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Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  1,293 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are literary superstars, known around the world as the creators of Middle-earth and Narnia. But few of their readers and fans know about the important and complex friendship between Tolkien and his fellow Oxford academic C.S. Lewis. Without the persistent encouragement of his friend, Tolkien would never have completed The Lord of the Rings. This ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published October 8th 2003 by Paulist Press (first published 2003)
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Jen H.
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I must say this has been one of my favorite recent reads. And I picked it up for a dollar in the book sale room of my local library! Other reviewers can cite the organizational concept of the book. I'm just going to tell you what I loved about it.

I loved that it gave me a living, breathing view into the relationship that existed between these two literary giants.

I loved that it didn't sugarcoat either their personalities or their stories.

I loved that it explained to me in a way I could understa
Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
Without Tolkien, Lewis may not have become a Christian. Without Lewis's encouragement, Tolkien may not have finished and published The Lord of the Rings. This highly readable and insightful "biography" of their friendship will be of interest to fans of Tolkien's and Lewis's work, presenting the synergy that their relationship created in a synergistic manner of its own. The information about World War I, medieval literature, literary criticism as approached at Oxford and Cambridge, and the person ...more
Ellen Trautner
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: tolkien
This is not the book to read at bedtime. I think I didn't get as much as I could out of it because I was always sleepy while reading it. But here's my take on it: It was basically two parallel biographies about two people whose lives happened to overlap. They taught at the same college and were members of the same writing club. The author kept saying, over and over, how important the friendship was, but he never showed it. Maybe because I was already familiar with the basics of their friendship, ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I should start by saying I'm a huge Tolkien and Lewis fan, so it should come as no surprise that I gave it five stars. Whether you will, too, depends largely on whether these two figures--who shouldn't be controversial in the least, given they both spent their lives teaching medieval literature at Oxford (and Cambridge, for Lewis, later). This is only different in that it focuses mainly on the interplay and friendship of the two writers. I found Duriez's prose to be enjoyable, informative, and a ...more
Robin Tell-Drake
Aug 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
A wonderful biography for readers interested in these two authors' lives and thoughts as well as their works. Lewis and Tolkien were sufficiently entangled with one another's lives that it is difficult to tell the story of only one of them. And anyway the whole is more interesting than its halves taken separately. As with Shelley and Byron, or Wordsworth and Coleridge, the interplay between them is highly revealing of their natures.

Duriez makes his own voice pretty evident, for better or for wor
Apr 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: tolkien, c-s-lewis
Alas, all books about amazing people are not amazing themselves. This book read as a biography of both Tolkien and Lewis, though set side by side chronologically. I learned a few new things about Tolkien, and a bit about Lewis, though all of which I would rather read in a full biography, not one on the two men's friendship with one another. Lost in the book was any sense of them being friends, due to the sparsity of quotes from one about the other and also simply the patch-workness of the whole ...more
Jan 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
A good biography of the two greatest Christian Fiction writers of the 20th Century - C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and their friendship together. I didn't find the book too incredibly interesting because I knew a lot about their friendship before, but if you don't I highly recommend it.
Nov 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: epq-have
An interesting read, and helpful in its purpose; not something I'd recommend as bedside reading, but helped with my Extended Project dissertation, so I can't fault it.
Jun 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When you get a chance to read about Tokien and Lewis' friendship, the most boring book ever is the last thing you expect. Well, this one was such a surprise...
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-inklings
(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)

I wasn’t sure how reading a book not writt
Adam Marischuk
Two half-books for the price of one full book

Colin Duriez has managed to write two mediocre biographies of two inherently interesting men, but what this book brings is many of the points of connection between the two. Friendship is the word Duriez uses and in many respects their relationship (at least initially) had all the passion of friendship. But passions cool with age and while C.S. Lewis maintained his energy and combativeness J.R.R. Tolkien deepend as a thinker and fell into academia and
G. Salter
It will work best for newcomers to Lewis and Tolkien's stories (those who haven't read their respective biographies or stories [Duriez summarizes LOTR, The Narnia series and most of the other notable works by both authors), and the conclusions are nothing new. Still, a compelling look at the lives of two great men and their monumental friendship.
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent biography of Lewis and Tolkien and their extraordinary friendship. A must read for fans of both authors!
Del Herman
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very good biography of these two remarkable men: each of whom started out as young and imaginative professors at Oxford but both would go on to become two of the most popular writers and intellectuals in the 20th Century, each of them in their own peculiar way (Tolkien in the subtle hints of fantasy, Lewis within his allegory and Christian apologetics) would become two of the Anglo-American world's biggest critics of modernity and two revivers of the power of imagination as a beacon of truth. ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Tolkien and Lewis were two very different men. The differences can probably be observed in their most popular works, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia, respectively. Tolkien's work took his entire life to write it, and is definitely a labour of love. He also criticised Lewis' Narnia - deriding it because it was a fairy tale for children - Tolkien firmly believed magical worlds should be created for adults, not only children. Tolkien also disagreed with the speed in which ...more
Apr 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable review of the parallels and intersections of two of the great Oxford scholars of the 20th century. We tend to know more about Lewis, for better or worse, from his many popular theological writings. But Tolkien truly shines in this book as a scholar and creative genius. Some of the techniques the author uses can be distracting (using the present tense to have the reader imagine a particular episode), but overall he helps the reader get to know the two main characters and well as othe ...more
Miss Clark
Tolkien's diary: "Friendship with Lewis compensates for much, and besides giving constant pleasure and comfort has done me much good from the contact with a man at once honest, brave, intellectual - a scholar, a poet, and a philosopher - and a lover, at last after a long pilgrimage, of Our Lord."

