Item description for Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez...
Overview Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are literary superstars, known around the world as the creators of Middle Earth and Narnia. But few of their readers and fans know about the important and complex friendship between these two Oxford dons. Without the persistent encouragement of Lewis, Tolkien would never have completed Lord of the Rings. Likewise, all of Lewis's fiction, after the two met in 1926, bears the mark of Tolkien's influence. Both were central figures in the informal Oxford literary circle, the Inklings, and the quality of their literary friendship invites comparisons with those of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Cowper and John Newton, and G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Beloc.
Publishers Description Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are literary superstars, known around the world as the creators of Middle-earth and Narnia. But few of their readers and fans know about the important and complex friendship between Tolkien and his fellow Oxford academic C.S. Lewis. Without the persistent encouragement of his friend, Tolkien would never have completed The Lord of the Rings. This great tale, along with the connected matter of The Silmarillion, would have remained merely a private hobby. Likewise, all of Lewis' fiction, after the two met at Oxford University in 1926, bears the mark of Tolkien's influence, whether in names he used or in the creation of convincing fantasy worlds. They quickly discovered their affinity--a love of language and the imagination, a wide reading in northern myth and fairy tale, a desire to write stories themselves in both poetry and prose. Both Tolkien and Lewis were central figures in the informal Oxford literary circle, the Inklings. This book explores their lives, unfolding the extraordinary story of their complex friendship that lasted, with its ups and downs, until Lewis's death in 1963. Despite their differences, what united them was, a shared vision that continues to inspire their millions of readers throughout the world.
Citations And Professional Reviews Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Booklist - 11/15/2003 page 559
Library Journal - 12/01/2003 page 118
Choice - 02/01/2004 page 1077
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Studio: Paulist Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.04" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.67" Weight: 0.84 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2003
Publisher Paulist Press
ISBN 1587680262 ISBN13 9781587680267
Availability 0 units.
More About Colin Duriez
Colin Duriez has appeared as a commentator on several mainstream documentaries, has authored biographies of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and studied for several months under Francis Schaeffer at Swiss L'Abri before reading English and philosophy at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. He writes books, edits, and lectures.
Reviews - What do customers think about Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship?
A must for any Tolkien or Lewis fan Dec 12, 2007
An easy read while maintaing strict attention to detail. This book propelled me to but other books from the Inklings to share with my children.
My question is this . . . Apr 27, 2007
. . . why was this book needed?
As a previous reviewer has noted, George Sayer has written an outstanding biography of Lewis (and to my mind, the best available). Sayer was a student, friend, and confidante of Lewis for 29 years, and knew Tolkien as well. Humphrey Carpenter has written an outstanding biography of Tolkien, with the full cooperation of the Tolkien estate. Carpenter also edited an edition of Tolkien's letters which frequently reference Lewis (including the very poignant "axe blow at the roots" letter to his daughter upon learning of Lewis's death) and also the critically regarded "The Inklings".
All four of these volumes are easily accessible; none fall into the category of dense academic writing.
Then why did Colin Duriez feel that this effort was necessary?
He breaks no new ground -- indeed his little bit of fiction at the beginning seems more odd than contributive. He makes some unnecessary errors -- Lewis was hardly a "Low-Church" Anglican. (While personally eschewing church politics, Lewis attended a "High" parish, and held a very high view of Communion, practiced auricular confession, and believed in Purgatory!)
I guess what troubles me most here, is that any book which purports to discuss the friendship of Lewis and Tolkien, will, inevitably, lead readers to unfair conclusions. Lewis and Tolkien first met in 1926; by 1927 they had become fast friends. Lewis converted in 1931. By the time Lewis died in 1963, the two men had known each other for 37 years! ANY 37 year friendship will have ebbs and flows. Why is this so difficult for authors to accept?
Yes, Tolkien was disappointed that Lewis never became Catholic.
