Re: [mythsoc] Rowling - an Inkling??
- Of course Rowling isn't an Inkling, because the definition of an Inkling is
"a person who was an attendee of the (usually) Thursday night reading
sessions in (usually) C.S. Lewis's rooms at Oxford in the 1930s and 40s,"
and as Rowling was about minus 17 when they ceased, it is unlikely that she
What the article means, of course, is whether Rowling's work is _like_ the
Inklings', to which I'd say "of course not," but if we rephrase the
question and ask if it's in the _spirit_ of the Inklings, I'd say "maybe
so: it's worth discussing," and to the related question, "Would the
Inklings have liked and appreciated it?" my guess is "Lewis might very well
have; Tolkien would probably be revolted."
>As I see it, the distinguishing characteristics of theThis seems to me to identify three characteristics of the Inklings: their
>Inklings weren't so much that they were Christians writing Christian
>books--not all of the Inklings' books were Christian, except if you stretch
>the application of the adjective "Christian" almost to meaninglessness--but
>that they were by and large academic men, well-read to a degree that we
>products of American public schools can only dream about, and possessed a
>profound knowledge and appreciation for the literature and myths of the
>past, especially Northern European mythology.
Christianity (both in life and work), their academic approach, and their
love for mythology, dismissing the first as relatively inconsequential.
Not in context it isn't. The Inklings were part of Oxford University,
where being academically learned did not stand out. What stood out was
their love for mythology (and fantasy -- don't forget fantasy -- these are,
after all, the guys who invited Charles Williams and E.R. Eddison to visit,
even before Williams moved to Oxford), and even more, their Christianity.
They lived in an environment which scoffed at both. The apparent
irrelevance of some Inklings novels to Christianity disappears, and the
religious relevance becomes sharp, when you compare their work to the
thoroughly amoral and pagan literature which was considered the high
literary achievement of the time: D.H. Lawrence, say. Or consider their
fondness for plain storytelling, and then compare that with James Joyce.
Even Williams looks transparent next to him.
- David Bratman
- Thank you, David, for putting this so aptly.
From: David S Bratman <dbratman@...>
Date: Sat, 01 Mar 2003 09:33:14 -0800
Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Rowling - an Inkling??
Lizzie, what do you mean? That writing in the spirit of the Inklings
should be currently pertinent? Lewis wouldn't think so. He says somewhere
that nothing goes out of date faster than that which tries hardest to stay
up to date. (My own phrasing of this, conceived independently, is "Those
who live by the cutting edge die by the cutting edge.") The Inklings were
in search of what was eternally up to date, and that is why their 40 to 70
year old novels are still meaningful and read today. LOTR in particular
was considered by many to be ludicrously out of step with the current
concerns of the 1950s, but the Inklings suspected it would wear better than
many of the more typical cultural artifacts of the era, and they were
right. Those who admired it when it was new thought it would be a
masterpiece at any date.
That spirit is part of what I'm looking for when I'm searching for new
books in the spirit of the Inklings. I want books that would have been
just as good if they were published 50 years ago as they are now, because
those are the ones that will be just as good 50 years from now.
- David Bratman
At 07:23 AM 3/1/2003 -0500, Lizzie Triano wrote:
>I think it is worth discussing. I don't know what my opinion is on theYahoo! Groups Sponsor ADVERTISEMENT
>specific Rowling question, but I have long been developing the opinion that
>the Inkling Spirit today would be perhaps unrecognizable to the Inklings
>Then. After all, the churches probably are, post-Vatican-II and ordaining
>women priests, arguing the various sex and social justice issues, and all
>sorts of such things. There is surrealism and spirituality in the
>non-churched (which was of course true in the Victorian era), and there
>needs must be practicality and stuff in the church (which I would imagine
>there was among veteran Christians such as Tolkien, more than among today's
>peace-raised peoples). We are not hungry enough, we are too content. What
>would the Spirit tell stories about today?
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