The Inklings and King Arthur: J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, and Owen Barfield on the Matter of Britain
is available on Amazon (where it is currently the #1 new release in Religious Literature Criticism!) and Barnes & Noble. I suspect you can also order it from independent bookstores; the ISBN is 978-1944769895 and the publisher is Apocryphile Press. Please let me know if you have any cool (or annoying) stories about ordering it, reading it, using it as a doorstop, stopping traffic with it, or anything else. 🙂
Friends and colleagues have been asking for the Table of Contents on social media; here it is. And then below that, I have all the blurbs from the wonderful, kind, famous, and brilliant people who pre-read the book and wrote up endorsements. Enjoy — and please help spread the word! There are lots of important chapters in here, and I want them to get a very wide readership indeed. Cheers.
Table of Contents
Introduction—Present and Past: The Inklings and King Arthur.
Texts and Intertexts
1. The Matter of Logres: Arthuriana and the Inklings.
2. Medieval Arthurian Sources for the Inklings: An Overview.
3. Mixed Metaphors and Hyperlinked Worlds:
A Study of Intertextuality in C. S. Lewis’ Ransom Cycle.
—Brenton D. G. Dickieson
4. Houses of Healing: The Idea of Avalon in Inklings Fiction and Poetry.
—Charles A. Huttar
5. Shape and Direction: Human Consciousness in the Inklings’ Mythological Geographies. —Christopher Gaertner
6. From Myth to History and Back Again:
Inklings Arthuriana in Historical Context.
7. “All Men Live by Tales”: Chesterton’s Arthurian Poems.
—J. Cameron Moore
8. The Elegiac Fantasy of Past Christendom in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur.
9. Spiritual Quest in a Scientific Age.
—Jason Jewell and Chris Butynskyi
10. The Stripped Banner:
Reading The Fall of Arthur as a Post-World War I Text.
11. “Lilacs Out of the Dead Land”:
Narnia, The Waste Land, and the World Wars.
12. “What Does the Line along the Rivers Define?”:
Charles Williams’ Arthuriad and the Rhetoric of Empire.
—Benjamin D. Utter
Geographies of Gender
13. “Fair as Fay-woman and Fell-minded”: Tolkien’s Guinever.
14. Beatrice and Byzantium: Sex and the City in the Arthurian Works of Charles Williams. —Andrew Rasmussen
15. Those Kings of Lewis’ Logres:
Arthurian Figures as Lewisian Genders in That Hideous Strength.
Cartographies of the Spirit
16. “Servant of All”: Arthurian Peregrinations in George MacDonald.
—Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson
17. Camelot Incarnate: Arthurian Vision in the Early Plays of Charles Williams.
18. “Any Chalice of Consecrated Wine”:
The Significance of the Holy Grail in Charles Williams’ War in Heaven.
19. The Acts of Unity: The Eucharistic Theology of Charles Williams’ Arthurian Poetry.
—Andrew C. Stout
Conclusion—Once and Future:
The Inklings, Arthur, and Prophetic Insight.
Endorsements from the back of the book:
My thanks go out to Sørina Higgins, for her driving force which has pulled together this impressive collection of essays. These shine a light on a fascinating aspect of the Inklings’ work. I’m struck by the appreciation of Britishness that weaves through the selection. The list of contributors reads as a Who’s Who in the field of Inkling Studies. This valuable work would be a fine addition to the shelves of scholars and thinkers everywhere.
—Owen A. Barfield, Grandson & Trustee, Owen Barfield Literary Estate
These richly varied essays are a welcome introduction to the Arthurian writings of the Inklings, the group of Oxford intellectuals who included J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Charles Williams. Each essay explores an aspect of the Arthurian legend as it was re-imagined in the first half of the twentieth century, shaped by two world wars and far-reaching social change. Engaging with key themes of Arthurian reception, from medieval origins to mythic geographies, Christian modernism, gender, and imperialism, this vibrant new collection is the first comprehensive overview of Arthur in the world of the Inklings.
