Friday, March 9, 2018

New Tolkien Book: The Inklings and King Arthur

It's setting up to be a good year for Tolkien books so far.

The latest one I've discovered came out a couple of months ago:

The Inklings and King Arthur: J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, and Owen Barfield on the Matter of BritainThe Inklings and King Arthur: J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, and Owen Barfield on the Matter of Britain
Ed: Sørina Higgins
Apocryphile Press
Copyright Date: December 2017

The product description:
In the midst of war-torn Britain, King Arthur returned in the writings of the Oxford Inklings. Learn how J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield brought hope to their times and our own in their Arthurian literature.
Although studies of the “Oxford Inklings” abound, astonishingly enough, none has yet examined their great body of Arthurian work. Yet each of these major writers tackled serious and relevant questions about government, gender, violence, imperialism, secularism, and spirituality through their stories of the Quest for the Holy Grail. This rigorous and sophisticated volume studies does so for the first time.
This serious and substantial volume addresses a complex subject that scholars have for too long overlooked. The contributors show how, in the legends of King Arthur, the Inklings found material not only for escape and consolation, but also, and more importantly, for exploring moral and spiritual questions of pressing contemporary concern. —Michael Ward, Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, and co-editor of C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner
This volume follows Arthurian leylines in geographies of myth, history, gender, and culture, uncovering Inklings lodestones and way markers throughout. A must read for students of the Inklings. —Aren Roukema, Birkbeck, University of London
Definitely a book I'm adding to my "wish-list"!
None of the names are ones I recognize - but I admit that until recently I've focused more on the "big name" Tolkien scholars like Verlyn Flieger and Tom Shippey. At any rate, the Table of Contents I found on the Goodreads page for The Inklings and King Arthur looks intriguing:
Introduction—Present and Past: The Inklings and King Arthur.
—Sørina Higgins

Texts and Intertexts
1. The Matter of Logres: Arthuriana and the Inklings.
—Sørina Higgins
2. Medieval Arthurian Sources for the Inklings: An Overview.
—Holly Ordway
3. Mixed Metaphors and Hyperlinked Worlds:
A Study of Intertextuality in C. S. Lewis’ Ransom Cycle.
—Brenton D. G. Dickieson
4. Houses of Healing: The Idea of Avalon in Inklings Fiction and Poetry.
—Charles A. Huttar
5. Shape and Direction: Human Consciousness in the Inklings’ Mythological Geographies. —Christopher Gaertner

Histories Past
6. From Myth to History and Back Again:
Inklings Arthuriana in Historical Context.
—Yannick Imbert
7. “All Men Live by Tales”: Chesterton’s Arthurian Poems.
—J. Cameron Moore
8. The Elegiac Fantasy of Past Christendom in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur.
—Cory Grewell

Histories Present
9. Spiritual Quest in a Scientific Age.
—Jason Jewell and Chris Butynskyi
10. The Stripped Banner:
Reading The Fall of Arthur as a Post-World War I Text.
—Taylor Driggers
11. “Lilacs Out of the Dead Land”:
Narnia, The Waste Land, and the World Wars.
—Jon Hooper
12. “What Does the Line along the Rivers Define?”:
Charles Williams’ Arthuriad and the Rhetoric of Empire.
—Benjamin D. Utter

Geographies of Gender
13. “Fair as Fay-woman and Fell-minded”: Tolkien’s Guinever.
—Alyssa House-Thomas
14. Beatrice and Byzantium: Sex and the City in the Arthurian Works of Charles Williams. —Andrew Rasmussen
15. Those Kings of Lewis’ Logres:
Arthurian Figures as Lewisian Genders in That Hideous Strength.
—Benjamin Shogren

Cartographies of the Spirit
16. “Servant of All”: Arthurian Peregrinations in George MacDonald.
—Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson
17. Camelot Incarnate: Arthurian Vision in the Early Plays of Charles Williams.
—Bradley Wells
18. “Any Chalice of Consecrated Wine”:
The Significance of the Holy Grail in Charles Williams’ War in Heaven.
—Suzanne Bray
19. The Acts of Unity: The Eucharistic Theology of Charles Williams’ Arthurian Poetry.
—Andrew C. Stout
Conclusion—Once and Future:
The Inklings, Arthur, and Prophetic Insight.
—Malcolm Guite
I'll also admit that my reading and book-buying habits have been directed more towards J.R.R. Tolkien and scholarship about his life and works. However, I'm working on expanding from there, and this definitely looks like a book to get. All I know about most of the other Inklings comes from the Humphrey Carpenter book of the same name, although recently I've bought another book or two on the topic.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Blue Planet II Narrated by David Attenborough

Blue Planet II - Take a Deep BreathBlue Planet II was just released on DVD, Blu Ray and 4K UltraHD on Tuesday and all I can say is "WOW". I've only watched the first two episodes so far, but it is absolutely spectacular, every minute of the show.

The product description is as follows:
In recent years, our knowledge of what goes on in our Ocean has been transformed. Blue Planet II uses cutting-edge breakthroughs in science and technology to explore new worlds, reveals astonishing creatures and extraordinary new animal behaviors. As we journey through our deep seas, coral reefs, open ocean, green seas and coasts we share these extraordinary new discoveries. But we now know that ocean health is under threat. Never has there been a more crucial time to explore our remotest seas, and to examine what the future will hold for our blue planet.  
I've loved everything by David Attenborough that I've seen so far, and to date, Blue Planet II is no exception. I loved both the original Planet Earth series, along with The Blue Planet - both of which I have on DVD, but the clarity of the 4k viewing for this one and the new Planet Earth II that came out last year just blows both of those away! I raved about the first two and his Wildlife Specials series in this post a few years ago.

The filming in this one is just spectacular - they've managed to capture some truly glorious waves with the light glowing through as just one example from the first episode. That doesn't even begin to cover watching a school of Giant Trevally catching birds in flight, or looking at a very, very strange looking deepwater fish which has a transparent head that it looks through, the Barreleye fish. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one since I watched the episode earlier this evening.

David Attenborough shows us so many things about our own planet that I think we'd never see without a show like this. How about the twilight zone and the midnight zones of our ocean? Without the specialized equipment he has access to, there's no other way to see it - and there's so much beauty hidden down there and almost unknown! What's more, we're destroying more and more of it as we go!

The next episode on the first disc is going to be just as spectacular I think. Where the first episode was an overview of the oceans in general and the second episode looked at the deepest waters in more detail, the third episode is going to be focused on coral reefs around the world. I'll admit to having a soft spot for those - especially after my two visits to Hanauma Bay in Hawaii. Watching this episode will probably bring back some fond memories.

Blue Planet II Soundtrack - CDNifty! Some searching just showed me that there is a CD version of the soundtrack for this show available too! The music is just as spectacular as the footage for these two shows. Of course, I have a particular fondness for the music of Hans Zimmer, who did some of the music for these shows, so your opinions on this may vary.

With Planet Earth II, we ended up having to go with an iTunes version. Maybe I'm just really old-fashioned, but I have a strong preference for having a physical copy of my music - and I know I listen to far more music from CD's than I do my phone. Of course, having said that, I now see that there is a CD version for Planet Earth II as well. Go figure!


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