The Covert Operations of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien

When I was growing up, you either liked Tolkien or you liked Lewis. There was no room for cross-over, no fraternizing with the enemy. I publicly ascribed to the Tolkien clan. After all, Lewis was baby stuff, and I couldn’t let anyone in on my secret love for Lewis, too. Oh, the shame.

Although the writing styles and target audience for both authors was very different, the subtext of their stories had a shared goal. Most writing has subtext, something underneath the plot that the author is trying to subtlety convey to an audience. In this case, it was Lewis’s and Tolkien’s intent to promote Christian values through fantasy. And whether you’re a believer or not, there’s something about an altruistic character that is a powerful archetype.
The similar undertones of Lewis’s and Tolkien’s writing are not surprising as they belonged to the same literary discussion/writers’ group, The Inklings. The group was associated with Oxford University in England.

Tokien’s The Lord of the Rings and Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet were some of the first novels read to The Inklings. Meetings were often reported to be lighthearted, the attendees amusing themselves by drinking beer and then reading the bad prose of Amanda McKittrick Ros. Whoever laughed first lost. (see a sample of her prose below).

The Inklings was resurrected in Oxford 2006. Currently, the group still meets every Sunday evening, at St Cross College nearby the Eagle and Child. The goals of the group are the same as its predecessor, although the critiquing is reported to be kinder.

And whether you’re a Tolkien fan, a Lewis fan, or both, Science-Fiction and Fantasy History month can’t pass without a nod to our forefathers. These literary giants were responsible for fostering so many readers’ love of the genre. Thanks Papa Tokien and Big Daddy Lewis!

The opening of “Visiting Westminster Abbey”

by Amanda McKittrick Ros

Holy Moses! Have a look!
Flesh decayed in every nook!
Some rare bits of brain lie here,
Mortal loads of beef and beer,
Some of whom are turned to dust,
Every one bids lost to lust;
Royal flesh so tinged with ‘blue’
Undergoes the same as you.

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