—Helen Fulton, University of Bristol, editor of the Blackwell Companion to Arthurian Literature
This serious and substantial volume addresses a complex subject that scholars have for too long overlooked. The contributors show how, in the legends of King Arthur, the Inklings found material not only for escape and consolation, but also, and more importantly, for exploring moral and spiritual questions of pressing contemporary concern.
—Michael Ward, Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, and co-editor of C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner
During the earlier twentieth century, the period of the two World Wars, “King Arthur” became (once again) a potent symbol of defiance, national sentiment, Christian unity, and secular failure for politicians like Churchill, historians like R.G. Collingwood, and more creative writers than can readily be remembered. Prominent among the latter were “the Inklings,” the group of friends which included Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams. Sørina Higgins’ compilation of twenty essays provides a survey both of the Inklings’ contributions, which culminated in Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur (2013), and of their wider context in life and literature; as also a number of closely-focused studies of works both familiar and little-known. Packed with information, and engagingly written, this provides a new view of the Inklings and of their intellectual and cultural world.
—Tom Shippey, author of The Road to Middle-earth
Endorsements from the inside of the book:
A gathering with an acknowledged bias toward and emphasis on Charles Williams, The Inklings and King Arthur offers new insights on the difficult and demanding Arthurian poetry of this least critically studied Inkling. But it has as well an impressive array of essays on all the preeminent Inklings—Tolkien and Lewis and Williams and Barfield—that will be a significant contribution to the study of their Arthurian works in particular and of twentieth-century Arthurian literature in general.
—Verlyn Flieger, Author of Splintered Light, A Question of Time, and Interrupted Music
In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that the Arthurian legends and their world were of vital importance to the writing and thought of the major Inklings. Under Sørina Higgins’ enterprising editorship, this adventurous and illuminating volumes offers a wealth of insights—from theoretical, contextual, interpretative, and other viewpoints—which will move the study of Barfield, Lewis, Tolkien, Williams, and their immediate predecessors into new and exciting territory, showing that the Inklings’ concern with the ‘Matter of Britain’ was motivated not by nostalgia but by urgent concern for the present and future.
—Grevel Lindop, author of Charles Williams: The Third Inkling
Sørina Higgins has performed a wonderful service in opening our eyes to the living presence of King Arthur in the scholarship, imaginative writing, and wartime religious reflection of the major Inklings. With its stellar cast of scholars and interpreters, this volume is an indispensable resource for Inklings and Arthurian studies, and indeed for all who seek to understand the modern mythopoeic imagination.
—Carol and Philip Zaleski, co-authors of The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings
The Inklings and King Arthur: Owen Barfield, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams on the Matter of Britain is a powerful collection of essays that fills a gaping hole in Inklings’ scholarship. While many readers have long noted the presence of Arthurian motifs and allusions in the works of the Inklings, few are aware of how extensive these connections are. Sørina Higgins has drawn together an impressive group of scholars who offer scholarly yet thoroughly readable essays covering the scope, depth, and influence of Arthuriana in writings of Barfield, Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams. This book should be on the shelf of all Inklings readers.
—Don W. King, Montreat College, author of C. S. Lewis, Poet
The Inklings and King Arthur is a very significant addition to serious study of the Inklings circle of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and their friends. It distinctively focusses upon the group rather than only on Lewis, Tolkien, or other members individually, as has often been the case. The circle is represented convincingly in featuring four of the shaping members, all important writers, and their common interest in King Arthur and the Matter of Britain as a living and breathing tradition. This theme is demonstrated to be an important key for unlocking the heartbeat of the informal group, and dispels the persistent myth that the Inklings were not part of, nor relevant to, the concerns of modernist writers after World War I. This deeply researched, sharply up-to-date, and well-unified collection of essays provides a wealth of discoveries for the reader and opens many doors for further Inklings’ study.
