between Tolkien and GKC. In JRRT's preface to the edition I just read, he mentions that he has one criticism of his own work: he finds, like so many others, that it is too short. See the emphasized phrase above quoted! You need not fear I will be stingy either. And now, to work!


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