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The Lewis Legacy-Issue 82, Autumn 1999

C. S. Lewis and Dante's Paradise

C.S. Lewis and Dante’s Paradise

by Kathryn Lindskoog

The strong influence of Dante’s Paradise in the life and writing of C. S.
Lewis has gone almost unnoticed until now.

I. Dante’s Paradise in the Life of C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis read Dante’s Inferno in Italian when he was in his teens, and
he read Dante’s Purgatory in the hospital when he was recovering from
wounds he received in the inferno of World War One. When he was
twenty-three he mentioned in his diary that he disbelieved in immortality
and that Dante’s “facts” were outdated. (At that time his brother Warren
was reading Dante.) Six years later, in the spring of 1929, Lewis
reluctantly decided that there is a God; but he did not yet believe in
Christianity or an afterlife.

At the beginning of January in 1930 C. S. Lewis visited his friend Owen
Barfield for a few days, and the two did “some solid reading together.”
After lunch they would take a walk, then read Dante’s Paradise (in Italian)
the rest of the day.

Afterward, Lewis described this experience to his friend Arthur Greeves:
“[Paradise] has really opened a new world to me. I don’t know whether it is
really very different from the Inferno (B. says it is as different as
chalk from cheese — heaven from hell, would be more appropriate!) or
whether I was specially receptive, but it certainly seemed to me that I had
never seen at all what Dante was like before. Unfortunately, the impression
is one so unlike anything else that I can hardly describe it for your
benefit — a sort of mixture of intense, even crabbed, complexity of
language and thought with (what seems impossible) at the very same time a
feeling of spacious gliding movement, like a slow dance, or like flying. It
is like the stars — endless mathematical subtility of orb, cycle, epicycle
and ecliptic, unthinkable & unpicturable yet at the same time the freedom
and liquidity of empty space and the triumphant certainty of movement. I
should describe it as feeling more important than any poetry I have ever
read.”

Lewis suggested that Greeves might try it in English translation, but
warned him “If you do, I think the great point is to give up any idea of
reading it in long stretches… instead, read a small daily portion, in
rather a liturgical manner, letting the images and the purely intellectual
conceptions sink well into the mind…. It is not really like any of the
things we know.”

Six months later, Lewis told Greeves he had visited Barfield again and they
had finished Paradise. “I think it reaches heights of poetry which you get
nowhere else; an ether almost too fine to breathe. It is a pity I can give
you no notion what it is like. Can you imagine Shelley at his most ecstatic
combined with Milton at his most solemn & rigid? It sounds impossible I
know, but that is what Dante has done.”

The year after he first read Paradise, C. S. Lewis became a believing
Christian, and he was clearly influenced by Dante for the rest of his life.
There are traces of The Divine Comedy throughout his writing, from The
Pilgrim’s Regress
, his first Christian book, to Letters to Malcolm, his
last.

II. Dante’s Paradise in the Writings of C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim’s Regress

C. S. Lewis became a believing Christian in 1931, wrote The Pilgrim’s
Regress
in 1932, and published it in 1933. Early in this allegory a man
named John awakens in a wood and realizes that he wants out. After an
adventurous journey in which he learns many lessons, he approaches at last
the true object of his deepest desire. That is not an original plot
outline; it is the outline of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

There is also a specific allusion to The Divine Comedy within Pilgrim’s
Regress
, and it is highly significant. In Book 9, chapter 1, of Regress,
the sleeping pilgrim is awakened by the light of a woman who introduces
herself as Contemplation and says “Rise and come with me.” They travel far
through the air together in a sphere of light that is finally swallowed up
in an ocean of light (reminiscent of the ocean of light in Paradise). There
light runs down like a river too bright to look at, and it sings with a
very loud voice. Many people are traveling with them with happiness on
their faces, moving together toward great castle gates at the summit. This
journey is obviously composed of images from Paradise.

In Regress the journey with Contemplation is only a dream, and the pilgrim
awakens to his old terror of death; his real arrival at his destination
comes a bit later in the story, in Book 10. Thus Lewis’s allegorical dream
journey with Contemplation is a thinly veiled account of his contemplative
foretaste of Christian faith in 1931 when he read Paradise. (Hence, Lewis
is allegorizing Dante’s allegory.)

