April 27, 2013

Xanaduism = X: Blogging from A to Z

One of the hardest days of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. 

Parents can identify with the difficulty of this letter. Think about all the ABC books your kids read growing up--X was either X-ray or Xylophone. That's it.

But I had to come up with an X literary device.

What would I do without the Internet?

(For my friends from the 80s, this is not a post about the Olivia Newton-John film featured in the photo.)

Academic research that focuses on the sources behind imaginative works of literature and fantasy. John Livingstone Lowes, in his publication The Road to Xanadu (1927), inspired the name, which in turn goes back to Coleridge's visionary poem "Kubla Khan" (i.e., "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree . . ."). More recently, the term has been used in a pejorative sense to describe scholarship involving dubious scrutiny of amorphous, difficult-to-prove sources, especially simplistic studies lacking any redeeming theoretical perspectives. (source)

First, kudos to all my fellow word nerds for understanding the last sentence of that definition! 

Most of the searches I did on this topic were a dead end. Even when I looked into The Road to Xanadu, I was met with very ambiguous descriptions. From what I could gather, John Livingstone Lowes was the type of reader that would read a work, then read the works referenced in that work, and so on.

So instead of letting my head spin too much, I went in a different direction... how much fun it would be to research the thought process behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Research is one thing. Even better... how cool would it be to sit down with J. R. R. Tolkien and ask how he came up with Middle Earth? 

I'd love to know what came to him first and how it progressed from there.

What author's brain, either living or dead, would you like to pick?

Find some more X posts here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've always loved the stories behind Kubla Khan, especially the figure of the 'Person from Porlock'!

As far as what author I'd like to ask questions of... I'm inclined to pick Diana Wynne Jones. She passed away soon after I'd discovered the Chrestomanci series, but there's so much imagination and magic in all of her books. I wish she'd had the time to write just one more book with Eric Chant in it.