Whilst I prepare some thoughts on the UnDark Dark Ages, I return to jot some thoughts on another subject altogether. This past summer I returned to a book I read 25 years ago and foolishly decided to teach it: T. H. White's The Once and Future King. I enjoyed it so much I decided to teach it again this semester.
I noticed some connections and while I haven't been extensive in my search, I hadn't noticed anyone else comparing White and the Inklings, particularly Tolkien.
A few points worth considering I think:
They were contemporaries.
They were both born and spent early years in the Empire rather than Britain
They both trained in English.
They both had absent fathers: Tolkien's father died, White's was an alcoholic from whom White's mother divorced when White was 14.
They both spent some important years of their teens separated from parents and in the hands of "tutors" who would greatly influence them.
They both had to do without a maternal connection: Tolkien because his mother died, White's was emotionally distant, distant enough to warp the man.
They both draw on multiple ancient/medieval traditions in telling their tales
They both published their first attempts at what they would become most known for in 1937.
They both kept their audiences waiting until the '50s for the conclusion to their 1937 works.
They both have something to say to their times and the modern world.
They are both engaging in medievalisms of various kinds.
They both have compelling heroes.
They both have something to say about war, heroism, and love.
Those are a few things. The more I think about it, the more I think that a comparison of White, Tolkien, and Lewis in terms of theme, characterization, influences, medievalism etc might be in order.
There are of course differences as well: for example White was too young to see action in WWI and was a conscientious objector to WWII and lived in Ireland during that whole period. It on the subject of war and battle I think that I would start a comparison.
The Case for the TR
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