“Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship,” by Colin Duriez, attempts to tell both Tolkien and Lewis’s biographies as a single narrative, illuminating the linkages and influences they had with each other. The focus of Duriez’s writing and the events told, reflects this goal. However, to anyone who has read about either author’s life, there isn’t any new information, just different framing.
For myself, as a avid reader of all things Tokien and related to his works, the writing pertaining to Tolkien was not new…most information being available in his letters or Carpenter’s biography. So in a sense this book works more as a collection of the friendship themed bits.
I have read CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, Screwtape Letters and his Space Trilogy, but not much else…and so his life was fresh and new for me. It even helped illuminate further what I know of Tolkien and his beliefs and opinions; particularly as relates to Tolkien’s faith and influence on C.S. Lewis’ conversion.
The dual nature of this book uses each author as a foil for the other, to reveal another layer of their personalities. In this sense, even though we may already know the information, “Gift of Friendship” is a success; and finds all the ties that bind these two greats together. But the fact remains that no real new information or conclusions originate in this work.