Farewell to the Last Inkling: Christopher Tolkien (1924-2020)

Last week, the news broke that Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R. Tolkien, had passed away at the age of 95, and Image result for christopher tolkienwhile we might all have hoped he would make it to 111, 95 is quite a run for a human being, even one whose story is so deeply entwined with those long-lived denizens of Middle Earth. While I am not a Tolkien expert (my area of focus is usually an elder Inkling, C.S. Lewis), I hope you will indulge me in a few thoughts about the gentleman who is the last of the Inklings, why his legacy matters, and what this means for his father’s creations. [Read more…]

The Personal Heresy Afoot at Hogwarts

As the school break affords some time for getting up some long-overdue posts, I had been planning a few, but I’ve shunted those to the backburner, with hopes of pulling them forward before I must return toImage result for the personal heresy grading, preaching the virtues of the Oxford comma, and catching incompetent plagiarizers. Instead, I find myself having to do something rather odd, defend J.K. Rowling, but not against the usual antagonists: misguided Puritans, well-meaning but overprotective parents, and the sad horde of people whose imaginations were apparently damaged or removed in some sort of unfortunate childhood accident. Now, I’m defending her against the “fans” who are presently foaming at the mouth over a tweet she refuses to recant despite their most petulant whines and threats. The controversy and the subsequent venom of some members of the once-loyal fandom likely come as no surprise to the savvy Rowling, whose own work predicts just this sort of thing, but it is also reflective of a phenomenon rampant in a number of fandoms these days, a phenomenon C.S. Lewis foresaw with his brilliant examination of what he called “the Personal Heresy.” Join me after the jump for some thoughts on this phenomenon as it is playing out in Potterdom.(If you’ve been under a rock, catch up here and here.) [Read more…]

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War

The trailer above is to a five part documentary film series that the movie makers hope to sell to Netflix or Amazon. It is the adaptation for the small screen of Joseph Laconte’s history, A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918. Judging from the participants in this trailer, most notably Malcolm Guite and Michael Ward, and from the quality of the recreations shown, it looks to be a series well worth watching.

I have learned, though, that the film-makers need money to finish off Part One and to make the sale to the streaming movie platform owners. If you wish to contribute or just to learn more about the project, check out the on-line pitch here.

If you’d prefer to hear the author speak on the topic of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and how their experiences as soldiers in WWI shaped their lives and their friendship, not to mention the Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, you can just watch the talk below. Enjoy!

Puns, Prophecy, and Pizza

On Puns, Considered in Shakespeare According to Hermetic Principles

“Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man,” a line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, is, in my opinion, the epitome of everything a good pun should be (and yes, there is such a thing as a good pun).  And in the spirit of good analysis and not-so-great humor, I will now explain precisely how this joke works and why.

The context is important here. The speaker, Mercutio, lies dying, having been mortally wounded by Tybalt. Mercutio is precisely the sort of character who takes very little seriously. Here, even as he is about to die, he makes a pun. Whatever he is, he is not “grave” in the sense of being serious. However, he is about to die and thus will find himself in a “grave”, namely the place where one buries dead bodies. That said, the only time he could ever be “grave” (sense 1) is if he is in a grave (sense 2). Thus the full sense of “you shall find me a grave man” is “you’ll take away my sense of humor over my dead body, which it presently will be”, which we may label “grave” (sense 3).

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‘Full Circle’ Thoughts on the Narniad: LWW’s Ring Composition and Alchemy

I gave a series of seven talks at Oklahoma City’s Full Circle Bookstore on the subject of the artistry and meaning of C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Recordings are available as an ‘extra’ to anyone signing up for my Wizard Reading Formula course online (about which, ‘stay tuned’). To the delight of my inner Gilderoy last night, I found a review of the first class that was written by a student taking a public speaking course at a local college.

If C. S. Lewis or talks by the Hogwarts Professor in person are of any interest to you, that evaluation of my class content and delivery are after the jump. Feel free to let me know what you think of this student’s judgment and of the content he describes!

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