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Thread: Tolkien and CS Lewis

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I think you're right Allyssa that Narnia was published first. But Lewis also read many drafts of LotR and new much about Tolkien's world. From reading Tolkien's letters, I think Tolkien suspected Lewis of imitating him with some of his works (I don't know if these works included Narnia or not). For example, Lewis used the name Numenor, but having only heard Tolkien say it he spelt it 'Numinor' (or something like that). Does anyone know where this word is found?

The word is one of the three science fiction novels Lewis wrote. I think it was the second one "That Hideous Strength", but I'm not certain.

LOTR was finished by 1949, before Lewis had started Narnia, but it took JRRT 5 years to get LOTR published. (This was partly his fault, as he was insisting that publishers put out The Silmarilien at the same time.) Lewis was very familiar with LOTR by 1949. Almost the entire tale was read to the Inklings as JRRT composed it, and Tolkien always gave Lewis great credit for the encouragement Lewis gave him (even to the extent of doubting he would have finished without Lewis' moral support. Not specifics- Lewis apparently didn't make many recommendations; just more along the lines of, "This is fantastic; you must finish." So the time frame makes it clear that the influence goes more from JRRT to Lewis than the other way around. Still, they had been friends for 20 years, and cross currents are possible. Their relationship was quite complex, and they drifted apart in the last ten years of Lewis' life (JRRT isn't even mentioned in the movie Shadowlands, which is about Lewis' marriage toward the end of his life.) I could go on in this vein for awhile, as the two of them had many connections. Probably a good book could be written on the influence each had on the other.
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I think it was the second one "That Hideous Strength", but I'm not certain.
According to Tolkien's Letter #169 (to Hugh Brogan of 11 September 1955) Lewis used the word 'Numinor', in That Hideous Strength which was actually the third book in his Space Trilogy. If I remember correctly, Numinor (Atlantis) was used as the origin of the soon to be re-awakened Merlin and the source his power. I haven't read the book for a couple of years.
Neither LOTR nor Narnia was written as an allegory. Lewis did write other religious allegory, but made a distinction with Narnia: "...Allegory and such supposals differ because they mix the real and the unreal in different ways. Bunyan’s picture of Giant Despair does not start from a supposal at all. It is not a supposition but a fact that despair can capture and imprison a human soul. What is unreal (fictional) is the giant, the castle, and the dungeon. The Incarnation of Christ in another world is mere supposal; but granted the supposition, He would really gave been a physical object in that world as He was in Palestine and His death on the Stone Table would have been a physical event no less than His death on Calvary." Also, I am glad someone finally brought up the Space Trilogy, Lewis' other main fictional works. These were not written for children. However, That Hideous Strength was really slow for me... anyway, these are important because the second one, Perelandra was one of the works that Lewis himself liked the best...
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...And the creation of the various languages certainly helped in making it more believable...
Lewis did this too, and was very good at languages (learning them). The languages are again in the Space Trilogy... Both authors are very good, and yes, Lewis definitely has a more Christian feel. I think it just depends on what you like.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Aragorn as Suffering Servant/Crownless King. I always thought Frodo and Aragorn divided the Christ-figure role between them, and given the degree to which Christianity has influenced modern (and not so modern) culture, it would be hard to find a work that COULDN'T be argued to have a Christ figure (I seem to recall an analysis of Jim from Huck Finn in HS that went like that.) The principle difference, apart from the big one pointed out by Grondmaster, is that Tolkiens religion was less overt than Lewis' in his work, but it's definitely there if you know for what to look. The most notable examples (at least to me) are the parallels between Varda and Mary, or the way in which Morgoths (or Melkors, at the time) attempts to bend the Music of the Ainur to his purposes after his treck into the Void to seek the source of Erus power (which Tolkien points out he doesn't find, because it is in Eru himself) are themselves bent to Erus purposes and only magnify him they were meant to diminish. I certainly don't think there was an attempt to "brainwash" on the part of either author.
i dont believe there are any christ figures in LOTR, just because characters are good and virtuous like christianitys depiction of their christ, doesnt mean that the characters are modelled on any religious figure, theres a man who lives down my street and he is one of the best and most virtuous men someone could ever hope to meet, but is he the supposed second coming of christ? nope. Tolkiens work was born of the imagination of the professor, no more, and no less, in my opinion.

anyway, got a bit off topic there.
Oh, I think the Aragorn/Christ figure has been referred to in other posts, Morambar. Actually, see the thread in the LOTR section about Tolkien's comparisons to religious figures.
Any character in a book that comes to the rescue could be seen by some ppl as a "Christ figure" or "Messiah". Any helpful, pious woman in a book could seen by some ppl as "Mary".

Again, it's applicability, not allegory. Some ppl see LOTR as the old testament, others as the first world war, or second world war (the Ring = atomic bomb, Sauron = Hitler, the Valar = the USA, ...).

I don't care. Ppl can make of it what they want. I for me, just see it as a story.
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I don't care. Ppl can make of it what they want. I for me, just see it as a story.
And let us keep it that way. We aren't allowed to discuss religion here so let's cool it. Please! Moderator Smilie
Now, now, Grondy -- according to Val: Discussions containing religious content are only permitted here if they are conducted within a Tolkien context. So, I think we are okay with the above, and the thread I mentioned as well. Let's not scare people off just yet...
Personally, I've always seen the most WW applicability in the First/Second War of the Ring as First/Second WWs. The dominant force (at least in Middle Earth) in the first were the Elves (EuropeWink Smilie Men (the US) being comparative latecomers who end up tipping the balance of power, while in the Trilogy Men are in ascension in a still Elvish world that by the end of the books is almost entirely dominated by Men. And, of course, virtually all of the Numenoreans cultural identity, even their speech, is derived from the Eldar.

My point on Christ figures was simply that ANY heroic literary figure who undergoes suffering in the course of saving the world is likely to also suffer comparisons in analysis, whether the author intended a parallel or not. How much the similarities of Aragorn and Frodo to you-know-Whom were intended is something only Tolkien himself can answer.
Yep, I agree. Following is what I posted in another thread along those lines:
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...many people, even theologists, would say that Genesis is written in the style of the mythological tradition. This does not mean that it is not true, just that it is meant to be taken at a symbolic level rather than a literal level. I would argue that the Silmarillion as well as LOTR not only harken back to mythology on a Christian level in making Frodo and Aragorn out to be Christ figures, but even further back to the heroic legends and their quests (Jason and Odysseus immediately come to mind), for if we move forward from there, we can see that Christ himself is on a heroic quest of his own, one to save mankind.

Quests may be seen on many levels as a journey through the Self and the creation of identity. Tales such as LOTR in which every aspect does not end in joy and happiness are an important part of our psychological development, and it may be argued that they should not be “dumbed down” as many of them have been (e.g. Disney versions of The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, etc.). These tales were used in the past to teach children and to enable them to deal with situations psychologically before they had to deal with them in real life just as tales from the Bible are and have been used.

The novel is a heroic quest and the characters can be likened to any figure that has been on a heroic quest whether Jason, Odysseus, Christ, or even Little Red Riding Hood. If people can relate these characters to Christ because it helps them identify with them, then so be it. If they can't see it at all and would rather think of these characters as Buddha or Odysseus, so be it. I think as long as people get something out of it, it doesn't matter who they relate the figures to. Ya know?
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