The Lewis Legacy-Issue 81, Summer 1999 From the Mailbag

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 81, Summer 1999 From the Mailbag The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

On a trip with Clyde Kilby once, we went through Little Lea, and I made slides of the attic where the mountains can be seen across the fields. Met Bessie Lewis on that trip, and of course Wolfie and Ruth Parker [a cousin of the Lewis brothers]. His real name was Desmond Parker, as I recall.

We met Maureen Blake in Winchcombe at the Davies home … she came up for tea or sherry. She seemed every inch a lady – sort of like Kathryn Hepburn in her “aura.” We heard Leonard Blake play the organ at Winchcomb’s St Peter’s parish church. He seemed accomplished to us, and we understood he judged students.

In another year we were invited to their lovely small home facing Gloucester Street, an extension of the main street running through Winchcombe. We had smoked salmon appetizers in their garden. I recall asking her if it were true CSL and her mother had relations. I do not recall getting a positive answer, but the clear inference was it was true. She has since confirmed this to George Sayer, I believe. After the death of her husband, she drove Bebe and me up to Malvern for a meal with George and Margaret.

Speaking of Sayer, when we finally made his friendship, he took us to a lovely pub in he foothills of the Malvern Hills frequented by him and CSL. We had a light lunch, and back at home (his first wife had died) he showed us the couch on which Tolkien sat when he recorded the circumstances surrounding the appearance of the ring. To JRRT the recorder seemed so subject to demonic possession that he prayed for it in Old Saxon or something. Sayer’s home in Malvern is across from the birthplace of Elgar, the man who wrote “Land of Hope and Glory” (Pomp and Circumstance). Once he asked us to stay in his house and take care of his two cats for a few weeks. We had stayed at the home of Desmond’s brother in Winchcombe and cared for dogs, but we didn’t figure how we could handle cats – nor was our schedule open.

Dean Picton, Hollywood, Fl

Note; Through the years, the Pictons have enjoyed a variety of Lewis locales and Lewis people, including Owen Barfield. See one of Picton’s souvenirs on p. 19.

In August [we had] a wonderful 8 day CSL study at London and Oxford. John Stott gave the morning Bible study. Earl Palmer followed with 2 hours of Lewis! We had 3 days in London at the BBC studios where Lewis gave his Mere Christianity talk in WW II. Then we had 2 days in Oxford.

We visited the Kilns (along with about 150 others). The pond is enclosed by homes now and has not been cleaned out for a long time. The house is “essentially” restored and there were three tenants there. The crowd at the house was awful. I was very sad about that! We visited CSL and Warnie’s gravesite — but missed seeing Joy’s. Saw the new plaque on Addison’s Walk and thought about your review of its text.

Needless to say, the bookstores in Oxford were depleted of all CSL by the time Earl gave his last lecture. We are entering my library onto the computer and will come up with a list of essays and/or articles I am missing. It will be tough to find these.

There is such a puzzlement as to why the matter of authorship of the Tower, etc., cannot be cleared up. It would seem to me that all the scholars who agree with you could band together – in the name of truth – and bring pressure to bear on [those in control] to come clean for once and for all. I’ve come to the sad conclusion that people simply do not care enough to carry the fight to he Inner Sanctum of the CSL Empire!

But the power of Lewis’s works – pre-Hooper – go on and on and on! I simply cannot imagine life without the presence of Lewis’s work permeating and enriching it!

Jack Lebrun, San Anselmo, CA

Reply: Eighty concerned scholars, authors, religious leaders, and others signed the C. S. Lewis petition in 1992, and I sent it to those in control of Lewis affairs. They ignored it. The only pressure that they seem to care about is financial pressure. A class action lawsuit might work wonders, but there is no way for concerned scholars to fund the cost of a lawsuit, and those in control of Lewis affairs no doubt know that.

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 (Lewis scholar)

Do you have any first-hand knowledge about the authenticity of the “Outline of Narnian History”?

