Read Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez Online


Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are literary superstars, known around the world as the creators of Middle-earth and Narnia. But few of their readers and fans know about the important and complex friendship between Tolkien and his fellow Oxford academic C.S. Lewis. Without the persistent encouragement of his friend, Tolkien would never have completed The Lord of the Rings. ThisBoth Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are literary superstars, known around the world as the creators of Middle-earth and Narnia. But few of their readers and fans know about the important and complex friendship between Tolkien and his fellow Oxford academic C.S. Lewis. Without the persistent encouragement of his friend, Tolkien would never have completed The Lord of the Rings. This great tale, along with the connected matter of The Silmarillion, would have remained merely a private hobby. Likewise, all of Lewis' fiction, after the two met at Oxford University in 1926, bears the mark of Tolkien's influence, whether in names he used or in the creation of convincing fantasy worlds. They quickly discovered their affinity--a love of language and the imagination, a wide reading in northern myth and fairy tale, a desire to write stories themselves in both poetry and prose. Both Tolkien and Lewis were central figures in the informal Oxford literary circle, the Inklings. This book explores their lives, unfolding the extraordinary story of their complex friendship that lasted, with its ups and downs, until Lewis's death in 1963. Despite their differences, what united them was, a shared vision that continues to inspire their millions of readers throughout the world....

Title : Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship
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ISBN : 9781587680267
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 244 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship Reviews

  • Jen H.
    2019-05-15 03:33

    I must say this has been one of my favorite recent reads. And I picked it up for a dollar in the book sale room of my local library! Other reviewers can cite the organizational concept of the book. I'm just going to tell you what I loved about it. I loved that it gave me a living, breathing view into the relationship that existed between these two literary giants.I loved that it didn't sugarcoat either their personalities or their stories.I loved that it explained to me in a way I could understand the important distinctions between creating myth and simply using allegory to tell a story.I loved that by the time I got to the part when Lewis died, I was so immersed in the story that I cried. And I knew this story, their story, the story of their friendship, prior to reading this book, but this book made them somehow more "touchable." My favorite *picture* of Tolkien from the book was the picture the author painted of a scholarly Tolkien on his way to classes on his bicycle complete in collar and gown, as was the custom for all who taught at Oxford in the 30's.And my favorite picture of Lewis (if I MUST confine myself to one favorite) is that of the portly, jolly, joy-loving, philosopher-smoker, half-a-pint guy, sitting with friends, extending hospitality, enjoying life and love and the people he called "friend."May we be ever so blessed!Thank you, Colin Duriez, for a delightful foray into the Oxford of The Inklings. I suppose I must, for duty calls, return to 2012. But only long enough to catch my breath before dipping into yet another story from the world of faerie....

  • Lisa
    2019-04-30 19:34

    Without Tolkien, Lewis may not have become a Christian. Without Lewis's encouragement, Tolkien may not have finished and published The Lord of the Rings. This highly readable and insightful "biography" of their friendship will be of interest to fans of Tolkien's and Lewis's work, presenting the synergy that their relationship created in a synergistic manner of its own. The information about World War I, medieval literature, literary criticism as approached at Oxford and Cambridge, and the personal lives of these two great authors is interesting, but the place of their work in the history of literature--when they wrote, there was almost no literature that created "other worlds" for adults--clinches the importance of their contributions. Have you "heard the horns of Elfland"? Have you wanted to discover the road that will lead you beyond the world? Inspiring book about two seminal figures--be prepared to reread their work after you learn more about its creation.

