Sunday, April 7, 2024

Ray Bradbury on Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

In 2023, Jonathan R. Eller edited and published a thick volume Remembrance: Selected Correspondence of Ray Bradbury, which I'm just getting around to reading.* Not much on the Tolkien and C.S. Lewis front, but there is one interesting and relevant exchange. 

Russell Kirk wrote to Bradbury on 12 September 1967, asking: 

have you been influenced at all by William Morris, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien? (p. 153)

Bradbury replied on 16 September 1967:

No, I haven't been influenced by Morris, MacDonald or Tolkien, though I have read and enjoyed Lewis' Screwtape Letters; however he has not been any influence that I know of. (p. 154-155)  
Kirk had already written on Bradbury in his 4 April 1967 column in the National Review, "From the Academy: Count Dracula and Mr. Ray Bradbury"--according to Eller, this column was reworked in Kirk's book Enemies of Permanent Things (1969). But Kirk's questions in this letter were for another piece, "The Revival of Fantasy", which appeared in Triumph, May 1968, and which was itself revised for Enemies of Permanent Things. Despite Bradbury's disavowal of influence, Kirk repeatedly compares Bradbury with Lewis and Tolkien and others. Kirk even quotes from an earlier passage out of the same Bradbury letter, but does not even hint at Bradbury's disavowal. 

* The book is very oddly arranged, and the footnotes at the back are keyed to twelve different chapters, none of which are designated in the page headers, making the reader look back to the contents page to see which chapter contains page, say, 153, and then on to the back of the book to find where the Notes to that chapter begin (again, there are no designations in the page headers to help). I can think of many punishments the designer should endure--the first being unemployment. That the copyright page credits one Ruth Lee-Mui as interior designer, as though her work is something to be proud of, is mind-boggling.