The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community Paperback – 30 Dec 2008
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"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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
"The Company They Keep" is a must read for writers as well as enthusiasts of the Inklings.