Doris Myers, Greeley, CO

Reply: In Hooper’s essay “Past Watchful Dragons” (Huttar, Imagination and the Spirit (1971), he first published this three-page chronology and claimed that Lewis gave it to him. But in the same essay he claimed that he lived in the Kilns with both Lewis brothers, was Lewis’s secretary, and called Lewis “The Boss” — all manifestly untrue. There is overwhelming evidence that other Narnia scraps in the same essay are forged. In my opinion, Lewis did not give Hooper the outline, and I strongly suspect that Lewis didn’t write it. The manuscript is valuable as long as it is believed to be by Lewis.

Thanks for Legacy 79 and 80. Eighty already! And thanks for reprinting the Nation’s article; I’m glad they made a real effort to be fair in dealing with the controversies. When I saw the “poached egg” quote from CSL I thought again of a reply I’ve long wanted to make. The claims that Jesus is the Son of God (and other claims suggested “I am the Vine,” “I am the Door,” “Before Abraham was, I Am”) can indeed be met with the alternative responses that Jesus was psychotic — or was really God Incarnate. But there is a third alternative which Lewis doesn’t mention; one need not choose it, but its existence should be noted. That is, that Jesus did not utter these claims during his ministry, but that they were attributed to him by the gospel authors writing a generation or two later. Incidentally, some who chose the last named alternative, such as NT scholar Marcus Borg, are devout Christians trying to respond to the historical evidence as honestly as they can.

Gracia Fay Ellwood, Altadena, CA

I was glad to receive the last two issues of Legacy. The new evidence on The Dark Tower is much more convincing than many of your American readers may realize. The only situation where an English person would refer to “an English public school” would be when comparing such a school with some particular type or types of school in another country or countries. This is so even today, when the public schools maintain a lower profile than formerly. It was even more emphatically the case earlier in the century.

John Docherty, Forest Row, England

Reply: Agreed! Discover that the author of The Dark Tower inadvertently used the American term “English public school” instead of the British term “public school” demonstrates that the book was not written by Lewis or any other Brit.

Another (less obvious) slip-up was Lewis’s alleged use of the American homosexual slang term “nellie” before it was current in England. Another trans Atlantic anachronism was use of the American slang term “gizmo” in “Forms of Things Unknown,” which is also in the Dark Tower collection.

Thanks for the two issues of Lewis Legacy which came yesterday. Really great. The ceremonials of Oxford was really interesting and helpful, to have lots of references one knows all together in one place… Also, I’m laughing to myself: we may get to the place where we’re thinking “poor old Walter,” the way he’s getting shunted to the sidelines by Doug Gresham and the C. S. Lewis Pte.

Doreen Wood, Tulsa, OK

Some material about Martin Luther King’s estate in Plagiarism and the Culture Wars by Theodore Pappas closely parallels that of the C. S. Lewis estate.

I have been reading the classics and found two sources for CSL’s illustrations. The three possibilities for Jesus; God, imposter, or lunatic is from one of the early church fathers. The sunbeam going through a hole in the dark shed is from a Martin Luther sermon.

James Long, Sunnyvale, CA

I’m surprised that “English public school” [in The Dark Tower] got by a British copy editor. This is a goof that would routinely be handled by crossing out “English” and adding a little note: “AU:OK? (to remove redundancy).” [Griffing is a copy editor.]

Brenda Griffing, Fort Lauderdale, FL

I particularly enjoyed the 79th issue of The Lewis Legacy featuring Lewis’ Oxford experiences. After having briefly visited there nearly two years ago, I was anxious for more insight on the ways of Oxford. Your issue helped a lot. Also, I was somewhat surprised by what a conceited/self-centered person C.S. Lewis was at that time of his life. Mercifully, he changed.

