The Loss and the Silence: Aspects of Modernism in the Works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien & Charles Williams

Margaret Hiley

Cormarë Series No. 22

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The Loss and the Silence: Aspects of Modernism in the Works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien & Charles Williams

Traditionally, the "Inklings" C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams have been seen as separate from the literature of their time: as innovative in an idiosyncratic way at best, and as reactionary and in deliberate opposition to contemporary progressive writing at worst. Recent years have seen a gradual change in this view, but few studies to date have attempted to read Lewis, Tolkien and Williams alongside their most famous contemporaries: the literary modernists.

This monograph represents the first full-length study to draw explicit and indepth comparisons between the Inklings and writers such as T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, and David Jones among others. An examination of both thematic and structural concerns reveals a number of shared issues that go beyond mere responses to the cataclysmic events of the first half of the twentieth century. Myth as theme and structuring device, world-building as an attempt to render the author’s subjective reality objective and authoritative, writing as an (unsuccessful) attempt to overcome the nightmare of history, and language as both the paradoxical means of creation and the reason creation must fail: these concerns and tensions are central to the works of both Inklings and modernists. In establishing that the works of Lewis, Tolkien and Williams contain aspects that can be termed “modernist”, this study also hopes to show that certain aspects of modernism might very well be termed "fantastic".

About the author
Margaret Hiley studied at the Universities of Regensburg and Glasgow, specialising in fantasy, science fiction and literary modernism. She has taught, lectured and published on these topics both in the UK and abroad. Since 2007 she has taught at the University Centre Peterborough, where she also coordinated the degree programmes in the Arts and Sciences before establishing a new career as an academic and literary translator. Please visit her website at for more information.

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Table of contents

Series editor's preface
Note on translation
List of abbreviations


Chapter One: Inklings and Modernists – Shared Contexts
The Modernist Movement
Inklings and Modernists: The Biographical Connections
Shared Literary Concerns

Chapter Two: War
Modern War, Modern Literature
Fantasy and War
The Inklings at War
Charles Williams, David Jones and the Matter of Britain
Celtic Literature of Defeat
Waste Lands
Bodies and Corpses
War, Language and Liturgy

Chapter Three: History
Modernist Histories: Yeats’s Historical Models
Fantastic Cycles: Tolkien’s History of Middle-earth
Myth and History
Nationalist Histories
Escapes from History and Time


Book reviews in Inklings-Jahrbuch (12th April 2013)
Book reviews in Mythlore (1st November 2012)
The Loss and the Silence now available (2nd November 2011)
Upcoming publications (30th June 2011)


256 pages, Walking Tree Publishers 2011, Cormarë Series No. 22, ISBN: 978-3-905703-19-1.

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