The Ideal of Kingship in the Writings of Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien by Christopher Scarf (05.03.14 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

Released last year in June, I finally found time to read the book by Scarf on the inklings and their ideals of Kingship. Whilst much has been written about Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien both individually and collectively, Scarf claims that the quintessential ideals of Kingship common to their work have never by themselves been studied.

In exploring the ideals of kingship – divine, human and mythological– in the work of the three writers, Scarf discovers a variety of ideas, some overlapping, of a Creator-King. Scarf explores the concept in depth seeking out evidence for His attributes, His perceived purpose in creating, and whether any such purpose is reflected in His creations.

The book considers whether the Creator involved demiurges, or simply created ex nihilo. Scarf also considers the entry of evil into a perfect creation, a question at the heart of Christian theology. As well as drawing on the works of the three authors, Scarf looks to their influences – Old English poetry such as Beowulf, the Arthurian Legends and Greek history, as well as scholarly exegesis of Old and New Testament ideas of Ancient Hebrew kingship, and its ultimate fulfilment in Christ the King.
The Ideal of Kingship in the Writings of Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien by Christopher Scarf

This book forms an inter-disciplinary approach to Kingship – literary, theological and historic– that offers the reader a key to a deeper understanding of the work of all three Oxford 'Inklings'. Scarf ultimately claims that these ideas are important in the light of today's Christian belief (or lack of it) in contemporary Britain, and that it is only in understanding these ideas and ideals that the three men's true contributions to English Life and Literature can be fully appreciated.

In his distinctive work, Christopher Scarf explores the writings of the three most prominent Oxford Inklings - Charles Williams (1886-1945), C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), and J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) - to reveal and contrast their conceptions of the ideal of kingship ; divine, human, and mythological. As practising Christians, the faith of all three writers was central to their literary and personal visions of kingship, society, love, beauty, justice and power.

Scarf investigates their belief in God as Creator and heavenly King, opinions on the nature of His very being, and the way in which all believed the Creator to be unique rather than one among many. The relationship between the earthly and heavenly King is considered, as well as the extent to which the writers contend that earthly kings are God s viceregents, act with His authority, and are duty-bound to establish and sustain just and joyous societies. Examining the writings of all three men in detail, Scarf also highlights the covert evidence of their lives and personalities which may be discovered in their texts. An understanding of the authors individual but overlapping views of the essential meaning of Kingship, and their personalities and early lives, will enrich the reader s appreciation of their created worlds.

Looking back to the history of the royal office, Scarf references Greek literature, Old English poetry, Arthurian Legends and Old and New Testament Scripture to contextualise his subjects' ideas and theological beliefs inherent in their work. These profound beliefs, expressed in myth, legend and poetry, expose truth in a way that no other media can achieve, and to understand this truth is essential to understanding the importance of kingship, both fictional and earthly, in their writing.

Shared Christian faith, religious structure and beliefs — including the values of love, justice and authority — had a great impact on the Inklings' ideas of kingship. Understanding their theological beliefs will allow their readers to appreciate better these authors' experience of the world, insight which today's more secular readers may otherwise not recognise.

A compelling study which looks at three of the world's most famous authors from a unique perspective, and offers novel insights into their much-loved works. The Ideal of Kingship will please literature scholars, theology students or fans of these great authors' work. This volume provides a unique focus on Kingship and the Christian beliefs of three well-loved writers, and will be of interest to any reader seeking a fuller understanding of the individuals and their works.

Author Biography

Dr Christopher Scarf studied Music at Wadham College, Oxford. He took an M.A. in Liturgical Music at the Anglia Polytechnic University and a D.Phil. in English Literature (with some aspects of Theology and History) at the University of Sussex. Once Assistant Organist at Ely Cathedral, he now lives in Devon, where he is Master of the Music at St Marychurch Parish Church. He is married, and has a son, who is a solicitor in London.

Title: The Ideal of Kingship in the Writings of Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien: Divine Kingship is reflected in Middle-Earth

Christopher Scarf
James Clarke & Co

Publication Date: June 27, 2013

paperback, 202 pages
ISBN-10: 0227174011
ISBN-13: 978-0227174012

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