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.



Dale said...

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

Entry for Nov. 22, 2011.

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

bgc said...

Thanks Dale - a worthwhile glimpse.