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C. S. Lewis is the 20th century's most widely read Christian writer and J. R. R. Tolkien its most beloved mythmaker. For three decades they and their closest associates formed a literary club known as the Inklings, which met weekly in Lewis' Oxford rooms and a nearby pub. They read aloud from works in progress, argued about anything that caught their fancy, and gave one another invaluable companionship, inspiration, and criticism.
In The Fellowship, Philip and Carol Zaleski offer the first complete rendering of the Inklings' lives and works. Lewis maps the medieval mind, accepts Christ while riding in the sidecar of his brother's motorcycle, becomes a world-famous evangelist and moral satirist, and creates new forms of religiously attuned fiction while wrestling with personal crises. Tolkien transmutes an invented mythology into a breathtaking story in The Lord of the Rings while conducting groundbreaking Old English scholarship and elucidating the Catholic teachings at the heart of his vision. This extraordinary group biography also focuses on Charles Williams, strange acolyte of Romantic love, and Owen Barfield, an esoteric philosopher who became, for a time, Saul Bellow's guru. Romantics who scorned rebellion, fantasists who prized sanity, Christians with cosmic reach, the Inklings sought to revitalize literature and faith in the 20th century's darkest years - and did so.
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By Amazon Customer on 07-14-16
If You Love Literature...
It seems that practically everyone loves either Narnia or Middle Earth these days. But what this book does is look at not only the lives and careers of their famous creators (C.S.Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien respectively) but also looks at the careers of two other members of the famed literary society, the Inklings, Charles Williams and Owen Barfield. It gave me so much pleasure to learn about how these men (and wow, is this a male dominated book) came together to smoke, drink, and talk. The rich, heady pleasure of creation is very present in this book. Lewis and Tolkien, unsurprisingly, dominate this book as they doubtless did the society itself. Still, the Zaleskis don't just give token notice of the others but try to be proportional in their coverage. Tolkien and Lewis rate much more coverage simply because they are much more influential.
It did make me wistful as I listened to this, to think of the world that we have lost. I think a core message of the lives of all of the Inklings was not only the importance of humans as social animals but also humans as creative ones as well. All of the Inklings spent their lives writing, critiquing, and revising their work. Indeed, the spirit of revision in response to the honest criticism that they offered one another is the strongest message of this book. Also, the overwhelming idea of Christianity as an intellectual impetus for these giants is not as much of the public discourse as it merits. Christianity and the spiritual lives of the Inklings is huge and is well and thoroughly covered in this book. This is a fascinating look at a group of fascinating men (too bad Dorothy L. Sayers didn't get more respect from these men because she was such a fine writer). Not an easy book but worth the time and effort.
Narnia and Middle Earth are places of magic that will doubtless be a source of wonder and delight for many generations to come. This is a grand place to learn about their creators and some of the lesser lights of the time and place.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By M. J. Palmer on 09-11-15
A Thorough Moving Tribute
Absolutely fascinating read for devotees of the Oxford phenomenon. I have read several biographies of the key members- Lewis, Tolkien, Williams,etc -but not until filling out the edges with the stories of how they interacted together did I appreciate the joyfulness, intellectual depth and spiritual searching that came from these timely friendships. I have to admit that whilst thoroughly enjoying the intellectual stimulation of following the various paths of philosophy and debate, I also found myself moved to tears a few times! A Great balance of their humanity... and beyond.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful