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Floating Islands

J.I.M. Stewart

21 October 1982
Of This and Other Worlds 
by C.S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper.
Collins, 192 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 00 215608 3
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George Orwell: A Personal Memoir 
by T.R. Fyvel.
Weidenfeld, 221 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 297 78012 3
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... The ‘other worlds’ of the title here given to a gathering of miscellaneous pieces by C.S.Lewis are presumably Malcandra and Perelandra – Mars and Venus as they are revealed to Lewis’s space-traveller, Elwin Ransom – and also perhaps the spiritual world as set against the natural. In the USA, however, the same collection has been published under the title On Stories. This is ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams

7 September 2016
Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... and the things of the world, Williams expressed a creed that justified their position. He prided himself on being the only person who could claim the friendship of those arch-enemies C.S.Lewis and T.S. Eliot. Lewis and Williams both aimed at the disruption of the realist novel though the use of erudite fantasy, drawing on Dante and Plato and Milton; they wanted to make contemporary England ...

Deeper Shallows

Stefan Collini: C.S. Lewis

20 June 2013
C.S. LewisA Life 
by Alister McGrath.
Hodder, 431 pp., £20, April 2013, 978 1 4447 4552 8
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... It is difficult to write about C.S.Lewis without giving offence. Most authors have their admirers, and literary sectarianism is hardly rare, but Lewis is unusual in being at the heart of more than one cult, having excelled in genres where attachments are warmest and the cool touch of analysis can be most resented, such as popular religious writing ...
22 May 1986
Alexander Montgomerie 
by R.D.S. Jack.
Scottish Academic Press, 140 pp., £4.50, June 1985, 0 7073 0367 2
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Letters of King James VI and I 
edited by G.P.V. Akrigg.
California, 546 pp., £32.75, November 1984, 0 520 04707 9
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The Concise​ Scots Dictionary 
by Mairi Robinson.
Aberdeen University Press, 819 pp., £17.50, August 1985, 0 08 028491 4
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... that if one has to use a periphrasis, ‘the maister poet’ is better than ‘the sweet singer of Scotland’, or ‘the immortal bard of Edinburgh’, but I would prefer ‘Montgomerie’.) C.S.Lewis more drily remarks, ‘unless you are a student you will not read him.’ Although we do now know that he died in 1598, the date of his birth is obscure. Jack follows the tradition of putting it c ...


Patrick Parrinder: On Raymond Williams

18 February 1988
... English’. Perversely perhaps, I recall instead the death of another novelist, Cambridge professor and intellectual militant, even though he was in the opposite camp to Williams’s own. C.S.Lewis, author of academic classics such as The Allegory of Love, died in 1963 in his 65th year. Today his memory stays alive far from the academic world, in the reading of children and Science Fiction fans ...
27 May 1993
Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul 
by Barbara Reynolds.
Hodder, 398 pp., £25, March 1993, 0 340 58151 4
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... in the way of personal detail, than the recent study by David Coombes. There is far less about Sayers’s marriage, for example; but we do not feel – at any rate, I did not feel – that this is a case of suppressio veri. More an exercise in getting things in perspective. Yes, Sayers was a vicar’s daughter who gave birth to an illegitimate child (a consequence of her fondness for motorcycling ...

Don’t do it!

Wendy Doniger: Dick Francis

15 October 1998
Field of 13 
by Dick Francis.
Joseph, 273 pp., £16.99, September 1998, 0 7181 4351 5
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... the winged horses found in many mythologies. The Francis myth, like any myth, is driven by a doomed desire to provide an answer to an insoluble paradox close to the bone of human existence: in this case the riddle of pain and endurance. The theology is one of pain. It strikes me as significant that C.S.Lewis published The Problem of Pain in 1957, the year in which Francis published his first book ...


