“Chesterton, Arthur, and Enchanting England” by J. Cameron Moore

Anyone who entitles an essay, “Enchanting England”, gets my attention immediately! I long for it passionately! Of course, a PR consultant hired by a tourist promotion company in England, will be tasked with doing exactly that. A mythology of England needs to be created in order to sell a place to visitors. A couple of years ago a resident of a particularly pretty Cotswold village was asked to move his car, parked in front of his own cottage, because it was spoiling the view and the photographs for visiting tourists. What if tourists were asked to do something much more radical? To seek “the dearest freshness deep down things” as poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins put it and that Chesterton also encouraged? Well, the PR consultant would lose his job because you could find this without having to leave your front porch!
I loved this piece by Prof Moore, written in conjunction with the publication of The Inklings and King Arthur, and I warmly recommend it to you as well. And the essay on Chesterton and King Arthur is worth reading too, as I did in the past week.

A Pilgrim in Narnia

While in the light of Charles Huttar’s contribution last week I should be extra careful to avoid any ‘historicist’ Providentialism, I can’t help thinking this week’s contribution is more than just another serendipity. J. Cameron Moore not only directs our attention to someone beloved of, and influential upon, various of the Inklings–the great controversialist, G.K. Chesterton. But, complementing Charles Huttar’s contribution, turns to Chesterton’s treatment of Arthur in relation to history, myth … and locality. We should remember that ‘Warnie’ Lewis considered Chesterton’s “Ballad of the White Horse” to be “the very best ballad I ever came across in my life” – and so we see Chesterton (thus famously the ‘balladeer’ of King Alfred the Great)  as Chesteron the Arthurian.

David Llewellyn Dodds, Guest Editor

At first glance, Chesterton’s fiction seems quite different from the Arthurian-infused mythos of the Inklings.  Chesterton has no independent mythical geography that draws from Arthurian legend…

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Inklings and Arthur: An Artist’s Perspective by Emily Metcalf

I recently co-authored a piece published in a magazine and was enormously impressed by the artwork created by the house artist. I respond to what other people write by writing. He responded by creating artwork and did two things. He displayed his understanding of our work and he communicated it to others so as to deepen their understanding too. I was deeply impressed. As I say in my response to Earthoak’s comment on Emily Austin’s piece I think she uncovers real depth through her choice of images and the masterstroke of using pipesmoke to weave them together.

A Pilgrim in Narnia

As guest editor I can freely say, one of the many delights of this blog is Brenton’s brilliance in finding and selecting examples of book covers of works under discussion, post after post. But today we have the exceptional delight of reading the inside story of how a contemporary artist and designer, Emily Austin, went to work and became the maker of the cover of The Inklings & King Arthur. However discerning your enjoyment of it is already, I warrant it will be deepened and increased, as mine was, by reading this.

David Llewellyn Dodds, Guest Editor

I had about 36 hours to come up with a cover proposal for The Inklings and King Arthur.

When I found out about the contest (via editor Sørina Higgin’s posts on Twitter), my husband Ryan and I were away from our Indiana home, en route to watch the total solar eclipse in…

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The Mercy and the Justice of the King of Gondor

It is the task of kings to be the chief among the judges of the people. All law is administered in the king’s name from the most trivial of cases in the most remote of villages to the weightiest of matters in the greatest city of the land. And most important of all the people must know that the king will always act according to the ancient customs of the land and will be not partial to any and most certainly not to himself and his own interests. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England prays that the council of the monarch may “indifferently minister justice”. C.S Lewis once asked an uneducated member of the Headington congregation of which they were both part what he thought was meant by indifferent justice. The context of the question was that the proposal that indifferent should be replaced by impartial as people would understand it better. The man thought for a moment about Lewis’s question and then replied, “It means making no difference between one and another.” Lewis was satisfied that no revision was required and whenever I have prayed the general intercession in the service of Holy Communion I have always used the version written for the 1662 Prayerbook.

So it is that one of the first tasks that Aragorn has to undertake as king is the minister justice to all in the time between the end of Denethor and his own crowning. In part this means the treatment of the peoples who had been allies of Mordor. Among them are the Easterlings and the peoples of Harad. Aragorn chooses not to punish them and he gives the slaves of Sauron, who readers will remember that Gandalf pitied, land that they can call their own.

At last he has one particularly difficult case to judge. Beregond of the Guard of the Citadel in Minas Tirith had defied the orders of Denethor to aid him in his suicide and in the slaying of Faramir. If Gandalf had not arrived in time Beregond would have been faced with the choice of whether or not he should strike his lord in order to save Faramir but thankfully he was spared that. Nevertheless he slew two fellow members of the Guard and justice has to be done.

“Beregond, by your sword blood was spilled in the Hallows, where that is forbidden. Also you left your post without leave of Lord or of Captain. For these things, of old, death was the penalty.”

Aragorn remits the penalty “for your valour in battle, and still more because all that you did was for love of the  Lord Faramir.”

Note that Aragorn does not forgive Beregond. He remains guilty of the crime that he committed. Remission is not forgiveness but the decision of the judge not to carry out the penalty for a crime. But even though the reasons for the crime have mitigated it a crime has been committed. The king must declare the punishment.

“You must leave the Guard of the Citadel, and you must go forth from the City of Minas Tirith… You are appointed to the White Company, the Guard of Faramir, Prince of Ithilien, and you shall be its captain and dwell in Emyn Arnen in honour and peace, and in the service of him for whom you risked all, to save him from death.”

