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The Lewis Legacy-Issue 80, Spring 1999

From the Mailbag Original Article

Books are big business. Stephen King commanded a $16 million advance from(British) Viking, then defected to Scribners for more money. Conflicts of
interest: HarperCollins owner Murdoch spiked Hong Kong Governor Patten’s
book because of his criticism of Beijing because Murdoch was lobbying to
expand his STAR-TV satellite network in China. Four of the top seven US
publishing houses are now controlled overseas.
–Sharon Cregier, Prince Edward Island

* I just wanted to tell you how much I’ve appreciated not only your books
(I read Hoax years ago, and found it completely compelling) but your
contributions to MERELEWIS and the spirit (dedication to truth) in which
you make them — not to mention the courage shown.
Many, many thanks for your work and your willingness to endure scorn from
those who either cannot or are unwilling to endure the truth. Further up
and further in!
–Mike Nicholson, Seal Rock, OR

* You are a standing reproach not only to hucksters like Mattson and sly
scoundrels like Hooper but also to well-meaning but superficial amateurs
who hate ‘unpleasantness’. God bless you and keep up the good work.
–Name withheld, Boston, MA

* It does seem that Barfield’s motive is the mysterious key to this sad
affair. Either he just didn’t want to fuss with the Lewis estate, and
Hooper was convenient, or something dreadful is true. I wonder if Barfield
had a continued financial stake in the estate.

I have read several of Barfield’s books. They are interesting,
intelligent, obscure. Whatever his personal religious beliefs were, his
books would need little changing if Jesus were found to be a fraud. (A
good test for a writer of opinion who considers himself a Christian.) The
idea that he is (was) a “Christian writer” must stem from his association
with Lewis.

One thing troubles me about your case against Hooper. You correctly argue
that much of the text in dispute is badly written. You produce sentences
that Lewis simply could not have written. But at times I wish you didn’t
make the case so well — because the bad sentences seem too bad to be
written by Hooper! I was standing in the bookstore browsing through C.S.
Lewis: Companion and Guide (I refuse to buy it) and noticed that Hooper is
an adequate writer. Of course, he has editors for his prose, and he
presumably would not be able to have anyone fix his forged prose before it
comes out, unless they, too, were complicit. I wonder, how does Hooper
write in his letters? Like the affected would-be writer of the bad parts
of Dark Tower? Or like the Hooper of the prefaces, introductions, etc. Or
do you not agree that there is a difference?
–Tim Smith, Huntington, WV

Reply: I have observed that Walter Hooper’s strong talents in penmanship,
letter writing, music, roleplaying, research, and public speaking do not
extend to other areas such as logical thinking, common sense, elementary
scientific knowledge, or skill in writing poetry and fiction, He has at
least twice enjoyed the help of a co-author, and there is no way to know if
he has had much help from editors. Another major factor, in my opinion, is
his apparent impulsiveness and inconsistency.
* My impression of the National Public Radio program tape on CSL:
1) Michael Aeschliman is the most learned and best informed
2) Jerry Root is competant
3) Dabney Hart is pretentious, and she’s wrong (perhaps unintentially) that
she “wrote the first dissertation in the world” about Lewis. White’s Image
of Man in C. S. Lewis lists Edgar Boss writing a ThD dissertation on Lewis
in 1948. Hart was a graduate student at Wisconsin in the early 50’s…
–Perry Bremlett, Louisville, KY

* Focus On The Family Radio Theatre is producing all seven of the
Chronicles of Narnia. Though we had intended to release them in their
proper chronological order (“Magician’s Nephew” first, etc.), our radio
people strongly encouraged us to start with “The Lion, The Witch & The
Wardrobe” as a powerful Christmas special.

We’re pleased to say that our production is hosted by Douglas Gresham, and
our acting line-up includes Paul Scofield (“Man for All Seasons”) as our
Storyteller; David Suchet (of Hercule Poirot fame) as Aslan; and some of
Britain’s finest voice-talents, many of whom are known very well here for
their work in film, TV and stage, but wouldn’t be known in the United
States. We’re producing these books in our “soundtrack of the mind” style,
which has been used to good effect in “Adventures In Odyssey” and our other
more adult programs like “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom.”