Out of the Silent Planet

C. S. Lewis published his first novel, a tale of space travel, in 1938. He
apparently had both the beginning of Psalm 19 and the beginning of Canto 27
of Paradise in mind when he described the heavens in the fifth chapter of
Out of the Silent Planet: “He [Ransom] had read of ‘Space’: at the back of
his thinking for years had lurked the dismal fancy of the black, cold
vacuity, the utter deadness, which was supposed to separate the worlds. He
had not known how much it affected him till now — now that the very name
‘Space’ seemed a blasphemous libel for this empyrean ocean of radiance in
which they swam. He could not call it ‘dead’; he felt life pouring into him
from it every moment. He had thought it barren: he saw now that it was the
womb of the worlds, whose blazing and innumerable offspring looked down
nightly even upon the earth with many eyes… Older thinkers had been
wiser when they named it simply the heavens — the heavens which declared
the glory…”

This eyewitness account by Ransom agrees with the eyewitness account by
Dante in Canto 27: “All Paradise began to ring with the sweet strain “Glory
be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit!” — which
intoxicated me. I seemed to see the entire universe smile, and I was
enraptured by both sound and sight. O joy! O indescribable ecstasy! O life
of perfect love and peace! O endless unlimited riches!” Dante was
consciously portraying Psalm19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” and C. S. Lewis would have
realized that.

In 1931 Lewis had written to Arthur Greeves, “I think [Paradise] reaches
heights of poetry which you get nowhere else.” In 1938 he published Out of
the Silent Planet
. And in 1958 he published Reflections on the Psalms,
where he said of Psalm 19, “I take this to be the greatest poem in the
Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.”

The Problem of Pain

The final chapter in Lewis’s first book of straightforward Christian
apologetics, The Problem of Pain (1940), is also the first of his evocative
descriptions of Heaven. There he wrote of “that something which you were
born desiring”:

All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul
have been but hints of it — tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite
fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it
should ever really become manifest — if there ever came an echo that did
not die away but swelled to the sound itself — you would know it. Beyond
all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was
made for’. 

From Canto 1 to Canto 33 of Paradise, that promise was Dante’s theme. In
Canto 33 Dante said “Anyone who sees that Light becomes a person who would
not possibly consent to turn away to any other sight; for the good that is
the object of all desires is ingathered there in its fullness, and
elsewhere it falls short of its perfection.”

“The Weight of Glory”

C. S. Lewis delivered his famous sermon “The Weight of Glory” in 1941,
eleven years after first reading Paradise; and “The Weight of Glory” is
like a vivid summary of Dante’s most important points in Paradise. Lewis
stresses that God wants us to strongly desire our own blessedness, glory
and joy. The sermon is obviously based on Corinthians 4:17, “For this
slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison…”

Lewis explains at length the nature of our personal glory in Heaven. “I
suddenly remembered that no one can enter heaven except as a child; and
nothing is so obvious in a child — not in a conceited child, but in a good
child — as its great and undisguised pleasure in being praised. Not only
in a child, either, but even in a dog or a horse…. Perfect humility
dispenses with modesty.” Dante clearly demonstrated this humility in Canto
24 after being quizzed by St. Peter about faith. “Like a master who
embraces his servant as soon as he hears good news that causes him to
rejoice, so the light of that apostle at whose command I had spoken circled
me three times, blessing me in song. That is how much my answer pleased
him.” Like a child, Dante was happy that St. Peter glorified him with song
and dance in response to his correct answers.

Lewis warns that it may be possible to think too much of one’s future glory
in Heaven, but it is hardly possible to think too often or too deeply of
the future glory of other people (“everlasting splendours”). “The load, or
weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back,
a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud
will be broken.” This is like Dante’s initial reaction to Peter and James
in Canto 25. There James told Dante “Look up and be confident, for it
befits anyone who ascends here from the mortal world to ripen in our
radiance.” As Dante told it, “This comforting word from the second flame
caused me to lift my head up toward the mountains that had bent me down
with their great weight.” This mountain image is an allusion to Psalm
120:1, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains, the source of my help.”
Peter and James were the mountains Dante was looking to for help, but he
was in such awe of their radiant majesty that he had bent his head as if
the weight of their light was more than he could bear.

