The Argument Continues: Late 20th Century Christian and Pagan Depictions of Arthur and the Grail by Suzanne Bray

I’m pleased to offer the first of our guest bloggers in the Inklings and Arthur series celebrating the links between the Oxford Inklings and the Matter of Britain. This series is in concert with the new collection, The Inklings and King Arthur, edited by Sørina Higgins. The book has topped a number of Amazon sales lists and the kindle version was released this week. This series will include some of the authors of the collection, including Suzanne Bray, Professor of British Literature and Civilisation at Lille Catholic University in the north of France. She has written extensively in French and English about C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Dorothy L. Sayers and other 20th-century Anglican authors.

David Llewellyn Dodds, Guest Editor


In my article for The Inklings and King Arthur, I point out that Charles Williams’s presentation of the Holy Grail, both in his Arthurian poetry and in the novel War in Heaven (1930), did not occur in a vacuum, but in the context of an on-going argument about the origins and meaning of the Grail. This was partly on account of the appearance of Comparative Religion as a field of academic study and, in particular, of the publication between 1911 and 1915 of James Frazer’s famous twelve volume study, The Golden Bough, and the popularization of his theories by Jessie Weston in From Ritual to Romance (1920), which influenced T. S. Eliot’s bestselling poem, The Wasteland (1922). For Weston, “it is only in the recognition of this one-time claim of essential kinship between Christianity and the Pagan Mysteries that we shall find the key to the secret of the Grail.” For the general public at the time, the main point of Weston’s study appeared to be “the sexual symbolism of the story, notably the grail and the lance, which can be interpreted as symbols of the female and male genitalia” (P. Lewis).

Charles Williams was aware of these interpretations and deplored them, finding Jessie Weston’s type of interpretation too syncretistic, as it mixes up elements from different belief systems which are normally incompatible and which require the reader to ignore the obvious Christian meaning of the Grail legends:

There has been much controversy about them – vessels of plenty and cauldrons of magic – and they have been supposed by learned experts to be the origin of the Grail myth. That, in the Scriptural and ecclesiastical sense, they certainly cannot be […] the Grail entered Europe with the Christian […] faith. It came from and with Christ. (“The Figure of Arthur”, 23)

He also felt that the general public had accepted these syncretistic theories too uncritically. In his opinion:

Such a great work as The Golden Bough, for example, was too easily supposed to have proved what it had never meant – or should never have meant – to prove. Its hinted thesis that all religion arose from a desire to encourage the annual harvest was generally thought to have explained satisfactorily how the harvest came into existence at all, and its multitude of gods conditioned by magic were identified with a Godhead unconditioned except by its own Will. (Descent of the Dove, 223)

Williams’s own Grail, like those of his Christian contemporaries Arthur Machen and Evelyn Underhill, is fully Christian. It is, above all, a chalice, used to celebrate the Eucharist, at the same time a means of bringing people to Christ and a source of divine healing.

More recent authors

However, Williams and his friends did not have the last word on the Grail and later Arthurian authors have, in general, either supported his position or accepted Jessie Weston’s interpretation. In addition, these representations of the Grail have often been included in works which are either clearly Christian, openly neo-pagan or New Age, or strongly anti-religious. As novelist Bernard Cornwell accurately states: “The Matter of Britain is endlessly malleable. You take out of it what you want to take out of it” (Thompson). For example, one well-known neo-pagan and anti-Christian novel is Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon (1983), where Christianity is depicted as a negative force and Arthur’s downfall is blamed on “his rejection of the pagan religions when he converts to Christianity” (Doherty, 57).

A distinct contrast from the religious viewpoint may be noted between two very well-researched and well-written Arthurian series, Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Trilogy (1995-1997) and Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle (1987-1997), both of which attempt to place the action in a credible sixth-century context. Both Cornwell and Lawhead come to the conclusion that the enduring appeal of the Arthurian tales comes, at least in part, from their connection with the tradition of a British golden age between the Battle of Mount Badon, in approximately 525 AD, and the establishment of the Saxon kingdoms in the south of Britain about half a century later.

However, when it comes to their interpretation of the religious elements in the Arthurian tales, Lawhead and Cornwell differ strongly. Both agree that several early texts indicate that Arthur sometimes found himself in conflict with the Church authorities, but they disagree as to why this occurred. Cornwell has a very negative view of the Church and believes the sixth century Christians were intolerant:

“At least one modern scholar has suggested that Christianity was sympathetic to the remnants of British Druidism and that the two creeds existed in peaceful cooperation, but toleration has never been the strongest suit of the Church and I doubt his conclusions” (“Author’s Note”, The Winter King, 433).

As a result, in the Warlord Trilogy he portrays a conflictual society, deeply divided along religious lines. His British churchmen are mainly unpleasant – “when Christianity seems to get slightly on top, it turns vicious” (Thompson) – or, if agreeable, like Bishop Bedwin, then improbably inclined to syncretism. Like Lawhead, Cornwell names most of his ecclesiastical characters after real people, including Bishop Samson, whom he describes, as “an unmitigated shit” (Thompson). While even Christian readers are quite prepared to admit that nasty, mercenary priests have played their part in the history of the Church, it seems unnecessary to portray the man Geoffrey of Monmouth described as “Samson, the saintly Archbishop” (Barber, 17), and about whom nothing disagreeable is known, in such a negative way. Lawhead’s description of Bishops Samson and Dubricius as “good and holy men” (Merlin, 387) corresponds better to what is known about Samson. His own objectionable cleric, Bishop Urbanus of London, is fictional, which is unsurprising as the names of only four Bishops of London are actually known for the period 314 to 586 AD. Making him a bad man does not worry anyone.

Cornwell also takes a particular position with regard to the Holy Grail. Interpreting the Grail stories within the tradition of Jessie Weston, Cornwell concludes that

“we can be fairly certain that the popular medieval tales of the search for the Holy Grail were merely a Christianized reworking of the much older cauldron myths” (“Author’s Note”, Enemy of God, 395).

His Grail is, therefore, a miracle-working cauldron, sought by the pagan characters to restore Britain to their gods.

Using much the same sources as Cornwell, Lawhead comes to vastly different conclusions. The Church’s failure to fully support Arthur is explained by some ambitious churchmen “grasping after earthly power” (Arthur, 361) and no longer fully serving God’s purposes. These political clerics are incapable of understanding the vision of the intangible Kingdom of Summer that Arthur seeks to establish. Lawhead also sees no inherent contradiction between the Druids’ beliefs and Christianity. As he explained in an interview in 2007:

“The actual historical fact is that many of the Druids at a very, very early age became Christians and gave rise to the whole Celtic Church; and that connection is very well established in history” (Johann).