  • Ellen Trautner
    2019-05-15 02:48

    This is not the book to read at bedtime. I think I didn't get as much as I could out of it because I was always sleepy while reading it. But here's my take on it: It was basically two parallel biographies about two people whose lives happened to overlap. They taught at the same college and were members of the same writing club. The author kept saying, over and over, how important the friendship was, but he never showed it. Maybe because I was already familiar with the basics of their friendship, is why I felt dissatisfied with this book. I wanted it to go a lot deeper than it did. However, if you're a fan of both Tolkien and Lewis, but don't know about the Inklings, you would really like this book. It's a good introduction to their lives, views on fantasy literature, and their faith. For all the emphasis on their friendship, though, I thought the author almost made the opposite point. After reading this, it seemed like they were less close than I thought, even though I'm pretty sure the author didn't mean for me to get that impression.I've also read another book co-written by Duriez, a coffee table book about the Inklings, and I LOVED it. Maybe I just need to read that again! Or read this one not when I'm half asleep.

  • Robin Tell-Drake
    2019-05-12 02:53

    A wonderful biography for readers interested in these two authors' lives and thoughts as well as their works. Lewis and Tolkien were sufficiently entangled with one another's lives that it is difficult to tell the story of only one of them. And anyway the whole is more interesting than its halves taken separately. As with Shelley and Byron, or Wordsworth and Coleridge, the interplay between them is highly revealing of their natures.Duriez makes his own voice pretty evident, for better or for worse. He begins each chapter with a few paragraphs of novelistic narrative, a reimagined scene from the lives of his subjects. It's at once tantalizing and graceless; Duriez is too obviously delighting in the chance to indulge his vision of the men he idolizes a bit too much to handle in this mode. He is a bit too circumspect at times, also, in a way that may relate to his own mildly stuffy Christianity: notably, he is delicate to the point of reluctance when mentioning the possibility that Lewis and the older woman with whom he lived for twenty-odd years may have been romantically involved. He dwells on Lewis' more theological writings and lectures sufficiently that the book feels a bit unbalanced, as though it is sixty percent a biography of Lewis.But all of that is trivia. It's simply lovely to hear the generations-old gossip of what these two remarkable professors had to say to one another.

  • Othy
    2019-05-18 02:51

    Alas, all books about amazing people are not amazing themselves. This book read as a biography of both Tolkien and Lewis, though set side by side chronologically. I learned a few new things about Tolkien, and a bit about Lewis, though all of which I would rather read in a full biography, not one on the two men's friendship with one another. Lost in the book was any sense of them being friends, due to the sparsity of quotes from one about the other and also simply the patch-workness of the whole endevour. Luckily the last chapter was full of their collective ideas, though done rather speedily. I got a good bit of thinking done due to the book, and thinking I have not been able to approach for quite some time, though this is due not to the book, but to the brilliance that are Tolkien and Lewis.

  • Andrew
    2019-05-12 21:47

    A good biography of the two greatest Christian Fiction writers of the 20th Century - C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and their friendship together. I didn't find the book too incredibly interesting because I knew a lot about their friendship before, but if you don't I highly recommend it.

  • Maeros
    2019-05-13 01:51

    An interesting read, and helpful in its purpose; not something I'd recommend as bedside reading, but helped with my Extended Project dissertation, so I can't fault it.

  • Kasia
    2019-05-11 02:57

    When you get a chance to read about Tokien and Lewis' friendship, the most boring book ever is the last thing you expect. Well, this one was such a surprise...