(In Lewis’s 1948 essay “Imagery in the Last Eleven Cantos of Dante’s
‘Comedy'” he says, “…the weight of the mountains (or of the Apostles, for
they are momentarily one) which weighs upon the soul is equated with the
actual weight which bends the bearer double.” He continues, “…how
immensely venerable the Apostles have become first by the mountain image
and then by the image of weight which, as it were, grows from it. No direct
praise of their wisdom or sanctity could have made us respect them half so
much.”)

In the last paragraph of “The Weight of Glory” Lewis concludes that we
should conduct all our earthly relationships with awe and circumspection.
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization — these are mortal, and their life
is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with,
work with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting
splendours.” In The Divine Comedy Dante showed how awesome all people
really are. In Inferno they were immortal horrors, and in Paradise they
were everlasting splendours. (In Paradise people who had been competitors
or opponents on earth rejoiced with each other. One example of this is the
heavenly relationship of Aquinas and Siger of Brabant in Canto 10.)

Lewis’s single main point in “The Weight of Glory” is that we are born with
a longing for heaven, but that we tend to misinterpret it. “Now, if we are
made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but
not yet attached to the true object, and will even appear as the rival of
that object.” He elaborates, “If a transpersonal, transfinite good is our
real destiny, then any other good on which our desire fixes must be in some
degree fallacious, must bear at best only a symbolical relationship to what
will truly satisfy.” In the third sentence of Paradise Dante referred to
our awareness approaching “the object of its deepest desire,” and later in
Canto 1 Beatrice explained that our true desire is often “wrenched aside to
earth by some fallacious pleasure.”

Lewis tries to imagine what it will be like to reach the true object of our
deepest desire. “What would it be to taste at the fountain-head that stream
of which even these lower reaches prove so intoxicating? Yet that, I
believe, is what lies before us. The whole man is to drink joy from the
fountain of joy.” Dante wrote all of Paradise to say that.

Perelandra

C. S. Lewis published his second space-travel novel, Perelandra, in 1943.
In a note at the end of her essay “Dante’s Vision of Heaven” Barbara
Reynolds states, “C. S. Lewis, who knew Dante’s poem well, has used the
concept of the Great Dance of the universe in the last chapter of
Perelandra, which is in fact a descant upon Paradise.” The Great Dance of
the Universe was epitomized by Dante in Canto 28: “In the two next-to-last
rings of dancers Principalities and Archangels whirl; and the last is made
up of Angels frolicking.”

The Great Divorce

Lewis’s Great Divorce (1945) is a profound little fantasy about a bus trip
to the outskirts of Heaven. (Lewis told an inquirer that the busdriver is
the same angel that descended in Inferno to help Dante on his way.)

In The Great Divorce a resident of Heaven, George MacDonald, assures Lewis
that visitors from Hell to Heaven can stay if they want to. “Aye. Ye’ll
have heard that the emperor Trajan did.” Readers of Paradise would have
heard so. In Canto 10 of Purgatory Dante recounted the kindness of the
pagan emperor Trajan to a widow, and in Canto 20 of Paradise he located
Trajan in Heaven: “…the one closest to the beak consoled the widow for
her son. Now he knows from his experience of this sweet life and its
opposite the price of not following Christ.” (According to a medieval
tradition, after Trajan spent time in Hell he had a chance to enter Heaven
and did so.)

In addition to surprises about who gets into Heaven, according to Lewis and
Dante, there will be surprises about the ranking in Heaven. In The Great
Divorce
Lewis describes a woman named Sarah Smith who had no high position
or prominence in her first life. In Heaven she is a great saint: “Love
shone not from her face only, but from all her limbs, as if it were some
liquid in which she had just been bathing.” Likewise, on earth Beatrice
had no high position or prominence, but in heaven her face was
indescribably radiant with love. In Canto 31 she was seated forever in the
third highest row; “if you look up at the third row from the top you will
see her again, on the throne her merit reserved for her.” Both women are
brisk, beneficent, and free from sentimentality.

Till We Have Faces

At the end of C. S. Lewis’s finest novel, Till We Have Faces (1956), Orual
says “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are youself the
answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would
suffice?” Although she did not get the kind of explanation of God’s justice
she sought, her real underlying question was answered. (In my opinion, that
question was “God, are you good? Do you love us? Can I trust you?” The
answer was a resounding yes.)