For Lawhead, “the idea that the Druids are all bad […] is a fairly recent idea, probably from Victorian times on, when much of what they did was misrepresented and then later picked up by new-agers who linked it to all kinds of pagan practices or rituals” (Johann).

Lawhead’s position is partly based on the indisputable fact that St Columba spoke of Christ as his Druid and interceded at the Convention of Druim Cett in 575 AD to prevent the banishment from Ireland of the bards, who maintained the druidic tradition.  As a result, many of the Druids in the Pendragon Cycle convert to Christianity, although some others oppose them and become hostile to the Faith, while Merlin and Blaise see no contradiction in being both a Druid and a Christian prophet at the same time. With regard to the Grail, Lawhead supports Charles Williams in finding Jessie Weston’s type of interpretation too syncretistic. Lawhead’s own Grail is, as the Glastonbury legends claim, “the cup Jesu used at his last supper, brought here by the merchant Joseph of Arimathea” (Arthur, 108) and is a source of divine blessing to the community.

Although both Cornwell’s and Lawhead’s interpretations can be justified from the sources available, it is probable that they are mainly influenced by the authors’ own religious beliefs. Cornwell was brought up in a very strict evangelical group, the Peculiar People, by an adopted father who beat him. After escaping, he became a convinced atheist and, although he has now been married for several decades to an equally convinced member of the American Episcopal Church, Cornwell admits that:

“having been brought up by the Peculiar People and having escaped them, I‘ve always had a slightly twisted and biased view of all religions” (Thompson).

Lawhead, on the other hand, is a committed Christian, currently a member of the Church of England, and very interested in the Celtic Christian tradition. As a result, “religion and religious symbolism remain integral to his works” (Doherty) and, although there are some nasty and hypocritical Christians in the novels, there are always at least a couple of positive Christian role models and the faith itself is portrayed in an attractive manner. Lawhead may therefore be seen as continuing the tradition of Williams and the other Inklings, and participating in a debate which is unlikely to end anytime soon.

Works Cited

Barber, Richard (ed.). The Arthurian Legends: An Illustrated Anthology, The Boydell Press, London, 1979.

Cornwell, Bernard. Enemy of God, Michael Joseph, London, 1996.

____. The Winter King, BCA, London, 1995.

Doherty, John J. “‘A Land Shining with Goodness’: Magic and Religion in Stephen Lawhead’s Taliesin, Merlin and Arthur,” Arthuriana, vol.9, no. 1, Spring 1999, p.57-66.

Johann. “Scarlet: Interview with Stephen Lawhead: Exploring Druids and Magic in Christian Fiction,” Hollywood Jesus, 18 October 2007. http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/scarlet/

Lawhead, Stephen. Arthur, Lion, Oxford, 1989.

____. Merlin, Lion, Oxford, 1988.

Lewis, Pericles. “The Waste Land”, Introduction to Modernism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 129-151.

Thompson, Raymond H. “Interview with Bernard Cornwell,” The Camelot Project 9, June 2007. http://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/text/thompson-interview-cornwell

Weston, Jessie. From Ritual to Romance (1920), Project Gutenberg. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/4090

Williams, Charles. The Descent of the Dove. London: The Religious Book Club, 1939.

____. “The Figure of Arthur”, in C.S. Lewis, Arthurian Torso. London: Oxford University Press, 1948.

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My Cheat Sheet of C.S. Lewis’ Writing Schedule

For those who study authors of the past, you will soon discover that the publication lists and bibliography of an author are not always terribly helpful. After all, writing, editing, and publishing a book are stages that can each take years. Knowing something is published in 1822 or 1946 tells us little about the writing process. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien each had books that took nearly two decades to write. Ezra Pound spent more than a half-century on his famous Cantos–carrying the poems through his London period and WWI, through various parts of France and Europe in the 1920s, into an American prison camp, to a treason trial in the U.S., and to a mental ward where he did some of his best work. In his last decade in Italy he finally published the whole, though parts were published at various points between the years of 1917 and 1948.

A publication date of “1968” doesn’t help us much as historians of Ezra Pound, any more than 1954 suits as the publication date of Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring or Lewis’ English Literature in the 16th Century, Excluding Drama.

Over the last five years, then, I have developed a habit of speaking about when C.S. Lewis or one of the Inklings wrote a book, rather than when they published it. I haven’t been perfectly consistent with this on the blog, but have generally put the writing period in brackets rather than the publication date.

To do this, I discovered that I was slowly building myself a cheat sheet to help me remember when Lewis was writing a book so that I can connect it with what was going on at the time. The cheat sheet includes completed books and incomplete fragments of what would have been a book. I’ve decided to share this cheat sheet with those of you who are interested. This might save you time or inspire you to make connections between Lewis’ work and his life patterns. And, perversely, I’m hoping to draw more people into the project of reading Lewis chronologically, and have provided resources here, here, and here.

I’m also hoping that in sharing you will be able to point out errors. For example, I probably should put the 1916 “The Quest of Bleheris” on this list as a fragment. Or perhaps if someone is able and interested they could format this into some kind of useful internet tool. Whether to make it better or to use it for yourself, if the excel sheet can be of help, email me: junkola [at] gmail [dot] com.

If you decide to print this off and keep it with your Lewis books-to-read pile, I would encourage you to use it with a basic timeline like the one published by the C.S. Lewis Foundation. Digging deeper, Joel Heck’s “Chronologically Lewis,” now complete after 13 years of work, has all the details you could need if you want to press in on a particular period. Critical to pulling this kind of list together were the three-volume Collected Letters, edited by Walter Hooper, and Hooper’s C.S. Lewis: Companion and Guide (1996). Some of the dates on here were adjusted based on facebook discussion groups, blog posts, and notes in three biographies of Lewis, by Alister McGrath (2013), by George Sayer (1988), and by Roger Lancelyn Green and Walter Hooper (1967). See also critical biographies of the Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter (1978) and by Carol Zaleski and Philip Zaleski (2015), as well as historical work by Diana Pavlac Glyer’s The Company They Keep (2008).

I have left in the fallow years following Lewis’ conversion, but after Lewis found his literary voice in the early 1930s, he was rarely without a book or essay on his desk. A post next week will chase down “The Periods of C.S. Lewis’ Literary Life.”