  • Jamie
    2019-05-10 00:51

    (The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)I wasn’t sure how reading a book not written by one of the boys would go, but I enjoyed reading a book diving more into the lives of Tolkien and Lewis. It a lot of ways, it helps me appreciate their works all the more. Now how to keep this discussion from turning into a dissertation…First off, I think there should be an official holiday on May 11th (1926). This was the day Tolkien and Lewis first meet. All I’m saying is there could be some epic Middle Earth and Narnia mashup shenanigans happening. Or maybe we can all have a pint for the boys :). If these two weren’t a part of each others lives, we wouldn’t have LOTR or Narnia. What a dark and dreary world that would be.I also feel we need to take a moment to appreciate the fact that it took 17 years for Tolkien to write LOTR. 17 YEARS PEOPLE. Tolkien admitted “it is written in my life-blood, such as that is, thick or thin; and I can no other.” So I dare someone to say it isn’t a well written or an entertaining story…This book was a little different than I expected. It not only discusses the friendship between the two, but also looks at key works of each, when they were written and the influence of those novels. Whether it be Till We Have Faces or The Hobbit, Duriez provides overviews of their works, which readers will find helpful if they haven’t read the books discussed. I knew a bit about their friendship before reading this, but there were some things I didn’t have a clue about, so if you’re interested in learning more about these two, I definitely recommend this read! “My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends and old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college room talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer, tea and pipes.” C.S. LewisI think one of my favorite parts was reading all the ways they influenced each other, from Tolkien’s guidance to C.S. Lewis’ spiritual awakening to Lewis’ constant encouragement for Tolkien to finish the Lord of the Rings. I also loved that they each dedicated some of their greatest works to The Inklings. And guess what? They were both avid readers (although I do believe Lewis takes the cake), meaning WE WOULD HAVE BEEN BEST FRIENDS.Moving on. :)I’m also pretty sure they were meant to be best friends from birth. Why? They each have rad names: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis They both lost their moms at a young age. Tolkien’s dad died earlier and Lewis’ Dad withdrew after his mother’s death and sent Clive to a boarding school (their relationship would later be restored). They also both fought in WWI.It’s pretty crazy to think of early life happenings became a connection point for them later.Now some facts I deemed worthy to point out (also solidifying my love for these two): Tolkien commented late life that “he sought to create a mythology for England, but arguably he also tried to create a mythology for the English language.” I vote he was successful on both accounts. I would add he created a mythology for the universe. Unbiased opinion of course. There had been plans between the two to collaborate on a book together. This project never materialized and I bet it’s because they knew the universe would probably explode from the sheer amount of awesome a book like that would have contained. I’m sure there will be other books we read about C.S. Lewis’ conversion to Christianity, but I have to point out one fact: after he became a theist in 1929, by 1930, he was exploring Christianity more (with John Bunyan’s works) and decided to start reading the Bible almost daily. He started reading the book of John. What’s so exciting about that? He read it in GREEK. You know, like I’m sure we’ve all done. I love this quote by Tolkien: “In the Gospels, art has been verified.”I can barely handle the levels of genius, internet.“The two friends had a tangible confidence that the separation of story and fact has been reconciled, which led them to continue in a tradition of symbolic fiction, telling stories of dragons and kings in disguise, talking animals and heroic quests, set in imagined worlds.”Some Items to DiscussHonestly, I don’t have a ton of questions, but I am curious of any reactions, so here we go!1. What were some of the most surprising facts?I was surprised and found it interesting that Tolkien didn’t approve of Lewis’ role as a popular theologian. I understand where it comes from (with different church backgrounds), but still found it interesting. Yet, again, I appreciate how much they still respected each other with the differences.2. There were several works discussed in this book and I wish I could read them all RIGHT NOW. Were there any that stuck out for you?I think mine would be The Notion Club Papers. Did you catch the title page?Beyond LewisOrOut of the Talkative PlanetBeing a fragment of an apocryphal Inklings’ saga,made by some imitator at some time in the 1980s3. Closing thoughts about friendship:As I mentioned, there were a few things I had heard before about their friendship, but I felt like people made them much more dramatic than they were. Yes, their friendship shifted in later years, but as the book pointed out, with C.S. Lewis’ death, it was a “wound [Tolkien] knew he [would] not lose, as one loses a falling leaf.” Even years after Lewis’ death Tolkien wrote about Lewis: The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him did I ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby. Same with Lewis (just read his thoughts on friendship). They prove that through thick and thin, friendship is a powerful force we all need in life.I love that their different personalities, instead of separating them, helped them to connect on a deeper level. “They were enormously important to each other, and had obvious affinities that helped each to keep alive his vision of life.”I’d love to hear your thoughts about these two!Originally posted at

