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Posts Tagged ‘C.S. Lewis’

C. S. Lewis Reviews The Hobbit, 1937

November 19, 2013 | by

hobbit-cover-large

A world for children: J. R. R. Tolkien,

The Hobbit: or There and Back Again

(London: Allen and Unwin, 1937)

The publishers claim that The Hobbit, though very unlike Alice, resembles it in being the work of a professor at play. A more important truth is that both belong to a very small class of books which have nothing in common save that each admits us to a world of its own—a world that seems to have been going on long before we stumbled into it but which, once found by the right reader, becomes indispensable to him. Its place is with Alice, Flatland, Phantastes, The Wind in the Willows. [1]

To define the world of The Hobbit is, of course, impossible, because it is new. You cannot anticipate it before you go there, as you cannot forget it once you have gone. The author’s admirable illustrations and maps of Mirkwood and Goblingate and Esgaroth give one an inkling—and so do the names of the dwarf and dragon that catch our eyes as we first ruffle the pages. But there are dwarfs and dwarfs, and no common recipe for children’s stories will give you creatures so rooted in their own soil and history as those of Professor Tolkien—who obviously knows much more about them than he needs for this tale. Still less will the common recipe prepare us for the curious shift from the matter-of-fact beginnings of his story (“hobbits are small people, smaller than dwarfs—and they have no beards—but very much larger than Lilliputians”) [2] to the saga-like tone of the later chapters (“It is in my mind to ask what share of their inheritance you would have paid to our kindred had you found the hoard unguarded and us slain”). [3] You must read for yourself to find out how inevitable the change is and how it keeps pace with the hero’s journey. Though all is marvellous, nothing is arbitrary: all the inhabitants of Wilderland seem to have the same unquestionable right to their existence as those of our own world, though the fortunate child who meets them will have no notion—and his unlearned elders not much more—of the deep sources in our blood and tradition from which they spring.

For it must be understood that this is a children’s book only in the sense that the first of many readings can be undertaken in the nursery. Alice is read gravely by children and with laughter by grown ups; The Hobbit, on the other hand, will be funnier to its youngest readers, and only years later, at a tenth or a twentieth reading, will they begin to realise what deft scholarship and profound reflection have gone to make everything in it so ripe, so friendly, and in its own way so true. Prediction is dangerous: but The Hobbit may well prove a classic.

Review published in the Times Literary Supplement (2 October 1937), 714.

 

1. Flatland (1884) is by Edwin A. Abbott, Phantastes by George MacDonald (1858).

2. The Hobbit: or There and Back Again (1937), chapter 1.

3. Ibid., chapter 15.

Image and Imagination: Essays and Reviews, by C. S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper. Copyright © 2013 C. S. Lewis Pte Ltd. Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press.

This article originally appeared in the Times Literary Supplement. Click here to read it on the TLS site.

 

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Here Be Dragons

November 12, 2013 | by

On this day, 1933, Hugh Gray took a the first image to be identified as the Loch Ness Monster. He described it as an 'object of considerable dimensions, making a big splash with spray on the surface of the Loch.'

On this day in 1933, Hugh Gray took the first image to be identified as the Loch Ness Monster. He described it as an “object of considerable dimensions, making a big splash with spray on the surface of the Loch.”

We were talking of dragons, Tolkien and I
In a Berkshire bar. The big workman
Who had sat silent and sucked his pipe
All the evening, from his empty mug
With gleaming eye glanced towards us:
‘I seen ’em myself!’ he said fiercely.

C. S. Lewis

 

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Unlikely Aphrodisiacs, and Other News

April 26, 2013 | by

Grand Tetons

  • “The girls adored him and crowded out the benches, lying on the boards at his feet as there was no room to sit. He got them excited and, it was said, your best chance of seducing one was the afternoon of a Lewis lecture on medieval romance, the subject of his most famous academic work, The Allegory of Love.” C. S. Lewis, unlikely wingman. 
  • Nude tree-climbing and fruit flies: peculiar practices of great writers.
  • George R. R. Martin unleashes his wrath on the New York Jets.
  • Don DeLillo has won the first Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.
  • Win a Žižek tote bag!
     
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    Happy Birthday, C. S. Lewis

    November 29, 2012 | by

    “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” —C. S. Lewis

     

     

     

     

     

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    To Be or Not to Be? And Other News

    November 28, 2012 | by

  • Hamlet, as a choose-your-own adventure.
  • Writer Andrei Codrescu will be doing a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” live Q&A on December 6.
  • Small Business Saturday proved a boon for independent bookstores.
  • Literary drinks to get you through NaNoWriMo.
  • C. S. Lewis is getting his own plaque in Westminster Abbey’s famed Poet’s Corner.
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    Erotic Classics, Christian Colleges, Dealbreakers

    July 19, 2012 | by

  • Yup: e-books outsold hard copies in 2011.
  • Out of the mouths of babes: a six-year-old judges classics by their covers.
  • Speaking of classics: a British publisher adds sex scenes to them. Erotic rewrites include Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.
  • Written a great opener? Call the first graf hotline.
  • The C. S. Lewis Foundation plans to open a college based on his Christian teachings.
  • Dealbreaker books .









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