C.S. Lewis Book Production (Publication Year and Completion Date)
Year # Book/Fragment (Pub. Year) Working Period & Notes
1918 1 Spirits in Bondage (1918) 1914-1918 poems; done Summer 1918
1925 1 Dymer (1926) 1916-1925; esp. Apr 1922-Apr 1924
1927 0.5 The Easley Fragment (2011) Fall 1927
1930 0.5 Launcelot Fragment (1969) 1930-1933; cf “Nameless Isle” Aug 1930
1931 0.5 Early Prose Joy Fragment (2013) Written late 1930 or early-mid 1931
1932 1 The Pilgirm’s Regress (1933) Aug 1932; incl. poems 1929-32, esp. poems of summer 1930 after theistic conversion
1933 0.5 Queen of the Drum Fragment (1969) Work in 1927 and 1933; read aloud in 1938
1935 1 The Allegory of Love (1936) begun Apr 1928; complete Sep 1935; in proofs Mar 1936
1936 0
1937 1 Out of the Silent Planet (1938) Finished Sep 2, 1937
1938 2 The Personal Heresy (Ed/Col 1939); Rehabilitations (Col 1939) Personal Heresy Essays 1930, 1936, 1938; Lewis-Tillyard Debate Feb 7, 1938; Rehabilitation Essays 1934-1938
1939 0.5 The Dark Tower Fragment (1977); Approx. date of Dark Tower as authentic could be 1939 to mid-1940s
1940 1 The Problem of Pain (1941) Nov 1939-May 1940
1941 2 The Screwtape Letters (1941/1942); A Preface to Paradise Lost (1942) Screwtape written Aug 1940-early 1941 and preface written Jul 1941; lectures for Preface Fall 1939 & Dec 1941
1942 2 Broadcast Talks(1942); Christian Behaviour(1943) 1st & 2nd talks Aug-Sep 1941 & Jan-Feb 1942; 3rd series Sep-Nov 1942
1943 3 Perelandra (1943); The Abolition of Man (1944); That Hideous Strength (1945) Perelandrawritten Nov 1941-May 1942; Abolition lectures Feb 23-25, 1942; THS written Fall 1942-Dec 29, 1943
1944 2 Beyond Personality (1944);                 The Great Divorce (1944-45) Beyond Personality BBC talks Feb-Apr 1944; Great Divorce written 1st half of 1944
1945 2 Miracles: Preliminary Study (1947); George MacDonald: An Anthology (1946) Miracles complete by May 28, 1945, with essays 1943-1945; Anthologycomplete by May 20, 1945
1946 1 Arthurian Torso (1948) Torso begun May 1945 and to OUP by Nov 1946; letter to widow on Mar 13, 1947; includes lecture on Charles Williams from Fall 1945
1947 1 Essays Presented to Charles Williams  (1947) Editorial work for Essays begun in 1945 and complete by Fall 1947; CSL’s “On Stories” began as “Kappa Element” in 1940
1948 0
1949 2.5 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950); Transpositions/The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses(1949);  Language and Meaning (2010) Writing of Lion Mar-May 1949, including mixed result conversaitions with Inklings; unknown editing schedule of sermons & addresses 1939-1947; unknown date of notes for book with Tolkien
1950 2 Prince Caspian (1951); The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952) Prince Caspian typed by Feb 21, 1950; Dawn Treader finished by Feb 21, 1950
1951 0
1952 2 Mere Christianity (1952); English Literature in the 16th Century (1954) Reprint of BBC talks, unknown editing; OHEL commission in 1935, odd refs in 1940s, Clark Lectures 1944, sabbatical 1951-52, complete June 1952, biblios and proofs 1953
1953 3 The Silver Chair (1953); The Horse and His Boy (1954); The Last Battle (1956) Silver Chairdraft by Mar 6, 1951, complete by Mar 21, 1953; Horse & Boy submitted Mar 20, 1953; Last Battle complete May 21, 1953
1954 2 Surprised by Joy (1955); The Magician’s Nephew (1955) working on Joy Mar 1954, likely done 1954; Magician’s Nephew begun in 1950 with draft in 1951 uncertain completion in 1954 or 1955
1955 1 Till We Have Faces (1956) begun by Mar 1955, full draft by July 1955
1956 0
1957 1 Reflections on the Psalms (1958) finished fall 1957, invited to Revise the Psalter in 1958 (worked on 1959-62)
1958 1 Studies in Words (1960) began with Easter term lectures 1956, repeated each spring, complete text Christmas 1958
1959 4 The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast (2d 1960); The World’s Last Night and Other Essays (1960); The Four Loves (1960); Miracles (2d, 1960) “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” and preface complete Nov-Dec 1959; Essay collection of 1951-59 essays completed in 1959; Four Loves lectures written and delivered summer 1958, book done June 1959; revision of Miracles began with Anscombe in 1948, then abridgement in 1958; CSL rewrote ch. 3 of Miracles and made corrections in 2nd half 1959
1960 3.5 A Grief Observed (1961); An Experiment in Criticism; Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces (1965);                     After Ten Years Fragment (1977) Grief in Aug 1960 following Joy’s death; proofs for Experiment by Jan 1961; Toast contents, preface and notes by Lewis c. Apr-May 1961, incl. essays from 1940s-1950s; on Fragment see Roger Green in Green & Hooper
1961 1 They Asked for a Paper (1962) details worked out June 1961
1963 2 Letters to Malcolm (1964); The Discarded Image (1964) attempted in early ’50s, idea returned in 1962, Malcolm done by Apr 1963; based on “prolegomena” lectures begun in 1934, it is Lewis’ last book

Note: in copying over the Excel sheet I lost all the formatting, so books are not in italics.

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Literature, Film, and Technoculture Class at Signum University (Starts Tuesday)

I wanted to announce this great SignumU live course starting next week. I have the pleasure of being the “Preceptor” for this lecture series by Dr. Chad Andrews. This science fiction-centred course counts toward the Imaginative Literature concentration, though many of the students will attend for fun. There are three levels of engagement: Credit students and Discussion Auditors both attend weekly discussions based on the lectures, and Auditors get to experience the lectures live with Prof. Andrews. The reading list is pretty cool–containing some excellent film–so I’m excited to dig in.

