Friday, July 2, 2010

How Screwtape survived

Dan Hamilton posts at the C.S. Lewis Blog providing an account of a friendship and of how the only existing manuscript of one of C.S. Lewis' books was preserved.
.... In 1941, Lewis entrusted to Sister Penelope the original manuscript of The Screwtape Letters, because he had some apprehension that the only other manuscript copy might come to harm in the German bombings. “I enclose the MS. of Screwtape. If it is not a trouble I shd. like you to keep it safe until the book is printed (in case the one the publisher has got blitzed) – after that it can be made into spills or used to stuff dolls or anything.”

(This was consistent with his disregard for his own manuscripts after they had served their purpose. Lewis would often turn his original and fair-copy pages into scratch paper or “spills” to light the gas fire. ....)....

Sister Penelope still had the Screwtape manuscript in the 1950s, and inquired what Lewis wanted her to do with it. Lewis cared little for it, and indicated that he would simply dispose of it straightaway if she returned it to him – most of his scribbles ended up in the w.p.b. (waste paper basket) anyway.

Lewis finally told her, “If you can persuade any ‘sucker’ (as the Americans say) to buy the ms. of Screwtape, pray do, and use the money for any pious or charitable object you like.”

She eventually – though reluctantly arranged for its sale to the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library, and so preserved the only surviving full-length original Lewis book manuscript. The funds from the sale went to refurbish St. Michael’s chapel at the convent. .... [more]
C. S. Lewis Blog: Why Read Old Books: History and Its Relevance