JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis – Story Truth

Several years ago, I got an article from a friend called “Stories within Stories: Finding God in The Lord of the Rings,” by Jim Ware (written for Focus on the Family, December 2001).  I’ve held onto it over the years because it spoke to me.

It begins discussing the relationship between CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien (Professors from the Magdalen College, Oxford circa 1931).  They were talking about how amazing trees are, and how the word ‘tree’ falls short of expressing what a majestic thing a tree is.

Tolkien said, “Just as a word is an invention about an object of an idea, so a story can be an invention about truth.”

Now I quote from the article, “Their long talk about symbols and verbal inventions was just the beginning. Through the years, Lewis and Tolkien spent long hours refining their ideas and incorporating them into literary art in order to find ways of pouring the steaming, bubbling, heady stuff of the Real Story [that of the Savior – the Christian story] into molds of their own invented stories.”

The author discusses CS Lewis stating; “Lewis made no secret of his intentions.  He once asked himself, reflecting on the nature of God, the sufferings of Christ and other fundamental Christian truths: Supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday School associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? This, he said, is exactly what he was trying to do in the Chronicles of Narnia.

About Tolkien, he wrote to a friend saying, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Christian work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in revision.”  Ware went on to quote from Tolkien’s authorized biographer, Humphrey Carpenter,  who stated that Tolkien’s work is that of a very religious man and that God is essential to  everything that happens in LOTR.  “Without Him, Middle earth couldn’t exist.”

Finally, the author finishes with the following: “A late night in the spring [1931] …, Lewis’ sitting room is strewn with papers books, and empty teacups, Lewis yawns and stretches.  “Tollers,” he says as Tolkien gets up to leave, “There is too little of what we like in stories.  I am afraid we shall have to try and write some ourselves.” ”

I couldn’t agree more!!!

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