Friday, December 31, 2004

More About Susan

Dear Martin,

The books don't tell us what happened to Susan. She is left alive in this world at the end, having by then turned into a rather silly, conceited young woman. But there is plenty of time for her to mend, and perhaps she will get to Aslan's country in the end--in her own way. I think that whatever she had seen in Narnia she could (if she was the sort that wanted to) persuade herself, as she grew up, that it was "all nonsense".

Congratulations on your good marks. I wish I was good at Maths! Love to all,
C.S. Lewis

Letters to Children, Letter of 22 January 1957


Personal Note to all my readers:

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year! All the best to you and your families,


Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Problem of Susan

"Sir," said Tirian, when he had greeted all these. "If I have read the chronicle aright, there should be another. Has not your Majesty two sisters? Where is Queen Susan?"

"My sister Susan," answered Peter shortly and gravely, "is no longer a friend of Narnia."

"Yes," said Eustace, "and whenever you've tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says, `What wonderful memories you have! Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.'"

"Oh Susan!" said Jill. "She's interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up."

"Grown-up, indeed," said the Lady Polly. "I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one's life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can."

"Well, don't let's talk about that now," said Peter. "Look! Here are lovely fruit-trees. Let us taste them."

~C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, Chapter Twelve (1956)


Link of the day: A darker ignorance: C. S. Lewis and the nature of the fall - Critical Essay by Mary Bowman

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Some Day We May Ride

To shrink back from all that can be called Nature into negative spirituality is as if we ran away from horses instead of learning to ride. There is in our present pilgrim condition plenty of room (more room than most of us like) for abstinence and renunciation and mortifying our natural desires. But behind all asceticism the thought should be, 'Who will trust us with the true wealth if we cannot be trusted even with the wealth that perishes?' Who will trust me with a spiritual body if I cannot control even an earthly body? These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys. We must learn to manage: not that we may someday be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare-back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world-shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatience, pawing and snorting in the King's stables. Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else--since He has retained His own charger--should we accompany Him?
~C.S. Lewis, Miracles (1947)

Cool Link of the Day: Fantasy Artist Kinuko Y. Craft

Monday, December 27, 2004

Some Day

This brings me to the other sense of glory--glory as brightness, splendour, luminosity. We are to shine as the sun, we are to be given the Morning Star. I think I begin to see what it means. In one way, of course, God has given us the Morning Star already: you can go and enjoy the gift on many fine mornings if you get up early enough. What more, you may ask, do we want? Ah, but we want to much more--something the books on aesthetics take little notice of. But the poets and the mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words--to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses and nymphs and elves--that, though we cannot, yet these projections can enjoy in themselves that beauty, grace, and power of which Nature is the image. That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods. They talk as if the west wind could really sweep into a human soul; but it can't. They tell us that "beauty born of murmuring sound" will pass into a human face; but it won't. Or not yet. For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy. At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.
~C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (1949)

Please donate to the American Red Cross International Response Fund to help victims of the earthquake and tsunamis in Asia.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

"dew drops" by Dawn Lavoie

I am a barbarously early riser. ...I love the empty, silent, dewy, cobwebby hours.
~C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady (30 September 1958)


Purchase this print here.

On this day:

(December 24) 1956 The announcement of Lewis's marriage to Joy Davidman Gresham appears in the Times (London).

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

XXVI. Song

Faeries must be in the woods
Or the satyrs' laughing broods-
Tritons in the summer sea,
Else how could the dead things be
Half so lovely as they are?
How could wealth of star on star
Dusted o'er the frosty night
Fill thy spirit with delight
And lead thee from this care of thine
Up among the dreams divine,
Were it not that each and all
Of them that walk the heavenly hall
Is in truth a happy isle,
Where eternal meadows smile,
And golden globes of fruit are seen
Twinkling through the orchards green;
Were the Other People go
On the bright sward to and fro?
Atoms dead could never thus
Stir the human heart of us
Unless the beauty that we see
The veil of endless beauty be,
Filled full of spirits that have trod
Far hence along the heavenly sod
And see the bright footprints of God.
~C.S. Lewis, Spirits in Bondage: A Cycle of Lyrics
(published 1919 under the pseudonym of Clive Hamilton).