John Bayley

17 March 1988
End of a Journey: An Autobiographical Journal 1979-1981 
by Philip Toynbee.
Bloomsbury, 422 pp., £25, February 1988, 0 7475 0132 7
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... in something. And I believe in the non-animal fat diet.’ Insatiably religious persons who have caught the virus late in life have something in common, but may differ strongly in personality. C.S.Lewis, whom Toynbee respects but obviously does not much care for, has, like Malcolm Muggeridge, a touch of the sacred monster about him. He was a performer, and a journal by him is hardly imaginable: as ...

An English Vice

Bernard Bergonzi

21 February 1985
The Turning Key: Autobiography and the Subjective Impulse since 1800 
by Jerome Hamilton Buckley.
Harvard, 191 pp., £12.75, April 1984, 0 674 91330 2
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The Art of Autobiography in 19th and 20th-Century England 
by A.O.J. Cockshut.
Yale, 222 pp., £10.95, September 1984, 0 300 03235 8
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... autobiographies of positive conversion, such as Newman’s Apologia, and those 20th-century examples which trace an individual movement towards Christianity, like Muir’s Autobiography and C.S.Lewis’s Surprised by Joy. He remarks, in the quietly authoritative tone that characterises his book: ‘Muir’s childhood is at once the shortest and the most dominant of all those known to me in the ...
17 September 1981
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 
edited by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien.
Allen and Unwin, 463 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 04 826005 3
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Tolkien and the Silmarils 
by Randel Helms.
Thames and Hudson, 104 pp., £5.50, September 1981, 0 500 01264 4
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... Nor do the members of his own coterie fare much better. He is ‘wholly unsympathetic’ to Charles Williams’s mind, and although he has many warm and generous things to say about C.S.Lewis there comes a point at which he judges that ‘his ponderous silliness is becoming a fixed manner.’ Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer is a ‘distressing and in parts horrifying work’ – not ...


R.W. Johnson: Alan Taylor, Oxford Don

8 May 1986
... all apocryphal. How, at one college meeting, Alan had proposed that the chapel be turned into a swimming-pool. How Alan had loathed the loathsome Dylan Thomas. How Alan had crossed swords with C.S.Lewis, Magdalen’s Fellow in English, on this or that occasion. How, on being asked as a young man at interview whether it was true that he had strongly-held left-wing views, he had replied: ‘No. I have ...

Old Western Man

J.I.M. Stewart

18 September 1980
C.S. Lewis​ at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences 
edited by James Como.
Collins, 299 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 9780002162753
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... together by James T. Como, a Professor of Rhetorical Communication in the City University of New York. He tells us in an introduction: ‘Now several societies exist for the purpose of studying Lewis’s thoughts; film rights to several of his books have been purchased, and filmed documentaries of his life have been produced; both popular and scholarly books on Lewis are being published with ...


C.H. Sisson

22 February 1990
C.S.LewisA Biography 
by A.N. Wilson.
Collins, 334 pp., £15, February 1990, 0 00 215137 5
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... Lewis was born in 1898, the son of a Belfast solicitor. He was educated first at home, then in England at a preparatory school, at Malvern (for one term only), and by a private tutor. So to Oxford. It was ...

Out of the Eater

Jeremy Noel-Tod: Thom Gunn

6 July 2000
Boss Cupid 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 115 pp., £7.99, March 2000, 0 571 20298 5
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... whom stream    Long stems of contrary assertion, Shaped leaf ridging their scalps in place of hair.         Their origins lost to sight, As they are too, cast out from light.            They should despair. This is finely done, the stanza form handled with confidence, the poem gaining resonance from its place in a collection dominated by poems ...


Stephen Wall

26 March 1992
Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... surroundings (he was at Magdalen) while remaining beady-eyed about its snobbery and self-absorption. He went down without a degree, failing to get on both with Anglo-Saxon and with his tutor C.S.Lewis, and understandably preferring to spend every afternoon at the cinema. After Oxford, Henry Yorke (to use his proper name) spent two years on the shop floor in the family engineering firm H. Pontifex ...

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