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Publisher's Summary

During the 1930s at Oxford, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams - remarkable friends, writers, and scholars - met regularly to discuss philosophy and literature and to read aloud from their own works in progress. Calling themselves the Inklings, their circle grew. It was in this company that such classics as The Lord of the Rings, The Screwtape Letters, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first found an audience.

Author Humphrey Carpenter was born in Oxford and was acquainted with Tolkien, Hugo Dyson, and several other Inklings. In this remarkable reconstruction of their meetings and momentous friendships, Carpenter brings to life those warm and enchanting evenings in Lewis' rooms at Magdalen College, when their imaginations ran wild. His account offers exciting insights into the influence these brilliant individuals had on each other's developing ideas and writing.

©1990 Humphrey Carpenter (P)1990 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Inklings

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Certainly surprised by joy

What an insightful account of a remarkable group. To bring this group from a possible fate of being simply an academic footnote to a fascinating and informative account of creative humanity is a tour de force. The vignettes of less well known members of the group are marvellous. And Bernard Mayes’ reading of it is wonderfully warm and clear.

1 person found this helpful

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  • TangerineZoso
  • 01-04-2018

A great find for any Inkling fan

Good narrator (he sounded very much like Michael Caine to me), and I was willing to overlook his mispronunciation of some of Toklien's words. It was a thorough and well rounded accounting of the Inklings, albeit with a heavy focus on C.S. Lewis.

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  • DM
  • 10-10-2020

great fun. loved it

I had no idea that all these contemporaries spent so much time together, drinking, laughing, arguing, and reading each other's works out loud to each other. What a great group and how much of our lives have been touched by them. cool stuff here.

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  • Thomas P. Ferrara
  • 22-02-2021

Older is Better / Thorough and Moving

This is a thorough book, and most carefully compiled. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
There were, to be sure, a number of pages and chapters that were difficult--overly detailed and some above my head (when dealing with the great minds of these philosophers and thinkers no less would be expected).
I come away from this read feeling as though I really know these men. Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams are more real to me. They are less fantastical, and yet hold a place of even higher regard in my affections and respect.
There has been a lot written about the Inklings in the past 20 years, Diana Glyer's Bandersnatch is one of the great pieces of recent, but this book is something special. I think because it's old, written just barely outside the time of these legendary men and their events. I cried at the end. I really did. It concludes profoundly, and all that led up to its ending made me feel like I was more reading a friend's personal letters in real time than a history book. The final words in particular moved me greatly.
Highly recommended.
*Note: I listened to the free audio version on Audible. I liked the sound of the narrator's voice very much, and found it perfectly appropriate for the content, but he was quite difficult to understand at times, especially when sped up.

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  • M.Biblioswine
  • 30-09-2020

A fine book

This is a fine but dated book, necessary for those interested in the Inklings, but recent scholarship has changed or added to the way many of the players in the story of the Inklings are portrayed. An excellent 21st century book on them is The Company They Keep.

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  • john watson bruce
  • 23-07-2021

The Inklings Come Alive In This Audiobook !

I thoroughly enjoyed this book it gave you insight into their friendships. Excellent Book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-07-2021

Extraordinarily Ordinary Men

I have heard much Inkling lore fantasized as a group of scholarly Christian warriors. Not until this book did I come to understand that these were ordinary men who were friends, Christians, and scholars. But mostly friends. They were all uniquely extraordinary individuals in their own right and their paths crossing was by no mistake.

I have come to see them as normal people with virtues and vices that oppose my own in some ways. Knowing them more in this way adds both richness and a grain of salt to all of their works.

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  • Amazon customer
  • 25-05-2021

Wonderful writeup

It is profound how one man sharpens another. I find it a necessary part of my life to have a group of similarly minded (but not necessarily similarly dispositioned) people in my life. Lo, in this day and age it is practically impossible to share the frequency of comradery these men had. I find Lewis a kindred spirit in this if not in common disciplines or hobbies. I bring men into fellowship and we share our ideas, life experiences, opinions, and observations for a few hours every other week or so. We also do not keep records of our discussions or any sort of formal structure.

I mourn the deaths of all these men in this book though all passed before I was born. I think myself below all of them, for they were geniuses each in his own right and form. Lewis in his simple writing style and masterful debate form. Tolkien in his imagination and staunch tenacity to develop logic and continuance through story and myth, as well as his linguistic aptitude. Williams’ thought and propensity to see the world in spiritual and physical capacities, though I disagree intensely with his theology. Warreny in his ability to hold his own in the company of such literary minds who would ascend to the status of legend and giants.

I miss all of them though I knew none of them. I miss the times when the world was simpler. I long for a return to something I never knew.

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  • Sabrina Justison
  • 27-01-2021

Just wonderful!

So much I had never known before about this group of men, their friendships, and their writing. I appreciate the books I have read by these writers so much more deeply having listened to The Inklings. If you are a fan of Lewis and Tolkien, this is a wonderful listen!

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  • angieD
  • 25-01-2021

Excellent!

I very much enjoyed this book. Huge fan of C,S Lewis and JRR Tolkien . Their work influence so many lives. inspiration in their books. Friendship they all shared and love for each other. highly recommend!

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  • David
  • 07-09-2020

Well Done!

This is well written and is read well. This audiobook is well worth your time.

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  • Miriam W.
  • 02-11-2019

Unsympathetic to Christianity

I was very interested in this book, which was well read and pleasant to listen to. The facts of these men’s lives and their stories are fascinating. However, Humphrey Carpenter appears sympathetic with all of his characters except Lewis, whom he seems to feel himself on a mission to ‘reveal’ as less worthy than other biographies have painted him. His supposed revelations are unsympathetic, unperceptive and occasionally ridiculous- as for example his wholly unnecessary and clearly untrue suggestion that Lewis’s marriage might not have been consummated. Worse, he is blind to God and things of the spirit, and almost all of his assumptions about Christianity - and therefore Lewis’s beliefs - are wrong-headed.
I still value this book for its biographical evocation of an era and an elite society within that era, but I gradually had to learn to disregard many of its supposed insights.

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  • Xander
  • 05-05-2018

Comprehensive with a strong argument

A well written study of the Inkings where the argument is made and justified that C.S. Lewis was the reason for their formation and essentially the glue that held them together. With making this argument, the book at times turns more into a biography of Lewis, touching moderately on Charles Williams and sparingly on Tolkien. Overall, a comprehensive study essential to anyone interested in Lewis, Tolkien, Williams or the Inklings as a group.

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  • Christina Coombes
  • 30-07-2018

fascinating

A really fascinating and informative biography and analysis of some great 20th century writers. We listened in rapt attention right to the end.

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