Cultivating Interview 1
Lancia’s Question: “Among several other titles, Diana, you’ve written two important books about C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings – the landmark study The Company They Keep and your newly released title Bandersnatch. Both books are about the inner workings of the Inklings. How do you describe the difference between the two?
Diana’s Answer: The best way to describe the difference is to tell the story of how Bandersnatch got started. I was teaching a class on the Inklings, and a student came up to me after class. She said, “Professor: you wrote The Company They Keep as if you care about every single detail of the Inklings’ lives.”
I started at her. I didn’t understand. “Yes?” I said.
“Well,” she said, “You know: not everybody does.”
Her comment was a revelation. The Company They Keep is rich in detail. It carefully documents just how much the Inklings influenced each other, and it is full of endnotes, examples, and specific citations. It includes a meticulous appendix (prepared by David Bratman) that offers a biography and an essential bibliography for all nineteen members of that extraordinary group.
On the other hand, I wrote Bandersnatch specifically in response to that very brave student. Bandersnatch is shorter, clear, and much less academic. In it, I emphasize collaboration, specifically the collaboration of Lewis and Tolkien. I chopped out the theoretical chapters and replaced them with pages and pages of material on how we can “Do What the Inklings Did.” As a result, Bandersnatch is much more focused and far more practical.
This question-and-answer is part of a larger interview conducted by Lancia Smith with Dr. Diana Glyer in January 2016 on “Cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.” To read the full interview and gain further insights into creative collaboration, click here.