In Canto 19 of Paradise, Dante was deeply concerned about the fate of
virtuous unbelievers. The eagle rebuked him;

“Who are you to sit in a judgment seat a thousand miles away when you can’t see farther than a
handbreadth?…. O earthly animals! O doltish minds! The Primal Will,
goodness itself, never deviates from itself, which is Supreme Good. All
that is just harmonizes with it; it does not approximate any created good,
but gives rise to that good by beaming forth its rays.”

When Dante wrote Canto 19 of Paradise he was consciously echoing the crux
of the book of Job, and when Lewis wrote Till We Have Faces he was
consciously echoing both Job and Paradise. In all three accounts, the
answer to rational human questions about divine justice is a transrational
revelation of the wisdom and goodness of God.

The Last Battle

In 1956 Lewis published his seventh Narnian Chronicle, The Last Battle.
There a virtuous pagan soldier named Emeth dies bravely and awakens to find
himself in Heaven with the very God he has been taught to oppose. In my
opinion, Lewis had in mind Dante’s claim in Canto 20 of Paradise that a
virtuous pagan soldier named Ripheus was taken to Heaven, saved by God’s
inscrutable grace.

At the end of The Last Battle the children are in Heaven and one of them
says, “I see… world within world, Narnia within Narnia…” “‘Yes,’ said
Mr. Tumnus, ‘like an onion: except that as you go in and in, each circle is
larger than the last.'” Perhaps Lewis has in mind Canto 28 of Paradise,
where Dante discovered that each of the nine concentric spheres was larger
than the sphere enclosing it, and the Point in the very center enwrapped
them all.

“A Panegyric for Dorothy L. Sayers”

Dorothy Sayers died in December 1957, and C. S. Lewis wrote a tribute to be
read at her memorial service in January 1958. In it he said, “She died
instead; went, as one may in all humility hope, to learn more of Heaven
than even the Paradiso could tell her.”

A Grief Observed

After the death of C. S. Lewis’s wife in 1960, he kept a heartwrenching
journal that he published under the title A Grief Observed. The last
paragraph ends with a sentence from Paradise: “How wicked it would be, if
we could, to call the dead back! She said not to me but to the chaplain, ‘I
am at peace with God.’ She smiled, but not at me. Poi si torno all’ eterna
fontana.” This is from Canto 31, where Dante described Beatrice looking
at him for the last time in Paradise: “So I prayed; and as distant as she
was, she smiled and gazed at me. Then she turned back to the Eternal
Fountain.”

Letters to Malcolm

In C. S. Lewis’s last book, Letters to Malcolm (1964), he is still
referring to Dante’s Paradise. He reflects “But when Dante saw the great
apostles in heaven they affected him like mountains. There’s lots to be
said against devotions to saints; but at least they keep on reminding us
that we are very small people compared to them. How much smaller before
their Master?” Here Lewis also connects the crushing weight of the
mountains’ light with the intolerable weight on the backs of the proud on
the First Terrace of Mount Purgatory (see Canto 13 of Purgatory). There
Dante feared that his own back would be bent double someday because of
pride, his besetting sin. In my opinion, the comforting words of St. James
in Canto 25 of Paradise were an assurance to Dante that his pride had been
replaced by humility, obviating his need to be cleansed of pride after
death. Like Dante, Lewis considered pride to be his own setting sin.

(In Lewis’s 1948 essay “Imagery in the Last Eleven Cantos of Dante’s
‘Comedy'” he says, “…the weight of the mountains [or of the Apostles, for
they are momentarily one] which weighs upon the soul is equated with the
actual weight which bends the bearer double.”)

In additon to Lewis’s overt reference to Dante’s Paradise in Letters to
Malcolm
, there are at least five specific correspondences between the two
books that may or may not be significant:

(1) In chapter 13 Lewis describes the paradoxical nature of grace in an
untitled poem about prayer. (Lewis’s version of this poem does not appear
in his posthumous poetry collection.) The first kind of grace is God’s
actively reaching out to His beloved creature, and the second kind of grace
is God’s helping the beloved creature to reach back. In Canto 20 of
Paradise Dante made a fleeting reference to these two kinds of grace in
explaining the salvation of Ripheus : “[Ripheus], by the grace that wells
up from such a deep spring that nocreated eye has ever plumbed the depths
of its source, set all his love below on righteousness; and therefore, by
grace on grace, God let him see our future redemption.”

