The Lewis Legacy-Issue 73, Summer 1997 Other Articles

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 73, Summer 1997 The C. S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing


C. S. Lewis is suddenly one of Ireland’s favorite sons. The C. S. Lewis Centenary Group of Belfast has already produced a handsome 16-page full-color booklet about a variety of Lewis landmarks (available free from Tourist Information Centre, 34 Quay Street, Bangor, Northern Ireland BT20 5ED. Tel:01247 270069, Fax: 01247 274466). It is a wonderfully informative little album, and it features a map of Lewis sites that can be easily visited. In the summer of 1998 there will be guided tours from the Lewis family’s church, St. Marks, which will have special weekday hours for centenary visitors. In August 1998 Belfast will host a conference titled “C. S. Lewis, Irishman,” and a life-size sculpture of Lewis is planned for the city. Furthermore, the Irish Post Office will issue a special series of C.S. Lewis postage stamps.


When a child tells you a story that is not true, then tells you again and again, trying to make you believe it, details are added to try to make you see it. If the story is believed, the child gains in power and status over his peers or over his parents: in their eyes he is the one who did something brave or clever, or who took part in something unusual, or saw something unusual. The child gains in status if the story is believed. Do you remember a “Dr. Seuss” book called And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street? The father asks the child if he saw anything interesting on his way home from school (those were the days when it was safe for a child to walk home). At first the little boy remembered seeing only a man with a horse and cart going along Mulberry Street, but the story did not seem interesting enough, so as he told it, he added some small details, then more and more. In the final version of the story, we see a circus filling the street with clowns and acrobats and jugglers and fantastic beasties, and all the bangs and whistles of an enthusiastic parade. Then you turn the page of the book, and the father asks the little boy if he had seen nothing to make his heart beat. The child comes down to earth and says that what he saw was a horse and cart going along Mulberry Street.

When you hear Walter Hooper telling a story that would make him grow in status, look for independent documentary evidence. If you cannot find it, think “Mulberry Street”.

I wish I were a better proof-reader. Mere trying doesn’t seem to make any difference.

C.S. Lewis to Sister Penelope, 8 October, 1958


Shortly after Kathryn Lindskoog, Clyde Kilby, and Warren Lewis inquired in vain about The Dark Tower, so did a London researcher studying space/time fiction. She wrote hopefully to Jocelyn Gibb, Managing Director of Geoffrey Bles, Lewis’s publishers. “Jock” Gibb was the person to ask, because he knew the Lewis brothers professionally and personally.

Feb 16th 1968

Dear Sir, I am currently engaged upon full-term research into the fiction of the late C. S. Lewis. My field is the ‘space trilogy’ and its relation to other 20th century space/time fiction. I note (from the Preface to Of Other Worlds-CS Lewis (Bles 1966) that there is a fourth, unpublished romance about Dr. Ransom. Naturally, it would be most valuable to me were I able to read this. I write to ask if you could advise me as to how I might consult this work, and any other unpublished material which may be relevant. I should be most grateful for any help you are able to give me.

Yours faithfully, (Miss) Ann Cheetham (King’s College, London)

Unfortunately, the lady received a disappointing reply. Gibb answered on 15th February that he knew about the unpublished Ransom story, “but I do not think it was in a very advanced state when he died. [Evidently he had not seen it.] I suggest that you might write to the Reverend Walter Hooper, Wadham College, Oxford, the editor of the collection Of Other Worlds…”


In 1940 Lewis published four poems in a Cambridge University Press anthology titled Fear No More: A Book of Poems by Living English Poets for the Present Time. Three of the poems by Lewis were “Break, Sun, My Crusted Earth,” “The World Is Round,” and “Arise My Body.” It is only reasonable to assume that Lewis intended to include all four in the collection he was planning at the end of his life, Poems, but they are not there. Right after Lewis died, Walter Hooper edited Poems. There “Break, Sun, My Crusted Earth” was changed to “A Pageant Played in Vain” — twice as long, with the meaning gone. The three interlocking stanzas had been extremely unified, logical, and coherent. But “Pageant” is illogical, shapeless and fragmented, like an egg that was dropped on the floor. It seems as if “Break, Sun” was expanded by someone who didn’t see what it meant. In Poems “The World Is Round” (the ideal title) was inexplicably changed to “A Poem for Psychoanalysts and/or Theologians,” and 12 of the 19 lines are altered, not for the better. “Arise My Body” has been changed to “After Prayers, Lie Cold,” with many changes in the lines, most of them regrettable. At last, in his 1996 book C. S. Lewis: Companion and Guide, Walter Hooper attempts to explain the provenance of “A Pageant Played in Vain,” “A Poem for Psychoanalysts and/or Theologians,” and “After Prayers, Lie Cold.” He says they were written first, and the poems in Fear No More were later revisions. But if Hooper really believes that claim, why does he leave “Break, Sun” and the other two out of Collected Poems (1994)? His usual excuse for excluding the best versions is that they were not the latest.