  • Adam Marischuk
    2019-04-30 23:00

    Two half-books for the price of one full bookColin Duriez has managed to write two mediocre biographies of two inherently interesting men, but what this book brings is many of the points of connection between the two. Friendship is the word Duriez uses and in many respects their relationship (at least initially) had all the passion of friendship. But passions cool with age and while C.S. Lewis maintained his energy and combativeness J.R.R. Tolkien deepend as a thinker and fell into academia and family life much more comfortably.Lewis emerges as a kind of Christopher Hitchens populist with infinite energy devoted to pointing against whichever way the winds are blowing like a weathervane. Tolkien is the more somber thinker, the more sensitive soul who retreats deeper into his own richer world. Perhaps this is why I prefer the writings of Tolkien to the pamphleteering of Lewis.Duriez attempts to tie Lewis' Protestantism and Tolkien's Catholicism as the inspiration for their fiction but I think he doesn't connect the dots sufficiently well. Lewis' writing remains superficial allegory because his religion remained a mere expression of his tastes and upbringing. Tolkien's writing and world is much more complete because he is used to living in a deep world, not bound by national boundaries but by an underlying conflict between good and evil. This is the reason for Tolkien's near universal popularity. Tolkien sensed this and this is why he cooled the relationship.

  • Gabriel Salter
    2019-05-13 20:38

    It will work best for newcomers to Lewis and Tolkien's stories (those who haven't read their respective biographies or stories [Duriez summarizes LOTR, The Narnia series and most of the other notable works by both authors), and the conclusions are nothing new. Still, a compelling look at the lives of two great men and their monumental friendship.

  • Chiara
    2019-05-08 03:42

    An excellent biography of Lewis and Tolkien and their extraordinary friendship. A must read for fans of both authors!

  • Del Herman
    2019-05-17 21:58

    A very good biography of these two remarkable men: each of whom started out as young and imaginative professors at Oxford but both would go on to become two of the most popular writers and intellectuals in the 20th Century, each of them in their own peculiar way (Tolkien in the subtle hints of fantasy, Lewis within his allegory and Christian apologetics) would become two of the Anglo-American world's biggest critics of modernity and two revivers of the power of imagination as a beacon of truth. While it could have been written better in some areas, it provides a good history of both the men and their friendship as well as some very interesting information about meetings of The Inklings.

  • Bianca
    2019-05-05 02:31

    Tolkien and Lewis were two very different men. The differences can probably be observed in their most popular works, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia, respectively. Tolkien's work took his entire life to write it, and is definitely a labour of love. He also criticised Lewis' Narnia - deriding it because it was a fairy tale for children - Tolkien firmly believed magical worlds should be created for adults, not only children. Tolkien also disagreed with the speed in which Narnia was produced, seven volumes in seven years. I found it sad that Lewis served as an inspiration for Tolkien's work, and Tolkien himself says that the trilogy would not have been published without Lewis' support. Tolkien did not support Lewis with Narnia at all and it was almost not completed. Tolkien was very judgemental of Lewis and his choices in life which meant their friendship cooled off in the last 10 years of Lewis' life.This is a great story that traces the life of two amazingly gifted writers. I never even knew these two were contemporaries let alone each other's inspirations. They enjoyed each other's company and were able to explore and tease out themes and ideas that needed reconciling in their literary works. They also believed that Machine Age (modern age) was wrecking the fairytale by concentrating on the real world and not creating other worlds - which they sought to rectify by creating these worlds themselves. These two were a major influence for each other and the literary world is better off for them knowing and confiding in such a rich friendship.

  • John
    2019-04-27 02:46

    An enjoyable review of the parallels and intersections of two of the great Oxford scholars of the 20th century. We tend to know more about Lewis, for better or worse, from his many popular theological writings. But Tolkien truly shines in this book as a scholar and creative genius. Some of the techniques the author uses can be distracting (using the present tense to have the reader imagine a particular episode), but overall he helps the reader get to know the two main characters and well as other important people in their lives like Charles Williams and Joy Davidman. Although this is not a typical biography (for example, there's no sense that the author interviewed any of Lewis's or Tolkien's family members or friends), the author presents a nice literary and personal sense of their lives. For someone who has read standalone biographies of Tolkien and Lewis (or Lewis's autobiographical works), I think I can recommend this book without many reservations. Then again, for readers who are uncomfortable with Christian writers - who are generally conservative - or their messages, this may not be a satisfactory book.