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Fountain at the Centre of Reality

The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made. Good things as well as bad, you know, are caught by a kind of infection. If you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die?
~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Generosity and Gratitude

Following WWII, the people of Europe had been left hungry and miserable and the economies of most European countries were in ruin. Lewis's many American fans took it upon themselves to send him numerous care packages to supplement the meager food rations available:

"frost" by Francois Horneborg (computer drawn)
My dear Mr. Allen,

I just don't know what to say in answer to your letter of 23rd January. One, two, perhaps even three parcels can be inadequately but not entirely unsuitably acknowledged, but what is one to say when bombarded with a non-stop stream of kindnesses? Nothing has in my time made such a profound impression in this country as the amazing outburst of individual American generosity which has followed on the disclosure of our economic situation. (I say nothing of government action, because naturally this strikes the 'man in the street' much less obviously). The length of time which a parcel takes to cross the Atlantic is a significant indication of the volume of food which must be pouring into England.

As regards the 'Tuxedo -- 'dinner jacket' here, 'le smoking' in Paris -- if it doesn't fit me, it will certainly fit one of my friends, and will save some grateful man a year's clothing coupons: and at least £25 cash.

As regards things to send-- don't send any of that 66 million tons of snow, thanks very much! We still shudder when we think of last winter*. A packet or two of envelopes are almost always welcome**; a small thing, but the constant shortage of them becomes very irritating to a busy man after a time. With heartiest thanks for all your great kindness, and best good wishes,
Yours sincerely,
C.S. Lewis

The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis Volume II, Letter to Edward A. Allen, 29 January 1948

* The British winter of 1947 was one of the coldest since records began in 1740. Between 22 January and 17 March snow fell every day somewhere in Britain, and the temperature rarely rose more than a degree or two above freezing.

**subsequent letters indicate Mr. Allen did send Lewis a substantial stock of stationery.


Cool link of the day: Sponsor a care package for the troops overseas

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Grief: a Long Valley

This is the fourth--and the last--empty MS book I can find in the house; at least nearly empty, for there are some pages of very ancient arithmetic at the end by J. I resolve to let this limit my jottings. I will not start buying books for the purpose. In so far as this record was a defence against total collapse, a safety-valve, it has done some good. The other end I had in view turns out to have been based on a misunderstanding. I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history, and if I don't stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there's no reason why I should never stop. There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. As I've already noted, not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn't a circular trench. But it isn't. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn't repeat.
~C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, Chapter 4 (1961)


Friday, December 17, 2004

Could They Not Lie Better Than This?

That moment I resolved to write this book. For years now my old quarrel with the gods had slept. I had come into Bardia's way of thinking; I no longer meddled with them. Often, though I had seen a god myself, I was near to believing that there are no such things. The memory of his voice and face was kept in one of those rooms of my soul that I didn't lightly unlock. Now, instantly, I knew I was facing them--I with no strength and they with all; I visible to them, they invisible to me; I easily wounded (already so wounded that all my life had been but a hiding and a staunching of the wound), they invulnerable; I one, they many. In all these years they had only let me run away from them as far as the cat lets the mouse run. Now, snatch! and the claw on me again. Well, I could speak. I could set down the truth. What had never perhaps been done in the world before should be done now. The case against them should be written.

Jealousy! I jealous of Psyche? I sickened not only at the vileness of the lie but at its flatness. It seemed as if the gods had minds just like the lowest of the people. What came easiest to them, what seemed the likeliest and simplest reason to put in a story, was the dull, narrow passion of the beggars' streets, the temple-brothels, the slave, the child, the dog. Could they not lie, if lie they must, better than this?
~C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, Chapter 21 (1956)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Silent World

But the real revolution in his understanding of the hrossa began when he had learned enough of their language to attempt some satisfaction of their curiosity about himself. In answer to their questions he began by saying that he had come out of the sky. Hnohra immediately asked from which planet or earth (handra). Ransom, who had deliberately given a childish verison of the truth in order to adapt it to the supposed ignorance of his audience, was a little annoyed to find Hnohra painfully explaining to him that he could not live in the sky because there was no air in it; he might have come through the sky but he must have come from a handra. He was quite unable to point Earth out to them in the night sky. They seemed surprised at his inability, and repeatedly pointed out to him a bright planet low on the western horizon--a little south of where the sun had gone down. He was surprised that they selected a planet instead of a mere star and stuck to their choice; could it be possible that they understood astronomy? Unfortunately he still knew too little of the langage to explore their knowledge. He turned the conversation by asking them the name of the bright southern planet, and was told that it was Thulcandra--the silent world or planet.

