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Posts Tagged ‘JRR Tolkin’

Adventures in Bookland: The Oxford Inklings by Colin Duriez

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

A friendship is an elusive beast, being made of the affections and interests and shared histories, so how much more difficult is it to write a biography of a group of friends than it is to write a biography of a particular person. In The Oxford Inklings, Duriez attempts to tell the story of a most singular group of friends, the miscellaneous bunch of academics, plus an assortment of solicitors, soldiers and doctors, that made up the Inklings, the most significant literary group of the 20th century. While the Bloomsbury Set garnered more column inches during their existence, as did the Algonquin Round Table, in terms of sales and influence, the Inklings leave all other literary coteries in the dust of deleted books. For people knew to the study of Tolkien, Lewis and their circle, Duriez does a good job of relating the parts the less attested Inklings played in the life of the group, particularly Owen Barfield. Lewis wrote, with both philosophical passion and writerly detachment, on the nature of friendship and it is clear that his analysis stems from the central role that friendship, particularly male friendship, as much based on debate and disagreement and mutual, good humoured derision as it is on beer and companionship, played in his own life and work. Without the Inklings, neither Tolkien and Lewis would have achieved half of what they did achieve. So thank Eru and Aslan for the Inklings – the literary circle whose conversations I would most wish to have been invited to hear.