It is impossible to ignore the fact that our technologies and our cultures are inextricably linked, at least in the industrialized West. Advanced technologies enable the extension of lifespans, the simulation of realities, the mapping of genetic codes, and the creation of art. They facilitate instantaneous communications across the globe, collapsing, as David Harvey has claimed, the traditional distances of space and time. Our cultures have always been connected to our tools, but the relationship has never been more intimate.

This course aims to survey a range of literary and cinematic narratives that explore the growth, acceleration, and consequences of modern technoculture. Works of literature—science fiction, speculative fiction, imaginative literature, and so forth—will be placed alongside films—short and feature, mainstream and fringe—and embedded historically within debates and developments such as bio-engineering, cyborgs, future cities, gender, high-tech war, race, the singularity, and more. By studying texts as discourses rooted in a complex and shifting technocultural landscape, students will discuss some of the ways these narratives shape—and are shaped by—our technological realities.

Live Lectures will be held: Tuesdays 7:30-9:00pm and Thursdays 6:30-8:00pm (Eastern Time). Click here for more.

Course Schedule

Literature, Film, and Technoculture will have two 1-hour lectures plus two 1-hour preceptor sessions per week (4 hours/week total).

Week 1 – Genre, Discourse and Technoculture

  • Reading: “The Heat Death of the Universe,” Pamela Zoline (1967)
  • Viewing: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Week 2 – “Origins” and Evolutions

  • Reading: The Battle of Dorking: Reminiscences of a Volunteer, George Tomkyns Chesney (1871)
  • Viewing: Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902)

Week 3 – Techno-Utopias and Future Cities

  • Reading:
    • “The Concentration City,” J.G. Ballard (1957)
    • “The Gernsback Continuum,” William Gibson (1981)
  • Viewing: Metropolis (1927)

Week 4 – Robots, Servitude, and Disposability

  • Reading:
  • R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), Karel Čapek (1920)
    • “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long,” Brian Aldiss (1969)
  • Viewing: WALL-E (2008)

Week 5 – Gender and the Battle of the Sexes

  • Reading:
    • “The Conquest of Gola,” Leslie F. Stone (1931)
    • “The Screwfly Solution,” James Tiptree, Jr. (1977)
  • Viewing: Under the Skin (2013)

Week 6 – Open Discussion

  • Viewing: La Jetée (1962)

Week 7 – Race, Resistance, and Aliens

  • Reading: Dawn, Octavia E. Butler (1987)
  • Viewing: District 9 (2009)

Week 8 – High-Tech War and Deterrence

  • Reading:
    • “That Only a Mother,” Judith Merril (1948)
    • “The Soviet Strategic Threat from Space,” The Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy (1983)
  • Viewing: Starship Troopers (1997)

Week 9 – Bio-Engineering and Societal Collapse

  • Reading: Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood (2004)
  • Viewing: 12 Monkeys (1995)

Week 10 – Simulation, Hacking, and Cyborgs

  • Reading:
    • “Burning Chrome,” William Gibson (1982)
    • “Pretty Boy Crossover,” Pat Cadigan (1986)
  • Viewing: RoboCop (1987)

Week 11 – The Singularity and Beyond

  • Reading: Accelerando, Charles Stross (2005)
  • Viewing: Her (2013)

Week 12 – Open Discussion

  • Rogue Farm (2005)

Required Materials

Texts

Films

Note: The above film links are to where they can be purchased at Amazon; however, you may also be able to find them on various streaming services such as Netflix, iTunes, etc.

Chad Andrews is a teacher and researcher with a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies. He is interested in conjunctures of popular culture, technology, and hegemony that emerged in postwar America, with particular attention paid to the interplay between popular fantasies and structures of power. To explore these links, his writing and teaching engage with history, focusing on the Cold War, emerging technocultures, and the various “culture wars” of the final quarter of the century; with popular culture, primarily speculative literature and science fiction in various media; and with political and technological theory, particularly Antonio Gramsci and the Italian autonomists, as well as philosophers of technology such as Andrew Feenberg, N. Katherine Hayles, Donna Haraway, and others. His work can be found in journals such as Extrapolation and Science Fiction Studies, and he is currently preparing a manuscript on American science fiction and cultural crisis in the 1980s.

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C.S. Lewis on the Right Way to Read Classics

This is a post I found this week that I think is worth looking at as this week’s Friday Feature. Lewis had a lot to say about reading old books and suggested that bring classics and other books from outside our particular place and time into our to-be-read pile. Garrett Cash covers some of that quite nicely in this short essay.

Love and Mercy

You probably know C.S. Lewis for his imaginative Narnia fiction or perhaps for his non-fiction works on Christianity, but many are unaware of the groundbreaking and brilliant work he did within his scholarly field. Lewis was the premier professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford, but his knowledge of greater literature itself was deep and profound. His students and colleagues were frequently amazed by his astonishing recall of minute detail in obscure works. He would play a game with you when you came to his office where he would have you pull down any book off his shelf and read a random passage out of it. He would tell you the work, author, and quote the surrounding context. Suffice it to say, the man knew his stuff.

CS-Lewis-on-the-Reading-of-Old-BooksBeing that Lewis had his ears to the ground with his students and was unusually fresh with his perspectives, his approaches to…

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Inklings and Arthur Series Introduction by David Llewellyn Dodds

It was as an ‘Arthurian’ that I first consciously encountered Charles Williams, with that adjective applying to both him and me. (I, ever since I was given Emma Gelders Sterne and Barbara Lindsay’s retelling, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table,  as a little fellow, however hair-raising were Gustaf Tenggren’s depictions of Lancelot’s sword splitting Meliagrance’s helmeted head in half and the giant Taulurd’s severed arm in mid-air as Sir Tor hewed it off.)  It was only later that I realized I had already happily encountered him, enriching Dorothy Sayers’ notes in her translation of Dante’s Comedy.

However, it was not until I thought to ‘work on him’ seriously that I came to learn how many of Williams’ Arthurian writings were still unpublished. In this adventure of reading I ended up as a textual editor. But I have also been in awe of that other kind of editor – of a thematic collection of papers – ever since I saw Mark Ormrod working on England in the Fourteenth Century when we were both teaching at Harlaxton College. If working on a single author’s unknown works has its rewards, it takes a certain kind of skill and editorial eye to bring all those perspectives together into a single volume.

Sørina Higgins has clearly done a particularly awesome piece of work in editing The Inklings and King ArthurJ.R.R. TolkienCharles Williams, C.S. Lewis, & Owen Barfield on the Matter of Britain. On a scale much less grand, we have aimed to do something similar here with the ‘Inklings and Arthur’ series this winter. The series will highlight a dozen posts from leading and emerging scholars from the fields of medieval and renaissance literature, Arthurian studies, and Inklings studies–as well as poets, writers, artists, and students.

