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Narnia and Middle Earth: A Clash of Writing Styles - 05/09/2013
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An article in the newest issue of MYTHLORE (the journal of the Mythopoeic Society) discusses why J. R. R. Tolkien disliked C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series. The best-known reason was that Tolkien disapproved of mixing characters and creatures from several different mythologies in the same story, e.g., Father Christmas, fauns, and dwarfs. Another reason was Tolkien’s professed dislike of allegory (which the article questions, because he did write some allegorical fiction himself, such as “Leaf by Niggle”), and he thought the Christian message in the Narnia books was too obvious. However, Josh B. Long, the author of this article, highlights a more fundamental motive for Tolkien’s negative reaction to THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE and its sequels: Long quotes Lewis’s biographer, George Sayer, as saying Tolkien felt those novels were “written superficially and far too quickly.” Tolkien also disapproved of the lack of a coherent background for the Narnian universe, so different from the depth and detail of Tolkien’s own imaginary world. The fundamental objection, though, seems to have been what Long summarizes as, “Tolkien was opposed to Lewis’s compositional carelessness, superficiality, and haste.” As friends and colleagues critiquing each other’s works in progress, Tolkien disapproved of Lewis’s speed and “fluency,” while Lewis showed exasperation with Tolkien’s extremely meticulous slowness of composition. As Long puts it, “Tolkien neede...

Narnia and Middle Earth: A Clash of Writing Styles



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