- Aug 21, 2010
The American college professor Clyde Kilby (1902-1986) met Tolkien in 1964 and in 1966 spent the summer in Oxford, seeing Tolkien two or three times a week for one to three hours at a time, giving the 74-year-old Tolkien encouragement that The Silmarillion was indeed worthy of publication, but not succeeding in getting Tolkien truly committed to preparing a submiittable manuscript. Kilby told the story in Tolkien and The Silmarillion (1976), which is basically reprinted in a new book, A Well of Wonder: Essays on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings. Kilby's portrait of Tolkien is vivid and entertaining. They hit it right off although I wonder if Kilby would have committed to the summer if he had known how little they would have to show for it. Whether you get a used copy of the 1976 book or get hold of the 2016 book, you should treat yourself to these pages if you are at all interested in Tolkien the man. The 2016 book contains some very well-grounded discussion of Tolkien's fantasy. Tolkien was a key figure in the promotion of Tolkien in the 1960s and 1970s in America, giving the keynote address -- which I take it is what's reprinted in the 2016 book as "The Lost Myth and Literary Imagination," previously available in print, so far as I know, only in an obscure journal -- at a 1968 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee conference on imaginary worlds, I suppose one of the first academic-type gatherings on sf and fantasy.