I am honoured to serve as guest editor of this little series of online works to help celebrate its appearance – and relieved to think I have our seasoned host to pilot me safely through any shoals or reefs which may appear en route. While it is my particular delight to be the first to see the ferment of our contributors’ ideas and savour the results, I am happy to think you will be joining me in their enjoyment in the weeks ahead. Watch for an Inklings and Arthur post each Wednesday, and feel free to join in the conversation.

David Llewellyn Dodds has edited the Charles Williams and John Masefield 
volumes of Boydell & Brewer’s Arthurian Poets series, the first while 
President of the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society, living at and looking after 
The Kilns. His most recent publication is “‘Tolkien’s Narnia’?: Lit., 
Lang., Saints, Tinfang, and a Mythology – or two – for Christmas”, in 
Tolkien Among Scholars (Lembas Extra 2016). He is currently editing 
Charles Williams’s Arthurian Commonplace Book, and an early cycle of 
Arthurian poetry, The Advent of Galahad,  for publication (with 
tortoise-like slowness, if not steadiness).

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2017: A Year of Reading

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” ~ G.K. Chesterton (thanks to Book Oblivion for the quote)

As a PhD student it is my “job” to read. And though I struggled with writing except in strong spurts in 2017, reading is the area where I have been the most successful and consistent. I had a few goals for 2017:

  • Reduce my reading to 100 books, but read longer books (averaging 320 pages/book)
  • 125 articles, shorts stories, essays, or other short pieces (not in collections)
  • A 1:3 female:male ratio of authors
  • Read C.S. Lewis’ essays in the winter, his poetry in the summer, and his fiction in the fall
  • Increase the number of classes/lecture series to 10
  • Increase my Canadian literature content
  • Read one theological book a month
  • Read one literary theory or writing text a week for my Research Methods class in the fall

My goals this year were really about:

  • thickening up my reading and focussing it to match my thesis needs
  • intentionally building up my CanLit knowledge (with the goal of presenting at a conference in 2018)
  • reading for course prep (which overlaps with my PhD program)

80% of my books fit into one of those categories, and another 10% of my books and all the lectures were designed for increasing skills or devotional reading.

So, how did I do?

With due respect to the creepy encouragement from Goodreads–how would they know what I’m good at?–I muffed my first goal. For some reason, I put some omnibus editions in Goodreads, so it looks like 117 books at 36,000 words. When tracking individual books on my excel sheet (below), it was actually 127 books. In either case, the word length is the same, meaning I didn’t read longer books in 2017. This shows that I was a little soft on my thesis reading and filled it out with more fiction than normal. It also attests to how thin C.S. Lewis’ books are–the main character in my PhD dissertation. Lewis’ brevity is legendary, one of the reasons I would like to write essays like he does. Leaving out his journals and letters, Lewis averaged 221.8 pages per book. In 2017 I read 21 Lewis books, which will soften these averages considerably.

I met my learning goals this year, and except for being soft on Lewis’ poetry, I met my Lewis goals (including struggling with Charles Williams). I read 14 books by Canadian fiction writers. In 2018 I want to take that forward, reading a couple of more of Margaret Atwood, more of Lucy Maud Montgomery, and whatever I can fit in of Guy Gavriel Kay. And I fell just short of my 1:3 female:male ratio (though by the goodreads stats I came pretty close). 22% of the books I read were written by women. As a scholar of primarily male figures, that’s to be expected, but I am intent on broadening my experience. The ratio may shift in late 2018 or early 2019 as I come to a question about gender in my thesis.

stats-9

Over the years of reading, my monthly averages have flattened out. As always, there is a drop in the early fall–I find the fall semester really difficult to get started. What has been consistent in all three previous years is the strength of my summer reading; 2017 was just below average, with a much stronger spring and late fall. Perhaps this might be a bit bent as my summer was taken up by longer books like The Name of the Wind, The Brothers Karamazov, and IT

 

 

 

Though I don’t tend to count blogs or most internet articles, books are not all of my reading. In 2017, I dropped pretty dramatically in my reading of articles as I found myself reading primary source material more than usual in research. I exceeded the goal with the number of lectures I listened to, going through 13 series in total.  In the chart below, gold is books, purple is articles, and green includes lecture series and classes.

My charts have better detail, but honestly, the Goodreads infographic is just so much nicer (see the entire infographic here).

If my reading had themes this past year, it was these:

  • C.S. Lewis and books about him (21 and 11 books respectively); the book above where I was the only reader is the Revised Psalter, which Lewis helped edit
  • Books by and about the Inklings (10 books), including a focus on Tolkien
  • CanLit books (14), including a turn to L.M. Montgomery
  • Theological works (24 books)
  • SF and Fantasy books, other than Inklings (24 books), including some classic SF, some Stephen King, and my ongoing reading of Discworld
  • Literary theory, literary criticism, and literary history (17 books and a couple of dozen articles), mostly in the fall, but I try to read a literary history book ever season

This coming year, my reading will be determined by season:

  • Winter: Because I am precepting a course called Literature, Film, and Technoculture with Signum University, my winter and part of the spring will be dominated by SciFi (I think my SHANWAR read is SF, but I’m not sure yet)
  • Spring: I will be finishing up the SciFi class reading and focussing on two areas for the rest of the spring: L.M. Montgomery’s work from 1908-1917, and C.S. Lewis’ teenage work (1914-1919)
  • Summer: The summer is all about C.S. Lewis, especially secondary material; my reading will lighten as I have 6 weeks of dedicated writing time
  • Fall: Continues the C.S. Lewis work with a supplement in theology; I will probably also reread Harry Potter, as I do every other autumn

And I will be going slowly through the catalogues that I love: Tolkien, Discworld, and a couple of the lists from this blog.

3

The Goodreads app is kind of limited, though you can check out my 2017 infographic. They have a thousand possibilities for creating infographics, yet they can’t figure out how to give us that power. Until then, I’ll stick with the classic excel sheet list. I wish I was infographically-inclined, but I do like lists! Here is my list of reading form 2017. “CSL” below means “C.S. Lewis.” I’ve linked some of the blogs that connect with the things I’ve read. Are any of these books or papers yours? If so, feel free to link my list. If you have your own year-end list or best-of blog, make sure you link it in the comments.