For your delight here is the list of stations of the “Cantab Crawler,” the train Lewis took between Oxford and Cambridge. (The double-barrelled names have Norman and Anglo-Saxon elements. Many of them would sound at home on a map of Middle Earth.)

Port Meadow, Wolvercote, Oxford Road, Islip, Oddington, Charlton, Wendlebury, Bicester, Launton, Marsh Gibbon and Poundon, Claydon, Verney, Winslow, Swanbourne, Bletchley, Fenny Stratford, Bow Brickhill, Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise, Husborne Crawley, Ridgmont, Lidlington, Millbrook for Ampthill, Wootton Pillinge, Kempston Hardwicke, Kennyston, Williston, Blunham, Sandy Junction, Potton, Gamlingay.

In Lewis’s day the journey took two hours, the same as a hundred years before. The line was closed in 1967, in spite of local protest. Today the journey by road takes three hours.


Mike Partridge recently suggested on the MACDONALD e-mail list that C.S.Lewis may have been influenced by a passage on p. 86 of George MacDonald’s Lilith: “having made their faces masks, were they therefore deprived of those masks, and condemned to go without faces until they repented.”Dale Nelson recently suggested on the MERELEWIS e-mail list: “Everyone remembers the Sorn, the at-first eerie creature that lives in a Malacandrian cave (Out of the Silent Planet). Sir Walter Scott’s The Heartof Mid-Lothian, a novel Lewis liked, includes in passing (chapter 15) a reference to ‘a haunted cavern in Sorn in Galloway.'”

In Light in the Shadowlands you claim that Nellie, (“Knellie”in The Dark Tower) is a term for a homosexual. I checked it in The Lavender Lexicon (1965): “Nellie / Nelly: An effeminate, affected homosexual who makes public display of his homosexuality.” Because that description fits Knellie perfectly, it seems to prove your point. But there is more According to the 1984 edition of Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (ed. Paul Beale), Nellie was originally American slang and was partially adopted into British English circa 1945. It seems unlikely that Lewis would have injected this American slang into a British novel in 1939. But it seems likely that in the 1960s an American forger with a keen interest in the subject of homosexuality could have blundered into this apparent transatlantic anachronism.

Name withheld, CA

Just received the latest Lewis Legacy. How ironic that the “Waltered” version of CSL’s poem will be chiseled into stone at Magdalen College.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, OR

Thanks for your message about my owning your Creative Writing. Yes, I’m an ENFJ professor of mathematics. But I’m not quite typical. I’m also a professional harpsichordist and organist. Next year I’ll teach “Fantasy Novels of Lewis and Williams,” which will be my third foray into teaching English literature (the previous ones were “The Idea of the Hero in Literature,” taught in individual sections but by a team of five of us, and “The Novels of Charles Williams”). And after all, Williams College is definitely liberal arts. So perhaps the ENFJ is less surprising.

Victor Hill, Williamstown, MA


I hope your health permits you to continue providing your important contributions to the Lewis legacy

William J. McClain, Philadelphia, PA

The late Bruno Bettelheim claimed to have been an intimate friend and student of Sigmund Freud. However, his life has been thoroughly investigated recently, most harshly in Richard Pollak’s book The Creation of Dr. B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim (Simon & Schuster, 478 pp., $28), and it has been clearly established that many of Bettelheim’s claims about himself were false. His degree was not in psychology, psychoanalysis, medicine, or psychiatry, but aesthetics. Not only he never studied under Freud: he never met Freud. It all sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Perhaps this phenomenon is more widespread than we have supposed.

Benjamin Urrutia, Chicago, IL

In the June/July issue [74] of First Things I came across an article by Molly Finn entitled “In the Case of Bruno Bettelheim,” concerning that so-called child psychiatrist’s grandiose fraud and incredible immunity from defection. The current issue of Catholic World Report includes two short pieces by Walter Hooper – “The Other Oxford Movement” (pp.30-32) and “Owen Barfield, the First Inkling” (pp. 33-34). The content of the two articles seems harmless enough, but the by-line perpetuates the myth that Hooper was “C. S. Lewis’s personal secretary in his last years.” It’s a superb publication in every respect, but Lewis’s “personal secretary” is a great “prize” for the Catholic Church, so who’s going to quibble over a few sticky details regarding dates and bonfires and questionable mss.?

Richard Becker, Mishawaka, IN

Editor’s note: Richard Becker comments as a committed Roman Catholic. The review of The Creation of Dr. B in First Things is fascinating, as the book itself must be. On p. 8 of this issue there is an excerpt about Bettelheim from Lindskoog’s 1993 book Fakes, Frauds, and Other Malarkey.

I first read DT about three years ago, not being aware at that time that there was any question about some of its contents. I could see why Jack would not have published it or even cared to finish it. The pseudo-scientific jargon in the beginning doesn’t “feel” like Lewis at all. The whole explanation of the “chronoscope” is just plain bad. Lewis wrote as a man interested in language and philosophy; I don’t recall him blundering about foolishly in areas where he knew he had little depth of knowledge. Orfieu says, “…But we see that the future is perfectly certain. Dunne’s book proved that-” Even Ransom doesn’t object, which I find very out of character. I do not believe that Jack believed in Determinism. Why would he base a story on something he didn’t believe in? As you pointed out, the whole story is dark. Even Screwtape and the passage in Perelandra where the Un-man rips up the frog-like creatures, although they aptly convey the darkness of evil, don’t have this feeling. Also, I found the whole character of Knellie, what we read of him, to be in poor taste, especially calling Lewis Lu-Lu. I also found Fairy Hardcastle in That Hideous Strength incredibly distasteful, but at least I could see why Lewis had included her in the story. Knellie seems to have no purpose; in fact, the whole story itself doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. (It reminds me of my ridiculous attempts at fiction writing for my own amusement. I get so caught up in details that I lose sight of what’s supposed to be going on. It always turns out to be all minutiae and no plot. I do much better with essays and research papers. But a seasoned writer like Jack should never sound like a worse-than-amateur writer like me, even on a string of “bad days.”)

Lisa Koehler, Macon, GA

I finished John West’s book The Politics of Revelation and Reason [announced in Legacy 70] and consider it well-researched, thought provoking and a bit revisionist. As a former political science student at Wheaton, his book was right up my alley and I plan on writing a review.

David Mortimer, Chicago, IL

When I read your essay about C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, and Sundar Singh [Legacy 69], I’d already been struck by the similarities between Sundar Singh and George MacDonald. It’s almost as if the former had been planted in fertile foreign soil and allowed to blossom afresh. Some of the connections are remarkable. I don’t know all the rights and wrongs of the [hoax] issues but will argue strongly for your right to raise the questions (and superficially there does seem to be a case to answer). And I have to confess to being slightly dismayed at the attitude of certain “keepers of the flame.”At times it seems as if profit has become more important than truth. I wonder what Jack would have made of it all?

Mike Partridge, Wilmslow, England

I am very suspicious of the various silences and ad hominem attacks that have been passed off as answers to your questions. To be quite honest, I wonder if the truth will ever come out. I’ve had some small experience with people who had a vested interest in keeping up a lie, and I am no longer as naive as I once was. The truth will surely win in eternity, but unfortunately, falsehoods do quite well in the present. One thing I strongly believe-truth has nothing to fear from honest inquiry. Questions that are asked ought to be answered. And I DON’T think that searching for and insisting upon truth is devisive and non-Christian.

Lisa Koehler, Macon, GA

The 1932 Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Walter Durante, the New York Times correspondent in Moscow. He reported that Stalin’s farm collectivization program was a success and that the defendants in the show trials were genuinely guilty. A prize hoax. J. J. Thompson took exclusive credit for discovering the charge on the electron with his famous oil drop experiment. The experiment was actually conceived and performed by one of his pupils. A famous professor with government funding used to pad his bibliography by publishing the same paper with minor variations using different titles in different scientific journals. (My advisor did this too, for 20 years.) His only book was junk. Although he was a full professor with tenure, he was fired. after his chairman retired. In his 2 September 1958 letter to Jane Gaskell Lewis states that fictional names should be beautiful, suggestive, strange, and not odd. In his 29 December 1958 letter to Mrs. Hook he says he is always concatenating unrelated syllables to find names. In Surprised by Laughter (pp.214-217) Terry Lindvall discusses some of Lewis’s invented names. In contrast, “The Big Brain” is highly unimaginative.

James Long, Sunnyvale,CA

I like “The End of the Wine” very much. I agree with several of your comments on Walter’s changes. The bagpipes are really unfortunate. The braided hair suggests high refinement, where as flower-like hair is vague but suggests a state of unspoiled nature-not what the context calls for. I think that in the Lemurian memories the lines are best with greater smoothness, leaving CSL’s clauses intact. I think the descriptions of the barbarians, however, are better somewhat rough and as Walter has them Are Atlantis and Lemuria generally considered the same thing? In Theosophical theology they point to different continents (Lemuria is in the Pacific) whose respective demises were thousands of years apart.

Gracia Fay Ellwood, Altadena, CA

* The original 1944 edition of Sister Penelope’s translation of Athanasius’ De Incarnatione had an introduction by CSL and Sister Penelope’s dedication to Lewis. The 1981 edition has Penelope’s translation of Athanasius and CSL’s Introduction, but Penelope’s dedication to Lewis is missing. Instead, there is a Preface by You Know Who! It is pages of typically SILLY stuff: how well Walter Hooper had known her, how well she had known him. She even had a dream once about Walter Hooper. When she was dying, he says, he rushed over to hold her hand. The Preface mentioned that she had translated and written a number of books, but the bulk of the several pages was about how she had a sweet speaking voice, and when she was retired she kept ducks who were named for the Church Fathers. I have never before come across a Preface to a translated work that was about the translator and the writer of the preface-certainly not on the level of ducks! How patronizing! Would Hooper have treated a male translator that way? According to my experiment and calculations, it would have taken Hooper well over 20 hours to type the Dark Tower fragment. Why would he have done all that work before showing the story to Lewis’s friends like Roger Lancelyn Green and Alastair Fowler, who were perfectly able to read Lewis’s handwriting? They only saw typed copies. I’m sure I saw Mattson walking in central Oxford last Sunday morning April 20th. He didn’t see me. He was striding along in a hurry, in a direction away from where Hooper lives. He looked as someone does when they are moving through a half-familiar town, mentally going over directions to find their way: big strides, head up, eyes darting.

Name withheld, UK

I have always admired VanAuken’s A Severe Mercy; it blends so well three of my favorite interests: literature, theology, and biography. I first read it in a theology class in college over 15 years ago, and have returned to it at least a half dozen times since then-often sharing it with my friends and people with whom I come in contact. I think it was VanAuken’s book which first introduced me to Lewis, who I have enjoyed reading, but most of my reading was done early in my academic life when as a freshman and sophomore in college, I was attracted to Lewis as a formidable logician-the epitome of the life of the mind. In my later college years, and in both of my grad programs in theology, Lewis was considered too pedestrian to be taken very seriously by most of the people I studied with. He was considered a good read by laypersons at best, at least with respect to his theological works. However, over the last two years, I have found myself going back to Lewis-esp. his fiction-which I think is his most powerful and best work. I see him more holistically now. Rather than simply a great mind, I have found a more complete personality, capability of immense sensitivity and feeling-surely Lewis was a very complex personality indeed!

Bryon McLoughlin, Kansas City, KA

Enjoyed the last Legacy immensely, especially the piece about Carlos Castaneda. What a hoot!

Darek Barefoot, Grand Junction, CO

Carlos Castaneda’s using cactus fibre as thread and Prickly Pear thorn as needle recalls MacDonald’s protagonist in Lilith, who uses Prickley Pear fibre as thread and a plant thorn as a needle to sew a garment for Lilith when he finds her naked. So either both writers drew on a recognized practice or Castaneda would seem to be borrowing from MacDonald. You associate War in Heaven with the writer of Revelation. I have never come across that attribution before. Williams’ account seems to derive from Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parcival.