Tolkien tells us that Beregond perceived the “mercy and justice of the King”. Mercy alone could not suffice. Beregond could only hold his head high by atoning for his deeds. All are satisfied that the law has been respected and all are satisfied that Beregond’s brave deeds have been respected. Perhaps too all may begin to come to terms with the sad and tragic death of Denethor knowing that a man had to commit a crime in order to save Faramir from his despair.

Aragorn begins his reign with an act of wisdom, and soon all the land will hear of this and their faith in the King and of the new life of their land will deepen. They have a king once most and he is a man of justice and of mercy.

The Inklings & King Arthur Roundtable

This is one of the most exciting and important broadcasts that you will hear. Read my comment on Sorina Higgins’ site to see why I think so and listen to the discussion by clicking this link.

The Oddest Inkling

This past Monday, Signum University hosted a Signum Symposium roundtable discussion celebrating the release of The Inklings and King Arthur. You can watch the recording of the event here:

Promo for the Book: 

Will King Arthur ever return to England? He already has.

In the midst of war-torn Britain, King Arthur returned in the writings of the Oxford Inklings. Learn how J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield brought hope to their times and our own in their Arthurian literature. Although studies of the “Oxford Inklings” abound, astonishingly enough, none has yet examined their great body of Arthurian work. Yet each of these major writers tackled serious and relevant questions about government, gender, violence, imperialism, secularism, and spirituality through their stories of the Quest for the Holy Grail.

This rigorous and sophisticated volume of studies does so for the first time. It is edited by…

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Dale Nelson on an “Easy to Read” Modern Arthurian Epic

As regular readers of my blog will know I am reblogging posts from Brenton Dickieson’s excellent blog on C.S Lewis and matters related to the Inklings, A Pilgrim in Narnia. These posts have been requested to help promote the recent publication of The Inklings and King Arthur, a book that I am currently reading and know will be a resource for years to come.
This week’s post is by Dale Nelson and is about Martin Skinner’s long poem, The Return of Arthur. As you will see it is a trenchant critique of contemporary society that remains fascinatingly contemporary despite being written in the 1950s.

A Pilgrim in Narnia

Two years after his Arthurian novel, That Hideous Strength, was published, and a year before he was discussing Arthur’s multiple “disqualifications” to be a “hero” with Dorothy L. Sayers, Lewis did not allow the complexities of his thoughts about King Arthur to prevent him heartily recommending to a young poet friend that he put Arthur at the heart of a new epic. Dale Nelson, whose acquaintance I happily made thanks to this blog, tells us about it in a way that will probably send the second-hand sales of this work I had never heard of before sky-rocketing.

David Llewellyn Dodds, Guest Editor

Did you ever daydream about taking time to live away from modern light, traffic, and noise, like a medieval monk?

Martyn Skinner (1906-1993) was, with Alan Griffiths and Hugh Waterman, one of three young Englishmen who, in 1930, undertook the fascinating experiment in quasi-medieval living in a…

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‘The Name is Against Them’: C.S. Lewis and the Problem of Arthur by Gabriel Schenk

Once again I am reblogging an essay in the series being published in association with the launch of The Inklings and King Arthur on Brenton Dickieson’s website, A Pilgrim in Narnia, and guest edited by David Llewellyn Dodds.
This week’s essay is by Gabriel Schenk and deals with the problem of Arthur within the Arthurian myth. Reading this excellent piece of work has stimulated so much questioning within me. I wonder what questions it might raise for you.

A Pilgrim in Narnia

What a delight and relief it is to give something entrusted to your responsibility, out of your hands, step back – and see it prosper. In this case, the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society, which has gone from strength to strength since the last of my three years as its President, some quarter-century ago. An example of which vitality is Dr. Gabriel Schenk’s post today, which began life as a paper read to the ‘Lewis Soc’, and which deepens our attention to That Hideous Strength last week with a wide, rich context in the thought of Lewis – and Dorothy L. Sayers – about King Arthur.

David Llewellyn Dodds, Guest Editor

British Library MS Additional 59678, fol. 35r (detail)

At sixteen, C.S. Lewis declared Malory’s Morte Darthur “the greatest thing I’ve ever read.” He was surprised by how much he’d liked it:

“I had no idea that the Arthurian legends…

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A Personal Reflection on Logres and The Matter of Britain by Stephen Winter

This week’s post on the series on The Inklings and King Arthur is by me. It is an attempt to link the wisdom of the Inklings, the Matter of Britain and the current state of my country and of Europe. I would love to engage in conversation with anyone who wants to discuss this so please read and comment.
You may notice a reference to a poet, priest and scholar who refers to Jesus as “Our True Strider”. This is in fact, Malcolm Guite, who contributed the wonderful concluding essay to the book, The Inklings and King Arthur. Glad to make that correction!

A Pilgrim in Narnia

Having sent out the call for papers, it is delightful to be more a ‘receiving’ than a ‘commissioning editor’, discovering what serendipities Providence supplies. We began last week with Suzanne Bray’s illuminating study of ‘Post-Inklings’ Arthurian fiction of as recently as twenty years ago – in the context of an argument around a century older, and the contributions to it of the first Inkling Arthurian novelist, Charles Williams. Now, Stephen Winter complements this by taking us back to the last Arthurian novel by an Inkling, C.S. Lewis’s The Hideous Strength, to show how one of its most striking features addresses our contemporary situation even more forcefully than it did Lewis’s own, when he wrote it seventy-four years ago. Join us, to contemplate “our haunting”.

David Llewellyn Dodds, Guest Editor

It may feel, for the inhabitants of the British Isles, that recent years have been particularly unsettled. The referendum…

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