Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Oxford Disneyland"

Reviewing Philip and Carol Zaleski's The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Professor Ordway credits it with avoiding sentimentality:
...[O]ne of the virtues of The Fellowship is that it helps to correct a certain sentimental-nostalgic picture of the Inklings, one that I call the ‘Oxford Disneyland’ vision. We see vividly the difficulties, pains and struggles of the Inklings’ lives—not just in their experiences of two World Wars, but in the day to day challenges of working life, marriage, raising families, ill health, and the loss of loved ones. In this light, their literary accomplishments are even more to be admired, and the Inklings become all the more an example worth following.

The Inklings’ “project of recovery” continues; “what permanent place the Inklings may come to occupy in Christian renewal and, more broadly, in intellectual and artistic history, is for the future to decide.” But their legacy depends not on chance, but on the work of modern-day Christians who share their vision. And, if we have learned from the Inklings’ lives as well as their writings, we will see the necessity of hard work and real community—including friendships sustained over many years, and the difficult and vital work of raising children in the Faith, as Tolkien’s mother Mabel did—for creating the conditions in which scholars, writers, artists, and teachers can sustain and extend the Inklings’ achievement of a “revitalization of Christian intellectual and imaginative life.”