—Colin Duriez, author of The Oxford Inklings: Lewis, Tolkien and Their Circle, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship, and other books relating to the Inklings
Taken as a whole, the essays in this collection lead to the surprising but inescapable conclusion that it is in their Arthurian works that the Inklings’ thoughts and writings are most intertwined, not only with each other, but with the wider currents of the twentieth century. This book is essential reading, not only for scholars of fantasy literature, but for all those interested in understanding how traditions and writers shape each other.
—Michael D.C. Drout, Wheaton College
Just when serious students of C.S. Lewis’s writing think there is nothing new to be said about his work—at least nothing original and significant—Sørina Higgins has edited The Inklings and King Arthur. In short, this is an important book. Every contributor’s essay is fascinating. I intend to recommend it to my students.
—Lyle Dorsett, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
The historical, legendary, and literary King Arthur lay at the heart of much of what the Inklings wrote—sometimes explicitly, sometimes concealed as deeply as the Isle of Avalon itself, and always filtered through the unique interests and interpretations of the authors as individuals, as Higgins’ introductory essay demonstrates. This ground-breaking collection presents new scholarship on topics as diverse as violence, historicity, gender, medievalism, ecology, mysticism, and personal biography at the nexus of Arthuriana and Inklings studies. Especially exciting is the inclusion of some of the first published criticism on Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur and its unique re-visioning of the Matter of Britain. Those interested in the Inklings or in modern interpretations of the Arthurian mythos will find much thought-provoking material in these pages.
—Janet Brennan Croft, editor of Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature
Sørina Higgins collects twenty essayists’ discussions of twentieth-century British Arthuriana, primarily but not quite exclusively that written by the Inklings. Some essays compare thematic aspects of Charles Williams’, C. S. Lewis’, J. R. R. Tolkien’s, and Owen Barfield’s Arthurian writings; other essays give historic backgrounds, consider the Inklings’ treatments of gender, or discuss the religious significance of the Holy Grail (that is, discuss mainly Charles Williams’ treatments of the “Graal”). Some readers will think the lengthy focus on the Inklings’ Arthuriana too restrictive, but these writers’ continued-and-growing critical acceptance as exponents of types of Christian Romanticism that survived through Modernism(s), and seem to be doing better than some Modernists through Post-Modernism, means that the Victorian fragmentation of the literary culture is still the basic truth. Here are discussed some fascinating cultural shards.
—Joe Christopher, Professor Emeritus, Tarleton State University
This book identifies a very important thread in the intellectual curiosity, creative work, and spiritual convictions of the Inklings. For students of the Arthurian tradition, it will reveal an under-appreciated chapter of the Arthur story from the early twentieth century. For Inklings enthusiasts, it will unfold a fascination they might never have known that the Inklings shared.
—Corey Olsen, President of Signum University, author of Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit
This is such a good idea for a book that it’s surprising no one thought of it before. It’s hard to overstate the degree to which the world the Inklings grew up in was permeated by the Arthurian story. Just going by names alone, think of Tolkien’s father (Arthur Tolkien), Lewis’s best friend (Arthur Greeves), Williams’s mentor in occult studies and ritual magic (Arthur Edward Waite), and one of the Inklings himself (Barfield, who went by his middle name, but whose full name was Arthur Owen Barfield).
—John Rateliff, author of The History of The Hobbit
This volume follows Arthurian leylines in geographies of myth, history, gender, and culture, uncovering Inklings lodestones and way markers throughout. A must read for students of the Inklings, particularly those interested in Charles Williams.
—Aren Roukema, Birkbeck, University of London
This is a wonderfully rich and long overdue examination of a theme in the Inklings that has never had the attention it deserves–a theme that locates them firmly within the mainstream of the British imagination. These studies are theoretically sophisticated, lively and original, and will be of the greatest interest to students of English literature in general as well as Inklings enthusiasts.
—Dr. Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge