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The Lewis Legacy-Issue 78, Autumn 1998 From the Mailbag

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 78, Autumn 1998 From the Mailbag The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

I was shocked, to say the least, both at the scandal [set forth in Light in the Shadowlands] and the fact that nothing is being done about this by the publishers and media. Any number of evidences you adduce would, even if considered in isolation, be sufficient to make your case convincing; but when the evidence is considered as a whole, your case is certainly irrefutable. I am astonished that people can respond in the way Aiden Mackie did in the letter you quoted. When I visited The Chesterton Centre in ’94, Mackie said here would be as much chance of Hooper forging The Dark Tower as there would be for himself to dance Swan Lake (I gained some amusement from imagining what that would like). He said Hooper was a most delightful chap….

It seems strange that any Lewis scholar would not have read [Light in the Shadowlands], since I thought scholars usually read everything in their field of study.

Robin Phillips, South Ormsby, England

In the latest Lewis Legacy you’ve got a passage saying that Lewis’s use of Tao was based on Taoism. That’s all wrong (in my opinion, of course) — Taoism is mystical, and it doesn’t have anything to do with Lewis’s use. Lewis is following Confucius, who also used the term, but in a Natural Law sense.

Joe Christopher, Tarleton, TX

Five 1963 photos in Through Joy and Beyond, taken by Walter Hooper, are the kind one takes as souvenirs before leaving: CSL posed in a chair; CSL posed sitting at his desk; Mrs. Miller posed outside the kitchen; Paxford sitting in the kitchen; a more lively snapshot of Mrs. Miller, her sister and Douglas in the kitchen. There’s also a photo of The Kilns taken from the lawn. The photos are labelled ‘August 1963’. Three other photos in Through Joy and Beyond are also labelled ‘August 1963’ but they were not taken then because there are no leaves on the trees. Those three outside shots were probably taken in January 1964.

Name Withheld, England

Recently, someone who has seen a copy of Jack’s letter to you about your Master’s thesis told me that his comment about your knowing his work better than anyone else, in the context of neighbouring sentences, refers more to your bibliographic knowledge of all his titles than anything else. I am, of course, only quoting my source. Based on all the “evidence” I have at hand — your published quotations from the letter and my recent secondhand info — I, also of course, have no grounds on which to doubt your testimony. But, if only from a “desire to see it myself” perspective, I sure would like to see the letter myself in order to gather where my source came up with such a conclusion.

Name withheld, CA

Note: After receiving a photocopy of Lewis’s 1957 letter, this correspondent wrote back to say “Jack was clearly referring to your knowledge of his work, not just his ‘works’.” He did not give the identity of the person (Walter Hooper?) who made the false claim about what Lewis said in his important letter.

I have just been reading your account of “The Most Substantial People” much of which appears to be about our Belfast. Presumably you know that “Scrabo” [the first name of a central character] is a small mountain in North Down, a well-known beauty spot very close to the Craigantlet Hills he regarded as the landscape of his first inspiration. (Scrabo is mentioned in Surprised by Joy too.)

Philip Robinson, Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Belfast

Thanks so much for writing Light in the Shadowlands; it brought C. S. Lewis into our home in a new way. Thank you for the courage to bring light so that truth at least have a chance to prevail. We live in the flat-lands of Lincolnshire and are delighted that we know well the place where Sheldon Vanauken walked in Lincoln when he finally felt Davy “go on”!

Rosamond Eedle, Mumby, England

Recently I picked up the book C. S. Lewis by Catherine Swift (in the series Men of Faith from Bethany House Publishers in Minneapolis). Although it was published in 1989, I had never heard of it before. Mostly it’s a typical mediocre children’s biography of Lewis. However, play the game of Spot the Mistakes on the following paragraph on page 101. This is the first place where Tolkien is mentioned.

John Tolkien, who was planning a novel called The Lord of the Rings, was a friend of Lewis’s at Magdalen. Other associates were William Yeats, Walter de la Mare and John Masefield, who was later to become England’s poet laureate. Jack was beginning his first science fiction work, Out of the Silent Planet. Because these young men were all writers and held regular discussions in Jack’s rooms when they exchanged manuscripts for criticism and advice, they were known as “The Inklings.” One of Jack’s students was John Betjeman, also destined to become poet laureate, but who at that time was often reprimanded for his sloppy English and for not working hard enough.

Wendell Wagner, Jr., Greenbelt, MD

C. S. Lewis, Mrs. Moore and Maureen lived at Number 14, Holyoake Road, Headington from 1928 to 1930. It was from that house that they moved to The Kilns. It is now a thriving chiropractic clinic; I’ve been going there for several years and only just put two and two together. It is a substantial, red brick, early century house in a side road near Headington shops. There is a small front garden and a larger back one. The former living room is now the waiting room and the former dining room, behind it, is where X-rays are done. There are, I think, three bedrooms. It would have been in character for Mrs. Moore to have appropriated the biggest one in the front of the house. Maureen and Lewis would have had the rooms at the side and back. So where I’ve had my back and limbs worked over for years was probably either Maureen’s or Lewis’ bedroom!

Name Withheld, England

From a new book by William Shannon, ‘Something of a Rebel,’ Thomas Merton: His Life and Works, An Introduction (St. Anthony Messenger Press) comes this tidbit: “Recently I visited a large secondhand bookshop in a large city in the Midwest. It carried books in almost every area, with an exceptionally large number of books in the areas of philosophy and religion. I asked the proprietor: ‘Of all the books you sell in so many different areas, who are the authors most asked for?’ He answered, ‘C. S. Lewis, Friedrich Nietzsche and Thomas Merton.'”

From The Price Of Success: An Autobiography, by J. B. Phillips (Shaw 1984), “… I learnt indirectly from C. S. Lewis that if you want to give away the proceeds of a book you do not sign a contract and then give the object of your good intentions the royalties. That way you pay income tax (and possibly surtax) on the gross royalties. But if you sign no contract but give the typescript to the organisation of your concern then they draw the royalties, and being a registered charity, pay no tax at all. C. S. Lewis in his generosity gave away the royalties of, I think, The Problem of Pain to some deserving cause, only to find that he had to pay tax just the same.”

The new book Invitation To the Classics: A Guide to the Books You’ve Always Wanted To Read (Baker, $30.00) includes: Larry Allums’s “Dante: The Divine Comedy,” Leland Ryken’s “John Milton: Paradise Lost,” Beatrice Batson’s “John Bunyan: “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” G. B. Tennyson’s “John Henry, Cardinal Newman: Apologia Pro Vita Sua,” Harold Fickett’s “James Joyce: Dubliners,” and Thomas Howard’s “C. S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters.”

Perry Bramlett, Louisville, KY

I was so glad to have a visit with you and charmed to stay in the Narnia room. It’s wonderful that you have a wardrobe with a fur coat in it, and that wonderful picture of Aslan looking out of Narnia at whoever has opened the wardrobe door.

Mary Borhek, Bethlehem, PA

Have I ever told you that I have a copy of Sayers’ translation of Dante’s Hell [Inferno] signed and inscribed to her drama agent?

Roger Stronstad, Abbotsford, B.C.

On p. 39 of They Stand Together, Walter Hooper says, “Then, on a dank November day in 1966—I remember there was a good fire in the grate—I was on one of my daily visits to see Warren. A letter and a registered parcel arrived from Belfast…”

The scene Hooper describes looks olde worlde Englisshe. Well, maybe there was a fire in the grate. But Ringwood Road was probably a smokeless zone in 1966. The Clean Air Act had been passed in 1956. It is in force in major cities and some local areas outside cities. People in a smokeless zone could smoke (themselves), and burn garden rubbish and have barbeques. But working fireplaces in the houses had to have special fuel — smokeless anthracite I think it was. Crackling logs or glowing coal were not allowed.

Before 1956 English houses did not all have central heating; there’d be an open fire for coal or wood in the living room, and smaller ones in the dining room and the master bedroom. Other rooms would have electric fires or oil heaters dragged around. Inefficient? Well, it was what you were used to. People didn’t expect the whole house to be 75 degrees in every room all winter. After the Clean Air Act, a lot of old fireplaces got ripped out or covered over.

The Thirsks had the original Kilns fireplaces taken out or walled over: such was the mood of the times. I am not sure if the current fireplace in the Common Room is the original. There could be a fake gas-flame fire put in. If Mattson, or whoever, shopped thoughtfully, they could buy a very nice looking one (gas) with flickery flames on artificial log-look-alikes, and give the Common Room the proper look. But in a smokeless zone that would be all that would be allowed.

The Kilns is in an area still designated a smokeless zone. The 1956 Act was repealed in 1993, but I don’t know the current laws. The Clean Air Act put an end to London’s deadly pea-souper fogs. Today the main pollution problem is from cars.

E Shyaty, England

Three new books that draw on CSL:

1) Defense of Miracles (IVP, eds R. Douglas Geivett & Gary Habermas). About 16 references & notes about Lewis, including Miracles, Mere Christianity, and Screwtape.

2) Between Noon and Three (Eerdmans, Robert Farrar Capon). Front jacket states that “With wit, humor, and exegesis, Capon evokes a bit of C S Lewis as he brushes past centuries of dry theologizing on concepts of grace and freedom, law and sin, and actually makes the questions fun.”

3) The Disciplined Heart – Love, Destiny and Imagination (Eerdmans, Caroline J. Simon). A blurb on the back by William Hasker, Huntington College states: “A wonderful book. Simon anatomizes our various loves in a way that is challenging, richly insightful, and at times disturbing. Invites comparison with C S Lewis’s The Four Loves, and in some ways surpasses it.” Ten references & notes about Lewis. Mentions The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces…

Perry Bramlett, Louisville, KY

Last spring term I taught again from Allegory of Love, Oxford History of English Literature, and The Discarded Image. The mind still excites after so many readings.

Robert Evans, Lexington, KY

In the film Anastasia, the evil character is Rasputin, who has demonic powers. He appears after he is dead in an underground place and he sings a song. The song begins with this stanza:

In the dark of the night I was tossing and turning
And the nightmare I had was as bad as could be
It scared me out of my wits. A corpse falling to bits
Then I opened my eyes and the nightmare was me.

A passage from Perelandra, near the end of chapter 13 came to my mind. Weston is talking to Ransom: “It’s like a dream I once had, though I didn’t know then how true it was. I dreamed I was lying dead-you know, nicely laid out in the ward in a nursing home with my face settled by the undertaker and big lilies in the room. And then a sort of a person who was all falling to bits-like a tramp, you know, only it was himself not his clothes that was coming to pieces-came and stood at the foot of the bed, just hating me.”” The corpse warns Weston that he’ll be like that in the end himself

Sonja West, Seattle, WA

The Lion of Judah in Never-Never Land is most worthwhile as an extra to Journey into Narnia, if only for the Narnia map, and the thrill of seeing a Foreword by Walter Hooper to a Lindskoog book! Lewis’s father was Albert James Lewis, and so the Lewis window’s middle figure of Saint James is a tribute to their father.

Saint James is patron saint of pilgrims, and the window has the pilgrim’s staff, bag and scallop shell. The brothers dedicated the window in 1935. In 1932 CSL wrote his first book as a Christian, Pilgrim’s Regress, at Bernagh in Belfast. Another connection with the Pilgrim message of the Window.

My alumnus magazine reports that Richard Attenborough [director of Shadowlands] is the new Chancellor of the University of Sussex, my old University. He was appointed on 20th March 1998. (I was a contemporary at Sussex of Dickie Attenborough’s son, but I never met him.)

James O’Fee, Bangor, Ireland

A Bodleian Library Reader’s Ticket has the bearer’s name, address and photograph. That ticket gets a reader into the Dept of Western MSS. Once inside, the reader must sign in with name, address, date, ticket number, and subject of research. THEN — and only then — can a C. S. Lewis document be ordered.

Another point. When Walter Hooper spoke to the CSL Society in New York in 1977 he said of The Dark Tower “The part of my editorship dealing with the very little which I have been able to give the world has been the most pleasant part of my job …. try to imagine how difficult it was to have to wait for nearly fifteen years before I could share it with others. Even if you can’t enjoy the story as much as I do, you have at least the rare spectacle of a man who has been on pins and needles for nearly fifteen years awaiting your judgement.”

Why that repeated “fifteen years” when it was obviously not? Is it another of his muddles with time? Or could it be that he had tried to write a sci-fi novel in the style of CSL in 1962 and couldn’t get it done?

E. Shyaty, England

Douglas Gresham’s new Oxbridge dating of The Dark Tower in the 1950s seems to have insuperable problems.

GERVASE MATHEW: The brand new dating invalidates Hooper’s story about Gervase Mathew hearing Lewis read the story before 1940.

STYLE: It does not explain the appallingly uncharacteristic style that readers and reviews have remarked on.

CAREFUL COPY: It does not explain how Lewis could have made a carefully scribed copy of a minimum 30,000 words without correcting duff sentences as he went along.

NEGATIVE PROVENANCE: It does not explain why no-one, even Warren, had heard about the MS until Hooper told his bonfire story in 1975. It does not explain why Lewis said nothing about such a MS-in-progress to Sister Penelope. (He continued to write to her until a few weeks before his death.)

‘A GRIEF OBSERVED’: It does not explain how Lewis could have, in the same five-year period, written the inept Dark Tower along with Reflections on the Psalms, The Four Loves, Studies in Words, and A Grief Observed. The latter are all written in Lewisian style, crisp, clear and beautiful.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: It does not explain why Lewis, when he was in love with Joy Gresham, would write a minimum 30,000 words about ritual buggery.

E. Shyaty, England

I find Joy’s epitaph poem [version C] deeply moving, a great improvement over the 1949 version [A], and a good example of the sort of revision of his own work of which CSL was capable. (Was the title of version B really changed from “Epitaph” to “Epigraph”?) [Note: That was a Legacy typo.]

Regarding Version A, I see no hint of an Egyptian ruler here. The things in question were left behind, not needed on the ‘journey,’ and, of course, Lent (and resumption of his former estate?) wouldn’t fit either.

Gracia Fay Ellwood, Altadena, CA

Note: I think I stand corrected. Thanks.

Don reports that Warnie’s Splendid Century is still selling deservedly well. An order form from Waveland Press (Prospect Heights, IL, $12.95) touts it as “Wonderfully written and still insightful” and more.

Sharon Cregier, Prince Edward Island

Last fall my wife and I concluded a tour of Wales with a visit to Jill Farringdon and her husband in Swansea. Two very talented people. They are not CSL “fans”, so they brought no bias at all to the work they did on The Dark Tower, etc.

Jack LeBrun, San Anselmo, CA

Here is a significant passage from the Chicago Manual of Style in the “Authors’ Responsibilities” section under “Rights and Permissions,” part 4.47 (p. 124):

“If by these guidelines a use appears to be fair, the author should probably not ask permission for use. The right of fair use is a valuable one to scholarship, and it should not be allowed to decay through the failure of scholars to employ it boldly. Furthermore, excessive caution can be dangerous if the copyright owner proves uncooperative. Far from establishing good faith and protecting the author from suit or unreasonable demands, a permission request may have just the opposite effect. The act of seeking permission establishes that the author feels permission is needed, and the tacit admission may be damaging to the author’s defense.”

Virginia Hearn, Berkeley, CA

Regrettable though it is that so many readers have been taken in by Wilson, Hooper, et al., with respect to Lewis the man, it’s even more important to preserve the integrity of his works. Thus it’s discouraging to see that with great fuss and craftsmanship, a noncannonical poem has been carved in stone, supposedly to honor Lewis.

I’m glad you’re keeping at Stan Mattson for not registering with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. For some reason, people feel guilty about applying to anything connected with religion their standards of dilligence for other investments. It’s so hard to maintain Christian discourse in the presence of fraud, perfidy, and gratuitous uninformed hostility, I don’t know how you manage.

Brenda Griffing, Lakeland, FL