Thursday, April 16, 2009

Friends

Diana Glyer, author of The Company They Keep, writes about C.S. Lewis and friendship:
There’s a rumor going around that C.S. Lewis was an irritable introvert, isolated and lonely and scared to death of girls. Maybe it all comes from some grim stereotype of smart people or college professors or, maybe, published writers. That whole image is completely wrong. Lewis wasn’t an introvert. Or a loner. No—he was a large man with a booming voice, a hearty laugh, a robust enjoyment of everyday life.

And that is why he was a man with friends.

It makes sense if you think about it. His writing is so warm. His ideas are so engaging. His approach is so inviting. The lively, personal voice that emerges from the written page reflects the heart of a man who lived his life in community. Every season of Lewis’s life was marked by strong personal connections. He was very close to his brother, Warren. As the two boys grew up together, they wrote stories and illustrated them with maps and watercolors. Later, he became good friends with Arthur Greeves, a neighbor, and they shared boyhood secrets and favorite books. In college, Lewis became a member of a small circle of serious poets, and from that literary circle, he and Owen Barfield emerged as fast friends. When he started his first teaching job, he got to know a bright young linguist named Tolkien. They discovered common ground in their love of Norse mythology. .....

Lewis and Tolkien continued to meet, week after week, to talk and joke and criticise one another’s poetry. Over time, these literary critiques proved to be so interesting and so useful that they invited other writers to join them. The group just kept growing. Eventually, a total of 19 men became members of the Inklings. Their meetings moved from Monday mornings to Thursday nights. Late nights. The members arrived around 9:00, or 9:30, or even later.

When half a dozen members had assembled, Warren Lewis would produce a pot of very strong tea, the men would sit down and light their pipes, and C. S. Lewis would call out, “Well, has nobody got anything to read us?” Someone always did. Out would come the rough draft of a story or a poem, and the others would settle down to listen, to encourage, to critique, to correct, to interrupt and argue and advise. They’d continue this way, reading aloud, energetically critiquing, until two or three in the morning. And meetings went on like this every week for nearly twenty years. ....

Lewis was effusive in expressing his appreciation for the Inklings. To emphasize their importance, he said, “What I owe them all is incalculable.” And to emphasize their enjoyment, he asked, “Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?” Lewis was a man with friends. [more]
C. S. Lewis Blog: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings

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