Published on June 18th, 2012 | by TLV News0
A Broad Abroad Pt. 3: Oxford (by Sarah Reddick)
A Broad Abroad:
Local Girl Visits The U.K.
Sarah Reddick traveled to the UK in March of this year. The trip was orchestrated by Beth Spencer, a professor in the English Department at Ole Miss, and it was part of a Study Abroad course called “Fantasy Fiction in the UK.”
On one of the last days of the trip we took the train from London to Oxford, England. Our tour guide took us on a walking tour which began at Christ Church, one of the largest colleges in the University of Oxford and the Cathedral Church for the Diocese of Oxford. We also walked near both the Cherwell and Thames rivers (the Thames is known as the Isis by Oxford residents) which run through Oxford and meet south of the city. The air was cool and sweet smelling, and the trees that lined the waterways were green and in bloom.
The tour guide had some great stories about literary Oxford. Some of my favorites were about Lewis Carroll’s inspirations for Alice in Wonderland; how the shop, which is now known as Alice’s Shop and was located across from Alice’s childhood home, would always flood and that was the inspiration for the river that carried Alice away, and how the shop-keeper’s voice sounded like a sheep bleating so in the book she was made into a sheep.
I bought a pamphlet called “The Oxford of J.R.R. Tolkien & C.S. Lewis.” It points out several points in the city that are related to Lewis and Tolkien and about halfway through it says, “Take a moment to look at some of the statues and gargoyles dotted around. Are you reminded of characters from the Narnia Chronicles—is that Prince Caspian in the middle, and are those monsters in the pay of the White Witch from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?” We ate lunch at the Eagle and Child Pub, the pub where Lewis and Tolkien and their group The Inklings met regularly to drink pints and have discussions that contributed to both the Narnia books and The Lord of the Rings series.
The more I walked and looked around, the more the city itself became a character of its own instead of just a regular town with markets and residents and a marked parameter. Oxford has a magical feel to it. I wouldn’t have been surprised if some of the more impressive looking trees had pulled their roots from the ground and started walking among us like the Ents of Middle Earth.
The Bodleian Library was impressive. I went to an exhibit called Romance in the Middle Ages. There were early printings of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and several different versions of Arthurian Legends. Standing so close to those ancient manuscripts gave me actual goose bumps a few times.
On the trip back to London I relaxed on the train and reflected on the trip as a whole and I was so glad that we’d been able to see Oxford. I would love to go back there one day and spend a lot more time discovering the city.
This article was published in The Local Voice #158 (June 14-28, 2012)…Click here to download the PDF of issue #158.