The plan is to release each book every three or four months over the next
two years.
–Paul McCusker, Hailsham, England

* I went to Lewis Legacy Online and read the letter from Barbara Linville.
Her experience mirrored my own. I found reading The Dark Tower hurtful and
disappointing and so unlike CSL’s other writings. I am glad to know now
that it is a possible (keeping an open mind) forgery. And the more I read,
the more the evidence points to that.
–Lydia Knight, Dalton GA

* Thank you for Light in the Shadowlands, which I have just read.
Whatever the full story of Hooper and the posthumous CSL canon may turn out
to be, I am convinced that you are an honest scholar, and that the
posthumous Lewis material has been carelessly handled by its owners (at the
very least).

It is deeply suspicious to me that you have received no measurely and
thorough rebuttal, no invitation to a truly impartial and thorough
investigation of
the truth, from the persons most deeply implicated by your books. I am
reminded of the opening page of Till We Have Faces. You have, Orual-like,
dared to accuse the “god of the mountain” of Lewis scholarship.

But there is no judge between gods and men, and the god of the mountain
will not answer me. Terrors and plagues are not an answer.
Nor are silence and insults…
–Larry Gilman, Chicago IL

* The unity of Narnia is not a matter of pseudo-factual history, but rather
a progression of moods and spiritual growth crises from early childhood to
old age and death. Of course, I’m biased because I’m committed to the
–roughly publication — order, not chronological order. But people are
interested. Paul Ford told me he had received a thesis from Aberdeen on the
subject of canonical vs. chronological order.
–Doris Myers, Greeley, CO

* Praying With C. S. Lewis by Charles C. Taliaferro, St. Mary’s Press, 702
Terrace Heights, Winona, MN, pb, 116 pp, $8.95, ISBN 0-88489-318-9-
Contains 15 meditations on themes in praying and prayer, with a mini-bio on
CSL (with some of his major beliefs discussed), and each meditation chapter
includes: “about Lewis”, “Lewis’s words”, “Reflection”, “God’s word”, and
“Closing Prayer” – This looks like an excellent devotional work, especially
good for students, pastors, and laity… Taliaferro is assistant professor
of philosophy at St Olaf’s College in Minnesota…
–Perry Bramlett, Louisville, KY

* I went to Stratford Tuesday for the official opening night performance of
LWW. It was very enjoyable, with lots of special effects, great costumes,
some nice music, etc. Afterward we had a backstage tour. I will send you
the reviews, etc. The headline of the Times review [“Narnia wins the war
but loses the battles”] doesn’t make sense to me and seems to have no
connection with the text. I asked if Royal Shakespeare Company has a
monopoly on the production and was told yes, for 15 years, but they can
grant permission for other groups to do it if they feel like granting
permission (and receiving a fat fee, I suppose). They also said that the
CSL estate gets 10% of the take and the adapter another 10%. So that should
make WH happy. I don’t know whether that was based on factual knowledge or
mere speculation. I will have to find out what Pte stands for — or maybe
you know already. I think it is something like Ltd.
–Lawrence Crumb, Pusey House, Oxford

* I am publisher (not the sole one nor the first one) of C.S.Lewis in
Poland, — we’ve done the newest edition of the Narnia series, soon Mere
Christianity and, I hope next, A Grief Observed. And the translator of the
Space Trilogy, already published in at least two editions, has just written
to enquire about our re-publishing them.

