The Ideal of Kingship in the Writings of Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien: Divine Kingship is Revealed in Middle-Earth
by Christopher Scarf
(James Clarke & Co., 2013, 202 pages)
This book on the three primary “Inklings” is an interesting look at how fiction can embody particular political theories. Both Lewis and Tolkien created kings to rule their created worlds, and Williams wrote novels and poems that envisioned worlds governed by sovereigns and hierarchies. All three authors wrote works that incorporated the legends of King Arthur. Christopher Scarf examines these aspects of the Inklings’ legacy through detailed exposition of their fiction and the social/political context in which their stories were written. He also looks at the theological implications that lie behind their notions of kingship.
Scarf demonstrates a command of the substantial output of the three authors he deals with, and he does so in order to draw connections within their work on an important and little investigated theme. Anyone familiar with these authors will know that they are inspired by medieval sources. However, their works do much more than simply romanticize a by-gone world of kings and queens. Scarf shows that through their depictions of kings, ideal and otherwise, these authors reflect on the ideal society, the nature of God, and the place of myth in human culture. This is an important and creative addition to Inklings scholarship.