2 Feb 2010

Two Pens -Two Worlds - One Friendship - Narnia and Middle-Earth !

It was 1926 that Professor Tolkien met and befriended C.S.Lewis or 'Jack' as he liked to be called , on his return to Oxford. At first they did not like each other much, but then slowly a guarded diffidence became an alliance in the Faculty of English, which lead eventually to a long-lasting friendship. Companions in a small Fellowship of intellectuals and book-lovers, they used to meet every Thursday night at first, to discuss all sorts, smoke, and have a drink or two - what does this reminds you of?
Hehe, the hobbits of the Shire, of course :).

Lewis was one of Tolkien greatest fans - he was constantly encouraging and kindling Tolkien's interest in keeping Middle-Earth very much alive. Lewis and Tolkien, together with Charles Williams are the founding members of a strong Fellowship called The Inklings, a society of Christian literary enthusiasts, in which they shared and encouraged the writing of fantasy novels. Every Tuesday evening The Inklings would meet in the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford, to discus literature and other matters over a pint or two. The group would hear chapters from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings read out as they were written, then commented on them. These special moments and support The Inklings provvided was most likely of great importance for Professor Tolkien. He later wrote how much Lewis's support had meant to him, however the friendship between Tolkien and 'Jack' Lewis will eventually cool down considerably over the years. The Narnian Chronicles came out and they became very popular, while Middle-Earth was still being painfully slowly carved by Tolkien. Lewis was always very enthusiastic about Tolkien's work, although Tolkien himself had not particularly liked The Narnian Chronicles . For as long as it lasted, their friendship was a great source of happiness and inspiration for both of them, helping in shaping their work within the genre of fantasy.

Personally, Middle-Earth because its a much darker , harsh and 'real'.Blood is often spilt, good people do suffer and victory comes after a long and painful journey.Middle-Earth must agonize and struggle after hope is lost. The vary way the world is structured and designed by Tolkien leads to a richer, and much more complex story. Narnia on the other hand, is an enchanted and marvellous land, where nobility, royalty and chivalry are portrayed. When in Narnia, I do often find myself in a beautiful land full of surprises - a much more fairy-tale like world compared to Middle -Earth.

To determine which one of these two worlds and stories I like best I had to examine them in details and then look at myself and at what I like the most in a story. Fact is, I adore fairy-tales, often a way for me to capture my imagination and take me into enchanted places, so personally, Narnia is an attractive location for a short vacation , but given the choice where I want to live permanently, Middle-Earth does always come on top. Growing up I came to the conclusion that although I like wonderlands full of magic and enchantment, only Middle-Earth and its stories are compelling enough to me to the point where I often wish the place was real.

Tolkien's work, especially The Lord of the Ring, is complex , not always easy to read. C.S. Lewis's Narnia tales are much more relaxing and easy and fast-moving- still maintaining the greatest of respect and admiration for Lewis's work, I chose to like Middle-Earth the most , for its sense or 'reality', for its darkness but also for its wild beauty.