The Lewis Legacy-Issue 82, Autumn 1999 From the Mailbag

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 82, Autumn 1999 From the Mailbag The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

When I first read Screwtape Letters, I was studying sociology in graduate school. But something was missing. I knew something was missing, but I didn’t know what it was. Then I read Screwtape, and bingo, here was more understanding of what it means to be human in one slim volume than in all the great sociological tomes I had been reading. (This was way back in 1976). I ended up withdrawing from graduate school. I had successfully completed all my courses, but had no heart to finish the thesis at all. There were other reasons as well, but this was the primary reason. I could not reconcile what I was reading in Lewis with all my sociology.

Irene Hill, Vancouver, British Columbia

You probably know all about the case of Mike Warnke (supposedly a former Satanist who came to Christ and then made big bucks telling his story in various media), given your penchant for following the careers of fakes and frauds. However, if you want more grist for your “Footsteps” section, take a look at: it’s all about Warnke. By the way, I’ve noticed the Carlos Castaneda books still selling in major book chains, turning baloney into lettuce, so to speak.

Darek Barefoot, Grand Junction, CO

I have rediscovered the passage on page 52 of Weight of Glory where Lewis says he has to forego doing many things he likes because of the limited time in life. This is further evidence that he would not have spent time writing a story containing material he detested with a passion. In An Experiment in Criticism (1961), p. 109, Lewis said he seldom visited the literary province of science fiction anymore. He wrote this in 1960 or earlier, and so it casts more doubt upon the claim that Lewis wrote the Dark Tower in the late 1950s. I have also rediscovered a passage on page 454 of the revised letters collection, Lewis said he disliked Christian symbols and words being displayed at places other than churches. I thought of that when Legacy reported that the people who refurbished the Kilns arranged contrasting tiles to form a cross on the roof.

James Long, Sunnyvale, CA

I enjoyed reading your contribution to In Search of C. S. Lewis by Stephen Schofield. The book confirms my feeling that amongst those who have deeply encountered Lewis there are three kinds of people: those who openly, or secretly, despised him and were totally threatened by his razor mind; those who respected him, but thought him loony in matters of religion; and those who see the whole man, submissive to God, full of self knowledge and a godly humility which never confused itself with submissiveness. I had the most wonderful time at a conference in Oxford recently, living in the Queens College, 200 yards or so from Magdalen. I went into their grounds, for a fee, and located Addison’s walk, and the famous stone — and revelled in the imagined sight of CS and the others strolling along, deep in conversation, his heart warming to the emerging recognition of truth. It is very beautiful, and I have brought back some really good photos of the place. I have always been into photography, and am challenged to capture atmosphere and wonder with it. I had a room at the top of Queens — four flights and 75 steps up from ground level. Ground level was 15 steps above the basement, where the showers and toilets were located. I kept pretty fit! Oxford and the Cotswolds were ablaze with flower baskets and sun.

Claude Cunningham, Johannesburg, South Africa

Issue 81 is at hand. Your CSL “network”, your investigative skills plus your love for CSL and his work combine to make Legacy so enjoyable.

Jack LeBrun, San Anselmo CA

What bothers me the most about the whole situation is the lack of critical editions of Lewis’s works. Everything is in the hands of people who don’t really care about scholarship, but only how much profit it’s going to generate for them. Ironically, C.S. Lewis’s posthumous popularity has much to do with the undoing of his legacy by these unscrupulous sharks.

David Beam, La Prairie, Quebec

Mike’s January-April course at the University of South Carolina in Columbia using my Analyzing for Authorship as a forensic text-book went very well (and I also gave them a lecture when I was there). They were sceptical till they tried it on themselves. Then Mike gave them a number of legal cases (in groups of 3 or 4), and they came up with the same results as Michael had done when he went into court, thus proving the objectivity of the method. If people know what they’re doing, it WORKS! We saw an Oxford paper advertising rooms to rent in C. S.Lewis’s house recently — must be for students?

Jill Farringdon, Swansea, Wales

I read philosophy and theology at Oxford University in the early 80s, and was already a fan of CSL’s then. I also met Bede Griffiths a few times, to whom Surprised By Joy is dedicated. Griffiths used to pop down to a little Catholic / Artist community I stayed at and conducted the Sunday service there. The Catholic / Artist community was started by the writer George Ineson, who, like Griffiths, had close links with Prinknash Abbey, the Benedictine Abbey that still flourishes in England. George was influenced by G K Chesterton — who earlier this century encouraged Catholic village community life; William Morris’ Arts and Craft Movement; and Eric Gill’s Catholic Artisan community. With like-minded Christians he set up a small community after World War Two. The community is still extant and is known and respected throughout the Cotswalds.

C S Lewis is not so well known over here (Australia), as far as I know. In fact, besides myself, I know of no one who reads him. He is — as he predicted in De Discriptione Temporum — considered a dinosaur….

Tony Ingram, Melbourne, Australia

I totally agree with you that those who wish to deny any evidence, will do so — yea, though Lewis himself were to rise from the dead, and deny authorship… Truth does not always win. But it sometimes does have a way of surviving, even when paved over by lies, like weed-seeds under tarmac.

