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About the Author

Philip Zaleski is senior editor of Parabola magazine. He teaches religion at Smith College Andre Dubus III teaches writing at Tufts University and Emerson College


Works by Philip Zaleski

Associated Works

A Christian woman's secret : a modern-day journey to God (2009) — Foreword, some editions — 8 copies


Common Knowledge




MaresaK | 1 other review | Dec 6, 2022 |
I’ve always been a fan of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. When I was younger, I loved The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters. While I knew little about the other members of the famed mid-twentieth century Oxford-based group, the Inklings, I loved the idea of their gatherings.

I’ve read enough biographies to know that no one is perfect. Even the very good-hearted and sincere make a lot of mistakes, and they often aren’t treated well. In the case of the Inklings, they didn’t have the easy, fun-filled lives I imagined drinking beer and tramping through beautiful English landscapes while discussing their ideas for fantasy. Okay, they did do those things, but it turns out it wasn’t easy and was often anything but fun-filled for each of them.

That the members were numerous and in flux and that they excluded women (even those they respected and liked) was surprising. While I enjoyed getting to know each of them, it was like getting to know anyone. I quickly discovered things that disappointed me.

While I liked the young Tolkien, the young C.S. Lewis made me nervous. They seemed to cross psychological paths in late life, with Tolkien becoming more ornery and Lewis more relaxed. Owen Barfield and Charles Williams were complete surprises to me. I found both more interesting individuals than either Tolkien or Lewis.

That Christianity and writing were the glue that tied them all together also surprised me somewhat. I had been under the impression that they were a group of co-workers who liked one another. Living as I do, in the 21st century, it surprised me that religion was so frowned upon in academic circles that far back. And this is why I read: to learn.

Philip and Carol Zaleski certainly did their research. The book itself was long. At times, the detail about all the members’ thoughts and writing was a bit too dense for me. I’m not a language nor literature scholar, and some of the philosophy and theology were over my head. Still, I enjoyed learning more about what went into creating some of my favorite novels. As a result of reading this book, I plan to explore the works of Barfield and Williams.
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Library_Lin | 10 other reviews | Mar 10, 2022 |
Very detailed accounts of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams. Tolkien and Lewis are the only ones I was familiar with. I learned a lot about their childhood, family and lives. Religion played a huge part in their lives.
nx74defiant | 10 other reviews | Mar 27, 2021 |
A wonderful, thought provoking collection of essays and poetry! I got it in particular to read Christian Wiman's essay "Love Bade me Welcome," (which funny enough you can find online), but so many were delightful and challenging. I so wish I had more time to stew and chew and reflect on them more.
nrt43 | 3 other reviews | Dec 29, 2020 |



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Paul J. Griffiths Contributor
Scott Cairns Contributor
Joseph Epstein Contributor
Natalie Goldberg Contributor, Introduction
Philip Levine Contributor
Rick Bass Contributor
Barry Lopez Contributor
Joseph Bottum Contributor
Christian Wiman Contributor
Richard Rodriguez Contributor
Pico Iyer Contributor
Stephen M. Barr Contributor
Kate Farrell Contributor
Billy Collins Introduction, Contributor
C. K. Williams Contributor
Philip Yancey Contributor, Introduction
Phyllis Rose Contributor
Madeleine L'Engle Contributor
Patricia Hampl Introduction
Stephen V. Doughty Contributor
Nancy Mairs Contributor
Rick Fields Contributor
Frederick Franck Contributor
Rodger Kamenetz Contributor
William Meredith Contributor
Luci Shaw Contributor
David Steindl-Rast Contributor
Marc Gellman Contributor
Dick Allen Contributor
Ptolemy Tompkins Contributor
Edward Hirsch Contributor
Marvin Barrett Contributor
Léonie Caldecott Contributor
Anne Lamott Contributor
Francine Prose Contributor
Thomas Moore Contributor
Huston Smith Contributor
Rick Moody Contributor
Noelle Oxenhandler Contributor
Andre Dubus Contributor
Cynthia Ozick Contributor
Gretel Ehrlich Contributor
Lawrence Shainberg Contributor
Reynolds Price Contributor
Joseph Bruchac Contributor
Peter Everwine Contributor
Ben Birnbaum Contributor
Jason Shinder Contributor
Nancy Lord Contributor
J. Scott Turner Contributor
John Coats Contributor
Sally Thomas Contributor
Hamza Yusuf Contributor
James Loney Contributor
Mathew N. Schmalz Contributor
Adam Minter Contributor
Nick Samaras Contributor
Heather King Contributor
Ursula K. Le Guin Contributor
Noah Feldman Contributor
Kurt Shaw Contributor
David James Duncan Contributor
Jimmy Carter Introduction
Wendell Berry Contributor
Maxine Kumin Contributor
Robert Pinsky Contributor
Thomas Lynch Contributor
Paul Elie Contributor
Walter Isaacson Contributor
John Updike Contributor
Oliver Sacks Contributor
Charles Wright Contributor
Kathleen Norris Introduction
Larry Woiwode Contributor
Harvey Cox Introduction
Melissa Range Contributor
Anita Sullivan Contributor
Nancy Willard Contributor
Robert Miola Contributor
Philip Schultz Contributor
Ruth R. Wisse Contributor
Coleman Barks Contributor
Robert D. Kaplan Contributor
Robert Cording Contributor
Richard Wilbur Contributor
Edward Hoagland Contributor
Bruce Lawrie Contributor
Marilyn Nelson Contributor
Nancy Honicker Contributor
Jesse Kellerman Contributor
Terry Teachout Contributor
Joel E. Cohen Contributor
Michael Haederle Contributor
Alice Lok Cahana Contributor
Stephen Prothero Introduction
Algis Valiunas Contributor
John Berger Contributor
Joe Hoover Contributor
Evan Osnos Contributor
Jill Noel Kandel Contributor
Noa Jones Contributor
Sam Jacobson Contributor
Marilynne Robinson Contributor
Mark Jarman Contributor
Robert Bly Contributor
George Steiner Contributor
Betsy Sholl Contributor
BK Loren Contributor
A. G. Harmon Contributor
Ron Rosenbaum Contributor
Andrew Cooper Contributor
Katharine Coles Contributor
Peter J. Boyer Contributor
David Novak Contributor
Paul Myers Contributor
Eamon Grennan Contributor
Sherod Santos Contributor
Tony Hiss Contributor
Karen An-hwei Lee Contributor
John Curless Narrator


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