Is it time to forget about Walter Hooper and Stan Mattson and the rest of that bunch and let them marinate in their just desserts? I would be interested in your focusing again on what Lewis tried to have us focus on: Why Christ in our life? I am not sure that this central issue has been fully addressed.

John Richardson, Menlo Park, CA

When Jean and I met in 1944 I was treasurer of the Scottish national Union of Students. We ran a conference, God forgive us, entitled Whither Education. Back in those days people were honest and accounts were accurate. I found one person had not paid for lunch, 40 cents worth, so I arranged to meet her and charm the money out of her. She argued that she had been asked to help and was promised a free lunch for doing so.

A week later, 20th April was her 17th birthday. With my buddy we gave her a handsome gift. In ’44 things were very scarce. We persuaded a tobacconist to part with his window display a very, very large matchbox. Inside we put Screwtape Letters inscribed:

Don’t you think our wit is matchless?
We think you’re quite matchless too.
Please accept this little token
From Alec T. and Andrew Q.

A. Q. Morton, Helensburg, Scotland

Note: Andrew and Jean Morton have been married for over 50 years.

In all honesty I sometimes do no more than breeze through The Lewis Legacy and sometimes feel your pursuit of Walter Hooper is obsessive, but I always like reading about C. S. L. and if you continue to keep me on your mailing list, I will be pleased.

Frederick Buechener, Hobe Sound, FL

Two questions that frequently arise are whether one can write a sequel to the Chronicles of Narnia and whether Susan has any hope of rejoining the others in the company of Aslan after The Last Battle. The latter was answered by Lewis himself in a letter dated 22 January 1957: “The books don’t tell us what happened to Susan. She is left alive in this world at the end, having by then turned into a rather silly conceited young woman. But there is plenty of time for her to mend, and perhaps she will get to Aslan’s country in the end — in her own way.”

When I taught “Fantasy Novels of C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams” at Williams College 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. (What students write for me with no intention of publication is not subject to 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). 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 Williams’ War in Heaven.

Naturally, I’ll encourage students to try the same when I teach the course again next year. For the most part, I’ve found that students do better with such a try (in a course that is, as I said, not intended to teach creative writing) than with a fully original story; but the best story I got last year was fully original. (And it was written, by the way, by a student majoring in computer science!)

Victor Hill, Williamstown, MA

Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the 20,000 word article “C. S. Lewis and Ceremonies of Oxford University” by John Bremer that appeared in issue 79 of your “Lewis Legacy.” Absolutely superb. You are very fortunate in finding such a contributor. Do ask him to write further articles. I wish he would write a biography of Jack or Warren.

Jonathan Brewer, Cornwall, UK

At the end of The Silver Chair, there’s a dialogue with Aslan in His Country on their way back, when he has resurrected Caspian. Eustace nervously asks, “Hasn’t he — er — died?” Aslan replies, “Yes. He has died. Most people have, you know. Even I have.” But Polish has no present perfect tense, and the translation came out saying that Caspian, Aslan and most people are mortal, rather than affirming that they, and most people ever born, have already passed through death. I had a longish telephone debate with the translator, desperately trying to explain, including that (for Judeo-Christians) only Enoch and Elijah are exceptions. I didn’t win the discussion, but about a day later he called and admitted I was right, and changed that bit of translation for our edition.

Name withheld, Warsaw, Poland

I can’t figure out how Walter Hooper commands the kind of loyalty he does. Perhaps it’s Inner Ring mentality; he has an unusual talent for conveying to an audience his own (supposed) intimacy with Lewis, in such a way that the audience feels intimate with Lewis also.

I also can’t figure out why your revelations about Hooper have received hateful and vituperative responses. Your health problems have been exploited in the interests of an ad hominem attack. “She is only saying that because she has MS” — haven’t they ever read “Bulverism”? I take it these people have no clinical information about MS to back up their claims. [Correct.]

It is as if Hooper has said “I am the way, the wardrobe, and the life, no one cometh to Jack Lewis except by me,” and people have believed this.

