Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tolkien & Lewis on BOOK-TV

So, I was surprised on Saturday to turn on Book TV and find them airing a discussion of a new book on Tolkien, Lewis, and the Great War. I came in near the end and cdn't stay to hear out the Q&A period that followed, but I heard enough to make me curious about the rest. So tonight I hunted it down and watched it from beginning to end.

First off, the author is Joseph Loconte, whose name I'd not heard before. This is simple enough of explanation: he's not a Tolkien scholar nor a Lewis scholar but mainly writes books on Xianity and history, which are outside my field. His book's full title is A HOBBIT, A WARDROBE, & A GREAT WAR: HOW J. R. R. TOLKIEN AND C. S. LEWIS REDISCOVERED FAITH,  FRIENDSHIP, AND HEROISM IN THE CATACLYSM OF 1914-1918. It just came out June 30th, the same day as this presentation was filmed.

As for the piece itself, it dealt as much with the aftermath of the War as the war itself, and argued roughly that the experience of heroism on the Front enabled JRRT and CSL to avoid the cynicism of the postwar period. The presentation was pretty good, and if the topic appeals you might want to check out the accompanying link (see below).  But be warned that the whole thesis has a whiff of rearranging biographical events to better suit the author's purpose --Tolkien didn't find or lose his faith in the War, nor did Lewis: that'd come much earlier for Tolkien (when he was twelve) and came much later for CSL (when he was thirtyish). More troubling is that Chuck Colson is mentioned* but not John Garth, which in a presentation on Tolkien and the Great War just seems wrong. But perhaps that's redressed in the book itself.

Here's the link:

The best thing about this, from my point of view, is that Tolkien and Lewis now have a high enough profile that a book about them merits more than an hour on C-SPAN. More evidence of the mainstreaming of Tolkien (and also Lewis) in a way that'd have been unimaginable back in the day.

--John R.

today's quote: "Why shd I whistle when the caged birds sing? (The Soul Cages)

 *to be fair, in a comment from the floor, not as part of the speaker's presentation) 

1 comment:

THOMAS said...

This is a great lecture. He gets to some of the major themes of Tolkien and Lewis. Fantastic stuff.