  • Miss Clark
    2019-04-28 00:41

    Tolkien's diary: "Friendship with Lewis compensates for much, and besides giving constant pleasure and comfort has done me much good from the contact with a man at once honest, brave, intellectual - a scholar, a poet, and a philosopher - and a lover, at last after a long pilgrimage, of Our Lord.""But as the group (Inklings) expanded, partially by embracing Charles Williams, he began to feel somewhat left out from Lewis's attention. The dynamics of the larger group worked for Lewis, but did not seem to work from Tolkien. Jealousy is too strong a word for Tolkien's feeling of loss; it was more perhaps a gradual and barely articulated hurt. He was a warm and generous man, however, and continued to particpate in the Inklings, showing affection and interest to each member."On the whole, an excellent resource and starting place for anyone interested in learning just a bit more about Tolkien, Lewis and their friendship. For anyone who has done some research into either of them, none of this is new information, but it is well presented.

  • MIL
    2019-04-25 03:30

    最近讀的書都記不起來...三年前讀過托爾金傳現在幾乎沒有印象了這本書是了解托爾金和路易斯思想不錯的指南可以看見兩位大師在各自作品中投入了多麼巨大的心力把自己的理想傾注在奇幻文學中很可惜的是在台灣還是把納尼亞和魔戒當成兒童讀物看沒什麼人重視作品想要傳達的意念只把注意力放在情結上其實沒看這本書之前我也只把重點放在小說的內容而已會喜歡是因為這種用學術專長來寫故事常常都可以寫的非常有真實感至於背後的思想實在是不容易體會也許翻譯還有文化的差異也是隔膜的主因吧二十世紀初期的英國紳士社會真是一群奇怪的團體儀節好複雜啊用今天流行的話來說可能是一群怪咖的集合吧這本書最大的缺點大概就是翻譯中土世界的專有名詞都亂來尤其是精靈寶鑚裡面的名詞這部分譯者實在太混雖然我還能在短時間內轉換本書提到的地名角色可是思緒卡住就是很不爽啊本書中譯本2004年出版那時魔戒早已出版多時精靈寶鑽也出版兩年了這兩本書書末都有附索引又不是什麼冷門書查查台灣讀者熟悉的名辭譯法有那麼困難嗎...另外兩處錯誤不知道原文是怎麼寫的中文版第156頁:安璐是和維拉類似的天使安璐,原文Ainu,按精靈寶鑽的翻譯是埃努,意思是神聖的使者維拉,原文Vala,這個又跟精靈寶鑽翻的一樣= =意思是大有力量者,中土世界的主神Ainu是總集,Vala只是一個子集而已,不是對等的概念啊~中文版第224頁:魔戒裡的莫格斯,希望具有上帝的創造神力,以遂行至尊之戒的統治權能莫格斯魔戒與精靈寶鑽都翻做魔苟斯就算只看電影也知道至尊之戒是索倫造的在精靈寶鑽的時代,魔戒還不知道在哪裡呢那時索倫還是魔苟斯的部下而已以上兩段應該不會是譯者出錯顯然是作者搞錯了結果我還是比較在意小說內容哈哈

  • Allison
    2019-04-23 22:46

    This work compares and contrasts the lives of these two authors and illuminates the influence they had on each other, specifically Tolkien's influence on Lewis regarding Christianity and Lewis's influence on Tolkien regarding fantasy. The frame of this biographical work is set up so that each chapter covers the same period in both writer's lives; the reader is able to "observe" how their lives begin separately in Ireland and England; converge in the academic world at Oxford; and separate gradually with the years and life choices each man makes. An insightful look into a friendship which bore literary fruit that continues to impact the world today.

