Thursday, 1 April 2010

While on the subject of Messrs. Tolkien and Lewis

Here's an extract from something else I've been reading.

[Alan] Garner ... was not an English student: his subject was Classics, and his academic ambition the Chair of Greek. However, he was a member of Lewis' college and his tutor, Colin Hardie, was an Inkling and a friend of both Lewis and Tolkien: "I've no doubt that my tutor talked about things that C.S. Lewis had said the night before." Garner's own contact with Lewis was of a fairly unorthodox kind: "I practised abseiling from my room one dark night, and put my bare toes on the bald head of C.S. Lewis, who was leaning against the wall for reasons of his own. He yelped and ran." As for Tolkien, Garner attended his "bravura demonstrations of Beowulf" out of interest, and was deeply impressed. "He would walk up and down and declaim it, and I used to go to these performances. That's when I first heard English, and I was thrilled by simply the drama and the music of it." On the other hand, Garner records that "I once heard him argue that modern English was not an appropriate medium for literature. It was interesting to hear such an intelligent man talk such rubbish."

Abseiling. Oh Alan Garner.