Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A small company

*

The Inklings knew themselves to be swimming against the tide, and that their numbers were small.

The idea of a small 'company' (much like the Inklings themselves) up-against overwhelming odds and charged with saving the world from evil and destruction comes up in several of their key works, and in life.

*

There is the Fellowship of the Ring, of course; and in the legends of Numenor which Tolkien worked-on from 1936 (in relation to the Lost Road) and again from 1945 (in relation to the Notion Club Papers) there is a small band of The Faithful led by Elendil (elf-friend) who escape the downfall of the island to establish Arnor and Gondor in Middle Earth.

In the Lost Road, Alboin (the precursor of Lowdham) is a descendant of Erendil, and Alboin's son Audoin is linked with Elendil's son Herendil.

In the Notion Club Papers, Lowdham is seen as a descendant of Elendil, and his friend Jeremy as a descendant of Voronwe his friend whose name means "faithful" .

*

In life, Charles Williams was the inspirational leader of an esoteric Christian group (mostly of women) called the Companions of the Co-Inherence.

In That Hideous Strength, by C.S Lewis, the Company are 'four men, some women and a bear'; a heterogeneous group gathered around the leader Ransome who is in communication with angelic intelligences.

The character of Ransome in THS was influenced by Charles Williams, as is the whole novel - and it seems possible that Lewis regarded Williams as a spiritual leader - someone who seemed to be (to some extent) in touch with higher intelligences.

After Williams' death, Lewis edited Arthurian Torso, the work of a faithful friend in transmission of Williams' vision. Lewis was Voronwe to Williams's Elendil.

I do not think Lewis ever again met anyone who could 'replace' William in his spiritual role, or to whom Lewis would again adopt the role of disciple - C.W was perhaps regarded by Lewis as a lost (potential) saviour of his nation - somewhat like King Arthur.

*

Tolkien never saw himself as a spiritual leader, yet he was one because of his vision - which came to him and was not created by him. Tolkien was of course an elf-friend: Elendil.

And, as things have happened, JRR Tolkien's elf-friend legacy has been indispensably transmitted by the work of his 'faithful' son Christopher - such that the Elendil-Herendil/ Albion-Audoin/ father-son fictional explorers of the Lost Road turned-out to be a pre-vision of life.

*

2 comments:

Dale said...

There's an interesting account of a newly-discovered letter co-signed by Tolkien here:

http://tolkienandfantasy.blogspot.com/

Entry for Nov. 22, 2011.

A footnote to the story of Tolkien's awareness of totalitarianism.

bgc said...

Thanks Dale - a worthwhile glimpse.