# Date Book or Short Piece
January
1 Jan 01 Kenneth E. Bailey, “Informal Controlled Oral Tradition and the Synoptic Gospels” (1995)
2 Jan 01 Courtney Petrucci, “Abolishing Man in Other Worlds: Breaking and Recovering the Chain of Being in C.S. Lewis’s Ransom Cycle” (2016)
3 Jan 01 Terry Pratchett, Jingo (1997)
4 Jan 01 J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2003)
5 Jan 02 David C. Downing and Bruce R. Johnson, “C.S. Lewis’s Unfinished ‘Easley Fragment’ and his Unfinished Journey” (1928; 2011)
6 Jan 06 J.K. Rowling, The Tales of Beedle the Bard (2003)
7 Jan 08 CSL, God in the Dock (1966)
8 Jan 08 Arend Smilde, “A History of C. S. Lewis’s Collected Shorter Writings” (2012; 2015)
9 Jan 10 CSL, The Weight of Glory (1980)
10 Jan 12 CSL, Foreword to Joy Davidman, Smoke on the Mountain (1955)
11 Jan 14 CSL, Christian Reflections (1967)
12 Jan 17 CSL, Present Concerns (1986)
13 Jan 17 CSL, “Blimpophobia” (1944)
14 Jan 17 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Father Christmas Letters (1920s-30s; 1976)
15 Jan 18 CSL, Of This and Other Worlds (1982)
16 Jan 20 Jeff McInnis, In and Out of the Moon (2015)
17 Jan 23 CSL, Preface to George MacDonald: An Anthology (1946)
18 Jan 23 CSL, The Abolition of Man (1943)
19 Jan 23 Katharine MacDonald, “Youth Retention and Repatriation in PEI” (2016)
20 Jan 25 J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf: A Translation (1920-6; 2014)
21 Jan 26 Mary Anne Phemister & Andrew Lazo, Mere Christians (2009)
22 Jan 26 Emily Strand, “Rogue One and the Paschal Mystery” (2016)
23 Jan 26 Tom Shippey, “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Beowulf” (2017)
24 Jan 26 J.R. Lucas, “Restoration of Man” (1992)
25 Jan 27 W.W. Robson, “C.S. Lewis” (1966)
26 Jan 29 CSL, “A Slip of the Tongue” (1956; 1963)
27 Jan 29 CSL, Reflections on the Psalms (1958)
28 Jan 30 J.R.R. Tolkien and Verlyn Flieger (ed.), The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun (1930; 2016)
29 Jan 31 Walter Hooper, ed, introduction and editorial note of They Stand Together: The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (1979)
30 Jan 31 Clyde S. Kilby, Letters to an American Lady (1969)
31 Jan 31 CSL, Dymer (1925; 1950 preface)
February
32 Feb 01 Bruce Hindmarsh, “The Roots of Evangelical Spirituality” (2007)
33 Feb 01 CSL, “Christian Reunion” (1944)
34 Feb 03 CSL, The World’s Last Night and Other Essays (1960)
35 Feb 04 J.R.R. Tolkien, Tales from the Perilous Realm (1992)
36 Feb 05 N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (2007)
37 Feb 06 J.R.R. Tolkien and Verlyn Flieger (ed.), The Story of Kullervo (1914; 2015)
38 Feb 07 David Baggett, Jerry L. Walls, Gary Habermas, et al, C.S. Lewis as Philosopher: Truth, Goodness and Beauty (2008)
39 Feb 10 Mark Noll, “Opening a Wardrobe” (1986)
40 Feb 10 Jean L.S. Patrick, ed., A Christian for All Christians: Essays in Honor of C.S. Lewis (1990)
41 Feb 14 Matthew Lee, “To Reign in Hell or to Serve in Heaven: C.S. Lewis on the Problem of Hell and Enjoyment of the Good” (2008)
42 Feb 16 J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Lay of Aotrou & Itroun” (1930)
43 Feb 16 Verlyn Flieger, “Tolkien Dark: Kullervo, Aotrou and Itroun” (2016)
44 Feb 18 J.I. Packer, “Still Surprised by Lewis” (1998)
45 Feb 21 Kenneth C. Harper, “C.S. Lewis: A Survey of Recent Scholarship” (1989)
46 Feb 21 Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent (1998)
47 Feb 22 CSL, “Religion Without Dogma?” (1946)
48 Feb 25 Walter Hooper, Preface to Christian Reunion and Other Essays (1990)
49 Feb 25 H. Rider Haggard, King’s Solomon’s Mines (1885)
50 Feb 27 John McWhorter, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English (2008)
51 Feb 28 Bruce R. Johnson, “Answers that Belonged to Life: C. S. Lewis and the Origins of the Royal Air Force Chaplains’ School, Cambridge” (2012)
52 Feb 28 Edumnd Cooper and Roger Lancelyn Green, Double Phoenix (1971)
53 Feb 28 Harry Lee Poe, “C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent” (2015)
54 Feb 28 Suzanne Bray, “‘The Exact Programme a Particular Country Wishes to Have’: C.S. Lewis’ Literary Broadcast for Iceland” (2016)
55 Feb 28 Gregory Anderson, “Lost Letters of Lewis at the Lambeth Palace Library” (2016)
56 Feb 28 John G. West “Darwin in the Dock” (2012)
March
58 Mar 01 William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728)
59 Mar 02 Phyllis A. Tickle, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why (2008)
60 Mar 05 Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology (2017)
61 Mar 11 William Paul Young, The Shack (2008)
62 Mar 12 Orson Scott Card & Christopher Yost, Ender’s Game: The Graphic Novel (2010)
63 Mar 14 Robert Lacey, The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, An Englishman’s World (1998)
64 Mar 15 Dallas Willard, Renovations of the Heart (2002)
65 Mar 20 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1986)
66 Mar 20 Larry Keeley, Kyla Fullwinder, “Design Thinking” (2016)
67 Mar 20 Margaret Atwood, “What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump” (2017)
68 Mar 22 Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be (1952)
69 Mar 22 Timothy Smith, “Whitfield, Wesley, and Evangelical Social Reform” (1987)
70 Mar 26 Stephen King, The Stand (1978)
71 Mar 27 Charles Williams, “What the Cross Means to Me” (1943)
72 Mar 28 G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1922)
73 Mar 30 Roger E. Olson, How to be Evangelical without Being Conservative (2008)
April
74 Apr 01 Michael R. Phillips, The Garden at the Edge of Beyond (1998)
75 Apr 05 Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum (1998)
76 Apr 06 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion (1977)
77 Apr 07 Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles (1949)
78 Apr 10 Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (2003)
79 Apr 13 Monika B. Hilder, Surprised by the Feminine: A Rereading of C. S. Lewis’s and Gender (2013)
80 Apr 13 Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book III (1559)
81 Apr 18 Boethius, The Consolations of Philosophy (524)
