War of the Fantasy Worlds
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on Art and Imagination
by Martha C. Sammons
December 2009, 237pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-36282-8
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-0-313-36283-5
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Although J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are usually associated with one another as friends and academic colleagues, they claim they did not influence each other’s work. Yet, we are told, Lewis remarked to Tolkien, “There is too little of what we really like in stories, I am afraid we shall have to write some ourselves.” They flipped a coin. As a result, Tolkien was to write about time and Lewis about space.

This investigation focuses on C.S. Lewis’s and J.R.R. Tolkien’s contrasting views of art and imagination, which are key to understanding and interpreting their fantasy works, providing insight into their goals, themes, and techniques, as well as an appreciation of the value and impact of their mythologies.

Most scholarship about J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis describes their shared faith and academic interests or analyzes each writer’s fantasy works. War of the Fantasy Worlds: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on Art and Imagination is the first to focus solely on their contrasting concepts of fantasy. The authors’ views of art and imagination, the book shows, are not only central to understanding the themes, value, and relevance of their fantasy fiction, but are also strikingly different.

Understanding the authors’ thoughts about fantasy helps us better understand and appreciate their works. Yet, this book is not a critical analysis of The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia. Rather, it examines only elements of Tolkien’s and Lewis’s books that relate to their views about art, fantasy, and creativity, or the implementation of their theories. The result is a unique and altogether fascinating perspective on two of the most revered fantasy authors of all time.

Martha C. Sammons, PhD, is professor of English at Wright State University, Dayton, OH, where she has taught since 1975. Her publications include Document Design for Writers, The Longman Guide to Style and Writing on the Internet, A Guide Through Narnia: Revised and Expanded Edition, "A Far-Off Country": A Guide to C.S. Lewis' Fantasy Fiction, and "A Better Country": The Worlds of Religious Fantasy and Science Fiction, as well as articles on both fantasy fiction and teaching with technology.
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