The Corner

Legend

I have an article in today’s WSJ on the late historical-fiction and fantasy author David Gemmell:

Gemmell himself found inspiration in classic tales. “If you look at any ancient civilization, they’ve all used fantasy stories to train the young,” he told Britain’s Independent newspaper a decade ago. Gemmell bemoaned the modern compulsion to tear down larger-than-life heroes and expose them as small-minded and self-interested. He certainly wouldn’t have cared for the recent movie version of “Beowulf,” in which the Anglo-Saxon warrior is transformed from the old poem’s monster-slaying gallant into a lying adulterer who swaps sex for power.

The fantasy genre provides a refuge from such harmful deconstruction. “Societies need heroes,” Gemmell once said, according to an obituary in London’s Daily Telegraph. “So we travel to places where the revisionists cannot dismantle the great.”

I don’t mention this in the article, but Gemmell, who was British, was a big fan of Ronald Reagan. This is from an interview in 2002:

Who is your hero?

Currently, it’s Ronald Reagan. After years of politicians seeking to remove morality from the question of East-West relations he had the courage to set out to destroy communism, describing it as an evil empire, and setting in place all the elements that would later smash the Iron Curtain.

John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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