The way I look at it, stories are there to entertain us, to inspire us, to
stimulate our minds, and to do a large variety of similar tasks. It's why we
read them rather than sticking to nonfiction (which has more immediate practical
value.) When that unnamed person we will all throw metaphorical sticks at said
that Tolkien's poetry was "bad," therefore, I don't think he was being elitist.
I think he was saying something I've heard from a lot of people: "this book was
pretty good and I really enjoyed it, and then I came to some poems and they were
dull and tedious and didn't do anything to me that I wanted them to do."
Yes, best not to criticise anonymous essays in a vague and general way- the unnamed person is Burton Raffel and the essay is ‘The Lord of the Rings as Literature’, in ‘Tolkien and the Critics’. However, my googling skills are weak tonight and I can’t seem to find it for you anywhere...
I guess if I am a reader and I find a bit of a book dull and tedious, I will just skip it, and if there are too many bits like that, am likely to say ‘well, that’s not the book for me.’ For example, I am bored by action scenes and tend to just skip them to find out what happens to the plot or the characters once the dust has settled. I recognise that there are well-written action scenes and poorly-written action scenes, that many people like that sort of thing, and acknowledge that I am not a good person to judge them.
But, I guess if I am not just reading something from my own amusement but am attempting something that is meant to be literary criticism, ‘do I find this dull?’ is well down on the list of questions I should be considering. I figure the list starts sort of like this:
(1) What did the author set out to achieve?
(2) How well did they achieve it?
(3) Was it worth achieving?
And then goes on to things like:
(171) Are there any good parts for Winona Ryder to play in the film adaptation?
(172) What’s the longest continuous sequence where the letter ‘e’ does not appear?
(173) Did I personally find some bits of it dull?
Or something like that.