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Of Hobbits, Narnia and Postwar Belief
Many of the 400 postwar memoirs and novels from the 1920s and 1930s are profoundly pessimistic, focusing on the cruelty and senselessness of World War I. Erich Remarque, in his novel “All Quiet on the Western Front,” spoke for many: “Now if we go back we will be weary, broken, burnt out, rootless and without hope.” Every combatant nation in World War I abandoned moral qualms and used any weapon at hand to obliterate the enemy
This month marks the 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I, the conflict that introduced industrial-scale slaughter to the world. Never before had science and technology — the mortars, machine guns, tanks, barbed wire and poison gas — conspired so effectively to destroy man and nature. The Great War savaged popular beliefs about progress, morality and religion.
Yet for two extraordinary authors and friends, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, the war deepened their moral and spiritual convictions. Both fought in the trenches on the Western Front and used their experiences to shape their Christian imagination.
The pair met in 1926 as young scholars at Oxford University and went on to produce epic stories of heroism. Tolkien wrote “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Lewis earned fame for “The Chronicles of Narnia,” a series of children’s books now considered classics. Their tales are fundamentally about a cosmic struggle between good and evil — a theme radically out of step with the spirit of their age.
Many of the 400 postwar memoirs and novels from the 1920s and 1930s are profoundly pessimistic, focusing on the cruelty and senselessness of World War I. Erich Remarque, in his novel “All Quiet on the Western Front,” spoke for many: “Now if we go back we will be weary, broken, burnt out, rootless and without hope.”
Tolkien and Lewis, however, believed war could be fought for noble purposes. In “The Lord of the Rings,” a band of hobbits, a king born as Aragorn and the Wizard Gandalf embark on a quest to destroy the evil Ring of Power. In “The Chronicles of Narnia,” the Pevensie children are magically transported from London to Narnia and given a great task by Aslan the Lion: to rescue Narnia from despotism and restore the throne to its rightful line of kings….
Read more at … http://online.wsj.com/articles/joseph-loconte-of-hobbits-narnia-and-postwar-belief-1407453639 or http://0-search.proquest.com.oak.indwes.edu/docview/1551801582/BBFD792512004126PQ/1?accountid=6363