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 relation between the earthly and heavenly King is considered, as well as the extent to which the writers contend that earthly kings are God’s vice-regents, 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. 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 these individuals and their works.
Prologue: The Inkling’s Ideals of Kingship
Part One: Monarchy and Republic
1. Williams and the Historical Notion of Kingship
2. Williams and the Vicegerent
3. Williams and Life in the Kingdom
4. Williams and the Ideal of Kingship
Part Two: The Monarch and God’s Vicegerent
5. Lewis and the Historical Notion of Kingship
6. Lewis and the Experience of Joy
7. Lewis and the Hierarchy
8. Lewis and the Ideal of Kingship
Part Three: Monarchy and Middle-Earth
9. Tolkien and the Historical Notion of Kingship
10. Tolkien and the Divine Court
11. Tolkien and the Ideal of Kingship
Part Four: Instituted Republic – Constitutional Monarchy – King in Council
12. The Inklings and the Place of Royalty
Epilogue: The Inklings and the Wider World of Fantasy
Endorsements and Reviews
History, myth, Christian theology and the poetic imagination are all drawn together in this unusual study of three very different literary figures. By focusing on kingship the author opens up new perspectives on hitherto relatively neglected aspects of the thought and writings of the Inklings.
Dr Brian Horne, Chairman of the Charles Williams Society and former Senior Lecturer of Theology at King’s College London
This is a knowledgeable and sympathetic study which brings us closer to the outlook of three intriguing writers moulded by a world we have already left behind us. Dr Scarf is impressively familiar with the rich and varied cultural frame of reference within which the Inklings operated. Even more important, he is imaginatively responsive, as they were, to the traditions of kingship and Christianity and to the connections between them. He is a helpful and reliable guide through the countries of their minds.
Norman Vance, Professor of English Literature and Intellectual History (English), University of Sussex
This exploration of this ideal in relation to biblical and contemporary political ideas will richly reward those readers looking to explore more deeply the fundamental convictions that give them such appeal. The book can be thoroughly recommended as a well-researched commentary on a major literary phenomenon.
Ronald E. Clements, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies, King’s College London
The author explores his subject matter quite thoroughly, with careful scholarship … This is an excellent study of its subject … We are able to recommend it heartily.
Minas Tirith Evening-Star, Vol 41, No 1
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 be of interest to any reader seeking a fuller understanding of the individuals and their works.
Pieter Collier, on TolkienLibrary.com, 5th March 2014
Dr Scarf, who has himself a strong sense of the grandeur, the ‘mystique’, of kingship, has read extensively both in the three authors themselves and in secondary sources.
Richard Strutch, in Journal of Theological Studies, Vol 65, Issue 1
Scarf focuses not simply on kingship, but the exact ways in which many presentations of or allusions to kingship as it appears in the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry of the three best-known Inklings is a reflection of a very specific concept about God … this book is well worth reading for anyone interest in a specifically Christian interpretation of the work of Tolkien, Lewis and Williams. It is also worthwhile for those who are interested in the idea of kingship as presented in their books. … Christopher Scarf has created a scholarly approach to a narrow concept that presents some rare gems waiting to be mined by the careful reader.
Melody Green, in Mythlore, Vol 32, Issue 2
Dr Christopher Scarf’s study of monarchy in the works of the three best-known Inklings provides a comprehensive introduction to the subject … This overview contains well-documented, detailed analysis.
Suzanne Bray, in Modern Believing, Vol 55, Issue 2
For committed scholars of this period and these authors, this study will no doubt offer rich and thoughtful comparative material.
Alison Jack, in The Expository Times, Vol 126, Issue 5
Scarf’s book is a valuable study given the sheer scale of American Evangelical-Republican support of Tolkien and Lewis’s works and beliefs.
Paul Brazier, in The Heythrope Journal, Vol 56, Issue 2