"But as the group (Inklings) expanded, partially by embracing Charles Williams, he began to feel somewhat left out from Lewis's attention. The dynamics of the larger group worked for Lewis, but did not s






Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity, writing
This work compares and contrasts the lives of these two authors and illuminates the influence they had on each other, specifically Tolkien's influence on Lewis regarding Christianity and Lewis's influence on Tolkien regarding fantasy. The frame of this biographical work is set up so that each chapter covers the same period in both writer's lives; the reader is able to "observe" how their lives begin separately in Ireland and England; converge in the academic world at Oxford; and separate gradual ...more
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
A well-written history of Tolkien’s and Lewis’ lasting and interesting friendship. Duriez provides great coverage of such topics as their wartime service, their religious and disagreements, their influence on each others’ works, and Tolkien’s role in converting Lewis from atheism to Christianity. We see how CS Lewis came to love Tolkien’s works, while Tolkien’s opinion of Lewis’s work was decidedly mixed. We see how Tolkien was largely responsible for Lewis’s securing of a position at Cambridge ...more
Jan 11, 2008 is currently reading it
I am loving this book, though it is definitely not a quick read! I find that this is more of a Sunday-afternoon type book since I don't like reading it at bedtime.

The histories of these two remarkable authors are woven together beautifully from childhood. I love to see not only the parallels between these men, but also the influences that are apparent in their writings, particularly those of the fantasy genre. I am only now reading about their early friendship at Oxford and I look forward to del
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This chronicles the on again/off again relationship between these two members of the "Inklings", an elite group that met to enjoy each other's erudite company. I believe G. K. Chesterton was also among them, as well as some lesser lights. It also describes Lewis' conversion experience. He and Tolkien had very different ideas on the extent to which the laity ought to publicly speak about the faith. If you're a fan of MiddleEarth and Aslan, you'll probably enjoy this book.
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am not a great fan of biography but am fooled once in a while and actually enjoy the read. And I enjoyed this book. Partly I suppose because I am a fan of both authors, partly because I am a fan of their intellects. And partly because Duriez weaves the friendship into a tale and I feel I got to know these two towering figures better.
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So I'm sort of a Tolkien/Lewis geek. I read all of their books in high school and fell in love with their writing style and content. This book is sort of a look into their friendship. It is extremely interesting and very easy to read. To hear about their relationship and how they challenged each other. You also get a glimpse of Tolkien's wit and Lewis' wisdom. Check it out.
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good biography of Lewis and Tolkien. I especially like the way it weaves together their lives and gives some good coverage to many of the milestones. One drawback is that the narrative switches back and forth from Tolkien to Lewis, which takes some getting used to in the early chapters. Overall, a good text for the classroom or the personal library.
Paul Wright
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
An excellent account of the friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and how these two master storytellers inspired and challenged each other to grow in their writings, literary teaching work, Christian faith, critical thinking, and the quest for an understanding of how God writes an epic, classic story in the lives and hearts of men.
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed reading about the friendship of these two writers - how their lives intertwined and how they encouraged one another.

"Friendship, like the fantasy tale, gave a person a vantage point to see the world in a fresh way. Friendship with Tolkien, he [Lewis] found, shook him fully awake, out of the cold dream of materialism."
Jul 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
This not a good book. It bounces around and adds information about other people that I don't care to know. I will say the book identified that I wanted to know more about L&T and read more if their respective works, just not by this writer.
Scott Worden
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thought it was interesting how Lewis encouraged Tolkien to write Lord of the Rings while Tolkien helped Lewis realize that God existed. It was sad that their friendship drifted towards the end but they definitely were instrumental in each other's lives.
May 22, 2014 rated it liked it
As a lover of both Tolkein's Lord of the Rings books,and Lewis' Narnia series (as well as his Chrisitan writings)I was interested in their relationship. I knew a little of Tolkein's influence on Lewis' return to Christianity, so this book was really interesting.
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  • The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Their Friends
  • The Inklings of Oxford: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their Friends
  • 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
  • Mere Humanity: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century
  • The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind the Lord of the Rings
  • Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World
  • The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary
  • The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays
  • All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927
  • The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-Earth
  • Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings
  • Tolkien: Man and Myth, a Literary Life
  • The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis
  • The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community
  • Lenten Lands: My Childhood with Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis
  • On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis
  • Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth
Colin Duriez is a writer on fantasy and related matters.

He was born in Derbyshire and spent his early life in Long Eaton, Derbyshire , in a couple of new council estates near Portsmouth and six years in a mining village in South Wales, before moving to the West Midlands. After school he studied for two years at the University of Istanbul, Turkey, before completing his studies at the University of
More about Colin Duriez

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“He discovers that God is the very source of our existence. As Lewis will put it: "He is the opaque centre of all existences, the thing that simply and entirely is, the fountain of facthood.” 0 likes
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