In recent article for First Things Magazine, author and scholar Peter Hitchens decided to aim his consternation at the hit series ‘Game of Thrones’ by novelist George RR Martin. Now, I’m unfamiliar with Hitchens work, but something he wrote in this piece got my attention after my Daily Wire colleague Paul Bois wrote it up.
He compares GoT to ‘The White Company’ and ‘Sir Nigel’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle along with the works of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. All of whom I admire a great deal.
Hitchens opines, “He gives twenty-first-century religious opinions to people who have fifteenth-century lives” while complaining that Martin “fails to grasp this philosophical ethos.”
He goes on to complain that GoT does not adhere to typical fantasy fiction based on the Medieval Times and the Middle Ages claiming, “Chivalry, a real thing in Conan Doyle’s world, is for Martin a fraud.”
I shared a couple of thoughts about this on Twitter:
Now, I’ve not read GoT, but Hitchens makes a couple of mistakes. First of all, comparisons to medieval historical fiction make no sense because GoT is fantasy. Fantasy, while resembling a point in history, does not fall under the time restraints. The idea that authors should be bound by “philosophical ethos” puts them in a box. Creators have long explored art and fiction by breaking those boundaries. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad, but an author shouldn’t have to follow “rules” set-up by subjective elites.
George Martin is an outspoken atheist. Why would you expect his fantasy to be connected to any sort of faith? I do hope that he becomes one (a Christian), but I don’t expect that to be reflected in his fiction.
So what if he puts 21st Century values in his fantasy? It’s FANTASY FICTION. If it was historical fiction, that would be different, but it is his fictional world, let him write it as he pleases. Personally, I think (Peter Hitchens) is reading too much into this.
One final note, Peter Hitchens is no doubt a brilliant mind, but most often people become critics because they do not create. This elitism, that something is bad because it doesn’t follow the “rules,” is exactly that, elitism. As I said earlier, creators, whether they be playwrights, authors, artists, or whatever have long broken the mold. Comparing a fictional world like Westeros and Essos, where seasons are years long, to historical fiction set in the fourteen century is silly.
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