Sunday, April 1, 2007

Letters of C.S. Lewis

At Books & Culture, the most recent, and final, volume of The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950 - 1963 is reviewed by Michael Ward. The volumes have been edited by Walter Hooper, who, over the years since Lewis's death, has been attacked by some as exaggerating his relationship with Lewis - and even accused of passing off his own work as Lewis's. Ward writes:
...[T]his volume has Lewis' nine letters to Hooper himself. These reveal that Hooper and Lewis became genuinely close in the short time they knew each other and that...Lewis did intend Hooper to become his permanent and paid secretary. In 1963, about a month before he died, Lewis wrote: "Now about money. It's not so much that I can do nothing as that I am ashamed to offer to a scholar and a gentleman what a servant wd. reject as an insult. I could go (forgive me—I can hardly bear to write it down) to £5 a week."

Although Lewis was a bad judge of his financial situation, he was good judge of character.

Amazon quotes from a review in the Washington Post:
Editor and friend Walter Hooper calls him "one of the last great letter-writers"–the last of a generation who did not lift a telephone receiver when he had something to say or tap out e-mails on a computer keyboard. Some of the recipients richly merited his ink: the detective novelist, theologian and Dante translator Dorothy L. Sayers; St. Giovanni Calabria of Verona (correspondence in Latin); T.S. Eliot; the sci-fi maestro Arthur C. Clarke; and the American writer Robert Penn Warren. In these letters, Lewis swaps quips in Latin and Greek and quotes Spenser, Statius, Beowulf, Horace, Wordsworth, Terence and Augustus. Other letters were from cranks, whiners and down-and-out charity cases; he answered them all.
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