"Why do you call it Thulc?" he asked. "Why silent?" No one knew.

"The seroni know,' said Hnohra. "That is the sort of thing they know."

~C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, Chapter 11 (1938)


Link of the day: Essay by Peter Schakel, Hope College, on Out of the Silent Planet

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

But What Do You Want With a Tail?

For at that moment a curious little procession was approaching - eleven Mice, six of whom carried between them something on a litter made of branches, but the litter was no bigger than a large atlas. No one has ever seen mice more woebegone than these. They were plastered with mud some with blood too - and their ears were down and their whiskers drooped and their tails dragged in the grass, and their leader piped on his slender pipe a melancholy tune. On the litter lay what seemed little better than a damp heap of fur; all that was left of Reepicheep. He was still breathing, but more dead than alive, gashed with innumerable wounds, one paw crushed, and, where his tail had been, a bandaged stump.

"Now, Lucy," said Aslan.

Lucy had her diamond bottle out in a moment. Though only a drop was needed on each of Reepicheep's wounds, the wounds were so many that there was a long and anxious silence before she had finished and the Master Mouse sprang from the litter. His hand went at once to his sword hilt, with the other he twirled his whiskers. He bowed.

"Hail, Aslan!" came his shrill voice. "I have the honour -" But then he suddenly stopped.

The fact was that he still had no tail - whether that Lucy had forgotten it or that her cordial, though it could heal wounds, could not make things grow again. Reepicheep became aware of his loss as he made his bow; perhaps it altered something in his balance. He looked over his right shoulder. Failing to see his tail, he strained his neck further till he had to turn his shoulders and his whole body followed. But by that time his hind-quarters had turned too and were out of sight. Then he strained his neck looking over his shoulder again, with the same result. Only after he had turned completely round three times did he realize the dreadful truth.

"I am confounded," said Reepicheep to Aslan. "I am completely out of countenance. I must crave your indulgence for appearing in this unseemly fashion."

"It becomes you very well, Small One," said Aslan. "All the same," replied Reepicheep, "if anything could be done... Perhaps her Majesty?" and here he bowed to Lucy.

"But what do you want with a tail?" asked Aslan.

"Sir," said the Mouse, "I can eat and sleep and die for my King without one. But a tail is the honour and glory of a Mouse."

"I have sometimes wondered, friend," said Aslan, "whether you do not think too much about your honour."

"Highest of all High Kings," said Reepicheep, "permit me to remind you that a very small size has been bestowed on us Mice, and if we did not guard our dignity, some (who weigh worth by inches) would allow themselves very unsuitable pleasantries at our expense. That is why I have been at some pains to make it known that no one who does not wish to feel this sword as near his heart as I can reach shall talk in my presence about Traps or Toasted Cheese or Candles: no, Sir - not the tallest fool in Narnia!" Here he glared very fiercely up at Wimbleweather, but the Giant, who was always a stage behind everyone else, had not yet discovered what was being talked about down at his feet, and so missed the point.

"Why have your followers all drawn their swords, may I ask?" said Aslan.

"May it please your High Majesty," said the second Mouse, whose name was Peepiceek, "we are all waiting to cut off our own tails if our Chief must go without his. We will not bear the shame of wearing an honour which is denied to the High Mouse."

"Ah!" roared Aslan. "You have conquered me. You have great hearts. Not for the sake of your dignity, Reepicheep, but for the love that is between you and your people, and still more for the kindness your people showed me long ago when you ate away the cords that bound me on the Stone Table (and it was then, though you have long forgotten it, that you began to be Talking Mice), you shall have your tail again."

