Wednesday, November 18, 2020


I'm about two-thirds of the way through Dorothy and Jack: The Transforming Friendship of Dorothy L. Sayers and C.S. Lewis. I've read a great deal about both going back many years as well as most of their own work, but this book has taught me more and I like both of them even more. It has not improved my opinion of Charles Williams, though.

This is a passage I just read:
...[S]he could be a staunch defender in public as well as an appreciative listener in private. In July 1955, for instance, Jack happened across a letter to the editor of the Spectator that Dorothy had written, vigorously defending the Narnia books against a critic who had not only disliked but grossly misunderstood them. It turned out that, without Jack having been aware of it, Dorothy knew the series quite well. She wrote about her liking for it in a 1956 letter to Barbara Reynolds, who was reading them with her young daughter. Dorothy expressed in particular her appreciation that
the girls, on the whole, are given as much courage as the boys, and more virtue...and they are even allowed to fight with bows and arrows, though not with swords—a curious sex-distinction which I don't quite approve of; as though to kill at a distance were more feminine than to kill at close quarters!
But that minor point aside, her impression of Narnia had been decidedly positive. So in her letter to the Spectator, in her own inimitably blunt fashion, she set the critic straight about both Jack's theology (the critic having mistaken Aslan for an archangel rather than a Christ figure) and the rules of fantasy, which she argued were much more lenient than the critic allowed.

Jack was touchingly surprised to find that Dorothy had been reading his "opuscules" (little works) and grateful to her for standing up for him against the "nit-wit." Her words about his books in that article—including her assertion that "Professor Lewis's theology and pneumatology are as accurate and logical here as in his other writings"—must have helped to soothe the old sting of Tolkien's disapproval.

From then on Jack and Dorothy discussed Narnia freely (including Dorothy's dislike of Pauline Baynes's illustrations, referred to earlier), and she confessed herself as eager as any child for the publication of The Last Battle. He made sure to send her a copy as soon as it came out.
Dorothy and Jack: The Transforming Friendship of Dorothy L. Sayers and C.S. Lewis, Baker Books, 2020.

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