Andrew S · Literature · Non-Fiction

The Precincts of Felicity | by Charles Moorman

The Precincts of Felicity

The Precincts of Felicity: The Augustinian City of the Oxford Christians by Charles Moorman
(University of Florida Press, 1966, 143 pages)

There is plenty of literature available on the Oxford literary group known as The Inklings, but this is one title that you would really have to do some digging to come across. I happened to find it while looking for more resources on Charles Williams, one of the members of the group. Moorman’s book traces the themes of Augustine’s Civitas Dei (City of God) and Civitas Terrena (City of Man), discussed in the theological classic City of God, through the writings of Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, T. S. Eliot, and Dorothy Sayers.

Moorman clearly sees Charles Williams as the center of this literary circle. This is certainly debatable, but Moorman does a good job of making his case. It is certainly the case that it is in Williams’ writings that the “City” plays the largest thematic role. Moorman does an excellent job drawing out the less obvious ways that this theme is used by the other writers as well. It was particularly helpful to see the way that the “City” plays a major role in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, especially given that it is his emphasis on the pastoral, the rural, and the natural for which Tolkien is most commonly noted. The chapter on Tolkien alone ensures that what otherwise might be a dated study remains relevant given the continued scholarly interest in Tolkien and the neglect of this particular theme in his work.

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