Before Aslan had finished speaking the new tail was in its place.
~C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian (1952)

On this day:

1944 Lewis delivers "The Inner Ring" as the annual "Commemoration Oration" given at King's College, University of London.

Cool link: WETA's Richard Taylor talks about The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
(quicktime movie)

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Frontier Between the Aethereal and the Perishable

Aristotle, being interested both in biology and in astronomy, found himself faced with an obvious contrast. The characteristic of the world we men inhabit is incessant change by birth, growth, procreation, death, and decay. And within that world such experimental methods as had been achieved in his time could discover only an imperfect uniformity. Things happen in the same way not perfectly nor invariably but 'on the whole' or 'for the most part'. But the world studied by astronomy seemed quite different. No Nova had yet been observed. So far as he could find out, the celestial bodies were permanent; they neither came into existence nor passed away. And the more you studied them, the more perfectly regular their movements seemed to be.

Along the Greek coastline, where Aristotle taught

Apparently, then, the universe was divided into two regions. The lower region of change and irregularity he called Nature. The upper he called Sky. Thus he can speak of 'Nature and Sky' as two things. But that very changeable phenomenon, the weather, made it clear that the realm of inconstant Nature extended some way above the surface of the Earth. 'Sky' must begin higher up. It seemed reasonable to suppose that regions which differed in every observable respect were also made of different stuff. Nature was made of the four elements, earth, water, fire, and air. Air, then (and with air Nature; and with Nature inconstancy) must end before Sky began. Above the air, in true Sky, was a different substance, which he called aether. Thus 'the aether encompasses the divine bodies, but immediately below the aethereal and divine nature comes that which is passible, mutable, perishable, and subject to death'. By the word divine Aristotle introduces a religious element; and the placing of the important frontier (between Sky and Nature, Aether and Air) at the Moon's orbit is a minor detail. But the concept of such a frontier seems to arise far more in response to a scientific than to a religious need.
~C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image, Chapter 1: The Medieval Situation (1964)


On this day:

1916 Lewis (age eighteen) receives a scholarship to University College, Oxford.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Jack's Hat

A little excerpt from C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table:

Now there are many stories about this famous hat, and Major Lewis* recalls one of them in his Memoir prefacing the Letters. He writes:

Jack's clothes were a matter of complete indifference to him: he had an extraordinary knack of making a new suit look shabby the second time he wore it. One of his garments has passed into legend. It is said that Jack once took a guest for an early morning walk on the Magdalen College grounds, in Oxford, after a very wet night. Presently the guest brought his attention to a curious lump of cloth hanging on a bush. "That looks like my hat," said Jack; then joyfully, "It is my hat." And clapping the sodden mass on his head, he continued his walk.

"Jack, shown here hat-less"

That same hat was lost on one of our picnics, coming back from Cambridge at the end of a term. On the way to Cambridge, at the beginning of the next term, we looked inside the field gate where we had picnicked, and there was the hat, under the hedge, being used as a home for field mice. Jack retrieved it, of course, and later on continued to wear it. Sometime after that, that same hat spent a week under the front seat of my car; and the very last time I drove the professor, the same hat sat squarely on his head.
~Clifford Morris, "A Christian Gentleman", C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Remininscences (1979)

*Warren Lewis, Lewis's brother

Friday, December 10, 2004

What Christmas Means To Me

Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians, but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn't go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making and hospitality. If it were my business to have a 'view' on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probably that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs. But the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone's business.

