22 November, 2013
Quotable Friday (19)
CS Lewis's death (like that of fellow-writer Aldous Huxley) went largely unnoticed at the time, occurring as it did on the same day as a rather famous assassination. But I'm pleased to see there have been some attempts to commemorate this great man this year. By coincidence I happen to be reading the new biography of Lewis - CS Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet - by Alister McGrath at the moment. It's a little academic, but I'm enjoying it.
I've quoted from Lewis's wonderfully witty Narnia books on the blog before here and here. So today I'm going for something a bit different. I've always been charmed by the friendship between Lewis and another great writer, JRR Tolkien. How wonderful that these men were friends! Anybody who knows much about CS Lewis will know that Tolkien ("Tollers") played a important part in Lewis's final acceptance of Christianity. For that reason, Tolkien can be said to have played his part in the writing both of the Narnia series and all the theological books CS Lewis went on to write following his role as "the wartime apologist" for the BBC.
Not everybody might realise that CS Lewis was just as crucial in the writing of The Lord of the Rings. This is what dear JRR had to say about it in a letter to Rayner Unwin after Lewis's death:
"The unpayable debt that I owe to [Lewis] is not "influence" as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him did I ever get the idea that my "stuff" could be more than a private hobby. But for his interest and unceasing eagerness for more I should never have brought The L. of the R. to conclusion."
All writers need a CS Lewis! Imagine if he hadn't encouraged his friend to continue with his "second hobbit book". Encouragement is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone - whatever stage they're at.
Now... points to anyone who knows JRR Tolkien's first three names without looking them up!