Saturday, 4 May 2013

A plausible non-explanation for why Tolkien and Lewis's friendship cooled...


It is plausible that the cooling of the once-close friendship between Tolkien and Lewis, while real, may have been over-played and over-explained. 

After all, how many male friendships last longer than Tolkien and Lewis's? (Leaving aside those which begin in childhood and youth.)

Male friendship is usually based in an alliance, a collaboration, working on something together.

Hence men friends tend to grow apart when circumstances change and the no longer have a shared project.

Quite likely The Lord of the Rings was that shared project which held Lewis and Tolkien together - and the end of writing LotR simply reduced the strength of the main factor holding them close - rather than there being some other factor which drove them apart.

Perhaps their friendship weakened (it never disappeared) mostly due to the loss of a powerfully-attracting magnetic field (i.e. LotR) rather than the addition of a repellant force/s (such as Charles Williams, Narnia books or Joy Davidman). 

H/T - This interpretation arose from an e-mail exchange with Dr Christopher Mitchell of Wheaton College, Illinois.


Lars Walker said...

I suppose I'm not the first to note that Lewis went to work at Cambridge in 1954, sleeping there weeknights and going home to Oxford only on weekends. As I understand it, the whole fabric of the Inklings began to weaken at that point, as his presence at the Tuesday and Thursday meetings was no longer possible. They were all getting older and declining in health, and getting together grew increasingly more difficult.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lars - In fact the last recorded Thursday evening Inklings was October 20 1949 - the next week on 27 Oct Warnie Lewis recorded in his diary 'No one turned up after dinner' - and that, apparently, was the end of it.

The more causal Tuesday lunchtimes at the pub, however, continued until Lewis's final illness - but these sessions were not used for reading and critiquing work, but for social chat.