B is for J. A. W. Bennett (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

B is for J. A. W. Bennett.

Post #2 on the Inklings!

Bennett isn't, strictly speaking, an Inkling. He was a Fellow at Oxford and a Professor at Cambridge. He sometimes turned up at an Inklings, and one day apparently happened to be in C. S. Lewis' rooms during the following incident between Lewis and an Australian student:
"And on another occasion when an Australian student professed that he could never read Arnold's Sohrab and Rustum, and refused to admit its good qualities even after Lewis had chanted a hundred lines of it at him, Lewis declared, 'The sword must settle it!' and reached for a broadsword and a rapier [which] were inexplicably in the corner of the room. They fenced -- Lewis of course choosing the broadsword -- and, said Bennett, 'Lewis actually drew blood -- a slight nick.'"

We used one of Bennett's reference books (oh, how I miss my books in storage!) in my Middle English class at university. It was a seminar class, a higher level class taken by a handful of undergraduates who didn't necessarily have to choose that class towards their degree; you would assume that everyone there was there because they had chosen to study Middle English.

And yet. Students being what they are, there were still kids who acted like fools. I remember one boy showing up to class on the Monday that a paper was due, saying he needed an extension because he hadn't been able to finish the essay, since he'd had a "swim meet on Saturday morning"!

I'm sure the professor felt like using Lewis' broadsword on him, and I could almost wish he had! As far as I remember, he didn't cave in, and did lower the kid's grade, though he didn't fail him utterly.

It's a shame no one got a photo of Lewis brandishing a sword. In his stead, here's Reepicheep the valiant Mouse:

Have you ever wielded a sword?


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