For a while, Polish law said copyright runs out 25 years after the death of
an author, and some of his works got published then. I’ll check, but I
think there were some earlier, very limited editions, — the Communists
allowed publication, which made them look tolerant and liberal, but they
didn’t allow for much paper, which meant that the “harm” they could do was
limited. Much of the distribution of such books was by Xerox or mimeograph.
I would love to run down such a copy for Perry Bramlett’s collection, I’ll
do my best.
–Robert Gamble, Warsaw, Poland

* Have just finished reading a fascinating book, Bloomsbury Pie, by Regina
Marler… It’s a history and evaluation of the “Bloomsbury industry,” and
has some insightful observations about the making of all the Virginia Woolf
and Bloomsbury biographies and studies, and how often, just like in Lewis
studies, best-sellers don’t always mean the best scholarship and
integrity…

I think I first became interested in Bloomsbury because it was a literary
group, just like the Inklings, and because its “industry” is in some ways
similar to the Lewis industry… I’ve always admired V. Woolf as a great
writer and user of words, and, like so many others, being a very
intelligent and creative writer in the midst of all kinds of amazing
personal problems and peccadillos…

And, there’s a connection, albeit a tad stretched, to Bloomsbury and C. S.
Lewis… The artist Vanessa Bell, sister of V. Woolf and wife of Clive
Bell, had a son, Quentin, who wrote the first biography on his aunt V.
Woolf. One of Quentin’s three daughters is Virginia Nicholson, who is
married to William Nicholson, of “Shadowlands” fame… Lewis also mentions
reading Lytton Strachey’s biography of Queen Victoria…
–Perry Bramlett, Louisville, KY

* Some are frightened by any discussion that might cloud their idyllic view
of everything surrounding Lewis. Others, such as myself, are uncertain
about the subject, but have exchanged personal correspondence with Doug (or
perhaps, Hooper) and can’t bear even the remotest thought that there might
exist collusion on anyone’s part in perpetuating untruths… The irony is
that we all share (I sincerely believe) the same desire to have Lewis’
memory and ongoing ministry continue with greater and greater prominence.

Just thought I would drop you this note to say that there are probably many
of us who are swayed by your presentation. It’s just that the subject is
all so “unpleasant.” Well, in the actual End, truth will be known. But at
that time whatever error exists, in God’s grace, will be consumed and
forgotten.
–Major Robert Stroud, Chaplain, USAF

* As to your query, “Why don’t you discover a long-lost document from
Bach…?”, here are two replies.

There was a genuine discovery in 1974, Bach’s personal copy of the
published “Goldberg Variations.” This provided the previously-lost
“Goldberg Canons” and also Bach’s own notations in his printed score — the
latter were especially interesting to me because they vindicated some of
the notes I had written into my score, so I guess my instinct isn’t too
bad! A few years later, the “Neumeister Preludes” came to light, some of
which were previously unknown (clearly an early work, but nice to have).
These discoveries have been made available to reliable scholars and judged
by them to be authentic.

The other was a splendid spoof that [a friend] provided when my daughter
Victoria was born. He claimed that this “long-lost work” proved a
connection between Bach and Williams College (the latter, by the way, was
founded 43 years after the death of Bach). Bob took the College football
song “Yard by Yard” and put it into four-part counterpoint with the notes
H-C-A-B (I imagine you know that German B and H = English B-flat and
B-natural), calling the result “Berceuse for Victoria Christina Hill.” It
was great fun.

When I taught Lewis/Williams last January, I suggested that one possibility
for the short story that my students were to write was to fill in an
episode in the novels we read or to add a sequel. Again — we both know!
— that what students write for me (with no intention of publication) is
not covered by Copyright considerations. One of my students did indeed
write a “Susan” sequel, and I found it really touching — given that it was
a first draft and that my course was not one in creative writing. Another
student wrote a nice story about Ransom’s last voyage (post-THS, to the
dying planet Pluto), still another tried his hand (less successfully, but I
applaud initiative and imagination!) at the first voyage of Weston and
Devine to Malacandra, and one rewrote (not convincingly for me personally)
a chapter of War in Heaven. Naturally, I’ll encourage students to try the
same next year.
–Victor Hill, Williamstown, MA

* The work of the C. S. Lewis Foundation seems to consist of: (1)
Restoration of the Kilns — as far as I can make out, this work is entirely
carried out by self-funded volunteers; and (2) Supporting the work of the
Foundation (“the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of an exapnding
bureaucracy…”).