Victor Reppert, Phoenix, AZ

C. S. Lewis by William Gray, Northcote House (England), “Writers and Their Work” series, pb, 114 pp, ISBN 0-7463-0901-5, about $9.95, Gray is senior lecturer in the School of English, Chichester Institute of Higher Education, where he teaches courses in the School of Religion and Theology… educated at Oxford, Princeton, and Edinburgh universities…

You are mentioned three times: Page 1,2: “This need on Lewis’s part to efface the writer in ‘real history’ has, as we shall see, deep psychological as well as theological roots. It contrasts sharply with the proliferation of Lewis hagiography – the ‘Lewis industry’ which Kathryn Lindskoog savages in her book The C. S. Lewis Hoax.”

Page 12: “The precise nature of Lewis’s relation to Janie Moore, with whom he had lived for around thirty years, is a matter of much speculation and debate. Owen Barfield, who was perhaps Lewis’s closest friend during the relevant period, is quoted by George Sayer as saying that the liklihood that Lewis and Mrs Moore were lovers was ‘fifty-fifty’. In a new introduction to the 1997 edition of his book Sayer says that now, after further conversations with Mrs Moore’s daughter, he is now ‘quite certain that they were lovers’. In A. N. Wilson’s view it would be amazing if Lewis’s relationship with Mrs Moore had been entirely asexual. There can be no doubt, he says, that Lewis and Mrs Moore fell in love at the end of the First World War when Lewis was convalescing from his wounds and Mrs Moore was frantically awaiting news of her son Paddy, who in the event had been killed. Lindskoog takes a similar line (footnote Hoax)…”

Page 107 (select bibliography): “Lindskoog, Kathryn. The C. S. Lewis Hoax (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1988). The main target of Lindskoog’s acerbic wit is Walter Hooper and his appropriation of Lewis’s life and works, under false pretenses, according to Lindskoog. A thought-provoking counterblast to the Hooper version of Lewis, even if there is only a grain of truth in what Lindskoog claims.”

Other tidbits: Joe Christopher’s C S Lewis is “brisk and comprehensive”, but “makes perhaps too extensive reference to Tolkien and Dante, of whose works a detailed knowledge is presupposed.”

David Downing’s Planets in Peril is “thorough, illuminating, and informative…”

David Holbrook’s Skeletons in the Wardrobe is “right to argue that (a Freudian approach) fits Lewis’s writings remarkably well”, but “his approach is too heavily psychoanalytic and some particular interpretations are unconvincing.”

A. N. Wilson’s bio is “widely acclaimed, well-written, and provocative”, “links Lewis’s life and writings in an illuminating way”, and that “George Sayer has challenged some of Wilson’s more convincing claims, and accused him of distorting the evidence.”

Another new book on Lewis: C. S. Lewis and the Bright Shadow of Holiness by Gerhard Reed (pb, Beacon Hill Press, 190 pp). Reed is professor of philosophy and religion at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. The book is “an insightful and enlightening exploration of the holiness of God – translated into the health, wholeness, and joy of the inner life – as traced in the writings of C. S. Lewis. The reader discovers Lewis’s emphasis on ‘transformation’, the divine working of the Holy Spirit, infusing grace and conforming believers to the image of Christ Jesus.”

In the Winter 99 issue of Modern Age (once edited by Russell Kirk), there is an article by Byron C. Lambert, “The Regrettable Silence of Paul Elmer More”, in which the author mentions More’s friendship with Lewis and says: “Indeed, Lewis. One notices how this converted atheist has reading world by storm… While More was at Oxford in May 1933, he dined with Lewis who, he says in a letter to Christian Gauss, ‘interested him more than any other Oxonian’ he had met for a long time, and that Lewis promised to send him a book detailing in disguised form the religious conversion he had undergone. The book was The Pilgrim’s Regress, which More enjoyed immensely.”

Perry Bramlett, Louisville, KY