As I’m sure you are already aware from the wealth of new scholarship being published this year, or from our own sister imprint’s blog post last month (read it here!), 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis. What you may not have known is that 2013 is also the year of the world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fall of Arthur – , which tells the extraordinary story of the final days of England’s legendary hero, King Arthur.
So what do these two events have in common? Or better yet, what do these two men have in common? Well, a lot, but for our immediate interests, the answer is that they were both members of an informal literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford, whose members came to be known as ‘Inklings’.
In an inspired new work by Christopher Scarf, inter-disciplinary studies of the notion of Kingship – literary, theological and historic – offer the reader a key to a deeper understanding of the work of three Oxford ‘Inklings’. Scarf explores the writings of Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien to compare their concepts and ideals of kingship, whether divine, human or mythological.
Looking back to the history of the royal office, Scarf references Greek literature, Old English poetry, Arthurian Legends and Old and New Testament Scripture to contextualise his subjects’ ideas and theological beliefs inherent in their work. These profound beliefs, expressed in myth, legend and poetry, expose truth in a way that no other media can achieve, and to understand this truth is essential to understanding the importance of kingship, both fictional and earthly, in their writing.
Shared Christian faith, religious structure and beliefs — including the values of love, justice and authority — had a great impact on the Inklings’ ideas of kingship. Understanding their theological beliefs will allow their readers to appreciate better these authors’ experience of the world, insight which today’s more secular readers may otherwise not recognise.
A compelling study which looks at three of the world’s most famous authors from a unique perspective, and offers novel insights into their much-loved works. The Ideal of Kingship will please literature scholars, theology students or fans of these great authors’ work.
About the Author: Dr Christopher Scarf studied Music at Wadham College, Oxford. He took an M.A. in Liturgical Music at the Anglia Polytechnic University and a D.Phil. in English Literature (with some aspects of Theology and History) at the University of Sussex. Once Assistant Organist at Ely Cathedral, he now lives in Devon, where he is Master of the Music at St Marychurch Parish Church. He is married, and has a son, who is a solicitor in London.
About the publisher: James Clarke and Co Ltd is a long-established British academic publisher specialising in historical and theological books and also in reference material. It has been associated with the Lutterworth Press since 1984.