How Meilaender Counts

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 86, Autumn 2000 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

by Perry Bramlett

Things That Count: Essays Moral and Theological by Gilbert Meilaender (ISI Books, 394 pp, hc, $24.95)

This book contains one chapter titled “C. S. Lewis and a Theology of the Everyday”, and two chapters which are reviews of books written about Lewis: “Psychoanalyzing C. S. Lewis” (the Wilson biography), and “C. S. Lewis Reconsidered” (J. Beversluis’ C. S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion). In the Wilson review, Prof. Meilaender writes: “Two other features of this biography deserve some mention, since they are, for me at least, troubling. One is a a matter of tone. I have already said several times that Wilson’s writing is lively, readable, witty, and enjoyable. It is also snide and condescending. Very few people are mentioned without that tone of voice creeping through… (*Here Meilaender mentions Wilson’s comments about Roger Lancelyn Green, Hooper, and J. B. Phillips.) Similarly, Wilson very quickly dismisses the questions raised recently by Kathryn Lindskoog in The C. S. Lewis Hoax, asserting incorrectly that her central thesis “has been disproved.” In brief, Lindskoog argues that Hooper systematically misrepresented his relationship with Lewis, making it appear much closer that it could possibly have been, and she claims that “The Dark Tower” (a posthumously published fragment of a story) is a forgery not actually written by Lewis. There are other elements in Lindskoog’s web of arguments, some more persuasive than others, some eccentric. But there is nothing there to warrant Wilson’s description of it as “one of the most vitriolic personal attacks on a fellow scholar… that I have ever read in print” – especially not for a man as widely read as Wilson. Moreover, he clearly accepts several of Lindskoog’s claims: that Hooper could only have known Lewis for a few weeks before Lewis’s death and that he has changed his handwriting over the years so that it closely resembles Lewis’s own.”