Wednesday, February 7, 2018

an early anti-Lewis, anti-Sayers book

So, just recently I've become curious about the early days of Inklings studies, and how differently things seem to have looked from a pre-Carpenter point of view.* Pursuant thereto, a few days ago arrived a copy arrived of a book I've heard about for a long time but never read: Kathleen Nott's THE EMPEROR'S CLOTHES. This is an attack on postWar English literary figures advocating a return to a traditionalist Xianity, focusing mainly on Eliot, Sayers, G.Green, and Lewis; the relevant chapter so far as Inklings studies goes being "Lord Peter Views the Soul", which is mostly a closely-argued refutation of CSL's MIRACLES (published just a few years earlier, in 1947, and generally considered the least successful of Lewis's apologetical books).

From my point of view, more interesting than its philosophical approach is the fact that Nott's book was published as far back as 1953, making it I think one of the very earliest book to devote a chapter and more to an Inkling. The only one still earlier I can think of wd be Chad Walsh's book on CSL, APOSTLE TO THE SKEPTICS (1949). Others I can think of as belonging to this ur-generation of pseudoInklings studies are Hadfield's INTRODUCTION TO CHARLES WILLIAMS (1959), and Charles Moorman's ARTHURIAN TRIPTYCH: MYTHIC MATERIALS IN CHARLES WILLIAMS, C. S. LEWIS, and T. S. ELIOT (1960).**

All of these were published during Lewis's lifetime. Am I leaving out anything? Is there a book back from those early days I'm overlooking or not taking into account?

--John R.
today's music: the new Barenaked Ladies album (thanks, Stan).

*most notably that they tend to include T. S. Eliot and Dorothy L. Sayers as belonging to the same group as CSL, and that they tend to omit mention of Tolkien, who was not yet on their radar.



Paul W said...

My apologies if I have asked this before, but what would you recommend as a good place to start for Inkling studies, outside of Carpenter?

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Paul. Sorry for my delay in getting your comment up: I've been doing the DayQuil/NightQuil routine.

Carpenter is the place to start, as you say.

There's really not a lot that cover the Inklings as a whole, though we now have some very good books on the individual Inklings.

The Zaleskis' book is where I'd go next, after Carpenter. Haven't read it yet,* but the places where I've dipped into it are good, and someone whose judgment I trust says it's even better than its reputation makes it.

I'd also give Pavlac-Glyer's THE COMPANY THEY KEEP a close read; she focuses on a specific aspect of the group (mutual influence) but has a lot of good things to say about them as a reading group.

--John R.

*it came out just as I was finishing up my Charles Wms piece, and I needs something lighter than this substantial tome.