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The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community Paperback – 30 Dec 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: The Kent State University Press (30 Dec. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873389913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873389914
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 978,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"If there is one book that really has impressed me, it is Diana Glyer's The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. This book is a must have for Tolkien and Inkling lovers!" -- Pieter Collier

"In her book-length study, Glyer stands on the shoulders of giants, and yet with balance, style, and sheer hard work she manages to dwarf them. In particular, she completes nearly twenty years of work by updating and even surpassing Humphrey Carpenter's The Inklings: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Their Friends. In so doing, Glyer has crafted an eminently readable and thoroughly scholarly book She explores in depth and in careful detail the ways that Lewis and Tolkien and their friends wrote in community, and points to collaboration as a key not only to understanding the Inklings but also to comprehending their several writing processes."

About the Author

Diana Pavlac Glyer is professor of English at Azusa Pacific University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and now lives in California

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In 1978, Humphrey Carpenter published _Inklings: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Their Friends_. Although Carpenter's book is perhaps more a biography of C. S. Lewis than anything else, it remains an important and seminal work. However, if Carpenter erred in anything in his book, it was his persistent conviction that the Inklings did not influence one another. For instance, he states matter-of-factly, "It must be remembered that the word `influence', so beloved of literary investigators, makes little sense when talking about their [the Inklings'] association with each other. Tolkien and Williams owed almost nothing to the other Inklings, and would have written everything they wrote had they never heard of the group" (160).

Wholeheartedly disagreeing with Carpenter, Diana Glyer sets out in _The Company They Keep_ to show how and why the Inklings did, in fact, influence one another. Her work is a conglomerate of biography, composition theory, and literary criticism. She not only illuminates your understanding of this remarkable writing group but also expands your concept of the word influence. She persuasively argues that through encouragement, opposition, editing, and collaborating, the Inklings influenced each other's writing in a rich and profound way.

Had this been the book's only strength, I would say that Glyer's book had achieved more than any work written on the Inklings in the last three decades. However, the book's remarkable appeal does not stop there. Another great feat of this book is the amount of time and effort the author poured into her research. To say that the author was exhaustive in her research is perhaps an understatement. There are very few primary and secondary sources she leaves unexplored.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a marvelous book, compounded of love and deep scholarship.

As an account of Tolkien, Lewis, Williams and the other Inklings, it supersedes Humphrey Carpenters also-excellent volume as being more comprehensive, deeper, better argued and with a more coherent purpose.

Because this book works on two levels. Underlying the biography and historical literary scholarship there is a general thesis about the importance of groups in the processes of writing. I found this argument absolutely compelling. For example, it explains the pattern of Tolkien's publishing, and why he failed to finish the Silmarillion when he lost the collaborative fellowship of Lewis and the other Inklings. It also explains how CS Lewis's brother Warnie became a stylish and successful author in middle age, when under the stimulus of the Inklings.

Most academic scholarship is produced for career advancement; but not this book. This is the product of decades of devotion.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8c0a3930) out of 5 stars 29 reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bc94abc) out of 5 stars A Longer Review & Some Comments from the Real Critics 16 Jan. 2007
By S. Long - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"This is an admirably balanced overview of the web of intellectual and literary interactions of the Inklings that is sure to become an invaluable resource for future readers and scholars. I found myself captured by her engaging writing style, the breadth of her research, and the cogency of her argument. Her own work will itself influence the texture of Inklings scholarship for years to come. It's good, very good indeed."
Verlyn Flieger, professor of English, University of Maryland at College Park, Author of _Splintered Light_ and _A Question of Time_

"Not only does _The Company They Keep_ provide a much-needed fresh look at the Inklings, but it also affords rich insights into the creative and collaborative process itself. There is much to learn and much to enjoy in this excellent volume. This engaging study deserves a place in the library of all those who value the works of the Inklings and is also a worthwhile volume for any who are interested in examining the craft of writing and the impact of creating within the community."
Marjorie Lamp Mead, associate director of the Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College

"_The Company They Keep_ is an astonishingly thorough work, lucidly and boldly illuminating the collaborative writing process of Lewis, Tolkien, and their colleagues during the most fruitful period of their careers. Diana Glyer's impressive achievement supersedes in scope and authority all previous treatments of the Inklings and will perhaps become the new standard by which rhetoricians and literary critics should judge the cogency of subsequent research into the phenomenon of writing in community."
Bruce L. Edwards, professor of English, Bowling Green State University

In 1978, Humphrey Carpenter published _Inklings: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Their Friends_. Although Carpenter's book is perhaps more a biography of C. S. Lewis than anything else, it remains an important and seminal work. However, if Carpenter erred in anything in his book, it was his persistent conviction that the Inklings did not influence one another. For instance, he states matter-of-factly, "It must be remembered that the word `influence', so beloved of literary investigators, makes little sense when talking about their [the Inklings'] association with each other. Tolkien and Williams owed almost nothing to the other Inklings, and would have written everything they wrote had they never heard of the group" (160).

