RETRO: October 1st – 10th

The following is part of a series reflecting on the life of C.S. Lewis. This is accomplished by summarizing various events or happenings during his lifetime for the noted period and may include significant events related to him after his death.

Highlights for the opening third of October (1st – 10th) include: Concluding book from his final BBC radio series, an unsigned review of The Hobbit and the release of A Preface to ‘Paradise Lost’.

Beyond PersonalityWhile Lewis did go on to record a radio series on love in the late 1950’s, his final one for the BBC was given in early 1944. The book version of it was published on the 9th of  October that same year as Beyond Personality: The Christian Idea of God. It is now more remembered at being the forth book in Mere Christianity where it was given a new subtitle: “Or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity.”  In either edition there were eleven chapters, however, there were only seven talks on the radio, so he added four chapters. They were “Time and Beyond” (chapter 3), “Two Notes” (chapter 6), “Counting the Cost” (chapter 9), and “Nice People or New Men” (chapter 10). In the preface to the volume (not provided in Mere Christianity), Lewis states he is attempting “to put into simple modern language the account of God which, to the best of my knowledge, the vast majority of Christian churches have” in agreement over time.

The only other book released during this period was just a couple of years earlier. On the 8th in 1942 A Preface to ‘Paradise Lost’. Recalling Lewis’s professional work as an Oxford Don at the time he published this makes it no surprise he would create something like this. However, it might be surprising that he first read Paradise Lost as a nine year old! Also, while Milton was a favorite author of Lewis, it was actually due in part to the influence of his friend, Charles Williams that he wrote this work. The book was even dedicated to him. Prior to being published much of the material was given in 1941 as the Ballard Matthews Lectures at University College, North Wales.

In 1937 a then unknown author by the name of J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit. Lewis was a close friend and had actually heard parts of the story over the previous years. On the 2nd in 1937 (not long after the book was released) he published a review of the book. Then the review was called The Hobbitt“A World for Children” when found in The Times Literary Supplement. A second review was printed on the 8th in The Times. While the former is the only one currently available (its in On Stories as “The Hobbit”), both reviews will be reprinted in the forthcoming Image and Imagination collection (which consists mostly of book reviews). It’s due out at the end of November.

Two different versions of “Miracles” was published this month in 1942. A shorter account was released in The Guardian on the 2nd and Saint Jude’s Gazette had an expanded version of it in their October issue. The latter is found in God in the Dock. Both are actually an adaptation of a sermon Lewis preached on September 27, 1942 at St Jude on the Hill Church. All this predates Lewis officially beginning to write a book of the same name that came out in 1947. Speaking of that book, an essay called “Horrid Red Things,” published on the 6th in 1944 in Church of England Newspaper is a version of a chapter in Miracles. You can learn more about the essay on a podcast chat I did with Dr. Charlie Starr.

Lewis Young w BikeSeveral other essays came out that were not tied to a specific date in October because of being published in monthly periodicals.  In the 1946 issue of Resistance “Talking about Bicycles” was printed. Best available now in Present Concerns.  The 1950 issue of The Month included Lewis’s article entitled “Historicism.” It is reprinted in Christian Reflections. In 1954 Essays in Criticism contained “A Note on Jane Austen.”  You can read it in Selected Literary Essays. Then the 1961 issue of Breakthrough published “Before We Can Communicate.” Learn what he had to say by locating it in God in the Dock.   

A couple ongoing series continued during early October. Two letters from Screwtape and another talk on the radio from the Christian Behavior broadcast was given. The interesting thing about the correspondence to Wormwood is that these were the first ones to contain a subtitle. On the 3rd in 1941 it was “The Historical Jesus” with the twenty-forth letter in The Guardian. Screwtape begins it by noting because the patient is spending more time with “very intelligent Christians” and spirituality can’t be removed from his life that the only thing left to do is to corrupt it! The twenty-fifth letter on the 10th had the subtitle of “Spiritual Pride.” The demon, Slumtrimpet, who is in charge of the patient’s girlfriend, is introduced. “Morality and Psychoanalysis” was the third talk from the Christian Behaviour series on the BBC on the 4th in 1942. It became chapter four in the book version because of new material Lewis added for the second chapter. As you might be aware from the title, the subject focuses on how Freud’s view of moral compares with the Biblical perspective.

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