John Docherty, Forest Row, England

I am happy to have this chance to tell you how much I’ve appreciated your work in Hoax and Shadowlands. I’ve also enjoyed and learned some lessons from your book For Those Who Can’t Not Write. You make reading fun, as it should be but unfortunately isn’t always. I won’t pretend to understand all the details of all the disputed Lewis texts, but one thing is very clear, someone has been far from honest. People have clearly made bold-faced lies in print… It seems to me that truth-telling should be fundamental in this discussion. Sin, however, has become something to recover from rather than to repent from. As you pointed out, Lewis is big business now. It’s seems there’s not much hope of getting the wheels that are greased by money to slow down for something as fragile as the truth. (Fragile enough to be bent or broken and yet sharp enough to cut us open and lay us bare before the eyes of Him…) Thank you for your valiant efforts though. I’m certainly praying for Light in the Shadowlands!

Brian Metzger, Summerside, PEI Canada

I confess I was bamboozled by Journey to Ixtlan back in 1973, when I was an anthropology graduate student. but when I read other Castaneda books I was disturbed by all the inconsistencies and contradictions. Then I read articles in anthropology journals that convinced me the man was a liar and an imposter. (During the debate, someone said Castaneda couldn’t have written the books because they were in perfect English and he spoke with a thick accent. But of course it is perfectly possible to speak with an accent and write without it. I do.) A few days before I received the spring Legacy I was seized with a desire to see “The Last of the Wine” again, restored to its authentic form. It was the first thing I ever read by C. S. Lewis. And right away, I got exactly what I want! …cosmic coincidence, Jungian Synchronicity, or simple telepathy. In any case, a message from God.

Benjamin Urrutia, Chicago, IL

Last week I received from Esther Schofield a big bundle of her husband’s correspondence, i. e. letters sent to him. It makes for fascinating reading. She included letters from Owen Barfield, Colin Hardie, Jill Freud, SheldonVanauken, and yourself. Many of the letters, in whole or in part, were printed in the Journal. These supplement the correspondence which I had retrievedw hen Laurel and I visited Esther in 1995. This enhances the study center which I am trying to develop. Thanks for putting the notice about the leather bound Narnia set on the back of your last Legacy. I immediately ordered a set for myself, and received it a couple of weeks ago. Overall, it is nicely bound, though, disappointingly, the color front is piece is from the new HarperCollins edition rather than from the original Bles edition.

Roger Stronstad, Clayburn, B.C., Canada

I just ordered Hooper’s Compelling Reason from Blackwell’s… Even the NY society was dubious (but seemed to place the “blame” on Douglas Gresham), calling it “welcome though somewhat puzzling”and “a compiliation of 24 essays by Lewis, all of which have been in print more than once, including as entries in other anthologies…”In his foreword Douglas Gresham writes “one of the legacies which one inherits from a great writer is the responsibility to try to ensure that his minor works do not vanish from publication, or at the very least they do not vanish until people no longer want to read them”. “Meditation in a Tool Shed” minor? “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment” about to vanish? Walter Hooper is cited as the editor.

Perry Bramlett, Louisville, Ky

Did you know that Eerdmans have withdrawn Charles Williams’ Shadows of Ecstasy from print? One can get the other six. I wrote and asked why, but got no answer. The thought comes to mind that it is a novel no longer politically correct, dealing with a black uprising in Africa. I’ve tried to get a copy from England to no avail.

Dean Picton. Hollywood, FL


Stanley Mattson: “The C.S. LEWIS FOUNDATION of Redlands, California, has scheduled the celebration of its 10th Anniversary for October 25, 1997.The Theme of the Celebration is ‘C.S. Lewis: Living the Legacy,’ with Douglas Gresham (step-son of C.S. Lewis) as Guest of Honor. Pre-sale dinner and auction tickets are available by calling the foundation at 1-888-CSLEWIS. The celebration is also intended to launch activities leading to the “Oxbridge’ 98″, the Centennial celebration of Mr. Lewis’ birth. He spent his 30th birthday in a pub with three friends. Had he lived to see 100, all the pubs in England could not have held those who love him. Join the C.S.Lewis Foundation in England next summer, (July 19 through August 1, 1998), as we celebrate the centennial of C.S. Lewis birth.”

