If the Inklings didn't exist


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If the Inklings didn't exist

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Feb 16, 2009, 2:22 pm

Maybe this isn't even worth contemplating, but what do you think literature would be like if the Inklings never existed? I'm specifically interested in Toller's (Tolkien's) formative effect on modern fantasy, but I'm interested in other areas as well.

Feb 16, 2009, 6:38 pm

C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton are perhaps the two most influential Christians of the last century. If they never existed there would be far fewer Christians today. Especially when you consider how many contemporary Christian writers were influenced by these two giants. I'm thinking of Philip Yancey, Thomas Howard, Peter Kreeft, etc. etc.

Feb 18, 2009, 2:23 am

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Feb 18, 2009, 12:50 pm

Oakes, may I ask what your beliefs were before you were introduced to Christianity?

Modificato: Feb 18, 2009, 5:36 pm

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Feb 20, 2009, 8:32 am

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Feb 22, 2009, 5:45 pm

The original question was about literature, not Christian evangelism. (And Chesterton wasn't an Inkling.)

The cynical answer might be that, without Tolkien, there would be fewer blockbusting fantasy epics cluttering up the shelves, because he introduced the idea that fantasy fiction should be monumental in scope. (And fantasy role-playing games would probably never have got off the ground.)

Without the Inklings, fantasy would perhaps have remained a more esoteric interest, rather than acquiring a mass following comparable to that of science fiction. We would still have had George MacDonald, Lord Dunsany, Poul Anderson, E. R. Eddison, Mervyn Peake, and E. Nesbit. But some more recent authors might not have thought of writing fantasy without Tolkien's example. In the case of some doorstop writers (David Eddings, Terry Brooks, possibly Steven Donaldson and Robert Jordan) we might not be so much worse off, but it would be a poorer world without some of the others (Guy Gavriel Kay, David Gemell, Ursula le Guin...).

In terms of literature, I'm not sure how influential any of the other Inklings could be considered. Lewis's own fiction is respected, but I am not aware of much in the way of subsequent literary influence (except negatively, in spurring Philip Pullman to write "against" it). It has been suggested that Charles Williams's continuing reputation is based largely on Lewis's approbation. The main literary impact of the Inklings, I think, was to spur on Lewis and Tolkien in their own creative efforts.

Feb 23, 2009, 12:04 am

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