It is no secret that The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien was friends with fellow novelist and theologian C.S. Lewis, both being in an unofficial writer group called the Inklings. It is also no secret that Tolkien did not care for the Chronicles of Narnia which he thought was beneath his friend.
However, what did Lewis think of Middle Earth? He certainly had a few thoughts which were expressed in his review of The Fellowship of the Ring where he concludes:
“Even now I have left out almost everything – the sylvan leafiness, the passions, the high virtues, the remote horizons. Even if I had space I could hardly convey them. And after all the most obvious appeal of the book is perhaps also its deepest: ‘there was sorrow then, too, and gathering dark, but great valour, and great deeds that were not wholly vain.’ Not wholly vain – it is the cool middle point between illusion and disillusionment.”
He adds in his review of The Two Towers, “The book is too original and too opulent for any final judgment on a first reading. But we know at once that it has done things to us. We are not quite the same men. And though we must ration ourselves in our re-readings, I have little doubt that the book will soon take its place among the indispensable.”
Essentially, Lewis saw it as it was, a work of high fantasy fiction meant to rouse fans, shake up the publishing industry, and build an unforgettable legendarium. The two men were brilliant writers, theologians, and novelists who had a love of courage, freedom, and the conquest of evil. Their friendship helped shape an entire genre and brought it into a new world.
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