82 Apr 19 Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood (2009)
83 Apr 20 Mark Sampson, Sad Peninsula (2014)
84 Apr 29 Melvyn Bragg, The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language (2003)
May
85 May 01 G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
86 May 03 L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908)
87 May 05 Brian Paulsen, The River (1992)
88 May 07 J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016)
89 May 08 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún (1920s-30s; 2009)
90 May 10 Tom Shippey, Review of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, by J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Christopher Tolkien (2010)
91 May 10 Joe Christopher, Review of Gender Dance by Monika Hilder (2014)
92 May 10 Laura Lee Smith, Review of Surprised by the Feminine by Monika Hilder (2016)
93 May 10 Charles Huttar, Review of Monika Hilder Trilogy (2016)
94 May 10 Sigrid Undset, Catherine of Siena (1951)
95 May 11 Michael S. Jeffress & William J. Brown, “Freedom of Choice in The Great Divorce: C.S. Lewis’ Rhetorical Vision of the Afterlife” (2017)
96 May 15 William Morris, News from Nowhere (1890)
97 May 15 Carl Edlund Anderson “The Legends of Sigurd and Gudrún” (2017)
98 May 16 Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book IV and 100 Aphorisms (1559)
99 May 19 CSL, T.S. Eliot et al., The Revised Psalter (1959-64)
100 May 19 Walter Hooper, “Reflections on the Psalms” in C.S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide (1996)
101 May 19 Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam (2013)
102 May 24 George M. Marsden, A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards (2008)
103 May 24 Travis Buchanan, “An Unwelcome Transposition: Review Essay of Paul H. Brazier’s C.S. Lewis: Revelation and the Christ” (2016)
104 May 24 Dabney. “A Letter from C.S. Lewis” (2016)
105 May 26 N.T. Wright, The Lord and His Prayer (1996)
106 May 29 Jason Fisher, “Little Known Lewis Letters” (2017)
107 May 29 Francis Warner, “Lewis’ Involvement in the Revision of the Psalter” (2011)
108 May 30 Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant (1997)
109 May 30 Terry Pratchett, “The Sea and Little Fishes” (1998)
June
110 Jun 03 Joseph Laconte, A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War (2015)
111 Jun 06 Dante, The Divine Comedy (1308-1320)
112 Jun 07 James M. Houston, “The Prayer Life of CSL” (1989)
113 Jun 10 Arthur G. Holder, The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality (2005)
114 Jun 13 J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism (1922)
115 Jun 13 Ron Dart, “CSL and Bede Griffiths” (2017)
116 Jun 14 Brenton D.G. Dickieson, “Mixed Metaphors and Hyperlinked Worlds: A Study of Intertextuality in CSL’s Ransom Cycle” (2015)
117 Jun 14 Suzanne Bray, “’Any Chalice of Consecrated Wine’: The Significance of the Holy Grail in Charles Williams’s War in Heaven” (2017)
118 Jun 16 Marsha Daigle-Williamson, Reflecting the Eternal: Dante’s Divine Comedy in the Novels of CSL (2015)
119 Jun 16 Samuel Johnson, Rasselas (1759)
120 Jun 18 Mark Sampson, The Slip (2017)
121 Jun 26 John Lawlor, C.S. Lewis: Memories and Reflections (1998)
122 Jun 27 John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1563)
July
123 Jul 01 John Warwick Montgomery, “Contemporary Religious Thoughts” (1970)
124 Jul 01 Terry Pratchett, The Truth (2000)
125 Jul 08 Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters (2016)
126 Jul 17 L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea (1909)
127 Jul 19 L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island (1915)
128 Jul 20 Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: History’s Age of Hatred (2006)
129 Jul 23 Charles Williams, Shadows of Ecstasy (1930)
130 Jul 27 CSL, selections from Letters I (1930)
131 Jul 27 David L. Neuhouser, “Crossing the ‘Great Frontier'” (2016)
132 Jul 27 Dale Nelson, “Fantasy and Science Fiction: The C.S. Lewis Issues” (2017)
133 Jul 28 L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams (1917)
134 Jul 29 Eugene Peterson, “Jesus and Prayer” (c. 1996)
135 Jul 30 L.M. Montgomery, Chronicles of Avonlea (1912)
135 Jul 31 Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind (2008)
August
137 Aug 01 Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brother’s Karamazov (1879)
138 Aug 03 David Teems, Tyndale: The Man Who Gave God an English Voice (2012)
139 Aug 08 Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping (1980)
140 Aug 09 CSL, “Philia” (1958)
141 Aug 12 Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time (2001)
142 Aug 13 Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (1997)
143 Aug 14 Terry Pratchett, The Last Hero (2001)
144 Aug 18 Harold Bloom, How to Read and Why (2000)
145 Aug 21 Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying: An Observation” (1891)
146 Aug 24 Gary Thorne, “Baptized but not Sanctified: George MacDonald and the Fantastic Baptism of the Imagination of C.S. Lewis” (2015)
147 Aug 24 David C. Downing on Lewis & Phantastes (1992, 2002, 2005)
148 Aug 24 George MacDonald, “The Fantastic Imagination” (1895)
149 Aug 24 Claire Connors, Literary Theory: A Beginner’s Guide (2010)
150 Aug 24 Owen Barfield, Christopher Mitchell (ed), Amy Vail (trans) Jane Hipolito (ed), “Death” (1930; 2008)
151 Aug 25 CSL, Spirits in Bondage (1919)
152 Aug 29 A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)
153 Aug 30 George MacDonald, “The Fantastic Imagination” (1895)
September
154 Sep 04 Signum Faculty, Research Methods (2017)
155 Sep 05 Jorge Luis Borges, Călin-Andrei Mihăilescu (Editor), This Craft of Verse (1976; 2002)
156 Sep 13 Stephen King, IT (1986)
157 Sep 17 John Stott, The Cross of Christ (1986)
158 Sep 18 Lois More Overbeck, “Researching Literary Manuscripts: A Scholar’s Perspective” (1993)
159 Sep 18 Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel” (1940)
160 Sep 21 Michel Foucault, “What is an Author?” (1969)
161 Sep 24 Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey (1982)