Yes, Lewis's appreciation for Tolkien's fiction was greater than Tolkien's appreciation for much (NOT all) of Lewis's fiction.
Yes, Tolkien was greatly distressed by Lewis's marriage -- and yes, Edith Tolkien became friends with Joy Davidman Lewis!
My question? So what! Such is friendship!
It was Lewis, who, even in the latter years of their friendship, wrote the enormously glowing reviews of "The Lord of the Rings" which still grace dust-jackets today.
It was Tolkien, who, during the same years, was instrumental in procuring a Professorship for Lewis in Cambridge, after Lewis had been so long denied at Oxford.
And it was Tolkien who was one of the very few mourners at Lewis's funeral.
The point is, is that a 37 year friendship is far more than the quirks, disagreements, differences, and even arguments -- and frankly, I'm amazed that more people don't understand that! I strongly suspect that both Lewis and Tolkien would have been most suspicious (at best) at this type of analysis.
Parallel Biographies Mar 5, 2005
The book introduces chapters with fictional vignettes of their lives that might have happened. This approach is a mixed blessing. Who really cares what may have happened in a biography? This approach does make the book an easy read. Duriez presents the lives of both of the men fairly accurately. He even tries to correct the common misconceptions of these two great men. Duriez asserts the men were friends to the end of their lives and they were not estranged by Lewis's marriage to Joy. Duriez writes all long friendships go through peaks and valleys. I tend to agree. I am well read in both Tolkien and Lewis and Duriez summarizes the plot lines of the some of the most well known books fairly well. The book is good as far as it goes. It even reveals some insights that I didn't know before, especially about Tolkien.
However, the book is more like parallel biographies rather than the tracing their friendship and how that friendship influenced their writing. The information in this book is presented far better in other places. Duriez really does not present anything new and interesting about Lewis and Tolkien in these pages. Sayer's biography of Lewis does a better job of presenting the influences on Lewis. Carpenter's book "The Inklings" does a better job of describing the friendships. Carpenter's biography of Tolkien tells the details of Tolkien's life far better. Duriez does not bring a fresh perspective.
I have quibbles about some of the facts in the book. The most glaring one is that Duriez asserts that Tolkien decided to change Bilbo's name to Bilbo from something else while he was writing the Lord of the Rings. "The Hobbit" was already published while he was writing the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien could not very well have changed Bilbo's name. It's possible that The Lord of the Rings was being developed before the Hobbit was published, but from Duriez own words the publisher was pushing Tolkien to write a sequel to the Hobbit and so Tolkien started work on The Lord of the Rings. Duriez must have meant something else or needs to clarify.
If you have not read a biography of Lewis or Tolkien, this book would be a good start. It is slightly repetitious and obvious, but it stays interesting. However, better books are out there on these men.
Well ... not exactly what I was expecting Jan 23, 2005
This book might have been better titled: "Two Parallel Lives in Oxford." Perhaps it is more a reflection of the English reserve of the two scholars (or a dearth of first person account's of their friendship) than it is some shortcoming in Duriez's research, but given the title of this book I had expected a greater discussion of their friendship. Instead the reader is treated to a bloodless, albeit intriguing, chronicling of two extraordinary writers who lived in close proximity. While this "dual biography" was adequate introduction for readers like myself who are relatively unfamiliar with the personal life of either man (though I suspect there are more complete examinations of both men's lives out there), I kept wanting more about their friendship. Buriez doesn't give the reader much to go on. I had a hard time figuring out why the seemingly good-natured and much more emotionally generous Lewis would want to be friends with Tolkien, who comes off as a little petty, insecure, myopic and persnicky (especially given some of the condescending remarks made about Lewis' work). This book is readable because it discusses two fascinating men - not because it reveals much about their friendship.
Pure genius - simply the best May 11, 2004
This is pure genius - simply the best book around on these two brilliant guys. Buy your pastor and all the deacons/elders in your church this great book - and don't forget one for all your friends. They will all LOVE this book.