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Book: The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Their Friends by Humphrey Carpenter. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
I’m giving it 5 stars because I enjoyed it a lot and it came at the right time for me. For most people, it will probably be a 4-stars book.
I’m a big fan of J.R.R Tolkien and also the concept of the Inklings. I have my own spin-off of this group with some friends but instead of discussing literature, we just take some time to have some deep conversation about anything. Instead of a pub, we walk in a park. :)
I had many misconceptions about the end of the friendship between Tolkien and CS Lewis and this book helped me to understand what was the real reasons. CS Lewis was very important for Tolkien and a dear friend for many years. I believe CS Lewis is one of the key pieces for the finished version of LotR.
It was nice to know that Christopher Tolkien was also a member of the Inklings. It’s not clear if it was official, but he was there reading LotR for the members.
This book was a great reading. I will certainly recommend to anyone who likes CS Lewis or Tolkien. Here are my notes:
Jack Lewis was not that into religion in the first years of his life Tolkien and Lewis had different views about how English should be studied. Tolkien liked old English and old Norse classics. Lewis preferred a more modern English Like Lewis, Tolkien regarded himself as a poet Tolkien said the friendship with Lewis helped with a difficult marriage Lewis said Tolkien was his second class friend, only behind two other guys Lewis liked long walks but disliked the word “hiking”. For him, it’s a too self-conscious word to “go for a walk”. All religions are myths in their own way. In the past, words had different meanings Tolkien and Lewis did walk around discussing their writing ideas. Lewis usually walked with Barfield but Tolkien joined sometimes. They walked too much for Tolkien’s taste. Tolkien liked to stop to watch nature from time to time, which was not exactly Lewis' style. CW (Charles Williams) was educated to not defend one’s arguments with exaggeration or false affirmation. His father also taught him to include doubt and disbelief in his beliefs. CW was not able to go to war and was constantly haunted by the death of his friends William’s co-inherence is a term to describe that humans need each other and can share stuff (even physical pain). To Williams, the crucifixion was the biggest example of substitution Williams found on inklings a place to debate with equals, something he did not find for a long time In “the place of the lion” Williams wrote a passage that shows how much he enjoyed the inklings: “Much is possible to a man in solitude but some things are only possible to a man to a man in companionship. For this, the most important is balance. No mind is so good it didn’t need another mind to counter and equal it and save it from conceit. Lewis and Tolkien helped Charles to expose his knowledge to an Oxford audience. It would be very hard for him to reach such an audience without this networking Tolkien was jealous about the friendship of Lewis and Charles because Lewis was considered as a close friend Tolkien was not a huge fan of CW’s work but he heard him on every inklings meeting. CW was one of the most enthusiastic of the inklings about LOTR The inklings meetings usually were attended by a small group, but the ones reading out loud their works were usually CSL, Tolkien, and CW. Tolkien was concerned about people’s interpretation of The Hobbit or LotR. He was afraid people would try to make correlations about the story and the real world e.g. the Shire was England As Gandalf often says: “You can’t fight the enemy with their own Ring without turning into an enemy yourself” – Tolkien said There were many other groups in oxford at the time, inklings were not an exception. Tolkien participated in a dinner group at the time as well. CS Lewis said people took the inklings more seriously then the inklings members took themselves Lewis believed that full intimacy with another man could only be achieved in friendship if women were totally excluded. “A friend dead is to bemoaned, a friend married is to be guarded against. Both lost.” Both Lewis and Tolkien feared the rise of Communism and fascism (from Hitler). Lewis considered himself a democrat and Tolkien did not. People of the academic oxford admired CSL and Tolkien for being able to “communicate with the outside world” not just academics What reason has we, except our own reason, that God is good? Doesn’t all the evidence say the opposite? – CS Lewis