Lewis' first impression of Tolkien was of ''a smooth, pale, fluent little chap'' with ''no harm in him: only needs a smack or two.'' From such beginnings an invigorating friendship took seed. In coming years, Tolkien would return, ''Friendship with Lewis compensates for much'' -- commenting on their weekly pub chats and philosophical banter on everything from theology and politics to Middle-earth, Narnia and the next term's undergraduate syllabi. It's no secret the duo also experienced periods of coolness and concentrated disagreement, but Colin Duriez's rendering of their friendship (as far as we know, the first book devoted entirely to the topic) is heedful of the tension, giving the struggle its due. Liberally peppering his telling with diary entries, letter snippets and personal anecdotes, Duriez brings the lives of these literary greats to the page in engaging fashion -- moving back and forth between the two as their lives and friendship unfold. Rather than over-analyze or spend chapters on interpreting the exact nature of the pair's comradery, Duriez offers a sympathetic but candid portrait, allowing Lewis' own words the final stroke: ''[Friendship] alone, of all the loves, seems to raise you almost to the level of gods or angels.''
An Eighth Day View:
Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are literary superstars, known around the world as the creators of Middle-earth and Narnia. But few of their readers and fans know about the important and complex friendship between Tolkien and his fellow Oxford academic C.S. Lewis. Without the persistent encouragement of his friend, Tolkien would never have completed The Lord of the Rings. This great tale, along with the connected matter of The Silmarillion, would have remained merely a private hobby. Likewise, all of Lewis' fiction, after the two met at Oxford University in 1926, bears the mark of Tolkien's influence, whether in names he used or in the creation of convincing fantasy worlds. They quickly discovered their affinity--a love of language and the imagination, a wide reading in northern myth and fairy tale, a desire to write stories themselves in both poetry and prose. Both Tolkien and Lewis were central figures in the informal Oxford literary circle, the Inklings. This book explores their lives, unfolding the extraordinary story of their complex friendship that lasted, with its ups and downs, until Lewis's death in 1963. Despite their differences, what united them was, a shared vision that continues to inspire their millions of readers throughout the world.