On the one hand, a USA Today article says: “The C.S. Lewis Foundation has a
mailing list of about 15,000 people. Each year it mails out information
about plans for working on The Kilns. Volunteers pay their own way to
England.” On the other hand, the “prayer letter” on the Foundation’s web
site says in part: “Blessed as we are with the new additions to staff,
there remains a few key positions yet to be filled. Most urgently, we are
seeking an Executive Secretary to help manage my highly demanding
correspondence and relational aspects of this office. We are also in need
of an Office Manager/Administrative Assistant to allow Cindy Smith to serve
in the area of administration thereby enabling her to relieve me of my ever
growing list of duties. Moreover, we are in need of an experienced
Information Services Manager to fully utilize our newly acquired database
system.

I had a look at the Foundation’s web pages (unlike every other Lewis web
site, this one contains no links to any other Lewis or Lewis-related sites)
and this is what they say about the Kilns’ restoration:
The dedication of the C.S. Lewis Study Centre at The Kilns will constitute
one of the high points of the Oxbridge ’98 centennial celebration…. The
project is funded by donations which have poured in from far and wide
thanks to Lewis’ redoubtable literary reputation. The largest individual
gift – $25,000 – was from Thomas L. Phillips, retired chairman of the
Lexington, Mass.-based Raytheon Company. If the volunteers pay their own way, and large items such as the 1930’s AGA cooker are donated, then where does all the money go? Finally, unlike every other C.S.Lewis web site, this site contains no links to any other Lewis or Lewis-related sites.

My concern is not so much that large sums of money are being siphoned off
from what Stan Mattson charges for Oxbridge conferences (I don’t have any
evidence of this), but that so much money is being spent on maintaining an
office to raise money, that there is very little left over for the grand
“mission” of the Charity.

If the important thing is to get people to attend the programs, then these
can be organised and promoted by one person working part time out of a
spare room in their home: no need for a full-time office with staff, rent,
equipment etc. etc. I know because the company I used to be involved with
ran a three-day European Software Migrations Workshop plus other, shorter
events every year on this basis. The support costs of the company were more
than covered by the conference fees.

If there really isn’t enough support for the Foundation to meet its Mission
Statement: and I don’t believe that there is (the Establishment of C.S.
Lewis College is going to require many millions of dollars), then the
Mission Statement should be scaled down to something which CAN be achieved:
namely, redecorating The Kilns and running programs. These activities are
entirely self-financing, so there is no need for time-consuming and
expensive fund-raising activities.

They could even use some of the time saved to update their web site.
–Martin Ward, Durham, England

* In re-reading Under The Mercy, I read the following again, which
doubtless you remember, the part where Van visits CSL just before his
death, asks him if he needs a secretary, and Lewis replies, “Not yet”… It
seems obvious that if WH had been a secretary to Jack in the months
previous, he would have mentioned it to Van…
–Perry Bramlett, Louisville, KY

* I am 50 years old and have been reading C.S. Lewis for perhaps 42 or so
of those years. I will never forget the day that I first read The Dark
Tower. I was confused and angry. How could a man whose ideals I had come to
know and love, a man who by his writings had helped me to learn right and
wrong, have written such trash. It wasn’t until you wrote the The C. S.
Lewis Hoax that I realized that this was probably added to his works by WH.
I recall that when your book first came out I telephoned The New York Times
Book Review and spoke to one of the editorial staff. I was flabbergasted
that such a prestigious publication, itself an arm of an investigative news
organ, should have had no mention of this — even if it was just to rebut
it. The person I spoke with rather impolitely told me that this was a
scholarly matter and had no business in a consumer magazine.

I pointed out that Lewis’ books had sold millions of copies, that if your
work was true the marketplace was being flooded with forgeries. Leaving out
even the worth of the author’s true works, why was this not news? If any
other best-selling author’s works were accused by a reputable authority of
being forgeries would they not investigate? Well, the person I was speaking
with just brought the conversation to a quick end.

