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Ryan JS. The Man Behind the Mask - C. S. Lewis. 1966.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/11128
The Man Behind the Mask - C. S. Lewis
Since his death some two and a half years ago, C. S. Lewis (the University's foundation Professor of Mediaeval and Renaissance English) - has had his memory unnecessarily blurred by a tide of monographs, miscellaneous essays and lecture notes published posthumously, poetic trivia scraped together, and the uneasy and donnish tribute of 'Light on Lewis', a book rightly viewed with distaste by the more perceptive. Whether the 'Letters', edited by his elder brother, soldier and historian of France, W. H. Lewis, will be the last or the most penetrating commentary on him remains to be seen. Yet it is certainly true that in his introductory "Memoir" and his actual editing of the letters selected, Warren Lewis has done signal service, both for what he reveals, and for the taste and manliness with which he carries out his role as editor, brother (and thus fellow childhood sufferer), and friend. The introductory study is of importance to the student of Lewis's mind as it reveals, in a way that 'Surprised by Joy' did not, the traumatic in the writer's background, notably the smothering yet aloof personality of the father, the anxieties he caused (p. 172), and the burden which Lewis had upon him for nearly 32 years, that of the widowed mother of one of his former brother officers, whose own association with the stripling cadet must have been of the briefest duration. Of limited mind, dominating and of possessive temperament, she had a genius for creating domestic chaos and imposed "a restrictive and distracting servitude for many of his most fruitful years" (p. 12). Warren Lewis also gives us the most explicit details of the agonies endured before the apparently automatic academic career was, in fact, successfully begun ; inside information about the famed literary coterie, so abused by F. R. Leavis and others as Anglo-Parnassus, but self-styled as the Inklings and which outlasted the leftists and became one of the Establishment's brighter jewels. At its head and holding the group together Lewis was his most blustering, genial and masculine self.