  • Jerome
    2019-04-25 19:56

    A well-written history of Tolkien’s and Lewis’ lasting and interesting friendship. Duriez provides great coverage of such topics as their wartime service, their religious and disagreements, their influence on each others’ works, and Tolkien’s role in converting Lewis from atheism to Christianity. We see how CS Lewis came to love Tolkien’s works, while Tolkien’s opinion of Lewis’s work was decidedly mixed. We see how Tolkien was largely responsible for Lewis’s securing of a position at Cambridge (after being denied at Oxford).Readable and interesting.

  • Janelle
    2019-04-26 22:35

    I am loving this book, though it is definitely not a quick read! I find that this is more of a Sunday-afternoon type book since I don't like reading it at bedtime.The histories of these two remarkable authors are woven together beautifully from childhood. I love to see not only the parallels between these men, but also the influences that are apparent in their writings, particularly those of the fantasy genre. I am only now reading about their early friendship at Oxford and I look forward to delving further into thier unique and influential relationship.

  • Jim
    2019-04-23 00:30

    This chronicles the on again/off again relationship between these two members of the "Inklings", an elite group that met to enjoy each other's erudite company. I believe G. K. Chesterton was also among them, as well as some lesser lights. It also describes Lewis' conversion experience. He and Tolkien had very different ideas on the extent to which the laity ought to publicly speak about the faith. If you're a fan of MiddleEarth and Aslan, you'll probably enjoy this book.

  • Gay
    2019-05-16 01:46

    I am not a great fan of biography but am fooled once in a while and actually enjoy the read. And I enjoyed this book. Partly I suppose because I am a fan of both authors, partly because I am a fan of their intellects. And partly because Duriez weaves the friendship into a tale and I feel I got to know these two towering figures better.

  • Mic
    2019-05-14 22:59

    So I'm sort of a Tolkien/Lewis geek. I read all of their books in high school and fell in love with their writing style and content. This book is sort of a look into their friendship. It is extremely interesting and very easy to read. To hear about their relationship and how they challenged each other. You also get a glimpse of Tolkien's wit and Lewis' wisdom. Check it out.

  • Cliff
    2019-05-19 22:35

    Good biography of Lewis and Tolkien. I especially like the way it weaves together their lives and gives some good coverage to many of the milestones. One drawback is that the narrative switches back and forth from Tolkien to Lewis, which takes some getting used to in the early chapters. Overall, a good text for the classroom or the personal library.

  • Paul Wright
    2019-05-21 00:58

    An excellent account of the friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and how these two master storytellers inspired and challenged each other to grow in their writings, literary teaching work, Christian faith, critical thinking, and the quest for an understanding of how God writes an epic, classic story in the lives and hearts of men.

  • Jamie
    2019-04-30 00:58

    Enjoyed reading about the friendship of these two writers - how their lives intertwined and how they encouraged one another."Friendship, like the fantasy tale, gave a person a vantage point to see the world in a fresh way. Friendship with Tolkien, he [Lewis] found, shook him fully awake, out of the cold dream of materialism."

  • Kerri
    2019-05-19 19:57

    This not a good book. It bounces around and adds information about other people that I don't care to know. I will say the book identified that I wanted to know more about L&T and read more if their respective works, just not by this writer.

  • Scott Worden
    2019-05-14 03:30

    I thought it was interesting how Lewis encouraged Tolkien to write Lord of the Rings while Tolkien helped Lewis realize that God existed. It was sad that their friendship drifted towards the end but they definitely were instrumental in each other's lives.

  • Lauren
    2019-04-22 23:43

    As a lover of both Tolkein's Lord of the Rings books,and Lewis' Narnia series (as well as his Chrisitan writings)I was interested in their relationship. I knew a little of Tolkein's influence on Lewis' return to Christianity, so this book was really interesting.

  • Mary-Kate Spearman
    2019-05-10 19:50

    I began this book with little knowledge of the lives of either of these 2 great men. But I like to think that I know and understand them a great deal better after reading this. I enjoyed getting a feel for how Lewis and Tolkien influenced each other.