C. S. Lewis is the 20th century’s most widely read Christian writer and J.R.R. Tolkien its most beloved mythmaker.
For three decades, they and their closest associates formed a literary club known as the Inklings, which met every week in Lewis’s Oxford rooms and in nearby pubs. They discussed literature, religion, and ideas; read aloud from works in progress; took philosophical rambles in woods and fields; gave one another companionship and criticism; and, in the process, rewrote the cultural history of modern times.
In The Fellowship—available now from Farrar, Straus and Giroux—Philip and Carol Zaleski offer the first complete rendering of the Inklings’ lives and works. The result is an extraordinary account of the ideas, affections and vexations that drove the group’s most significant members. The excerpt below concerns a book that the Inklings may have heard early in their history (clear evidence is lacking either way): Tolkien’s first full-length novel, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.