Advice wanted!! I am about to send out a book proposal for The Inklings and King Arthur to the major academic/university presses. I would like your advice on the length, content, wording, and organization of the following “overview.” This is the first section of the proposal (after the cover letter). Any ideas are welcome. If you know anyone in the publishing industry (especially academic publishing), please send it along to them for their suggestions. Cheers.
The Inklings and King Arthur: OVERVIEW
The 2013 publication of The Fall of Arthur, an unfinished poem by J. R. R. Tolkien, revealed a startling, previously-unknown aspect of Tolkien’s legendarium: Lancelot functions like Eärendel, sailing into the West to seek a lost paradise. This provides imaginative connections with The Silmarillion and with the Arthurian works of C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield. The publication of this extraordinary poem thus invites an examination of the literary, historical, linguistic, and theological implications of the Arthurian writings by the major Inklings, their immediate predecessors, and their contemporaries.
This collection of academic essays scintillates with insights into the powerful fantasies, histories, and poetry of the Oxford Christian writers. The authors in this collection, by design, range from well-established scholars in the fields of the Inklings and Arthuriana—such as Malcolm Guite, Robin Anne Reid, Holly Ordway, Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson, and Suzanne Bray—to younger and emergent scholars. The resulting variety of theoretical perspectives makes this a thorough, well-rounded volume. Issues of gender, sexuality, race, linguistics, geo-political imaginings, postcolonial concerns, historical appropriation, and intertextuality are addressed.
This volume first contextualizes the Inklings and King Arthur by rigorously examining their historical milieu and the condition of British Arthuriana. In all four writers’ worlds, evil is in the East; this is not surprising in an England increasingly threatened by continental aggressors. God’s country is in the opposite direction, across the sea, connected with ancient legends about Western Isles. The Quest for the Holy Grail is re-imagined during a resurgence of occult secret societies—a complex reaction to both war-weariness and scientific developments—and in conjunction with an increasingly mythological understanding of history and human consciousness. Predecessors are also considered: Arthur Machen, G. K. Chesterton, and George MacDonald.
Next, a significant section is dedicated to The Fall of Arthur by J. R. R. Tolkien, followed by new perspectives on C. S. Lewis’s Ransom cycle and other Arthuriana, along with connections to T. S. Eliot’s waste land. The longest section is devoted to Charles Williams, looking at his work from hermetic, Eucharistic, gender studies, and geopoloitcal perspectives. In the conclusion, Malcolm Guite raises the question of the ongoing and future relevance of these works.