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THE FELLOWSHIP

THE LITERARY LIVES OF THE INKLINGS: J.R.R. TOLKIEN, C.S. LEWIS, OWEN BARFIELD, CHARLES WILLIAMS

A bountiful literary history that maps the work of “an intellectual orchestra, a gathering of sparkling talents in a common...

How a “circle of instigators” thrived in mid-20th-century England.

From 1930 until the 1950s, a small group of friends who dubbed themselves the Inklings met weekly, usually in the rooms of C.S. Lewis, at Magdalen College, Oxford, to talk, argue, cajole one another, and read their works-in-progress. Writers and painters, physicians and theologians, historians and actors, the men (no women allowed) shared “mythological, medieval, and monarchical” sympathies; “their great hope was to restore Western culture to its religious roots, to unleash the powers of the imagination, to reenchant the world through Christian faith and pagan beauty.” In this well-researched, consistently engaging group biography, the Zaleskis (Prayer: A History, 2005, etc.), who have written widely on religion and spirituality, follow the lives of the group’s major figures: Lewis (1898-1963), whose prolific output includes The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series; playwright and literary critic Owen Barfield (1898-1997); and poet, playwright, theologian, and novelist Charles Williams (1886-1945). The Inklings, the authors assert, were interested in theological issues, but they differed in their viewpoints, derived from a range of Christian affiliations. They most certainly identified common enemies: “atheists, totalitarians, modernists, and anyone with a shallow imagination.” Their own imaginations gravitated to mythology and especially to fantasy, “the sheer excitement of the genre, the intoxication of entering the unknown and fleeing from the everyday.” Fantasy, moreover, intimated the spiritual and a “higher, purer world or state of being.” The Inklings, the authors maintain throughout this richly detailed biography, revitalized “Christian intellectual and imaginative life” by producing literature that served as “a sanctuary for faith.”

A bountiful literary history that maps the work of “an intellectual orchestra, a gathering of sparkling talents in a common cause, each participant the master of his own chosen field.”

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0374154097

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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