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The Inklings

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  2,332 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
During the 1930s at Oxford, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams met regularly to discuss philosophy and read aloud from their works. Carpenter's account brings to life those warm and enchanting evenings where their imaginations ran wild. 9 cassettes.
Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 12th 1981 by Ballantine Books (first published 1978)
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Ines Valencia I have it en spanish, I dont know how to find it available in english, sorry.…moreI have it en spanish, I don´t know how to find it available in english, sorry.(less)
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Humphrey Carpenter seems to have a penchant for group biographies. I recently read his excellent book on Evelyn Waugh and his friends, The Brideshead Generation, and now I've finally managed to track down a copy of The Inklings. As with The Brideshead Generation, Carpenter does focus more on one member of the group, C.S. Lewis, than on the others, for, as he argues, "the Inklings owed their existence as a group almost entirely to him." He gives some details about the life of Tolkien (of whom he ...more
Jan 04, 2016 Jana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really interesting, though I feel it focused a lot more on C.S. Lewis than on the others and I would have liked a little more balance. But it still made for a great read.
Nicholas Kotar
Feb 17, 2016 Nicholas Kotar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slightly rambling account of the Inklings, focusing mainly on C. S. Lewis, with Tolkien and Charles Williams as supporting actors. It's always pleasant to spend time with these people (even if Charles Williams was certifiably insane). The only issue I have with this book is the strangely detached and critical attitude Humphrey Carpenter takes with respect to C. S. Lewis's writing. This happens in the last quarter of the book, completely unexpectedly, and it cost this book its five star rating. ...more
Katie Marquette
Jul 26, 2012 Katie Marquette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely superb. Carpenter has written a fascinating biography of a very misunderstood literary group. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and many others (including Lewis's brother, Warnie, and Tolkien's son, Christopher in later years) met regularly in Lewis's Magdalen rooms in Oxford to discuss philosophy and theology, as well as to read aloud their most recent literary endeavors. In one chapter, Carpenter draws from diaries and letters in order to recreate what might have been a ...more
Mar 08, 2013 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe more of my friends haven't read this book. The friendship and encouragement in art between the Inklings is inspiring.
I've never had an interest in reading The Lord of the Rings, but now I must.
May 15, 2013 Lucinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j-r-r-tolkien
A fascinating insight into a group of extraordinary individuals whose sheer creative vision inspired many

‘The Inklings’ were just a group of friends who let their imaginations ‘run wild’ and spent many a happy hour discussing all things remarkable, inexplicable and simply wonderful. As stated on the older edition of this book, the Inklings were…

“A group of writers whose literary fantasies shall fire the imagination of all those who seek a truth beyond reality”

