I'll try and rewrite that post I lost.
The first thing that I wanted to say is that I'm surprised by the answers. I'm very glad with Taurandir's defence of Mr. Bloom, because I think there is nothing better than to have a (slightly) negative opinion refuted.
I love it when that happens, in any case.
I was aware that my initial opinion had a very narrow basis: reading an article where he lashed out to Harry Potter, and a third-party account telling about his general distaste for fantasy. I would still maintain that that's a silly distaste to have. Maybe that's indeed a case of type prejudice as was pointed out, though I also would think that a person of Mr. Bloom's intellect would be able to rise above that.
Therefore I think that it's not just his personal pet peeve, but something that is much more deeply rooted. You see this hatred of fantasy (or of any meddling with the primary consensus reality) with many people.
In one of his lectures, 'Tolkien Professor' Corey Olsen speaks about it, and in particular about he unexpected ferocious intensity of those feelings: it's not just that some people dislike fantasy as in, say, the same manner that they might not care much about potted petunias or Bruce Springsteen. No: people who dislike fantasy seem to pretty much resent
That has always fazed me. I think I described in that lost post how I found myself in more or less the opposite camp as the fantasy-hater because of the kind of literature we were made to read at school.
This was supposedly the Real Thing, Literature with a capital R. While we certainly read some captivating, good books - mostly early or classic stuff, eg. Beowulf for English - modern literature seemed to be entirely composed of unspeakably dreary accounts of people who were on a quest "to come to terms with themselves".
The protagonists invariably suffered from addictions, a traumatised youth, growing up in a criminal neighbourhood and awkward sexual frustrations.
I understand that this might lend itself well for psychological musings, if that sort of thing interests you - but I found familiarising myself with these protagonist's inner lives excruciatingly boring and unappealing. It may have given me some insight in how frustrated people think, but that's pretty much it. I certainly didn't have a good time reading any of that; I did become a better person because of it and I did not in any way feel enriched in any way.
It's not that I never tried after school either. I once set myself to reading James Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" - diving right into Ulysses might be a bit too much, after all
- it was not a very thick book either.
But my goodness - three quarters of the book is filled with regurgitating the vivid and gruesome tales of what Hell should be like that were apparently mandatory for kids growing up in Ireland in the late 19th century.
All that it did to me was leave me in a gloomy mood. If that's what "modern Literature" is about, on top of what I related above about reading Literature in school, the choice between that and Fantasy that ain't Literature isn't very hard.
Tolkien might not have given me great psychological insight about his protagonist's inner lives. But he has enthralled me, captivated me and enchanted me. He has fanned the sparks of my imagination, offered consolation and food for thought. His stories learn people what mercy is and what a seemingly insignificant individual can accomplish.
He offers hope.
Reading his work has made me develop into a more complete person than I would have been without him.
And above all else: if you are open to such things, his stories can be transfigurative. Well, that is what this board is about.
This is, in magnitude and in quality, so far removed from anything that I have ever felt stirring by reading what is deemed Literature that there really is no comparison possible.
Maybe I have read the wrong books, or just bad examples of Literature.
And as I said above, poetry is something else. In The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Kahn I did sense something powerful. But never as yet in prose.