Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Inklings - Humphrey Carpenter

Ostensibly a "group biography", the focus here is very much on C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams. Of course, the same author has covered Tolkien's life pretty thoroughly elsewhere. The picture that emerges here is that it was very much Lewis that "made things happen" while the rather older Williams was an underachieving genius. The vivid depiction of Oxford life is wonderfully evocative and throws the outlandish worlds beloved of, and created by, the trio into sharp relief. The academic and creative life is portrayed in its realistic messiness and the three central figures are shown as fairly ordinary human beings with a "taste for" higher and more epic things without themselves living epic lives or being "higher" creatures. No Hemmingways here! While hardly indispensable, it's an engaging read that satisfies the desire of many readers of these authors to know more about the men behind the beloved stories.


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