Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship

Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship

by Colin Duriez

Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are literary superstars, known around the world as the creators of Middle-earth and Narnia.

But few of their readers and fans know about the important and complex friendship between Tolkien and his fellow Oxford academic C.S. Lewis.

Both Tolkien and Lewis were central figures in the informal Oxford literary circle, the Inklings.

This book explores their lives, unfolding the extraordinary story of their complex friendship that lasted, with its ups and downs, until Lewis's death in 1963.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Biography
  • Rating: 4.00
  • Pages: 244
  • Publish Date: October 8th 2003 by Paulist Press
  • Isbn10: 1587680262
  • Isbn13: 9781587680267

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Colin Duriez here presents us with a double biography of famous author besties John Ronald Reuel Tollers Tolkien (1892 1973) and Clive Staples Jack Lewis (1898 1963), to whom nearly all of modern fantasy fiction can be traced. Duriez appears to share Tolkiens disdain of Lewis popular theology even though so many readers in the intervening decades have found so much wisdom and peace in works like Mere Christianity. His analysis of the Chronicles of Narnia is gets strange details wrongfor instance, he portrays Queen Prunaprismia as complicit with her husband, King Miraz, in his plot to assassinate their nephew, Prince Caspian, in the novel of the same name. The 2008 film (which was five years in the future at the time this book was published) portrays her as an innocent, kept in the dark by her Machiavellian husband: Dear, I thought you said your brother died in his sleep In the same passage, Duriez describes both Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole as cousins of the Pevensies. In one draft of the book, Lewis seemed to think LGK was the reincarnation of Jadis, although this does not appear to be the case in the final version. (Note that Nephew was written after Chair, and one of the things that drove Tolkien crazy about Lewis was that Jack just didnt care about continuity). My point is that the Narnia books are much more intelligent and influential than Duriez gives them credit for, and they deserve for him to have read them carefully and not make unforced errors like these. But how often does one find good, decent, or wholesome characters portrayed so often and so successfully in modern literature? At both the grand scale (Aslan, Galadriel) and the simple (Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the hobbits), Lewis and Tolkien could show you what goodness looks like in the flesh.

I loved that it explained to me in a way I could understand the important distinctions between creating myth and simply using allegory to tell a story. I loved that by the time I got to the part when Lewis died, I was so immersed in the story that I cried.

(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. Ill announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, Ill post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!) I wasnt sure how reading a book not written by one of the boys would go, but I enjoyed reading a book diving more into the lives of Tolkien and Lewis. I also feel we need to take a moment to appreciate the fact that it took 17 years for Tolkien to write LOTR. It not only discusses the friendship between the two, but also looks at key works of each, when they were written and the influence of those novels. Whether it be Till We Have Faces or The Hobbit, Duriez provides overviews of their works, which readers will find helpful if they havent read the books discussed. Its pretty crazy to think of early life happenings became a connection point for them later. Now some facts I deemed worthy to point out (also solidifying my love for these two): Tolkien commented late life that he sought to create a mythology for England, but arguably he also tried to create a mythology for the English language. Im sure there will be other books we read about C.S. Lewis conversion to Christianity, but I have to point out one fact: after he became a theist in 1929, by 1930, he was exploring Christianity more (with John Bunyans works) and decided to start reading the Bible almost daily. 2. There were several works discussed in this book and I wish I could read them all RIGHT NOW. Yes, their friendship shifted in later years, but as the book pointed out, with C.S. Lewis death, it was a wound Tolkien knew he would not lose, as one loses a falling leaf. Same with Lewis (just read his thoughts on friendship).

This highly readable and insightful "biography" of their friendship will be of interest to fans of Tolkien's and Lewis's work, presenting the synergy that their relationship created in a synergistic manner of its own.

Maybe because I was already familiar with the basics of their friendship, is why I felt dissatisfied with this book. After reading this, it seemed like they were less close than I thought, even though I'm pretty sure the author didn't mean for me to get that impression.

I learned a few new things about Tolkien, and a bit about Lewis, though all of which I would rather read in a full biography, not one on the two men's friendship with one another.

Uma das coisas que mais me chamaram atenção nesse livro, fora a própria relação de amizade de Tolkien e Lewis, foi ver como cada acontecimento na vida deles, seja antes ou depois de sua amizade, seja nos fatos alegres ou tristes, tudo acaba de alguma forma se manifestando em suas obras.

A wonderful biography for readers interested in these two authors' lives and thoughts as well as their works. Lewis and Tolkien were sufficiently entangled with one another's lives that it is difficult to tell the story of only one of them.

He has published many articles, books and other written works, and he has spoken to a variety of literary, academic and professional groups. S. Lewis Encyclopedia (Crossway, 2000/SPCK, 2002), The Inklings Handbook (co-authored with David Porter, Azure/Chalice Books, 2001) and Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings (Azure/Hidden Spring, 2001).