Stealing Past the Watchful Dragons

Though in many ways the genius behind the Inklings was Tolkien’s — and the Inklings was a surrogate for an earlier “writer’s club” that Tolkien had helped found but which was decimated by World War I — Lewis was its center of gravity, its draw, and its ongoing source of energy. His ebullient personality was in great contrast to Tolkien’s more shy and retiring demeanor. Lewis’s group criticism could be pointed and personal, but always rendered for the sake of making a work more “seaworthy”; Tolkien’s was more muted, and focused on encouragement. What brought them together week after week, besides the pleasure of their company (which was enormous), was a shared conviction that the twentieth century had started abysmally and that one of the best ways to maintain or restore the glories of the “true West” was to create and promote grand works of mythopoeia — myth, fantasy, and speculative fiction that would “steal past the watchful dragons” of conventional wisdom and decadent culture and instill what Lewis called “a taste of the other” — a vision of a transcendent realm.

Dr. Bruce L. Edwards (Bowling Green State University)
Who Were The Inklings? (excerpt)

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