(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. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll 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, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)
Welcome to this month’s Inklings discussion! This book was much different what I expected. I don’t mean that in a negative way by any means, but I thought it would be more biographical on Tolkien and Lewis during the First World War. Instead, there was more discussion on the works and themes that resulted from their experiences in the war and life after. Like I mentioned, not complaining (it makes for a great introduction to their works – mainly Lewis – with some of their motivations and inspiration), just a random fact to kick things off.
I also have to confess that I didn’t read Chapter 6. Once I realized how Duriez discussed the books and plot lines, I didn’t want to read the chapter that went into depth about the Space Trilogy since I have only read the first one. Might sound weird, but hey, I promise to come back to it once I’m done!
The more I read about the Inklings, the time they were together, they experiences, etc. it is so clear that group of writers and friends was divinely ordained. I truly mean that because if they were together any other decade, we wouldn’t have the works we have all come to treasure. Another reminder that we are in the exact place and time we were meant to be.
“C.S. Lewis needed a group of likeminded friends around him. In those wartime years it was the perfect place for him, as well as for Tolkien and Charles Williams, to explore devilry and connected themes…the Inklings group had an edge to it in that most who attended at that wartime time had experienced combat in World War I.”
I’m definitely going to read up more on Charles Williams and some of his work. But how horribly sad was it that he died right after the war ended? Then Lewis found out when he went to visit him at the hospital and had to go to the Eagle and the Child to tell the rest of the group. Talk about depressing! The Inklings seemed to know sadness on a deeper level than most.
I enjoyed the discussions of the works, but also all the fun facts throughout the pages – like the fact that Out of the Silent Planet was Lewis’ second attempt writing about his conversion to Christianity and that those themes went unnoticed by the readership – but then came Mere Christianity and that blew the world’s brain (unbiased opinion of course).
Another fun fact, further proving Lewis was awesome? This:
After speaking his experience with speaking to the RAF, “Lewis’s experiences with the RAF led him to work very hard to be more successful in speaking to non academic people. Despite his heavy academic workload, writing projects and visits to RAF airfields, Lewis also found time to engage with his peers who did not accept his faith. Less than two years into the war Oxford University Socratic Club was set up by a parish worker to university women students, Stella Aldwinckle. Its purpose was to discuss questions about Christian faith raised by atheists, agnostics and those disillusioned about religion. Lewis accepted her invitation to be its first president, a position he held until the end of 1954, when he went to Cambridge University to teach.”
I feel like there was so much discussion in each chapter about each work, so I want to open it up to y’all! Here’s a few questions to start things off and please (as always) add any other thoughts!
1. Since there were so many of his books discussed, is there a Lewis or Tolkien book you want to read now more than the others?
There’s so many books of Lewis I want to read right now! I read The Pilgrim’s Regress in my early 20s and didn’t really dive in, so that one is high on my list, but so is The Problem of Pain. Decisions, decisions. I need to get my hands of a copy of Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle” too.
2. Did you have a favorite chapter?
I thought they all provided a lot of insight, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy any excuse to talk about Aslan! I especially liked seeing how each book represented a piece of Christianity and our theology. I also enjoyed “The Way of Goodness and the Far Country.” I love the hope of it. #ForAslan.
3. Any quotes stand out about their works or directly from their works?
The best quote of a book I haven’t read yet (The Problem of Pain):
“There are time when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our hearts of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”
4. Any other random thoughts?
I want to investigate more into the life and works of Dorothy L. Sayers.
Looking forward to hearing from you!