But your book, by pointing out the horrible things that WH had done,
restrengthened my love of Lewis’ works and instead of turning away from him
I continued to enjoy him for the next few decades too and your book has,
since then, always been on the top shelf of my bookcase.
Then, today, I was in a new bookstore and picked up the new C. S. Lewis
Readers’ Encyclopedia. I looked up The Dark Tower wondering if at last some
publication would tell of this — and, of course, there it was. There also
was mention of Light in the Shadowlands of which I was not aware. I bought
the encyclopedia, will begin reading it tonight, and I ordered Light in the
Shadowlands overnight from Amazon.com. And a Web search led me to your
Site.
–Neil Shapiro, MSN Network, Community Manager/Science Fiction, Fantasy &
Horror

* I just wanted to let you know how important the last few issues of the
Legacy have been in providing us with details that were invaluable during
our visit to the Lewis’s home and Church. As part of the annual meeting of
the American Scientific Affiliation, which met at Cambridge this past
August, we had a two week tour of the British Isles. On our bus were your
good friends Walt and Ginny Hearn, delightful people. We had some long
discussions with them concerning the work you continue to do in purifying
the Lewis cannon. They said the main reason they did not attend the
centennial celebration at Oxbridge was the lack of response from those in
charge, Mr. Mattson et all, to overwhelming evidence of pollution in CSL’s
work.

We had a couple of days to ourselves in London at the conclusion of the
tour at which time we took a train to Oxford, and a bus to Headington
Quarry to see The Kilns. When we entered “Lewis Close,” as you mentioned,
there was a sign below which read “No Coaches.” I can see why as there
would be no room to turn around if one drove in by the house. I would guess
that the road would have been the original driveway to The Kilns. Now, as
you have written, there are a few other houses on the street, one to the
north, quite close to The Kilns. Perhaps that is the one the Foundation is
wanting to purchase.

I recognized the Kilns immediately upon entering Lewis Close thanks to your
picture of the newly renovated Thirsk garage. And, yes it is a very
attractive feature of the property. We were pleased to see the landscaping,
flowers, shrubs & trees are well cared for & the property attractively
maintained. I had written to Michael Ward to see if he would be willing to
give us a tour of the house but he had responded that would be impossible
as he would not be there at the time (Aug 15th). Naturally we were
disappointed. But while taking pictures a car pulled up and a man got out
heading for the house. Asking if he lived there, he said he did. I then
asked if there was any possibility of him showing us through. He was a
doctor and had to be at his work shortly, but hegraciously consented and
showed us both the first and second floors. So we have pictures in all the
rooms including CSL’s & WHL’s bedrooms.

Back outside I had in mind the sketch you had reproduced of the east side
of the house showing the outside staircase to Lewis’s bedroom. Friend wife
pointed out the faint outline where the staircase had been due to slight
difference in the color of the brick. Having just been in his bedroom,
passing through Mrs. Moore’s to get there, we could see why the staircase
had been built.

The gentleman who showed us through the house told us we should also take
the trail through the nature conservancy which would have been originally a
part of the Lewis property. It was well worthwhile, past the pond and up
the hill in the dense overgrowth. Then we walked to Holy Trinity Church and
graveyard.

We were fortunate to find a Mr. Charles Kimber, an 80+ year old gentleman
who knew the Lewis brothers. He showed us around the Church, brought out
the communion set the brothers had used when worshiping there and shared
some stories with us. And, yes we sat in their pew. He then showed us the
brother’s grave and pointed out the two Mrs. Moore’s grave as well. Again,
you had written about these in the summer issue. Then we visited Magdalen College to see the Centenary Stone which is placed exactly as you showed in the winter issue. We were happy to see the recognition of Lewis’s work there on Addison’s Walk, but how much better it would have been if written as CSL originally published it. We walked to the Eagle & the Child where we hoped we could have lunch, but too late. I asked the server where the room was where Lewis met with the Inklings & where the plaque was recognizing this group. He said he didn’t know! One of those sitting at a table nearby pointed up over the doorway where it was mounted. We were standing in the room. It was quite small with a few pictures of Lewis and his friends on the wall. Just had to tell you how valuable the Legacy was to us on this “trip of a lifetime.”
–Norman Wheeler, Holley, NY