Inklings: Lewis and "Tollers"

I love the works of not only Lewis, but his “inklings” companion Tolkien, to whom he owed a lot. So it was quite interesting to me when reading The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis V. III, that I came upon a letter to Sir Stanley Unwin (the publisher of Tolkien’s "The Lord of the Rings"). A request had been made by Unwin for Lewis to write a “blurb” for its cover, because of the difficulty in describing it. Here is what he wrote. “It would be almost safe to say that no book like this has ever been written. If Ariosto rivaled it in invention (in fact he does not) he would still lack its heroic seriousness. No imaginary world has been projected which is at once so multifarious and so true to its own inner laws; none so seemingly objective, so disinfected from the taint of an author’s merely individual psychology; none so relevant to the actual human situation yet so free from allegory. And what fine shading there is in the variations of style to meet the almost endless diversity of scenes and characters – comic, homely, epic, monstrous, or diabolic!” Then in a letter to Tollers (Tolkien), about what he had written said, “I wrote what I could to Unwin. Even if he and you approve my words, think twice before using them: I am certainly a much, and perhaps an increasingly, hated man whose name might do you more harm than good. In festina lente [make haste slowly].” Lewis also remarked in a letter to Mrs. Farrer (about "The Fellowship of the Ring"): “wouldn’t it be wonderful if it really succeeded (in selling, I mean)? It would inaugurate a new age. Dare we hope?” It is amazing to see the impact both of these literary greats have made in the world of imagination and fantasy.

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