Wholeheartedly disagreeing with Carpenter, Diana Glyer sets out in _The Company They Keep_ to show how and why the Inklings did, in fact, influence one another. Her work is a conglomerate of biography, composition theory, and literary criticism. She not only illuminates your understanding of this remarkable writing group but also expands your concept of the word influence. She persuasively argues that through encouragement, opposition, editing, and collaboration, the Inklings influenced each other's writing in a rich and profound way.

Had this been the book's only strength, I would say that Glyer's book had achieved more than any work written on the Inklings in the last three decades. However, the book's remarkable appeal does not stop there. Another great feat of this book is the amount of time and effort the author poured into her research. To say that the author was exhaustive in her research is perhaps an understatement. There are very few primary and secondary sources she leaves unexplored. In addition, there is a significant amount of previously unpublished material. To put this project in perspective, her Works Cited is 20 pages.

Again, this would be enough to encourage most readers to purchase this book. However, I would add one final note. The beauty of this book lies in the clarity and eloquence of the author's prose. It is one of those extraordinary academic works that is actually easy and enjoyable to read.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bc94b10) out of 5 stars Warning! Homework distraction! 23 April 2007
By A. Campbell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If you're interested in community, the writing process, or Tolkien and Lewis, this is the best book out this year. I have to be careful not to pick up the book when I'm supposed to be doing homework. It's entertaining reading full of fascinating facts and an inside look at how works like Lord of the Rings got written.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97b928a0) out of 5 stars Well-Researched and Interesting 12 Jun. 2008
By J. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Glyer has put together an incredibly researched study of the relationships of "The Inklings," the social gathering that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien among others. "The Company They Keep" is not a casual read for the Narnia fan; it is a scholarly exposition of the influence that the Inklings had upon one another and the way that that influence appears in their works.

Using a formula for determining influence created by another scholar, Karen Lefevre, Glyer analyzes the way the Inklings served as Resonators (encouraging voices), Opponents (thoughtful critics), Editors, and Collaborators (project teammates) for one another. She then adds her own fifth category, that they were Referents who wrote about one another and promoted one another's books to publishers and the public. Ultimately, Glyer rejects what Inkling scholarship heretofore has asserted: that the Inklings by their own admission did not largely influence each other. Glyer argues that such claims were aimed at acknowledging their independent credibility, but that in fact they had significant roles in shaping one another's works.

So the book is important on two levels. It contributes notably to biographical scholarship on the Inklings. But is also makes thoughtful contributions to literary criticism, which traces and debates the nature of influence. Glyer is immersed in the field and defends her thesis well.

It's a great book; not a "fun" read, but definitely a fascinating one for the serious reader.

James W. Miller is the author of God Scent: A Devotional
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bc94d98) out of 5 stars A book I wish I could write 27 April 2007
By Janet L Brandon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book shows scholarly intellect, hard work, dedication, and insightful thought that I have only achieved in lofty dreams. Diana Glyer presents interesting, insiteful, and inspiring information about the Inklings that you will not find anywhere else. I have never read a book that so skillfully puts scholarship in such an accessable read. For anyone who is a fan of the Inklings, Lewis, Tolkien, Williams, or anyone remotely related to these men do yourself a favor and read this book.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bc94fd8) out of 5 stars Keeping Company with The Inklings 2 April 2007
By R. Andrea - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Diana Pavlac Glyer does a great service to both the history and understanding of literature and to budding writers (and friends of writers), who may have been misled by previous theories about the interaction by the Inklings. The former gain a well-documented investigation of who the Inklings were as well as how and when they influenced each other's writers. The latter gain a practical guide of the ways and means by which writers in community. As Glyer approvingly quotes Karen Burke LeFevre, "Certain acts of invention--or certain phases of the inventive acts--are best understood if we think of them as being made possible by other people." Glyer makes a good case that Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" might never have been written, let alone published had it not been for the support of other Inklings.

"The Company They Keep" is a must read for writers as well as enthusiasts of the Inklings.
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