Monday, November 28, 2005

Conversations With Lewis

An excerpt from C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table today:

Then one day Jack said to Humphrey: "Don't you think that D.G. should join us at The Bird and Baby on Tuesday?" I should explain that this was the name given by us to a small pub in St. Giles. Actually it was The Eagle and the Child. Thus began my real acquaintance with Jack--perhaps I should say that acquaintance turned to friendship. We met every Tuesday morning over a glass of beer. Warnie, his brother, was there; MacCallum of Pembroke; Father Gervase Mathew, O.P., from Blackfriars; Tolkien of Merton and Havard. Others came and went. We sat in a small back room with a fine coal fire in winter. Back and forth the conversation would flow. Latin tags flying around. Homer quoted in the original to make a point. And Tolkien, jumping up and down, declaiming in Anglo-Saxon. Sometime, in the summer, after we had dispersed, Havard would run Jack and me out to The Trout at Godstow, where we would sit on the wall with the Isis flowing below us and munch cheese and French bread.

One thing very noticeable at our Bird and Baby meetings was Jack's unobtrusive leadership. He sat there in a corner with his beer and just seemed to "stoke the fire" of conversation. When tragedy struck him, the death of his wife, he was absent from our meetings for a time. Attendance dropped and, to me at least, stars ceased to sparkle. When he did come back, he was the same old Jack. Our spirits rose; attendance rose. He was quite determined that his private grief should not impinge on us. Though what that grief was became obvious on the anonymous publication of A Grief Observed.
~James Dundas-Grant, C.S Lewis at the Breakfast Table: and Other Remininscences, "From an 'Outsider'", (1992)

1 Comment(s):

At Mon Nov 28, 05:12:00 AM EST, Blogger Bob said...

I can hardly imagine Tolkien "jumping up and down". It seems so out of character from what else I have read about him.


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