C.S Lewis, JRR Tolkien and their fr
Chris J
First with the positive: Carpenter is a gifted biographer. I feel like I have read my fair share of biographies of subjects from diverse walks of life - popular music, artists, athletes, political figures, etc. The lion's share of those biographies have been absolutely horrendous. In fact, some of the worst books I have ever read were biographies. It obviously is a skill to portray the life and times of someone in a fair yet captivating way. Carpenter has that gift. His Tolkien biography, for in ...more
Dec 22, 2008 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never heard of Charles Williams but he's nearing the top of the if-i-could-meet-anyone-in-the-world-list...
the most fascinating biography(ies) i've read, ever! but i haven't read too many. made me laugh to the point where i had to put the book down! i think the thing i'm learning from the book and it wasn't meant to teach this: one must not be afraid to be wholly passionate. perhaps one will find himself feeling quite alone, but that shouldn't determine one's love for something because whateve
Nov 02, 2013 Cynamonka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Na swój sposób lubię takie książki, które poświęcone są grupie pisarzy. W ten sposób mogę się bliżej przyjrzeć sytuacji, w jakiej się znaleźli, temu, jakie więzi łączyły poszczególne osoby i poczuć, że to nie była tylko "grupa osób", ale przyjaciele, których łączyły naprawdę bliskie relacje, którzy czerpali od siebie, wpływali na siebie i tworzyli wspólnie jakąś części historii literatury. I właśnie taką książką jest zbiorowa biografia Inklingów. Bo chociaż nie była to formalna grupa, a znani są ...more
Interesting overview of the shifting group of friends calling themselves The Inklings and including CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. It really captures what I've always suspected about the group, that their imaginations were huge but their values and beliefs were pretty narrow. I especially couldn't help but think, what with the backdrop of a sort of assumed air of male superiority, how much their relationships with each other had in common with the social life of junior high girls. There was a lot of ...more
Aug 13, 2012 Tim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not enough about Tolkien, and way too much about Charles Williams.
Nov 03, 2013 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, fiction
Lovely biographical study of a circle of friends oh God I'm in too much pain after dancing like a lunatic at my sister's wedding, I'll review this anon.
Eric Orchard
Jan 11, 2014 Eric Orchard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Excellent, entertaining group biography.
Alan Huyton
Mar 10, 2017 Alan Huyton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of the lives, writing and interaction of these three writers. C S Lewis is portrayed sympathetically. Obviously a man given to thought and reflection on the one hand and a taste for virulent debate on the other. Charles Williams is an odd character, with his fusion of black magic and christianity. He seemed to write long and probably tedious spiritual thrillers, for modern day readers at least. I am not tempted to try them. Tolkien was far and away the greatest writer of th ...more
for book club on Mar 28.
Not as good as his biography on Tolkien. But a fairly intimate and no-holds barred look into the lives of some of Christianity's greatest twentieth century heroes—deficiencies, idiosyncrasies, and failings along with their successes and faith.
If you are thinking about reading this book, skip ahead to Part 1, Chapter 2, and then to Part 3, Chapter 3, and read from there onward. There is some unnecessary background info. I didn't care for the author's "spin" on things, and the most interesting material begins over halfway through the book.

Part 3, Chapter 3 is fascinating and well-written. The chapter portrays a typical meeting of The Inklings. Humphrey Carpenter compiled material from correspondence and diaries in a seemless way.

Food f
Ryan Reeves
Oct 19, 2012 Ryan Reeves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cs-lewis
A solid book, though more informative than anything, and lacking the verve of "Jack" by George Sayer. I found the book's approach of dealing with the interplay between the Inklings a better fit than the tendency to write on Tolkien or Lewis in isolation, and then only reveling in their friendship as a backdrop to their fiction. Carpenter at least knew the context and several of the Inklings personally, and his prose is lacking in the fawning praise so common in American biographical works on the ...more
Aug 11, 2015 Karla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I cannot recommend this book for every reader, but if you have enjoyed ‘The Chronicles or Narnia’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’, I believe you will find this biography of the authors interesting. Particularly as it discusses, in detail, their journeys to get those books written. The author spends the most time on C.S. Lewis. Lewis comes across as the lynchpin of these various teachers and scholars at Oxford in the early 20th century, who was the magnet for others to join their non-official group, ...more
Octavia Cade
Feb 14, 2017 Octavia Cade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Interesting and highly readable account of the Inklings group, albeit one heavily weighted towards Lewis. There's always a risk, I think, in reading about authors whose work I admire (The Lord of the Rings is one of my favourite books) - I want to think well of them, if only to reinforce my own prejudices and taste - and mostly I leave this book thinking well of the Inklings, both as a group and as individuals. There are bits where I feel much less sympathy for them than others, but I suppose th ...more
Oct 11, 2012 Relstuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography, myth
Really liked it.

It is a biography of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams and it dabbles into the story of the people that joined them for their Inkling meetings.

