Malcolm Guite on Joy, Word, and Mythopoeia in J.R.R. Tolkien and the Inklings (Feature Friday)

I have talked about the value of Malcolm Guite’s work as a poet, theologian, and C.S. Lewis critic. Someone recently shared with me the linked video, and I responded by saying that I would make theology students watch this video. I have not that power, but I think this is such a wise, generous, and full lecture that I would like you all to see it.

Guite shares here the essential meaning of Tolkien’s work–not reduced to allegory, but reveling in its infused meaning. He spends time with the poem “Mythopoeia” (see here), linking it to Tolkien’s “On Fairy-stories” lecture and his work on fantasy theory and the essential eucatastrophic story that critiques our modern world’s instinct to reduce human beings to cogs in a social or natural machine.

Here Malcolm covers what he thinks is most prophetic and radical in Tolkien. It is a brilliant lecture, filled with wandering thoughts, a lifetime of study, and a good many stories. I hope you enjoy.


About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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9 Responses to Malcolm Guite on Joy, Word, and Mythopoeia in J.R.R. Tolkien and the Inklings (Feature Friday)

  1. “Then Jesus told them, “That is why every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom from heaven is like the master of a household who brings both new and old things out of his treasure chest.” [Matthew 13:52]
    In this video Malcolm demonstrates that he has certainly been trained for the Kingdom of Heaven, he does, with Tolkien, Lewis, Barfield and Williams, exactly what he describes Tolkien doing with all the history of words and mythology at his command.
    Brilliant, informative and transformative, many thanks for the link.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for making this lecture available, Brenton. I am currently listening to his Signum University webinar and will turn to this after. I have also recently finished his quite wonderful study of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It is a book that I will gladly return to. My daughter has been a postgraduate student in the college where Malcolm is chaplain this year. She likes him a lot but I don’t think that she has benefited from him as much as she could. I guess that is young people for you. I think I would have been just as shy. His influence on intellectual and spiritual life in this country is growing though which encourages me greatly. There is something about becoming a “success” when you are in your late 50s that perhaps means you are not subject to the temptations that beset those who are “successful” when young.


  3. Do you have a url for Malcolm’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner study, or is it in some other container (ie. not html or not electronically available on the internet) ?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. earthoak says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this video, thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt from it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Fantastic Imagination: An Essay on Fantasy Theory by George MacDonald | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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