Larry Gilman, Chicago, IL

I have just finished reading the latest Legacy, which I found very interesting, including the quote from my old friend Jim Patrick, a colleague on the staff of Nashotah House (his first year there was my last; he was still an Episcopal priest then).

As for the foreign language quotes on p. 18, passion inutile is bad Italian but perfect French; I suspect the adjective means “unproductive; fruitless” but it would depend on the context. The Latin (no. 3) is not directly from the Vulgate but a liturgical derivative. The Biblical passage is Psalm 103:10 (102 in the Vulgate): “Non secundum peccata nostra fecit nobis: neque secundum iniquitates nostras retribuit nobis.” (I have only the NT Vulgate, so am quoting here from the breviary, where the psalm occurs at Matins on Saturday (at least in summer). The liturgical derivative occurs in the Sarum Litany as a versicle and response:

V. Domine non secundum peccata nostra facias nobis.
R. Neque secundum iniquitates nostras retribuas nobis.

(Brev. Sar. fol. 60; Brev. Ebor. fol. 263; quoted William Palmer (of Worcester College, Oxford, not to be confused with the William Palmer who was at Magdalen College, Oxford at the same time), Origines Liturgicae, 1:299)

This would have been familiar to CSL in the English litany; cf. American BCP of 1928, p. 58, where it is translated:

V. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins.
R. Neither reward us according to our iniquities.

The phrase “Favete linguis” is interesting, because the verb appears to mean the opposite of its basic meaning in this phrase; however, my Latin dictionary explains that to keep silence was considered doing a favor (how often we wish people would do us this favor!).

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, OR

Seems like there are others who are supporting some of your emphasis on the truth about Lewis. He has helped me so much; I didn’t have a real father growing up but Lewis helps in various difficulties.

Steve Rushton, Huntington Beach, CA

Little Lea was a vast enterprise, a large house, set on an enormous and beautiful site overlooking Belfast Lough. In both respects it dwarfs the Greeves house nearby. Yet the Greeveses were a leading Belfast business family, owning a leading linen mill, while Albert Lewis was only a Solicitor. His income as Prosecutor for the City Council may have yielded a comfortable income, yet it can hardly have brought him wealth. Moreover, Albert’s act in sending both sons to England for their education was unusual for someone in his position or among his circle of friends. How much more natural, and cheaper, to send them to Campbell College nearby! Or, if he must, to an Irish boarding school such as Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, (where Oscar Wilde, brilliant son of a leading Dublin surgeon) had gone.

This act tells us that Albert’s aspirations were unusual, and in explaining them I have been driven to the conclusion that Albert’s great friend, Kirkpatrick (aka ‘MacPhee’), and his advice, was responsible. Had Lewis been sent to Irish schools, and then naturally to Dublin University, he would still have been a great man, but he would have been a very different man. So Kirkpatrick/MacPhee, in my submission, directly and indirectly, moulded the C.S. Lewis that we know.

Albert’s position as Solicitor for the City Council would have given him contacts and knowledge, in a city where vast fortunes were being made. We know that Albert engaged in Property Development projects with his cousin ‘Joey’ or ‘Ted’ Lewis, and we know that C.S. Lewis was receiving an income from property in Belfast until the end of his life (which he willed to Warren). I would suggest that it was money from these property developments that built ‘Little Lea’ and helped to sustain Albert’s lifestyle. [Why did Albert not move to somewhere more modest after Flora’s death, when he was the only family member living at ‘Little Lea’? Prestige.

James O’Fee, Bangor, Ireland

Note: Albert always hated change and was also extremely sentimental. Why move?

My son, Luke, 7, greatly enjoys The Simpsons on TV. Called him the other evening for his program, but he didn’t come. Found him lying on his bed, immersed in The Silver Chair and choosing that over Bart & Homer. Joy! Our public library has very little by or about Lewis, though it does have (you’ll be pleased to know) The Dark Tower and A.N. Wilson’s biography…

Checked out Wilson last month and didn’t exactly read, but dipped into it. A bit like reading [a] kind of gossip column… Re Dark Tower: I read that a few years ago and promptly forgot it – it was an eminently forgettable book, not like Perelandra or the like. But I remember thinking at the time “that was a bit of catharsis never meant for other people’s eyes” and that a true friend of Lewis’s would have realised that and not published. So your explanation made a lot of sense. As far as catharsis goes, an example of real Lewisian catharsis is in A Grief Observed; nothing like The Dark Tower.

Ruth Sammons, Wanganui. New Zealand

I am approaching the last Canto of Paradise and just want to say thanks for your lucid editing of these three volumes. They read very easily and with your abundant footnotes, make clear that which I could never decipher. I am sure I must have given up reading my original copy after Inferno. But with Virgil, Beatrice & Kathryn leading the way, the trip through Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise was a thrilling excursion.

Norman Wheeler, Holly, NY

I took a quick look at Jones’s Literary Detective data and there is a great consistency in the samples known to be by Lewis among themselves — a standard deviation of 8.7 and a mean of 7.0 for the single letters, and a standard deviation of 56 and a mean of 1834 — the significant thing is that the mean of the comparisons with The Dark Tower are over 2.9 standard deviations from the mean of the Lewis material…

Ray Schneider, Harrisonburg, VA

The Lewis Encyclopedia is most informative!

George Gorniak, Grayswood, Surrey, UK