A Call for Guest Posts: The Inklings and King Arthur with Guest Editor David Llewellyn Dodds

It is an intriguing fact of literary history that the Inklings were individually fascinated by the Arthurian legends. Christopher Tolkien’s publication of his father’s The Fall of Arthur caused a literary sensation in 2013, highlighting how deeply the Matter of Britain is in conversation with Tolkien’s legendarium. Arthurian themes run through C.S. Lewis’ fiction—including the eruption of the whole Arthurian landscape into his dystopic That Hideous Strength—and he approaches Arthurian material as a scholar. Charles Williams, who published two Arthurian books of poems and one Grail novel, left much of his work on his desk after his sudden passing in 1945. Owen Barfield’s fiction dances with Arthurian themes, and many of us encountered Arthur first through Roger Lancelyn Green’s adaptation of Morte D’Arthur.

King Arthur seems to be one of the centrifugal forces of the Inklings as a loose literary collective. It is this observation that drew a number of Inklings readers together to produce The Inklings and King Arthur, prolifically edited by Sørina Higgins. This volume contains 20 essays from leading and emerging scholars and is the essential resource for the field.

In celebration of the launch of The Inklings and King Arthur in January, A Pilgrim in Narnia is hosting a series of guest blogs on the topic. For this occasion, we have invited David Llewellyn Dodds to be a guest editor. David is doubtless the right knight for this adventure. David has an essay on Charles Williams’ The Chapel of the Thorn, an award-nominated archival publication by Sørina Higgins. David has edited the Arthurian Poets volumes for both John Masefield and Charles Williams, which fills out our Williams Arthuriad in critical ways. Beyond all that, David is a frequent commentator here on A Pilgrim in Narnia, and will help the conversation greatly.

Besides featuring some of the authors from The Inklings and King Arthur, we are opening up the series to other readers of the Matter of Britain (Arthuriana) and the Matter of Oxford (the Inklings and their friends and influences). Proposals should include a title, a summary of the blog idea, and a brief bio of the author. Please also include a writing sample, a draft of the blog, or a draft introduction to the post.

Please email all proposals by Dec 20th to inklingsandarthur@gmail.com. The series will begin in January and will hopefully extend the dialogue of the text into a new world of great readers.

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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18 Responses to A Call for Guest Posts: The Inklings and King Arthur with Guest Editor David Llewellyn Dodds

  1. I wish I could but lack the knowledge. The Matter of Britain exercises me at present and I hope to reread the conversation between Merlin and Ransome on the relationship between Logres and England. I look forward to reading the wisdom of your contributors.
    PS If you have ever written on “Always winter but never Christmas” I would love to read that too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dale Nelson says:

    There’s a lot more to the Matter of “Britain” (Logres!) than Malory’s Morte, but that is plenty to discuss.

    For example: how much of Malory’s Morte does someone who learns from Lewis need to read? Somewhere Lewis seems more or less to dismiss the material about Arthur’s war with Rome. I found that, and much of the Tristram material, tedious. Lewis didn’t relish the parts with the repetitive “brasting” (knights fighting).

    When I have taught the Morte to college students, I used the Oxford World’s Classics edition (ISBN 0192824201) of Malory’s Winchester Manuscript (– and Winchester vs. Caxton? another topic). of that, I had the students read about 3/5.

    Specifically, for those with access to a copy, xxxi-iii, 3-80; first paragraph on 95, 118-119, middle of 167 (Gareth and Lancelot); 281-527 (351-372 may be skimmed).

    This gets in such matters as the begetting of Arthur, the Merlin material, the Maimed King, Morgan le Fay, the Grail, Lancelot’s and Guinevere’s treachery, the death of Arthur.

    The World’s Classics edition uses modernized spelling, e.g. “king” not “kyng,” etc. But it is the early Modern English text — not a paraphrase.

    The other Arthurian work that I’ve had students read is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, preferring Brian Stone’s translation even to Tolkien’s.

    For our purposes as Lewisians, what other Arthurian materials matter? I’m guessing Geoffrey of Monmouth will make the cut. But Wolfram von Eschenbach, for example?


    • It seems, Dale, you have a lot you could do here for a guest blog in January! This is a great one: “how much of Malory’s Morte does someone who learns from Lewis need to read?” Or a review of the manuscripts would be good–help us see the best way to get started. Or the Gawain translations (I prefer others to Tolkien as well).
      For me, the most fun of Arthuriana was moving past Malory to some of the medieval stories like Gawain or de Troyes’ stuff.


  3. Dale Nelson says:

    To be clear — I myself read the unabridged Caxton version of the Morte in two Penguin Classics paperbacks, to start with. The World’s Classics paperback of the Winchester Manuscript that I’ve used in my teaching is not the entire Morte. Since I’ve assigned 3/5 of -that- to students, then, I suppose what I require comes to very roughly half of the entire Morte.

    Lewis knew the entire Morte, of course, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a little that Charles Williams used in his Arthurian poetry, that students wouldn’t get by reading 3/5 of the World’s Classics edition. But I think that for most purposes that is probably enough — certainly as a first encounter with Malory.

    So, again, one thing to discuss might be: what’s a good way to get a handle on Malory’s presentation of the Matter of Logres? And how much beyond Malory is needed? David, what are your thoughts on this?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Book Launch Party for “The Inklings and King Arthur”! | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  5. Steve says:

    Reblogged this on Khanya.


  6. Reblogged this on The Oddest Inkling and commented:
    Brenton Dickieson, one of the contributors to “The Inklings and King Arthur,” is hosting a series of guest blog posts all about our book! Check it out!


  7. Pingback: C.S. Lewis’ Christmas Sermon for Pagans (Friday Feature) | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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  9. Pingback: A Personal Reflection on Logres and The Matter of Britain by Stephen Winter | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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