Lewis was the person that really pulled the group together so the book does focus on him in the beginning and end. I grew to like Williams more towards the end of the book but his beliefs were an odd mix of mysticism and Christianity. It was pointed out that some of life was walled off from the Inklings so the reader gets
Nov 19, 2009 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carpenter's book seems as effortless as it is deep, with rarely a contrived passage or useless tangent. C.S. Lewis comes out as the center in the book, since according to Carpenter he was the real center of the Inklings. Carpenter shows how the Inklings, at its core, was nothing more than a group of friends with similar interests. Friendship came first for C.S. Lewis, his brother Warnie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and others. That these men produced some of the most memorable literature o ...more
Garrett Cash
My five star rating of this should not indicate that I necessarily agree with everything that's in here. As Colin Duriez points out in The Oxford Inklings, this book was written early on in scholarship of the Inklings (I think it was the first book devoted to them as a group?), and a good bit of the major claims of it have been shown to not be perhaps completely accurate. It is however, phenomenally written and does an astonishing job of creating a portrait of the different figures involved in t ...more
Gabriel Salter
Solid, thought-provoking look at some of the most important Christian writers of the 20th century and what brought them together.
Dec 12, 2008 Ruby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
(Biography)-Friendship is a driving force in my life and I loved reading about the role friendship played in defining the lives of two authors I greatly admire, namely Lewis and Tolkein. In my mind, Lewis is perhaps the greatest Christian apologist of our era and Tolkein is the father of modern fantasy. I was most touched by
the influence Tolkein's faith in Jesus Christ (Tolkein was a dedicated Catholic) had in persuading Lewis to abandon the atheism which took hold of him after his mother's deat
Nov 05, 2011 Travis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book for any lover of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and their historic literary group. Part 3, chapter 3, "Thursday evenings," a reconstructed record of a typical Inklings meeting, is sublime. That chapter should be read by every Christian writer, academic, and book club for its image of a robust society of Christians with strong faiths and minds overflowing with genius and creativity in service to the kingdom of God.

My only complaints were what seemed an unnecessarily long biograp
Pam Johnson
May 18, 2014 Pam Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chosen by a book club member, I was amazed that someone would choose to read this since it felt like assigned reading in an English course. Proud of myself that I obediently kept reading, it became something special as the inner personal quirks and relationships of these literary giants were revealed. The thing I'll always connect w/this book, though, was my frustration that these men chose to meet for years in their favorite pub w/cigars, ale and stimulating conversation. Why wasn't I doing som ...more
Aug 19, 2011 Becca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an autobiography, the Inklings is everything I could have asked for: informative, thorough, and entertaining. Carpenter addresses their views on the issues of Christianity and literary tradition in a highly illuminating way--he spends a lot of time in particular on Lewis and Williams, who came to Christianity in different ways. Tolkien is, unfortunately, pushed somewhat into the background in this book, which might have something to do with the fact that Carpenter has written a separate biogr ...more
Nov 30, 2007 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very happy to finally get to this. Carpenter does, as always, an excellent job. This book is mostly a work about C.S. Lewis, and Carpenter is very up front about that. Coming into this knowing little about Lewis, it was welcome! Likewise I knew nothing about Charles Williams. It was interesting to get Carpenter's take on them all.
Strangely this was an inspiring read. For all of their shortcomings (and certainly their differences from my own beliefs)I still found myself wishing I could have
Jan 28, 2009 Desclian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tolkien, c-s-lewis
Carpenter really knows his stuff about both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and he shows it in this book. Though at a few points I think his editorializing opinions of certain realities (such as that Warnie Lewis continued drinking because he didn't like his brother's marriage), in all the book is a good one, and certainly gives a great deal of information both on Lewis as well as Charles Williams. It felt, though, more like a collection of short biographies on each of the more well known members ...more
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Tolkien's T.C.B.S: The Inklings 13 23 Aug 22, 2013 06:02PM  
  • Christian Mythmakers: C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Charles Williams, Dante Alighieri, John Bunyan, Walter Wangerin, Robert Siegel, and Hannah Hurnard
  • Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century
  • Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World
  • Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis
  • The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community
  • The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature
  • The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis
  • Mere Humanity: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition
  • C.S. Lewis: A Biography
  • Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth
  • The History of the Hobbit, Part Two: Return to Bag-End
  • The Inklings of Oxford: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their Friends
  • Through the Shadowlands: The Love Story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman
  • The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary
  • Lenten Lands: My Childhood with Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis
  • Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis
Humphrey William Bouverie Carpenter was an English biographer, writer, and radio broadcaster.
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“The poet was, of course, always present to assist the debater. Though the logic of Lewis's Christian apologetics may be fallible, the imagination of the writing with its brilliantly-conceived analogies is itself enough to win a reader to his side. As Austin Farrer expressed it, "We think we are listening to an argument; in fact we are presented with a vision; and it is the vision that carries conviction.” 5 likes
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