(2) Lewis observes, “God is not in space, but space is in God.” Dante made
this concept famous by depicting it in Cantos 28-30 of Paradise. In Canto
30 he referred to God as “the Point… which seems to be enclosed by what
It encloses.”

(3) Lewis says, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” Dante’s entire
Paradise is a mounting crescendo of that joy. In Canto 31 Dante declared,
“And even if I had a wealth of words and an imagination to match, I would
not endeavor to describe the smallest part of that delight.”

(4) Lewis claims, “The angels never knew (from within) the meaning of the
word ought, and the blessed dead have long since gladly forgotten it.”
Dante’s final sentence in Paradise (and the entire Comedy) ends with “but
my desire and will were being turned already, like a wheel in perfect
balance, by the Love that moves the sun and other stars.” In Heaven Dante’s
desire and will were miraculously conformed to the will of God.

(5) C. S. Lewis speculates about time and timelessness in heaven:

“I certainly believe that to be God is to enjoy an infinite present, where
nothing has yet passed away and nothing is still to come. Does it follow
that we can say the same of saints and angels? Or at any rate exactly the
same? The dead might experience a time which is not so linear as ours — it
might, so to speak, have thickness as well as length. Already in this life
we get some thickness whenever we learn to attend to more than one thing at
once. One can suppose this increased to any extent, so that though, for
them as for us, the present is always becoming the past, yet each present
contains unimaginably more than ours. I feel… that to make the life of
the blessed dead strictly timeless is inconsistent with the resurrection of
the body.” Although Dante describes Heaven as beyond time and space, his
saints there seem to experience time. In canto 32 St. Bernard says to
Dante, “But since the time for your vision grows short, let us stop here,
like a careful tailor who cuts out a garment according to the amount of
cloth he has…”

There is one more rather poignant connection between Letters to Malcolm and
Paradise that I have noticed. Just as Dante died before there was time for
Paradise to be copied and read, C. S. Lewis died before there was time for
Letters to Malcolm to be published and read. Both books were completed when
their authors were unaware that they were on the very brink of the eternity
they were both describing.

One of Kathryn Lindskoog’s latest books is Dante’s Divine Comedy: Paradise
(Mercer University Press, 1998). Part I of this essay is the introduction
of that book. This essay appeared in the spring 1999 issue of the Canadian
C. S. Lewis Journal.

A C. S. Lewis chronology

(2= Famous forgeries and unlikely Lewis literature)

1920s

1926
“The Man Born Blind” written by Lewis in the late 1920s, according to
Barfield

1927
“The Most Substantial People” novel begun by Lewis circa 1927

1928
2″Encyclopedia Boxoniana” allegedly started by Lewis in September

1929
2″Encyclopedia Boxoniana” allegedly finished by Lewis in April

1930s

1930
Purchase of the Kilns by the Lewis brothers and Mrs. Moore

1931
C.S. Lewis and Warren Lewis separately embrace Christianity
Walter Hooper born March 27 in Reidsville, North Carolina

1934
2Master forger Thomas J. Wise, England’s “Prince of Bibliographers,”
exposed

1938
Out of the Silent Planet published
2The Dark Tower allegedly written by Lewis as sequel to Silent Planet

1940s

1942
Publication of The Screwtape Letters makes Lewis a popular author

1944
Lewis delivers warning, “The Inner Ring”

1947
2″Mussolini’s diary” forgery fools the Sunday Times

1949
Publication of C.S. Lewis, Apostle to Skeptics by Chad Walsh (first Lewis
study)

1950s

1950
2 Lewis allegedly writes “Finchley Avenue”

1950
Joy Davidman Gresham’s first letter to Lewis

1951
Lewis invites Roger Lancelyn Green to write his future biography

1952
Mrs. Hooker poses as Lewis’s wife

1954
Hooper receives his B.A. and enters the United States army

1954
Hooper’s first letter to Lewis, expressing appreciation
Lewis accepts chair at University of Cambridge, departs University of
Oxford

1955
Lewis’s first year at University of Cambridge

1956
Civil marriage of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham in April
Hooper leaves the army and begins graduate studies
Joy’s cancer strikes

1957
Lewis’s bedside marriage in March, Joy’s gradual recovery
Hooper receives M.A., enters seminary
Hooper’s second letter to Lewis, hoping to meet Lewis someday

