At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


Duriez, Colin. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: the gift of friendship. HiddenSpring, 2003. 244p bibl index afp ISBN 1-587-68026-2 pbk, $16.00.

Choice: "Duriez mined "The Lewis Family Papers," an unpublished collection edited by W.H. Lewis and housed in Wheaton [Illinois] College's Marion E. Wade Center; four recorded interviews (also at the Wade Center); and some unpublished letters for new material. Duriez makes a few slips: e.g., he says that Lewis's only gift to Tolkien's writing of The Lord of the Rings was encouragement, but Tolkien said (in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. by Humphrey Carpenter, CH, Feb'82) that Lewis pointed out passages that needed rewriting and Tolkien revised them. Duriez tries to popularize the book with fictional chapter openings (with sources given in the endnotes). The competition--still the best treatment--is Humphrey Carpenter's excellent The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Their Friends (1978), which is biographical in emphasis. Duriez's book is a popular, not a scholarly study. Summing Up: Optional. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers." Church History: “Devotees of Tolkien and Lewis will know many of these events, but Duriez’s knowledge of the two men and of the larger context of their relationship brings important matters to the fore. And the fictional vignettes with which most of his chapters begin give an immediacy and human warmth to his account that a straightforward rehearsal of events would have lacked.” Library Journal: “Duriez handles both men’s lives with great care, tackling their strengths and shortcomings equally…Highly recommended.” Booklist: “a graceful, sympathetic, and appealing dual biography.”


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