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New biography of the Inklings focuses on their differing approaches to Christianity

New biography of the Inklings focuses on their differing approaches to Christianity

Full disclosure: I have not read the book yet, so I will let James Parker’s review do most of the talking. It certainly makes me excited to get to the book myself!

A new biography of the Inklings by Philip and Carol Zaleski has been released, called The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings. Many people are familiar with the Inklings, a close-knit group of friends, writers, and academics in Oxford in the 1930s and 40s. The core of the group was J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield. They met in the “Bird and Baby,” as the Eagle and Child pub is affectionately known, to discuss their writing, philosophy, and religion. All four men were Christians, devout in very different ways. Tolkien was a conservative Catholic, while C.S. Lewis was an Anglican, brought back to the church by Tolkien himself. Williams was also an Anglican, but with a taste for the mystic and ritual in a way that Lewis eschewed. Barfield was, in a sense, a new age philosopher–before “New Age” had the connotation it does today–influenced by and influencing German philosopher Rudolf Steiner and the anthroposophical movement.

The Zaleski’s biography focuses on these core members of the Inklings, and their spiritual lives. They write about how Tolkien and the others revived the art of myth-telling, of weaving captivating stories. And what greater story do we have to tell than that of the Gospel, the greatest News that can ever be?

Please read James Parker’s review here for more on the Inklings and the new biography.

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Bill Moorhead

I read this book a couple of years ago when it first came out -- I thought it was very good, very interesting. Not only insights into our old favorites Lewis and Tolkien, but also into Charles Williams (whom I have read but didn't know very much about) and Owen Barfield (about whom I knew very little). I recommend it highly.

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