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Jack in Retrospect: January 15th-21st

January 15, 2013

Retro Weekly(Note: you will be able to read the entire article after following the link). This is the third in a series highlighting the various happenings in the life of C.S. Lewis during a particular week. While several events occurred during the time period of January 15th – 21st, I will also note a few things that took place this month that isn’t tied to a certain week.

     Having emphasized that, I must begin with something that happened on the 15th in 1951 that could have been mentioned last week because of what happen just three days earlier. Mrs. Janie Moore, at the age of 79, died on the 12th. Her funeral was held at the start of this weekly reflection. Paddy Moore (Lewis’s roommate during Officer’s Training for World War I) was her son. Because the focus of this retrospect is to summarize, I won’t go into all the details about the relationship between Mrs. Moore and Lewis. On one level she was like a second mother to him (she was just over 25 years older than him), but, as more recently biographies on Lewis suggest, it is likely that there was a sexually relationship between them prior to his conversion.

Occurring during the month of January without any particular date was two prose works. “Ministering Angels” was a science fiction short story first available in 1958 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Available in either The Dark Tower and Other Stories or Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, it is one of only two short stories by Lewis that was published in his lifetime. “The Efficacy of Prayer” appeared in the January 1959 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. This article is presently best found in The World’s Last Night collection of essays. While drawing you in with the question of how can one know that prayer is effective, Lewis reveals it is the wrong way to approach the subject and goes on to explain why, while making other helpful points.

Two other prose works had their origins on particular dates. Each are related to items mentioned last week. The second broadcast from the second series of talks (“What Christians Believe) on the BBC was given on the 18th in 1942. At the time it didn’t have a title, but later when it was included in Mere Christianity it became known as “The Invasion.” He told about why the complex world we live in is something true Christianity presents. He also noted why Dualism’s explanation of reality may seem adequate but it actually falls short. He closed the talk by stating we live in territory occupied by the enemy and pointed out that “the rightful king has landed” (hence the title finally given to the talk).

The next piece is the eleventh segment of “Who Goes Home? or The Grand Divorce.” It was published on the 19th and presents a fourth of what we now know as the ninth chapter of The Great Divorce. This is the part where George MacDonald is introduced and he provides much insight into what is going on. One of the many quotes I enjoy from the book overall is in this section: “Ye cannot fully understand the relations of choice and Time till you are beyond both.”

Finally, this was a frequent time period for Lewis’s poetry to be published. Each of the following pieces can be found in a book simply called Poems. “Pan’s Purge” came out on the 15th in 1947 in Punch. Readers of That Hideous Strength will find the theme remnant of the end of that story. The very next day saw the publication of “The Romantics” in The New English Weekly. A revised version of the poem with the title of “The Prudent Jailer” is found in Poems. “On Another Theme from Nicolas of Cusa” was printed in 1955 on the 21st in The Times Literary Supplement. It also was revised, but the title was only slightly altered. It is now known as “On a Theme from Nicolas of Cusa.”

Among the noteworthy happenings for next week are Lewis’s first lecture after becoming a Fellow at Oxford and the publishing of one of the final books he prepared before he died.

Read Previous Retro Weeklies

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