“The Frances White Eubank Colloquium on C. S. Lewis And Friends,”14-15 Nov. 1997, Taylor University, Upland, IN. Papers are invited on any topic that concerns C.S. Lewis and/or Owen Barfield, G.K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, Dorothy Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. Up to 30 papers will be accepted for 10 projected sessions; papers should take no more than 15 minutes to read. Send complete manuscripts with SASE by 15 September 1997 to Richard Hill, English Dept., Taylor University, Upland, IN 46989.

C. S. Lewis Centenary Group of Belfast, Northern Ireland: James O’Fee, Chairman. 11 Raglan Road. Bangor, Co. Down, BT20 3TL, Northern Ireland.Tel/Fax 01247 473124, E-mail:

Once again Stan Mattson has a summer crew at the Kilns working to turn it into some kind of museum/study center. It is rumored that the ceiling has actually been painted dark yellow to resemble old nicotine stain.

The January-February issue of New Oxford Review features an article about Sheldon Vanauken revealing, among other things, that his given name was Frank S. Van Auken.


Books by Legacy readers

Darek Barefoot, Resurrection and Life beyond Death: A Biblical Study (1996, softcover, 90 pages). Barefoot carefully examines beliefs about death in the Old Testament, in Jewish tradition, in the New Testament, and in early Christian writings. Send a check or money order for $3.00, or a valid Visa or Mastercard number, to Grand Valley Press, P. O. Box 2332, Grand Junction, CO 81502.

A. Q. Morton, The Gathering of the Gospels: From Papyrus to Printout (1996, hardcover, 112 pages). Morton explains exactly how documents were produced in the first century and reveals the logical sequence behind the original physical copies of the four gospels and Acts. An extraordinary scholarly approach to New Testament exegesis. The Edward Mellen Press, $59.95, 39.95. Save 20% on the list price by using Mastercard/Visa and ordering by phone: (716)754-2788 (US and Canada) or (01570) 423-356 (UK).

Tim Callahan, Bible Prophecy: Failure or Fulfillment? (1997, hardcover, 274 pages). An especially handsome book; a cheerful, highly readable, and devastating rebuttal to many fundamentalist claims about scriptural prophecy. Callahan closes with an examination of popular end-time scenarios and their connection to secular conspiracy theories. Published by Millenium Press, Altadena, CA, and available through bookstores for $21 (Canada $29).

Just for Fun

Listen to the entire 1996 mystery Dead As a Dodo by Jane Langton (see Legacy 71, p. 1) for only $9.95. This is a popular detective novel set in academia in contemporary Oxford, with references to C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, and the Bird and Baby. Call Books on Tape at 1-800-626-3333 or write to Books on Tape, Inc., P. O. Box 7900, Newport Beach, CA 92658.


“March 28th 1988 – Walter Hooper – Vine Cottage, 30 St. Bernard’s Road, Oxford. And before I lived in Vine Cottage, I lived HERE.”

Walter Hooper’s signature in the guestbook at the Kilns. (Hooper lived in the Kilns for two weeks in August 1963. In the intervening decades before he bought Vine Cottage he lived in several different residences.)

“It’s fascinating how we close our minds so effectively to that which we do not wish to see.”

Jennifer Larson, rare books dealer and member of the 1989 Mattson jury

“C S Lewis looked like a North Ireland farmer, and was rather fat. He drank beer and smoked a pipe. He dressed in rather rough tweed things, and he went out with a dog. You could say he was really a sort of deliberate rejection of the whole aesthetic movement. We were total opposites at the time. It’s so often the way that opposites really enrich each other. That’s how we grew. I owe a tremendous amount to his influence in my becoming a Christian – actually, I believe it was mutual. We shared with each other. I think it’s significant that Lewis went back to being a Protestant. (He was Northern Irish, of course.) But I always felt his Christianity was too limited. For instance, and this is a very simple thing: He never accepted criticism of the New Testament. He had an almost naive view of the way the gospels are composed. I felt that was a real limitation. I thought in becoming a Catholic I’d have become much more narrow but actually it led me on the way to a much broader interpretation. So I feel less near to Lewis now than I did in the early years.”

