Monday, October 15, 2007

Non-Fiction Rec for Monday

I know, I'm supposed to be recommending fiction. I'm coming right back to that next week, but I need to recap my London visit for a bit.

While in Oxford at Blackwell's bookshop, I picked up a British paperback, The Inklings, which chronicles the writing group C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and others utilized during their most prolific years. Tolkien used this group as a sounding board for his Lord of the Rings trilogy and C.S. Lewis wrote his science fiction and Narnia books while in this group (Lewis wrote many, many things, including a large volume of the Oxford History of English Literature series for Oxford University Press on English Literature in the Sixteenth Century; I have a first edition copy of this book in my library). After reading The Inklings, I now have a much better understanding of why Lewis and Tolkien were able to write such epic stories. They read so widely, and both preferred the Icelandic mythology to the modern poets (T.S. Eliot was not a favorite at first, but gradually grew on the group as acceptable) and both Tolkien and Lewis actually petitioned the board successfully to change the Oxford literature curriculum from a wide sweep of old/middle/modern literature to old and middle literature, stopping at 1830, thereby omitting the moderns, which was used for many years.

The book is a conglomeration of diaries (mostly from Warnie who wrote one faithfully; Lewis disdained the use of such trifles), which recorded happenings around the most prolific members' writing and publishing endeavors. An editor at Oxford University Press, marooned in Oxford from London during the war, Charles Williams, is the other prolific member, although J.R.R. Tolkien's son, Christopher, was a latter member, which in my opinion is truly appropos.

The book is a quick and fascinating read and worth the trouble to get if you're a diehard Lewis/Tolkien fan and desire to know more. Of course, as I just returned from visiting Lewis' home, I appreciated the filling in of the broad stories I have heard growing up about Lewis' life. I learned many new things.

Playing on the iPod: Littlest Things (Lily Allen)

1 comment:

sarliefin said...

Sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out. Have you heard about or read "The Year of Living Biblically"? I just started it and it is quite funny.

Sarah Finn