There is a great element of chance in fame." "I think love for ones country means chiefly love for people who have a good deal in common with oneself (language, clothes, institutions) and is in that way like love of ones family or school: or like love (in a strange place) for anyone who once lived in ones home town. And in a less degree there are similar grounds for loving other nationshistorical links & debts for literature etc (hence we all reverence the ancient Greeks)." "Indeed (I do not know whether to be more ashamed or joyful at confessing this) I realise that until about a month ago I never really believed (tho I thought I did) in Gods forgiveness. I now feel that one must never say one believes or understands anything: any morning a doctrine I thought I already possessed may blossom into this new reality. I wish I was younger..." "Texas certainly doesnt sound attractive, but you seem to have got some enjoyment out of it; my brother says he has an idea that this is the one which calls itself the Lone Star State, and that its inhabitantslike the Scots and the Jewsare always making up good stories against themselves. e.g. that when America entered the war, Texas wired the President Texas joins with U.S.A. in fight for freedom." "For the Pagans knew more than the modern Ph.Ds." "Dear Mrs. Van Deusen The new photos raise extreme Sehnsucht: each a landscape as fulfils my dreams. like to see, not the great cities, which, except superficially, are really much the same all over the earth." "Meanwhile our only security is that The Day may find us working each one in his own station and especially (giving up dissensions) fulfilling that supreme command that we love one another." "In Ireland I stayed at a lonely bungalow last summer which the peasants avoided not because a ghost had been seen near it (they didnt mind ghosts) but because the Good People, the Faerie, frequented that bit of coast. So apparently ghosts are the least alarming kind of spirit." "Obviously, where one is more sure that God wants one to be is the place one must go: and even if the surety shd. in fact be mistaken I expect we may rely on God to bring it about that good will come of it." "What you say about the present state of mankind is true: indeed, it is even worse than you say. He is as far removed as virgin is from widow: there is nothing in common except want of a spouse: but there is a great difference between a spouse-to-come and a spouse lost." "My feeling about people in whose conversion I have been allowed to play a part is always mixed with awe and even fear: such as a boy might feel on first being allowed to fire a rifle. Yes: I think the palate is the only part of me that need regret the early years..." "You know, over here people did not get that fairy-tale feeling about the coronation. One has missed the whole point unless one feels that we have all been crowned and that coronation is somehow, if splendid, a tragic splendour." "How thankful I am that when God became Man He did not choose to become a man of iron nerves: that wd. Therefore many men of our time have lost not only the supernatural light but also the natural light which pagans possessed." "How wrong you are when you think that streamlined planes and trains wd. But this is becoming egotistical." "Id love to see a bear, a snow-shoe, and a real forest..." "I have now perceived (what I always suspected from memories of our childhood) that the way to a childs heart is quite simple: treat them with seriousness & ordinary civilitythey ask no more. Aeneas & Hector & Beowulf & Roland & Lancelot blubbered like school-girls, so why shouldnt we?)." "You ask for what God wants you. (2.) To avoid introspection in prayerI mean not to watch ones own mind to see if it is in the right frame, but always to turn the attention outward to God. Dont try to bring in specifically Christian bits: if God wants you to serve him in that way (He may not: there are different vocations) you will find it coming in of its own accord. (You dont put little texts in your family soup, Ill be bound.)" "But the great thing is to cultivate ones own garden, to do well the job which ones own natural capacities point out (after first doing well whatever the duties of ones station impose). Any honest workmanship (whether making stories, shoes, or rabbit hutches) can be done to the glory of God." "(I had been in Ireland, Donegal, which is lovely. God has His own unique way with each soul." "I think I can understand that feeling about a housewifes work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). When he sits and stares you out of countenance he is thanking God that he is not as these dogs, or these humans, or even as these other Cats!" "Im all for a planet without aches or pains or financial worries but I doubt if Id care for one of pure intelligence. By the way, I hope the reference to aches, pains, and financial worries does not mean you are suffering from all three (or both, for there are only two here)." "You have no idea how many instances of domestic nastiness come before me in my mail: how deceptive the smooth surface of life is! The only ordinary homes seem to be the ones we dont know much about, just as the only blue mountains are those 10 miles away." "I envy your friends their 12 acre tract of woodland but shd. All really open-air people (sailors, & farm labourers) like thick walls, small windows, and those shut!" "I never knew a guinea-pig that took any notice of humans (they take plenty of one another). If they talked, Im sure that is the language theyd speak." "My other great favourite is XIX.29 First, the mere glory of nature (between the Psalms and Wordswortha long gap in historyyou get nothing equal to either on this theme). For as God humbled Himself to become Man, so religion humbled itself to become Christianity." "I will never laugh at anyone for grieving over a loved beast. I think God wants us to love Him more, not to love creatures (even animals) less. No person, animal, flower, or even pebble, has ever been loved too muchi.e. more than every one of Gods works deserves. Rather rejoice that Gods law allows you to extend to Fanda that last mercy which (no doubt, quite rightly) we are forbidden to extend to suffering humans. (The only man I ever had a pot shot at in the first war didnt appear to know he was being fired on at all)..." "About past, long past, sins: I had been a Christian for many years before I really believed in the forgiveness of sins, or more strictly, before my theoretical belief became a reality to me. Gates of adamant are broken, Words of conquering power are spoken Through the God who died and bled: Hell lies vacant, spoiled and cheated, By the Lord of life defeated. So much so that now, if I lose or forget something Ive read that seems important, I do not much bother, for I feel a confidence that if I really need it it will be given to me again, and just in timein a book on some quite different subject I shall find it quoted or a man I didnt much want to talk to will mention it in conversation." "In both countries an essential part of the ordination exam ought to be a passage from some recognized theological work set for translation into vulgar Englishjust like doing Latin prose.
Obviously, this volume is not for the casual Lewis reader, and it is good to have a Lewis biography or two handy whenever reading a letter. But if you're big on CS Lewis quotes and want to see the full context for some of them, or perhaps you'd like the occasional insight into CS Lewis' day to day activities, or you simply can't get enough of Lewis' unique writing style, you can't beat this definitive volume.
I've never read a complete book of someone's letters but I'm glad I plugged away at this one - it was fascinating to witness this man's life and the intricacies of his work and relationships through his correspondence.
More than ever, upon reading these Letters of his, I eagerly look forward to meeting Jack and talking with him in Heaven.
It goes on to illuminate his writing of the later Narnia novels and his more mature, philosophical Christian works. Like his other famous friendship, with J R R Tolkien, his relationship with Joy did not get of to the most promising of starts: just as a letter in an earlier volume describes how his future best friend made a very poor first impression on Lewis, here a letter tells how his future wife never stopped talking when she was first his house-guest. This embarrassed and overburdened him, but he felt obliged to respond, and his advice letters are the most interesting aspect of this correspondence. It is therefore no surprise that his private political opinions were increasingly common sense conservative, but he was discreet about them even refusing an honour from Churchill because he did not want to be associated with any cause but Christianity in the public mind.
Those letters, I think, show Lewis to have been a saint and just the sort of saint we need to imitate (Richard Beck's The Slavery of Death has a really good section on this--go read that book by the way).
The relative shortness of letters makes it easy to just read a few and then be ready for slumber, though I kept bothering my husband to read him bits I found especially well-written or just fun.
I heartily recommend this collection of books to anyone who really wants deep insight into the life, mind, interest, and theology of CS Lewis.
He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954.