Retrospective: April

The following is part of a revised shorter series reflecting on the life of C.S. Lewis. This is accomplished by summarizing various events or happenings during his lifetime for the month and may include significant events related to him after his death. Each column will remind those already familiar with Lewis why he is so well respected and perhaps increase the admiration of others who are unaware of his wide range of achievements and various landmarks in his life.

It was during the month of April over the years that three books containing letters from C.S. Lewis were posthumously released. Two “seconds” occurred this month during Lewis’s life; books that were also the middle volume in a series of works. Over a dozen talks or essays were first heard or became available this month and several unique happenings highlight April as well.

No doubt you are aware that Lewis was a man of letters. Not long after his death, on April 18, 1966,  Letters of C.S. Lewis, edited by his brother Warnie was released. It also contained an insightful memoir. Walter Hooper edited a specific group of letters that were published on April 19, 1979, They Stand Together: The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves. Greeves was Lewis’s friend from boyhood and they kept in touch throughout his lifetime.  While not the only other group of letters ever published, the final one this month was Letters to Children on April 11, 1985. They were edited by Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie Lamp Mead.  All content from these three books are now contained in the three volume The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis. While not a book of letters, All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C.S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper came out on April 18, 1991. It just covers the years 1922-1927.

The only book by Lewis where he shared authorship was released on April 27, 1939. The Personal Heresy: A Controversy is co-authored with Cambridge Professor E. M. W. Tillyard. It collects six essays between the two on the issue of whether or not “all poetry is about the poet’s state of mind.” It was noted in the February essay that the two debated the issue a few months earlier in 1939.

Two other books from this month are more well-known, both were published just a day apart, Christian Behavior on April 19, 1943 and Perelandra on April 20, 1943. Each of these are the middle book in a series. The former is more identified with being part of Mere Christianity and the latter is from the series of books given various names, but frequently known for Ransom, a main character in all of them.

Several joyous or sorrowful times happen to Lewis in the fourth month over the years. The civil ceremony of Lewis and Joy Davidman took place on April 23, 1956; as mentioned last month he and Joy had an ecclesiastical wedding less than a year later. It was April 2, 1908 when Lewis’s grandfather died during a time of failing health for Flora, Lewis’s mother.  Another difficult time was on April 15, 1918 when Lewis was wounded on the battlefield in WWI at Mount Bernenchon.  Then ten years after his own death in 1963, Lewis’s brother, Warnie, died on April 9th.

Two different series ended this month. Although recorded a few weeks before on March 21, 1944, “The New Men” was a BBC broadcast on April 4th. It was the conclusion to the Beyond Personality set of talks and the only one recorded  that survived of the entire eventual Mere Christianity material. The other series finished in April was material that is best known as being from The Great Divorce. On the 6th and 13th in 1945 The Guardian published the final two installments of Who Goes Home? or The Grand Divorce. They are the final two-thirds of chapter thirteen and the concluding fourteenth chapter.  

There were five talks or papers given over the years in April (unless otherwise noted they are in God in the Dock):

  • “Christian Apologetics” is a paper read at the Carmarthen Conference for Anglican Youth Leaders and Junior Clergy in Carmarthen, Wales during Easter 1945.
  • “The Grand Miracle” was a talk given on April 15, 1945 at St. Jude on the Hill Church, London. It was also published a few weeks later, on April 27, 1945 in The Guardian.
  • “Answers to Questions on Christianity” is the title of the printed version of what Lewis said at “One Man Brains Trust” held at the Electric and Musical Industries Christian Fellowship, Hayes, Middlesex on April 18, 1944.
  • “Hamlet: The Prince or the Poem?” was the Annual Shakespeare Lecture Lewis gave for the British Academy in London on April 22, 1942. Available in Selected Literary Essays.
  • “On Three Ways of Writing for Children” is the talk Lewis gave on April 29, 1952 at the meeting of the Library Association at Bournemouth. Available in On Stories.

 

Many shorter works were published in April. The follow list is arranged by earliest year and when no exact day is given then it was in a monthly publication:

  • “A Note on Comus” in The Review of English Studies in 1932. Reprinted in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.
  • “Genius and Genius” in The Review of English Studies in 1936. Also in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.
  • “Democratic Education” on April 29, 1944 in Time and Tide. It was first under the title of “Notes on the Way” and was reprinted in Present Concerns.
  • “The Laws of Nature” on April 4, 1945 in The Coventry Evening Telegraph. Reprinted in God in the Dock
  • “On Church Music” in English Church Music in 1949. Reprinted in Christian Reflections.
  • “Lilies that Fester” in Twentieth Century, in 1955. Reprinted in The World’s Last Night
  • “Interim Report” on April 21, 1956 in The Cambridge Review. Reprinted in Present Concerns.
  • “Will We Lose God in Outer Space?” in Christian Herald in 1958. The title was changed to “Religion and Rocketry” when reprinted in The World’s Last Night.

Read Previous Retrospective Columns:

No comments