So, Slate.com just posted an article on The Lord of the Rings, which I learned about via David Bratman's response on The Tolkien Society website. The article's not that great, and what made me roll my eyes is precisely what Bratman liked about it: it's whole-hearted admiration and approval of Tolkien. Personally, I've never liked excessively hagiographic articles on people's favorite writers -- even if you like the writer under discussion yourself, it's always a bit like someone coming on too strongly on a first date. Rally, incisive and critical pieces where I actually learn something just interest me more. This may be one of the (many) reasons I never got involved in fandom of any sort -- the constant vague encomiums annoy me. Kakaes's constant references to Tolkien's "magic" and "original grandeur" particularly gets on my nerves. These terms don't mean anything. They're just superlatives meant to indicate the writer of the article's own feelings and, as such, are rather inarticulate expressions of self.
Anyway, what I did like about the piece was Kakaes's admission of disappointment that Bilbo wasn't a more prominent character in LOTR. I tried -- and failed -- to read LOTR twice while in high school. Neither time could I read beyond the hobbits getting out of the Shire. Both times I was irritated that Bilbo wasn't the main character. (And I remember thinking, "Frodo? What king of weirdo name is that." No idea why I thought that was stranger than "Bilbo.")
Anyway, I'll give Kakaes points for that one.