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Book Review : The Inklings of Oxford: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Their Friends by Harry Lee Poe and James Ray Veneman

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Would you like to tour the landscape that inspired the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien? Perhaps you have always wondered where much of the inspiration for The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings originated. In The Inklings of Oxford: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Their Friends, by Harry Lee Poe (text) and James Ray Veneman (photography), you will find such a treasure.

Much has been written of the writing group named the "Inklings" whose notable members include C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. However, none include such stunning photos of the landscapes where these classics were first conceived, written, and critiqued by other members prior to publishing.

Each chapter is filled with historical information and little known facts. Of the friendship between Lewis and Tolkien, I found this quote on page 35 quite interesting: “Though Lewis had the capacity for immediate friendship, he found Tolkien more of an acquired taste.” Describing the 'Inklings' name, Tolkien is quoted on page 56 as stating it is a group of “…people with vague or half-formed intimation and ideas plus those who dabble in ink.”

Reading of this group and the atmosphere that inspired such classics, I found myself very interested in what conversations might have taken place at a gathering of the Inklings. Other friends are mentioned and their affect also noted, friends such as Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Hugo Dyson, and, of course, Joy Davidson.

Filled with beautiful photography (many full page photos and some two pages), a true fan of both Tolkien and Lewis will notice the Oxford landmarks that made their way into both series of works.

The Inklings of Oxford concludes with a walking tour of Oxford. Quite a delightful addition for those who have not yet or may never be able to visit Oxford.

Being admirers of the Inklings work for many years, when this book arrived at our home for review, my husband and I spent the evening enjoying the photos, walking the tour, and discussing the Oxford landmarks that made their way into both Tolkien’s and Lewis’ works.

This coffee table book would make an excellent gift for fans of the Inklings work. I recommend it highly.

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