162 Sep 25 Percy Bysshe Shelley, “A Defence of Poetry” (1821)
163 Sep 25 Roland Barthes, Mythologies (1957; 2013)
164 Sep 25 Philip Sidney, “An Apologie for Poetrie” (1593)
165 Sep 28 Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul (1895-7)
166 Sep 30 Stephen King, Gunslinger (The Dark Tower I; 1982)
167 Sep 30 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: Vol 1 (1976)
October
168 Oct 05 Peters Singer, Marx: A Very Short Introduction (2001)
169 Oct 05 T.S. Eliot, “The Wasteland” (1922)
170 Oct 07 W.K. Wimsatt, Jr. and Monroe C. Beardsley, “The Intentional Fallacy” (1954)
171 Oct 07 John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (1819)
172 Oct 09 Charles Taylor, “History, Secularity, and the Nova Effect” (2001)
173 Oct 09 Frederick C. Crewes, The Pooh Perplex (1963)
174 Oct 10 Cleanth Brooks, selection from “The Well Wrought Urn” (1947)
175 Oct 11 Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
176 Oct 12 Catherine Belsey, Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (2002)
177 Oct 20 A.A. Milne, The Collected Stories of Winnie-the-Pooh (2006)
178 Oct 23 Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room (1921)
179 Oct 25 Bill Goldstein, The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster and the Year That Changed Literature (2017)
180 Oct 27 Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (1929)
181 Oct 30 Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory (1983)
182 Oct 30 Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (1929)
183 Oct 31 Frederick C. Crewes, The Postmodern Pooh (2001)
November
184 Nov 01 Alan Jacobs, The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography (2013)
185 Nov 03 Paul Fry, “Eng 300: Introduction to the Theory of Literature” class at Yale University (2007)
186 Nov 03 Leonard Neidorf, “R.D. Fulk and the Progress of Philology” (2016)
187 Nov 03 Tom Shippey, “Fighting the Long Defeat: Philology in Tolkien’s Life and Fiction” (2007)
188 Nov 04 Calvert Watkins, “What is Philology?” (1990)
189 Nov 04 Hans Henrich Hock, Introduction to Principles of Historical Linguistics (1991)
190 Nov 06 Signum Faculty, Research Methods (2017)
191 Nov 07 Henry Jenkins, III, “Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching” (1986)
192 Nov 08 Nola Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998)
193 Nov 09 David C. Downing, The Most Reluctant Convert: C. S. Lewis’s Journey to Faith (2002)
194 Nov 11 J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-stories” (1947)
195 Nov 11 C.S. Lewis, “On the Reading of Old Books” (1943)
196 Nov 11 Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, “‘Something Fearful’: Medievalist Scholars on the Religious Turn” (2010)
197 Nov 11 Stanley Fish, “One University Under God?” (2005)
198 Nov 11 C.S. Lewis, “On Stories” (1947)
199 Nov 12 CSL, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1949)
200 Nov 13 Art Lindsley and Chris Mitchell, “Narnia & C.S. Lewis: Imagination, Reason, and You” (2006)
201 Nov 13 CSL, The Pilgrim’s Regress (1932)
202 Nov 13 CSL, “Religion and Science” (1945)
203 Nov 13 CSL, “Work and Prayer” (1945)
204 Nov 13 Charles Williams, “The English Poetic Mind” (1932)
205 Nov 20 David J. Peterson, The Art of Language Invention: From Horse-Lords to Dark Elves, the Words Behind World-Building (2015)
206 Nov 20 CSL, Prince Caspian (1950)
207 Nov 22 George Sayer, Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis (1988)
208 Nov 24 Charles Williams, The Figure of Beatrice (1942)
209 Nov 27 Eric S. Rabkin, “Science Fiction: The Literature of Technological Imagination” (1998)
210 Nov 27 CSL, “Meditation in a Toolshed” (1945)
211 Nov 27 CSL, Surprised by Joy (1954)
212 Nov 28 CSL, Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1950)
December
213 Dec 04 Alexander Pope, “Eloisa to Abelard” (1717)
214 Dec 05 CSL, The Silver Chair (1951)
215 Dec 06 CSL, The Horse and His Boy (1953)
216 Dec 08 CSL, The Magician’s Nephew (1953)
217 Dec 12 CSL, “Meditation in a Toolshed” (1945)
218 Dec 12 CSL, The Last Battle (1953)
219 Dec 12 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798)
220 Dec 13 CSL, The Great Divorce (1944-45)
221 Dec 15 Stephanie Derrick, “Christmas and Cricket: Rediscovering Two Lost C. S. Lewis Articles After 70 Years” (2017)
222 Dec 15 CSL, Out of the Silent Planet (1937)
223 Dec 18 CSL, The Screwtape Letters with “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” (1941)
224 Dec 20 CSL, Perelandra (1943)
225 Dec 21 CSL, selections on David Lindsay from OHEL (1954)
226 Dec 22 CSL?, “Cricketer’s Progress” (1946)
227 Dec 22 CSL, “A Christmas Sermon for Pagans” (1946)
228 Dec 26 CSL, That Hideous Strength (1945)
229 Dec 27 Rob Gosselin, “Tolkien’s sub-creative vision: Exploring the broad applicability in Tolkien’s concept of sub-creation” (2017)
230 Dec 27 J.R.R. Tolkien, “Leaf by Niggle” (1945)
231 Dec 31 Frederick Buechner, The Book of Bebb (1979)
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King Arthur Has Returned: TOC and Blurbs

The book is out! Watch for our Inklings & Arthur series starting in mid-January.

The Oddest Inkling

IA coverDear Readers:

The Inklings and King Arthur: J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, and Owen Barfield on the Matter of Britain

is available on Amazon (where it is currently the #1 new release in Religious Literature Criticism!) and Barnes & Noble. I suspect you can also order it from independent bookstores; the ISBN is 978-1944769895 and the publisher is Apocryphile Press. Please let me know if you have any cool (or annoying) stories about ordering it, reading it, using it as a doorstop, stopping traffic with it, or anything else. 🙂

Friends and colleagues have been asking for the Table of Contents on social media; here it is. And then below that, I have all the blurbs from the wonderful, kind, famous, and brilliant people who pre-read the book and wrote up endorsements. Enjoy — and please help spread the word! There are lots of important chapters in…

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