Bede Griffiths

“I disagree with most of what Kathryn writes…”

Douglas Gresham, Salinas Lewisian 6 (spring 1994)

“There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, chapter 5


by Benjamin Urrutia

Shadowlands (Penguin Books, 1993. 263 pages). A novel by Leonore Fleischer based on the screenplay by William Nicholson based on his stage play.

To that complex byline it could be added that the stage play was based on an earlier TV film, which in turn was based, very loosely, on the story of the love between Clive Staples Lewis and Helen Joy Davidman Gresham Lewis, from 1952 to 1960. But the differences between that real story and the present novel are so many and so deep that one could say that the latter is a Science Fiction story, set in an alternate universe. In this other reality, Joy is a stunning Hollywood looker, Debra Winger’s twin, while Jack is an elegant, handsome, “tailored,” silver haired gent who looks like Anthony Hopkins. In our world, Joy and Jack had faces that were “more good natured than beautiful,” as Tolkien would say. Joy looked like a dedicated schoolteacher, or like our favorite aunt. Jack remained dark haired all his life, and he had no tailor. He bought shmattes off the rack.

Mrs. Gresham had two sons, David, born 1944, and Douglas, born 1945. They were ten and nine when they moved to England, and 16 and 15 when their mother passed away. In the movie and novel, Joy has only one child, named Douglas, who looks exactly like Joey Mazzello and remains the same age, about ten, throughout the whole story, which obviously has been chronologically compressed.

The greatest and most significant difference between the two universes can be seen on page 152, where Joy Gresham accuses C.S. Lewis of making sure that all those who are close to him are younger or weaker than himself, and thus under his control. Maybe that could have been true of that other C.S. Lewis in that other universe, but on this our planet that would be a false accusation. Clive Staples Lewis, born 1898, had as his best and dearest friends: Arthur Greeves (born 1895), John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (born 1892), and Charles Williams (born 1888). Chronologically, they were Lewis’ elders; intellectually, they were his peers. In no way were they under his control.

The fictional Lewis also remains at Oxford, lecturing and tutoring, throughout his marriage and afterwards. In reality, C.S. Lewis was freed from tutorials when Cambridge lured him away with a Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature, tailored specially for him. This happened before his marriage. On pages 222 and 226, Lewis is said to object to an Oxford tradition of sunrise choral singing on May Day, because of its pagan roots. But of course the real Lewis was very far from being such a fanatical Puritan. Pagan origins would be, for him, a plus rather than otherwise. The real reason for his reluctance to attend the ceremony was that he was not at all fond of Boy choir music.

The book shows signs of imperfect proofreading. Most glaringly, on page 14, 5th line from the bottom, a chunk of text has accidentally fallen out and never been replaced. Far more irksome is the fact that from pages 13 to 15 a lot of ink is wasted on Warren Lewis’ comically desperate quest for a glass of wine, but a promised intellectual debate between Jack Lewis and “Christopher Riley” (a character who is either totally fictitious, or a composite) fails to materialize. We are promised a “Bird and Baby” and instead we get the bird’s and the baby’s bathwater.

I am certain that Jack and Joy Lewis never dreamed that one day their love story would be made into a paperback novel, “the kind the drugstore sells.” I dare say that if they could have foreseen it, they would have asked that their names be changed. Indeed, that would be a more enjoyable book, with less of that slight but disturbing resemblance to real people and events.

It is a melancholy thought indeed that there could exist a universe wherein C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien never met, and therefore nobody wrote

We were talking of Dragons, Tolkien and I, In a Berkshire bar…

But I have to confess that in spite of my many objections, this book did provide me with some reading pleasures, the greatest one being a poem by Joy written in 1937, “Snow in Madrid”:

Men before perishing See with unwounded eye For once, a gentle thing Fall from the sky.

“A highly readable edition that adds a variety of new material, supplemented by references to Dorothy Sayers, C. S. Lewis, and many other Dante commentators.”

May 1997 release, illustrated hardback, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2, $22.95. At your bookstore or from Mercer University Press, 6316 Peake Road, Macon GA 31210-3960.Also 800-637-2378, ext. 2880. FAX 912-752-2264, E-Mail mupress, Mastercard, Personal Checks, and Money Orders. Shipping: $4.00 for first book, .75 for each additional book.