1958
“Forms of Things Unknown” idea appears on cover of American magazine

1959
Hooper leaves Virginia Episcopal Seminary, teaches in a boys’ boarding
school

1960s

1960
= Death of Joy Davidman Gresham Lewis

1961
A Grief Observed published
Hooper begins teaching at the University of Kentucky

1962
Hooper’s third and fourth letters to Lewis, requesting a 1963 meeting

1963
2 Lewis allegedly writes “Introductory Letter”
Hooper meets Lewis June 7, lives at Exeter College during six-week summer
program
Lewis’s near-fatal attack July 15 that temporarily deranges him
Hooper begins helping Lewis with correspondence
Lewis allegedly tells Hooper A Grief Observed is fiction, gives him
juvenilia
Hooper sorts through Lewis’s papers alone in Cambridge in mid-August
Hooper returns to Kentucky in late August, resumes teaching
Hooper arranges to visit Lewis between semesters in January 1964
= Death of C.S. Lewis on November 22

1964
In January Hooper moves to England, resigns from University of Kentucky
In January Hooper allegedly saves trunkloads of Lewis manuscripts from a
three-day bonfire
In mid-February Hooper meets Warren Lewis for the first time
Hooper begins editing C.S. Lewis’s posthumous books, beginning with poetry
2 Publication of Poems, in which half are altered and Hooper introduces
himself as Lewis’s personal secretary

1965
Clyde S. Kilby starts Wheaton College C.S. Lewis collection (later called
the Marion E. Wade Center)
Hooper is ordained an Angican priest in Oxford by a diocese in Kentucky
Someone places “Preface to Screwtape Proposes a Toast” in publisher’s files

1966
2Hooper includes “Forms of Things Unknown” in Of Other Worlds
2Hooper includes “On Criticism” in Of Other Worlds
Hooper reveals existence of The Dark Tower in preface to Of Other Worlds
Light on C.S. Lewis (U.S.) incorrectly says Hooper met Lewis in 1956, lived
with the brothers
Clyde Kilby meets Warren Lewis for the first time

1967
Hooper founds C.S. Lewis collection at the Bodleian Library
Glen GoodKnight founds Mythopoeic Society (source of the journal Mythlore)

1968
Warren twice challenges Hooper about The Dark Tower ‘s existence

1969
Warren protests Hooper ascendancy in Lewis affairs
Henry Noel founds New York C.S. Lewis Society (source of the bulletin CSL)

1970s

1970
Hooper becomes Co-Trustee of Lewis Estate

1971
2Photos of handwritten Narnia scraps appear in Imagination and the Spirit
2Clifford Irving forgery of Howard Hughes documents exposed

1972
Terri Williams and Carole Sperou found Portland C.S. Lewis Society (source
of The Chronicle)

1973
= Death of Warren Lewis
= Death of J.R.R. Tolkien
2Anonymous Tolkien obituary in London’s Times (later copyrighted by Lewis
Estate)
Wade Center inherits Warren Lewis’s papers
Tony Marchington enters Brasenose College in Oxford to study science
The Thirsks buy the Kilns
2Bodleian luminary Sir Edmund Backhouse (1873-1944) exposed as criminal
forger

1974
Green/Hooper biography C.S. Lewis (includes first description of Dark Tower
story)

After publication of biography, Green sees Hooper’s claims in final
chapter, disapproves
“Forms of Things Unknown” praised by Hooper in biography
Colin Hardie and others preview Dark Tower in typescript

1975
Tony Marchington visits North Carolina with Hooper
Hooper says in tape-recorded lecture that he learned to forge Lewis
penmanship
Hooper visits California, tells of 1964 bonfire for the first time

1976
Paul Ford founds Southern California C.S. Lewis Society (source of The
Lamp-Post)
Anonymous purchase of the Lewis Estate from David and Douglas Gresham

1977
2The Dark Tower title story published and explained by Hooper
2″The Man Born Blind” published in The Dark Tower
Fred Paxford denies bonfire story in signed letter

1978
Publication of They Stand Together (attack upon Warren Lewis and double
entendre cover)
Filming of “Through Joy and Beyond”
“Some Questions in C.S. Lewis Scholarship” in Christianity & Literature
Tony Marchington’s chemical soot analysis hoax prepared on Hooper’s
typewriter

