Imagination, Storytelling,
and Film

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2006 Tolkien Conference

2004 Summer Conference

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"I left the fairy tales lying on the floor of the nursery, and I have not found any books so sensible since." – G.K. Chesterton, "The Ethics of Elfland", Orthodoxy

"Every high culture has seen man as the center of the world, as the mediator who brings together in himself matter and spirit, intuition and concept, the embodiment of soul and its transcendence of the bodily. For the high cultures, man unites outward grace and inward gravity: He is inescapably bound to an expressive form that belongs to the world of the senses, yet this very form becomes -- when lifted into the sphere of rational speech -- a flexible instrument of freedom. Between these clearly delineated extremes, though, there always lies -- implicitly grasped, yet half-forgotten -- another power that holds everything together and is the medium by which each extreme enters into the other. On the one hand, it creatively draws the sensible into the unity of a contoured whole, which the intellect, receptive and active, can recognize as a 'significant figure' [Gestalt]. On the other hand, it creatively incarnates the intelligible in images. We are, of course, speaking of the imagination, or, as the word’s German equivalent, Ein-bildungs-kraft (Paraclesus’s translation of the Greek phantasia and the Latin imaginatio), suggests, the 'en-imaging power.' This miracle of mediation has to do its work for there to be any properly human (which means sensible and spiritual at once) looking." – Hans Urs von Balthasar


New book
Secret Fire: The Spiritual Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien
by Stratford Caldecott

Secret Fire explores the range and depth of Tolkien's vision in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. It also draws extensively on some of his most remarkable and little-known writings. It explains the importance for Tolkien of the intimate relationship between Elves and Men, and unveils the true meaning of the mysterious "Secret Fire", served by both Gandalf and Tolkien.

Read some reviews


Oxford Tolkien Conference

Proceedings of the Oxford Tolkien conference now published!

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – Sources of Inspiration

edited by Stratford Caldecott and Thomas Honegger

Published by Walking Tree Books

Blog on the Tolkien conference at Exeter College


Summer Conference

Landscapes with Angels
Fantasy, Children's Literature and the Spiritual Role of the Imagination
12 to 15 August 2004



A short selections of essays and articles relating to imagination, storytelling, and film