Monday, September 19, 2005

Studying the Past

My studies in the XVIth century--you will remember my idea of a book about Erasmus--have carried me much further back than I anticipated. Indeed it is the curse and the fascination of literary history that there are no real beginnings. Take what point you will for the start of some new chapter in the mind and imaginations of man, and you will invariably find that it has always begun a bit earlier; or rather, it branches so imperceptibly out of something else that you're forced to go back to the something else. The only satisfactory opening for any study is the first chapter of Genesis.
~C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume I, (Letter to his father March 31, 1928)

[...]Things we are all apt to say about the growth or development of a poet may often imply the negative that he wrote nothing except what has come down to us--which no one knows. We have not seen the contents of his waste paper basket. If we had, what now looks like an abrupt change in his manner from poem A to poem B might turn out not to have been abrupt at all.
~C.S. Lewis, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, "On Criticism" (1966)


On this day:

1914 Lewis (age fifteen) is sent to William T. Kirkpatrick at Great Bookham, Surrey, to be tutored by him until March 1917. Kirkpatrick becomes the most influential teacher in Lewis's education.

1955 Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life is published by Geoffrey Bles, London.
(from A Year with C.S. Lewis)

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