Michael: (on Tolkien) What I found lacking in Tolkien which I had found in, for instance, the Elder Edda, was a sense of tragedy, of reality, of mankind's impermanence. Tolkien really did set out to write a fairy tale and in my view that's exactly what he did, provide a perfect escape plan, which had the added attractions of having been written by an Oxford don. I knew and liked Tolkien who in a bufferish sort of way was very kind to me and encouraging. I looked forward to those books coming out. I was deeply disappointed by their lack of weight and their lack of ambitious language. They are about as likely to last as "the book of the century" as Ouida, Hall Caine or Marie Corelli, all of whom were judged the greatest writers of their day by a contemporary audience. Thomas Hardy hardly got a mention and well into the twenties people were still wondering if George Eliot was going to last. You can just hope nobody puts a curse like that on your own work!
Tolkien has the right elements of snobbery and escapism to make it a huge success. John Buchan for teenagers. A compendium of disguised bigotry and English high church snobbery. I hate it for exactly those qualities which made it so popular. It's a lullaby. Not sure we need lullabies at the moment. Unless we're all just going to give up, go to sleep and wake up dead. I really do feel contempt for Tolkien and a certain disgust for those adults who voted him writer of the century. This has nothing to do with why I decided to be a writer.