There are some who call the Inklings the Oxford Christians and see their work as a form of orthodox evangelism inspired by the Holy Spirit. Christians they no doubt were, each in their way, but their orthodoxy is debatable. And although we would not go out of our way to quarrel with those who hold this view, it seems an oversimplification. As I hope I have shown, when we read, so to speak, the small print of their unwritten manifesto, it is no simple orthodoxy that informs their work. It is rather a demonstration of the growth of the human spirit in a multidimensional universe that is rendered visible to us by powers of perception within the human imagination. Barfield was the great theoretician of all that this implies, but all the creative work of Lewis, Tolkien and Williams is steeped in it. This is the power behind their work, and the message that is there for us to learn.
In the work of the Inklings we have, in short, the vision and power of the ancient wisdom, the secret doctrine, call it what we will, but without the withdrawn cultishness. Such sectarian withdrawal has been a temporary aberration, imposed for historical and cultural reasons over the past three or four hundred years. But the time has come for the abandonment of enclosed fraternities, secret rites and the camp-following psychic fringe.
In the work of the Inklings it is all laid open to the world, much of it in the guise of children’s or popular literature. It is expressed and demonstrated in terms that speak directly to the imagination. We simply have to be prepared to open ourselves to it, and so play our part in the practical expression of what enclosed adepts used to call LIGHT – IN – EXTENSION.
[Concluding pages of THE MAGICAL WORLD OF THE INKLINGS by Gareth Knight. Skylight Press]
“Because of the combination of information, understanding and insight on which it is founded ‘The Magical World of the Inklings’ is more than outstanding. It is not in the same league with anything I have come across.” OWEN BARFIELD
“It is only recently that the full play of Lewis’s neo-Platonism is reaching a wider public. Nobody has more revealingly shown the occultic and mythical character of this world-view, and its influence on Lewis’s fiction, than did Gareth Knight in his superb book ‘The Magical World of the Inklings.’ DR ANDREW WALKER – Director of the Centre for Theology and Culture, King’s College, London; founder and former director of the C.S.Lewis Centre.