1979
“Through Joy and Beyond” film and seminar tour, February-April
Stephen Schofield launches Canadian C.S. Lewis Journal in Surrey, England
2Publication of Hooper’s Narnia scraps in Past Watchful Dragons
Hooper’s “A Bibliography of the Writings of C.S. Lewis” in C.S. Lewis at
the Breakfast Table

1980s

1980
Seven launched at Wade Center with Barbara Reynolds as editor
Hooper places 1200 letters in collection at Chapel Hill
Hooper’s and Barfield’s attorney warns Lindskoog not to probe any farther
in print
Centaur’s Cavern charity for Mother Teresa prohibited by Lewis Estate

1982
2First publication of “Preface to Screwtape Proposes a Toast”
Annual Wade Center grants begin
Founding of Oxford C.S. Lewis Society

1983
Douglas Gresham visits Wade Center
Robert Cording begins to launch Kilns Partnership
Stanley Mattson moves to Redlands, California, as a fundraiser
2 Konrad Kujau’s “Hitler diaries” forgery fools Sunday Times

1984
Lindskoog visits the Bodleian, denied view of Hooper’s Dark Tower
manuscript
C. S. Lewis stained glass window installed in Monrovia, California
Purchase of the Kilns from the Thirsks by the Kilns Partnership
2Mark Hofmann exposed as America’s most notorious document forger

1985
“Shadowlands” BBC film success
2Publication of “Encyclopedia Boxoniana” (in Boxen)

1986
2Publication of “Modern Man and His Categories of Thought” (in Present
Concerns)
Mattson launches C. S. Lewis College Foundation charity
Kilns Partnership becomes Kilns Association charity
C. F. Jones’s “Literary Detective” computer study shows Dark Tower differs
from Lewis’s prose
= Death of Clyde S. Kilby (“dean of American Lewis specialists”)

1987
= Death of Roger Lancelyn Green (Lewis’s chosen biographer)

1988
Mattson becomes president of Kilns Association, links it to his own
foundation
Hooper converts to Roman Catholicism
The C.S. Lewis Hoax published

1989
Bogus Mattson authentication of Dark Tower fools Sunday Times in January
Lewis Legacy newsletter launched in February
Mattson stages 12-man jury trial of The C.S. Lewis Hoax in April
Hooper donates Dark Tower manuscript to the Bodleian
“Shadowlands” stage play success
= Death of Richard Hodgens (Dark Tower expert)

1990s

1990
2Publication of “Christian Reunion” (in Christian Reunion and Other Essays)
Mattson announces nonexistent Julius Grant chemical analysis of Dark Tower
document

1991
A. Q. Morton tests Dark Tower and “Christian Reunion,” both of mixed
authorship
= Death of Chad Walsh (first American Lewis specialist)

1992
C. S. Lewis Petition calls for open forum on posthumous Lewis canon
Hooper’s “Supplement to Bibliography” (in C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast
Table)
M. J. Logsdon launches The Salinas Lewisian nwsletter
= Death of Ruth Pitter (distinguished poet, Lewis’s friend )

1993
= Death of Dom Bede Griffiths (old friend of Lewis, dedicatee of Surprised
by Joy)
= Death of Jerry Daniel (editor of CSL)
= Death of Stephen Schofield (editor of Canadian C.S. Lewis Journal)

1994
“Shadowlands” film success increases Lewis’s popularity
2Collected Poems of C. S. Lewis
First edition of Light in the Shadowlands
Stanley Mattson engages Timothy Stoen to quash Light in the Shadowlands

1995
Arthur C. Clarke calls for a Dark Tower probe
Nancy Cole’s bogus examination of Dark Tower manuscript

1996
= Death of Sheldon Vanauken (old friend of Lewis, author of A Severe
Mercy)

1997
Nancy Cole’s bogus examination briefly distributed, then permanently
withdrawn
= Death of Maureen Moore, Lady Dunbar of Hempriggs (Lewis’s “foster
sister”)

1998
C. S. Lewis Centenary celebrations
Publication of The C. S. Lewis Reader’s Encyclopedia
Nancy Coles’ bogus report finally released and promptly exposed
= Death of Owen Barfield (old friend of Lewis, his attorney and trustee of
his estate)

1999
= Death of John Lawlor (ex-student of Lewis at Oxford)