On page 33 Lupoff writes (emphasis mine)
'The late Lin Carter, himself a science-fiction author and one of the most perceptive critics of imaginative literature, stated in his classic study of epic fantasy (Notes on Tolkien, Xero magazine, 1961, 1962): "One such traditional plot device is to open your tale in surroundings, or among characters, familiar to your audience, and by degrees (once the reader has 'identified' and become 'comfortable' with them) to carry him further and further into your make-believe world." '[Nt1]**
At the bottom of this page, Lupoff has added the following note (again, emphasis mine):
[Nt1]'Carter's series of Xero articles served as the basis for his book-length study Tolkien: A Look behind the Lord of the Rings (1969), which in turn led to his stint as Consulting Editor on the fondly remembered Ballantine Adult Fantasy series (1969-1973). Carter was a talented and perceptive literary man who devoted the majority of his energies to producing a barrage of pastiches of the Burroughs and Robert E. Howard variety (touched on elsewhere in this book). He died in 1987, leaving his potential not merely unfulfilled but virtually untouched.'
Those passages I've boldfaced give me pause, because I've always looked on Carter as someone with enthusiasm but not talent or judgment. His A LOOK BEHIND THE LORD OF THE RINGS, filled with errors as it was, introduced me to a lot of writers I went on to read and enjoy, and I think his work writing those little Forewords to the Adult Fantasy Series volumes helped establish a sense of fantasy's having a coherent tradition running form Morris to Tolkien (with precursors before and heirs beyond). But I certainly wd never call him "perceptive" (as Lupoff does twice). And what I've read of his fiction was simply hopeless.
I'm curious: does Lupoff suggest he was a tragic figure because he thought he had it in him to write a novel better than the dreck he actually did write (and publish)? If so, upon what does he base this sense of Carter's "potential"?
Or was Carter able to recognize talent without being able to do more than imitate its outward forms? That wd be tragic indeed if the many books he wrote (nearly a hundred) were all more or less exercises in futility, aping the forms of better writers without being able to capture any of the spark that brings their work to life. But I see no sign anywhere that Carter himself thought that; instead, he seems to have been filled with admiration for his own work (e.g., regularly including it it Year's Best fantasy anthologies he edited).
So, Lupoff's comments suggest there was more to Lin Carter than comes across in his books. If anyone else has insights into what this might have been, I'd be interesting in hearing.
current reading: INTO OTHER WORLDS by Roger Lancclyn Green (1958)
*MASTER OF ADVENTURE: THE WORLDS OF EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS (rev. ed. 2005)
**Gary Hunnewell's invaluable TOLKIEN FANDOM REVIEW: FROM ITS BEGINNINGS TO 1964 volume provides the information that this appeared in three parts, in issues number 7, 8, and 9, respectively, taking up a total of just 21 pages.