Sharp and Clear as a Diamond
A quotation today from Charles Gilmore's essay in C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table. During World War II, Lewis was asked by the Chaplain-in-Chief of the Royal Air Force to give talks to the men and women of the RAF stationed in the many camps and training locations in the U.K. This was the first time Lewis had been asked to address non-students, and he was worried that he would flop. Furthermore, he knew the survival statistics of the pilots at that time, and found it very humbling to talk to a roomful of personnel, many of whom would not be alive in another week:
"The effect he made is hard to describe a generation later, and I doubt whether even a contemporary diary could quite convey it. He never showed any emotion, although I think that his listeners knew instinctively that his thoughts had been hammered out in the furnace rather than stored inside a glacier. His subject matter varied most wonderfully and, considered as such, was not always very interesting to ordinary people, but he could light it up with such grace and clarity that, long after what he actually said had been forgotten, the memory of many who heard him was that he had shown to them a sterling and direct purpose, where before they had found only the confusion of a whirlpool. How he did this, whether he knew that he did it, I have no idea but, although I went to only a few of his lectures, I saw the same result, sharp and clear as a diamond with many lights, whether he was speaking to a hundred or a dozen."
~Charles Gilmore, "To the RAF", C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table (1979)
On this day:
1962 A review of The Lord of the Rings appeared in the New York Herald Tribune: "One of the most remarkable exercises in imaginative fantasy in modern English writing."