Tolkien Vs. Lewis: The Fight for Middle-Narnia

In this week’s bonus blog we take another look at Tolkien in a much more serious way.  I probably shouldn’t be doing a bonus blog seeing as I keep whining about not having enough questions, but I just can’t help myself.  And as this question came from a comment on one of my previous posts, I feel justified in using it as a bonus blog.  So keep the questions coming friends! (Seriously.  Do it.) And I promise next week I’ve got another Roleplaying question for anyone who’s wondering where they all went.  But for now, let’s turn our attention to what’s really important in life:

Who would win in a fight? Tolkein or Lewis?

This is probably one of the most important questions I’ve ever answered in my entire life, so I’ll try and do it justice.  Whenever we attempt to predict the outcome of a fight we need to take a long, hard look at the combatants and what they’re bringing to the table both physically and mentally.  So let’s start with Tolkien.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

What do we know about Tolkien?

  1. He had a tea club as a teenager (kind of lame)
  2. He wooed his 19 yearold future wife when he was 16 (pretty awesome)
  3. He made his wife convert to Catholicism (super manly)
  4. He to tried to avoid entering WWI in favor of getting educated (pansy)
  5. He was a codebreaker in WWII (nerd)
  6. He hated his hippie fans (badass)

Clive Staples Lewis

What are the facts about Lewis?

  1. He was Irish (for the win)
  2. He was a obsessed with anthropormorphic aniamls (the first furry??)
  3. He LEFT school to fight in WWI (a man’s man)
  4. He was convinced by Tolkien to convert to Christianity from atheism (super dissapointing)
  5. He was a Christian Apologist (lamer than lame)
  6. He wrote far inferior books (sorry, but it’s true)

When we compare the two men, it’s a tough call.  Tolkien was clearly more of an intellectual fighter, capable of converting his wife and swaying an atheist into believing in God.  His books were masterful, further evidence of the great prowess of his mind.  However, he clearly wasn’t much of a physical fighter.  He tried to skip out on the war instead of defending his country, opted for nerd duty in WWII.  But he did hate hippies, and anyone that hates hippies has at least some fight in them.

Lewis on the other hand was a natural born fighter.  An Irish scrapper, he was dead set on volunteering to fight for England in WWI (he even HATED England, which just goes to show how badly he wanted to shoot someone).  Examining his mind though, he comes up a bit short next to Tolkien.  He was forced to write for children because he didn’t posess the keen insight and intellect necessary to create a new mythos for the world.  On top of this, he was actually convinced by Tolkien that God existed, so much so that he wrote all about how rational it was to be Christian.  Either he was kind of a dummy, or Tolkien was a masterful debater, either way, it doesn’t bode well for Lewis.

What we’re left with is a clear battle of wits against muscle.  I have reconstructed the battle for you as it would have most likely unfolded:


John heard Clive’s familiar footsteps entering his study, and a moment later he could smell the sweet musk of his man power and stale whiskey. 

“Hey,” Clive said.  “What do you think?”

John looked up from his writings, and groaned.  Clive was poorly wrapped in animal furs; cow and sheep from the look of it, and covering his face was cheap lion mask.

“How many times must I tell you, you’re never going to be a lion, Clive!  If you want to pretend go back to the schoolyard!”

“I can be a lion if I want!” Clive yelled.

John took a breath, and calmed his voice.  “My friend, you need to give up on this fantasy.  We can’t go around pretending anymore.  We’re grown men.  I’ve got my novel, and you’ve got your picture book.”

“It’s not a god damned picture book!” Clive roared.  “You never listen to me!”  The Lion swung back a paw and swatted at John; a gentle cuff across the cheek, just enough to let the man know it was time for him to shut up.

John jumped from his chair, pipe dangling from his lips.  “You’d better watch yourself Clive, I’ve had just about enough of your childishness.”

“Are you seriously threatening me?” the Lion asked.

John put up his fists, taking an awkward fighting stance, surveying his friend in silence.

The Lion laughed and leapt onto the older man.  John tumbled to the floor, his teeth clamped onto his precious pipe to keep it from escaping, while Clive’s hands pinned his shoulders down.  John reached out in a lame attempt to shove Clive off of him, clawing at the mask, seeking an eye to jab.

“Give it up,” the Lion said with a chuckle.

Then with a puff, John blew through the end of his pipe, sending a cloud of ash into the eyeholes of the mask.