I mean of course the commercial racket. The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends but even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shopkeepers.
~C.S. Lewis, "What Christmas Means To Me", (1st published in Twentieth Century, December 1957)


On this day:

1824 George MacDonald, of whose writing Lewis would later say, "What it did to me was to convert, even to imagination," is born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Cool link:

Play the Holiday Endurance Game

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Discovering Your Own Circle of True Friendship

In his essay "The Inner Ring" (The Weight of Glory, 1949) C.S. Lewis talks about the lure and the desire that some people have to belong to the "inner circle" of a group of people. To be part of the "in" crowd; to claim the Cool Group as your own:

The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know... And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside, that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that its secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric, for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ringer can ever have it.
~C.S. Lewis, "The Inner Ring", The Weight of Glory (1949)


Cool links of the day:

Take a Tour of C.S. Lewis's World

Yea Verna! Make an Anagram Site

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Screwtape Continues His Toast

Instead of this, what have we had tonight? There was a municipal authority with Graft sauce. But personally I could not detect in him the flavour of a really passionate and brutal avarice such as delighted one in the great tycoons of the last century. Was he not unmistakably a Little Man -- a creature of the petty rake-off pocketed with a petty joke in private and denied with the stalest platitudes in his public utterances -- a grubby little nonentity who had drifted into corruption, only just realizing that he was corrupt, and chiefly because everyone else did it? Then there was the lukewarm Casserole of Adulterers. Could you find in it any trace of a fully inflamed, defiant, rebellious, insatiable lust? I couldn't. They all tasted to me like undersexed morons who had blundered or trickled into the wrong beds in automatic response to sexy advertisements, or to make themselves feel modern and emancipated, or to reassure themselves about their virility or their "normalcy," or even because they had nothing else to do. Frankly, to me who have tasted Messalina and Cassanova, they were nauseating. The Trade Unionist stuffed with sedition was perhaps a shade better. He had done some real harm. He had, not quite unknowingly, worked for bloodshed, famine, and the extinction of liberty. Yes, in a way. But what a way! He thought of those ultimate objectives so little. Toeing the party line, self-importance, and above all mere routine, were what really dominated his life.

But now comes the point. Gastronomically, all this is deplorable. But I hope none of us puts gastronomy first. Is it not, in another and far more serious way, full of hope and promise?
Consider, first, the mere quantity. The quality may be wretched; but we never had souls (of a sort) in more abundance.

And then the triumph. We are tempted to say that such souls -- or such residual puddles of what once was soul -- are hardly worth damning. Yes, but the Enemy (for whatever inscrutable and perverse reason) thought them worth trying to save. Believe me, He did. You youngsters who have not yet been on active duty have no idea with what labour, with what delicate skill, each of these miserable creatures was finally captured.
~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, (1961)


Cool links of the day:

Virtual Tour of Chimney Rock State Park

Webcam of the Three Sisters, in Alberta, Canada

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Screwtape Begins His Toast

The scene is in Hell at the annual dinner of the Tempters' Training College for young devils. The principal, Dr. Slubgob, has just proposed the health of the guests. Screwtape, a very experienced devil, who is the guest of honour, rises to reply:

Mr. Principal, your Imminence, your Disgraces, my Thorns, Shadies, and Gentledevils:

It is customary on these occasions for the speaker to address himself chiefly to those among you who have just graduated and who will very soon be posted to official Tempterships on Earth. It is a custom I willingly obey. I well remember with what trepidation I awaited my own first appointment. I hope, and believe, that each one of you has the same uneasiness tonight. Your career is before you. Hell expects and demands that it should be -- as mine was -- one of unbroken success. If it is not, you know what awaits you.

I have no wish to reduce the wholesome and realistic element of terror, the unremitting anxiety, which must act as the lash and spur to your endeavours. How often you will envy the humans their faculty of sleep! Yet at the same time I would wish to put before you a moderately encouraging view of the strategical situation as a whole.

Your dreaded Principal has included in a speech full of points something like an apology for the banquet which he has set before us. Well, gentledevils, no one blames him. But it would be in vain to deny that the human souls on whose anguish we have been feasting tonight were of pretty poor quality. Not all the most skillful cookery of our tormentors could make them better than insipid.

Oh, to get one's teeth again into a Farinata, a Henry VIII, or even a Hitler! There was real crackling there; something to crunch; a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own. It put up a delicious resistance to being devoured. It warmed your inwards when you'd got it down.
~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, (1961)


Links of the day:

Little-known works by C.S. Lewis

A guided tour through Dante's Inferno
(requires flashplayer)

Monday, December 06, 2004

To the Kids About Narnia

Dear Fifth Graders,

I am so glad you liked the Narnian books and it was very kind of you to write and tell me. There are to be 7 of them altogether and you are already one behind. No. 4, The Silver Chair, is already out.

