Monday, January 18, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: A HOBBIT, A WARDROBE AND A GREAT WAR, by Joseph Loconte

Writing books, by/about writers, about the process of writing -- specifically, their process of writing, how they became writers, the things that shaped them and their viewpoint -- I find fascinating and educational. Anyone interested in becoming a writer or refining their own process and "voice" should try to find books on the process by or about their favorite writers. Such insights will help them understand a little more clearly what goes on in their own heads.

This book, as you can tell from the title, is about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien -- and the "great war" refers to WWI. Specifically, how the war changed the world's attitudes and philosophies, and how their experiences in the war helped to shape these two writers' viewpoints and attitudes and values. I find it interesting and encouraging that they basically turned away from the pessimistic, humanistic trends of their day, in reaction to the devastation, cruelty, disillusionment and hypocrisy of WWI, the justification for the brutality and slaughter -- and they held to higher ideals and hope in their writing.

The two were friends, meeting in the academic community around Oxford years after the war. They supported each other's literary endeavors and helped shape each other's mindset, and later credited each other for their successes. This book is a keeper, not just because I adore Lewis and Tolkien, but for all the insights and growth and encouragement included in this little-known chapter in the story of their friendship and writing.

Read it. Re-read it. Loan it to your Hobbit and Free Narnian friends. They'll thank you for it.

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