Lewis jumped back shaking his head, swaying blindly.  John stood, dusted himself off, and hissed at Clive,  “I survived two wars, and I’m not about to let some immature man push me around.”

Clive, his back to John, was quiet for a moment.  Then he whipped his head around, throwing the full force of his Lion stare at John.  “I am no man,” he said, and a hairy fist sailed through the air. 

It connected hard with John’s nose, and bloood sprayed across Clive’s clenched fist. 

“You idiot,” John said, clutching his face.  “You broke my damn nose!”

“Whatever.  That’s what lions do.  Break noses.  Or something.  I’m leaving.”  He turned and swaggered toward the door, but stopped in the doorframe.  “And John.  One more thing: Frodo’s a bitch.”

– The Dungeon Master

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14 Responses to Tolkien Vs. Lewis: The Fight for Middle-Narnia

  1. Pingback: A Few of My Favorite Things… | Answers to Life, the Universe and Roleplaying

  2. Gabriel Gast says:

    Tolkien taught himself Finnish at the age of 9 or 12 (I forget which) because he thought it sounded cool, and this language was the basis of Elven, which strikes me as pretty awesome. I am perplexed by the position that Tolkien could be manly for converting someone to a religion, but the convert is disappointing for allowing himself to be converted. If it is merely a matter of which had more power over other men C. S. Lewis probably converted more people through his apologetics alone than Tolkien ever did through any means. But you claim Lewis is lamer than lame for excelling at a type of activity that Tolkien must have engaged in to convince Lewis. Perhaps like the head vampire in “Lost Boys” Tolkien gets the credit of power over all of Lewis’s converts. Though if any of the vampires are lost the head vampire is either the most lost or equally lost, not the least lost or unlost. Yet you repeatedly claim as evident that Christianity is a lost religion. That belief in God is a lost belief. Tolkien at best is a lost head Christian, no better than a lost head vampire. So I am perplexed as to what righteousness you declare Tolkien as metaphysically superior before the physical fight he so amicably loses. The fight he would win if reality confined its outcomes to benefiting those who are not lost, who are following the true path or true way to the true goal.

    • Ask the DM says:

      I have a heiarchy of thought, at the top of which is Freedom of Thought and at the bottom of which is Imposed Thought (Freedom of Thought does not need to contradict God). The reason I see Tolkien as dominating Mentally is not so much that he was able to convert Lewis, so much that Atheism is slightly higher in the hierarchy than Catholicism is, which means Tolkien excercised a significant amount of power over Lewis, or Lewis was a particularly weak-minded person.

      I have no indication of the beliefs, thoughts or cultural background of the people Lewis converted, so this information cannot be used to inform the above senario. It’s a mistake to believe the above fight has anything to do with God or Metaphysics. Strength of Mind merely refers to force of Will, and and strength of character. I believe Tolkien was more comfortable in who he was. Lewis was more of lost soul seeking answers, seeking belief, seeking hope, etc. While that’s not to say that seeking is a sign of weakness, I do see weakness in the seeker who attempts to impose his will on others. The imposition reflects a defecit in their own soul, which to me, comes from a weakness of the Will.

      I don’t see anything superior about Tolkien’s beliefs, merely his strength of Will, and strength of Will for me translates into strength of intellect.

  3. RheJul says:

    Ah, life-long question settled. Won 50 bucks on a bet. Best Day Ever!!!

  4. Baldric says:

    The bit about the broken nose reminded me of this: “Priscilla Tolkien says that on one occasion her father, J R R Tolkien, was talking with some friends in a bar in Ireland, and said, “The tail of a properly written yogh goes off like this!” He made a dramatic sweep with his hand and struck the nose of the man next to him, a complete stranger. He turned to the man and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I hope you are not hurt, I was just explaining that the tail of a yogh goes off like this.” He then hit the man in the nose again. Fortunately, according to Miss Tolkien, the Irish find it quite reasonable that scholars should be a little crazy, and the man was quite understanding.”

  5. Runeslinger says:

    This post was funnier than this comment makes it seem.

  6. Grace says:

    Great post! I’m trying to decide whether Tolkein and I would actually get along. He’d probably think I’m too much of a hippie, but I’d invite him to share some tea anyway…

    • Ask the DM says:

      i think he would have been a blast to get drunk and debate with. i don’t think i would have wanted to be best friends with either of them, but i love lively debates with intelligent people that i disagree with.

  7. Darren says:

    “That’s what Lion’s do.”


    In other news, I lolled at this post.

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