You are mistaken when you think that everything in the books "represents" something in this world. Things do that in The Pilgrim's Progress but I'm not writing in that way. I did not say to myself "Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia": I said "Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as He became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen." If you think about it, you will see that it is quite a different thing. So the answer to your first two questions is that Reepicheep and Nick-i-brick don't, in that sense, represent anyone. But of course anyone in our world who devotes his whole life to seeking Heaven will be like Reepicheep, and anyone who wants some worldy thing so badly that he is ready to use wicked means to get it will be likely to behave like Nick-i-brick. Yes, Reepicheep did get to Aslan's country. And Caspian did return safely: it says so on the last page of The "Dawn Treader". Eustace did get back to Narnia, as you will find when you read The Silver Chair. As for who reigns in Narnia to-day, you won't know till you have had the seventh and last book.
I'm tall, fat, rather bald, red-faced, double-chinned, black-haired, have a deep voice, and wear glasses for reading.

The only way for us to get to Aslan's country is through death, as far as I know: perhaps some very good people get just a tiny glimpse before then.

Best love to you all. When you say your prayers sometimes ask God to bless me.

Yours ever,
C.S. Lewis

Letters to Children, Letter to 5th grade class in Maryland, May 29, 1954


Cool Links of the day:

An Interview with Chris Van Allsburg, Author of The Polar Express

The Polar Express Movie Flashsite

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Neither Wholesome Nor Final

Long since on Mars, and more strongly since he came to Perelandra, Ransom had been perceiving that the triple distinction of truth from myth and of both from fact was purely terrestrial - was part and parcel of that unhappy division between soul and body which resulted from the Fall. Even on earth the sacraments existed as a permanent reminder that the division was neither wholesome nor final. The Incarnation had been the beginning of its disappearance. In Perelandra it would have no meaning at all. Whatever happened here would be of such a nature that earth-men would call it mythological. All this he had thought before. Now he knew it. The Presence in the darkness, never before so formidable, was putting these truths into his hands, like terrible jewels.
~C.S. Lewis, Perelandra (1943)

Margin detail from The Sherborne Missal, 15th Century------------------>


Cool links of the day:

Digitally turn the pages of The Sherborne Missal and other Illuminated Manuscripts

Browse the manuscript collection at the Bodlein Library, Oxford, England

A Hundred Highlights from the Koninklijke Bibliotheek

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Glimpse of The Unfallen World

"First Snow" by Carl Sams II and Jean Stoick

...I said that everything a man does to a beast is
either a lawful exercise or a sacrilegious abuse of an authority by divine right. I didn't say which of the things we now see men doing to beasts fall into which class. The robin in a cage and the over-fed Peke are both, to me, instances of the abuse of man's authority, tho' in different ways. I never denied that the abuse was common: that is why we have to make laws (and ought to make a good many more) for the protection of animals.

I do know what you mean by the sudden ravishing glimpse of animal life in itself, its wildness--to meet a squirrel in a wood or even a hedgehog in the garden makes me happy. But that is because it is, being partly exempt from the Fall, a symbol and reminder of the unfallen world we long for.
~C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume II, Letter to Mrs. Stuart Moore (Jan 1941)


On this day:

1954 Lewis completes his last tutorial at Magdalen College, Oxford, after accepting a chair at Cambridge

Cool Link of the Day: The Wildlife Photography of Carl Sams II and Jean Stoick

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Mrs. Fidget

I am thinking of Mrs. Fidget, who died a few months ago. It is really astonishing how her family have brightened up. The drawn look has gone from her husband's face; he begins to be able to laugh. The younger boy, whom I had always thought an embittered, peevish little creature, turns out to be quite human. The elder, who was hardly ever at home except when he was in bed, is nearly always there now and has begun to reorganise the garden. The girl, who was always supposed to be "delicate" now has the riding lessons, dances all night, and plays any amount of tennis. Even the dog who was never allowed out except on a lead is now a well-known member of the Lamp-post Club in their road.

