J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances: Views of Middle-Earth

By George Clark; Daniel Timmons | Go to book overview

10

"Joy Beyond the Walls of the World": The Secondary World-Making of J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis

David Sandner

Fantasy authors have often described the imaginative conception of their creations. 1 J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis have been particularly expressive and earnest when discussing the inspiration for their fantasy works. Lewis claims that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe "all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood" ( On Stories53). Lewis entered Narnia when an image fixed itself in his mind, and only afterward did he invent a story (and a world) to go with his odd and incongruous image. The first line of Hobbit reportedly entered Tolkien's head, seemingly unconnected to anything else, when he sat correcting "School Certificate papers in the everlasting weariness of that annual task" ( Letters215). As Tolkien remembers it, "One of the candidates had mercifully left one of the pages with no writing on it (which is the best thing that can possibly happen to an examiner) and I wrote on it: 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit'"( Carpenter172). Tolkien further comments: "I did not and do not know why. I did nothing about it for a long time, and for some years I got no further than the production of Thror's Map" ( Letters215); still, he has claimed that "[n]ames always generate a story in my mind. Eventually I thought I'd better find out what hobbits were like. But that's only the beginning" ( Carpenter172). But beginnings are important in fantasy because the reader arrives in a Secondary Realm where fairy-stories happen much as the authors themselves arrived at the improbable beginnings of their stories: with a sense of surprise and full with possibilities. Tolkien and Lewis are similar in their desire to evoke the reader's wonder of Faërie. 2 However, their realizations of this "Joy Beyond the Walls of the World" are distinctive, most noticeably in the depth of their Secondary Realms and treatment of allegory. 3

For Tolkien, in "On Fairy-Stories." "Fantasy" is identified by its "arresting strangeness" ( Essays139). The wonder the authors felt right at the beginning

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