Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Another review of Truths Breathed Through Silver

Quite by accident, I learned of another review of the collection, Truths Breathed Through Silver: The Inklings’ Moral and Mythopoeic Legacy, ed. Jonathan Himes (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008). For a refresher on this book, refer back to this post; for highlights from other reviews, this post.

This latest review appeared in The C.S. Lewis Chronicle, the journal of The Oxford C.S. Lewis Society. It’s a very short review (not more than 300 words), and it wastes roughly half of these in quibbling over the aptness of the book’s subtitle. But lest I seem ungrateful, I must point out that the review is actually quite positive, once it gets around to dealing with the actual contents of the collection. Sadly, by this time, the reviewer has only a few sentences left, but here’s an excerpt:
[Two paragraphs summarizing the mythopoeic predilections of the Inklings …]
.....That is what I thought this book would be about. But it isn’t. It is fascinating and welcome, but it is not about the Inklings’ moral and mythopoeic legacy. It is an exhilarating, learned ragbag of essays on all sorts of things: Lewis on verbicide, Tolkien’s treatment of the Fall [*], a history of libraries in Tolkien’s Middle Earth [sic], mathematics in the spirituality of George MacDonald, and more. Swashbuckling stuff, all of it, and some of it […] timely and important. But it is an opportunity missed. There is a significant book to be written on the myth-making of the Inklings, qua Inklings. [Charles Foster. The C.S. Lewis Chronicle, Vol. 6, No. 2 (April 2009): 40.]
I would differ with the plain assertion that the collection “is not about the Inklings’ moral and mythopoeic legacy”; still more, that it is “an opportunity missed”. It’s perfectly fair for a reviewer to point out oversights or errors in a collection, or to single out weaker contributions thereto, but to spend the bulk of a very short review voicing chagrin that this book is not the book the reviewer thought it would be … Why not spend those words saying something about what that book actually is? Such ruminations as these, and the call for “a significant book [yet] to be written”, might be okay in a review of a couple thousand words — they are probably not appropriate in a review of only a couple hundred.

At least I was included in the short capsule summary [marked above with an asterisk], and I certainly can’t complain about being called “swashbuckling” and “exhilarating”, even if indirectly — “learned ragbag” is a bit more left-handed, but I’ll take that too. :)


  1. Hi Jason and Happy New Year! I read your essay in this the other night and enjoyed it. It was very good. And you put in my favorite quote that Iluvatar spoke to Melkor. :) The whole idea of death being a gift has revolutionized my thinking on that and I think it's a wonderful way of looking at it as Aragorn does. It would indeed be so since it is God's way of bringing us back to Him after we were lost through original sin. If we are faithful, it is the door through which we will return to our home with Him. Loved a couple of the others essays in there too.

    Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie :)

  2. Thanks for the comments/compliments, Anne Marie. It is always nice to hear when people have read my work, whether they agree or not (but nicer when they do, hahae). Hope you’ve had a jolly holiday season. :)