Why the Inklings Still Matter in 2015
by Ben Halbrooks
If you drop into The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford today, you’ll find a few humble mementos of the Inklings – that fascinating literary group of Christian intellectuals whose chief figures were C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield. The group famously met there on Tuesdays to read and discuss their unfinished works, such as The Lord of the Rings and more. Of course, it’s almost impossible to overstate the far-reaching influence of Lewis’ and Tolkien’s writings in particular, but to what extent did this informal, pipe-smoking gathering of friends shape the nature and scope of their impact?
Enter The Fellowship – a new, best-selling biography of the Inklings that tackles that very question and more. In Patheos, Greg Garrett interviews the authors, Philip and Carol Zaleski, for some choice tidbits on the group’s dynamic. Here are just a few. On being human:
As writers, they were not always paragons of style; cloying elements, false archaisms, labored allegories mar even the best works of these writers. They were great storytellers, but not great poets. As human beings, they had their foibles, too; Charles Williams was particularly (and paradoxically) strange. But their closets, as far as we could peer into them, were relatively skeleton-free; they were impressively decent men, for the most part free of excessive vanity and literary pretentiousness; they were faithful lovers, generous to strangers, honorable friends. It may make for less sensational copy, but there is something cheering for a biographer in writing about a 20th-century literary coterie that did not go in for massively destructive patterns of behavior.
On the profound effects of both world wars on their lives…
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