The Lamp Post Club
Mrs. Fidget very often said that she lived for her family. And it was not untrue. Everyone in the neighbourhood knew it. "She lives for her family," they said, "what a wife and mother!" She did all the washing; true, she did it badly, and they could have afforded to send it out to a laundry, and they frequently begged her not to do it. But she did. There was always a hot lunch for anyone who was at home and always a hot meal at night (even in midsummer). They implored her not to provide this. It made no difference. She was living for her family. She always sat up to "welcome" you home if you were out late at night; two or three in the morning, it made no odds; you would always find the frail, pale, weary face awaiting you, like a silent accusation. Which meant of course that you couldn't with any decency go out very often...

Mrs. Fidget, as she so often said, would "work her fingers to the bone" for her family. They couldn't stop her. Nor could they--being decent people--quite sit still and watch her do it. They had to help. Indeed they were always having to help. That is, they did things for her to help her to do things for them which they didn't want done...

The Vicar says Mrs. Fidget is now at rest. Let us hope she is. What's quite certain is that her family are.

~C.S Lewis, The Four Loves, "Affection" (1960)


On this day:

December 1932 Warren Lewis retires from the Royal Army Service Corps after an eighteen-year career and moves into The Kilns, Oxford.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Picture in the Bedroom

They were in Lucy's room, sitting on the edge of her bed and looking at a picture on the opposite wall. It was the only picture in the house that they liked. Aunt Alberta didn't like it at all (that was why it was put away in a little back room upstairs), but she couldn't get rid of it because it had been a wedding present from someone she did not want to offend.

It was a picture of a ship - a ship sailing straight towards you. Her prow was gilded and shaped like the head of a dragon with wide-open mouth. She had only one mast and one large, square sail which was a rich purple. The sides of the ship - what you could see of them where the gilded wings of the dragon ended-were green. She had just run up to the top of one glorious blue wave, and the nearer slope of that wave came down towards you, with streaks and bubbles on it. She was obviously running fast before a gay wind, listing over a little on her port side. (By the way, if you are going to read this story at all, and if you don't know already, you had better get it into your head that the left of a ship when you are looking ahead, is port, and the right is starboard.) All the sunlight fell on her from that side, and the water on that side was full of greens and purples. On the other, it was darker blue from the shadow of the ship.

"The question is," said Edmund, "whether it doesn't make things worse, looking at a Narnian ship when you can't get there."

"Even looking is better than nothing," said Lucy. "And she is such a very Narnian ship."

"Why do you like it?" said Eustace to Lucy.

"Well, for one thing," said Lucy, "I like it because the ship looks as if it was really moving. And the water looks as if it was really wet. And the waves look as if they were really going up and down."

Of course Eustace knew lots of answers to this, but he didn't say anything. The reason was that at that very moment he looked at the waves and saw that they did look very much indeed as if they were going up and down. He had only once been in a ship (and then only as far as the Isle of Wight) and had been horribly seasick. The look of the waves in the picture made him feel sick again. He turned rather green and tried another look. And then all three children were staring with open mouths.

What they were seeing may be hard to believe when you read it in print, but it was almost as hard to believe when you saw it happening. The things in the picture were moving. It didn't look at all like a cinema either; the colours were too real and clean and out-of-doors for that. Down went the prow of the ship into the wave and up went a great shock of spray. And then up went the wave behind her, and her stern and her deck became visible for the first time, and then disappeared as the next wave came to meet her and her bows went up again. At the same moment an exercise book which had been lying beside Edmund on the bed flapped, rose and sailed through the air to the wall behind him, and Lucy felt all her hair whipping round her face as it does on a windy day. And this was a windy day; but the wind was blowing out of the picture towards them. And suddenly with the wind came the noises-the swishing of waves and the slap of water against the ship's sides and the creaking and the overall high steady roar of air and water. But it was the smell, the wild, briny smell, which really convinced Lucy that she was not dreaming.
~C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

On this day:

1957 December- Joy's health continues to improve after her cancer goes into remission, and by Christmas, she is able to walk around the house and garden.

Cool link of the day: What's Your Score? A Dawn Treader Quiz