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Sayer vs. Wilson

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  • Jay Hershberger
    Which biographer is considered more accurate, George Sayer or A.N. Wilson? I am sure that this is an old and tired topic, but I would be interested in any
    Message 1 of 18 , Nov 6, 2005
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      Which biographer is considered more accurate, George Sayer or A.N.
      Wilson? I am sure that this is an old and tired topic, but I would be
      interested in any thoughts. Thanks.

      Cheers,

      Jay Hershberger
      Moorhead, MN


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      We had a debate at one panel at the 1998 Mythcon about which was the best biography of Lewis. Yes, this is an old and tired topic. There are good and bad
      Message 2 of 18 , Nov 6, 2005
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        We had a debate at one panel at the 1998 Mythcon about which was the best
        biography of Lewis. Yes, this is an old and tired topic. There are good and
        bad things to be said about both books. There is no definitive biography of
        Lewis at the moment. I could make some comments about the books, but I'm
        really not interested in getting into that argument again.

        Wendell Wagner


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Jay Hershberger
        WW: There are good and bad things to be said about both books. There is no definitive biography of Lewis at the moment. I could make some comments
        Message 3 of 18 , Nov 6, 2005
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          WW: <snip> There are good and bad things to be said about both books.
          There is no definitive biography of Lewis at the moment. I could make
          some comments about the books, but I'm
          really not interested in getting into that argument again.

          JH: I understand. Thanks, Wendell. Anyone else care to comment? What
          I would like to know is which of the two deal with the facts and
          chronology of Lewis' life in a more historically accurate way.

          Cheers,

          Jay Hershberger
          Moorhead, MN


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Stolzi
          ... From: Jay Hershberger ... I d plump for Sayer, every time. The new bio by Douglas Gresham, Lewis stepson, JACK S LIFE, is
          Message 4 of 18 , Nov 6, 2005
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            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Jay Hershberger" <hershjay@...>


            > Which biographer is considered more accurate, George Sayer or A.N.
            > Wilson?

            I'd plump for Sayer, every time.

            The new bio by Douglas Gresham, Lewis' stepson, JACK'S LIFE, is definitely
            a children's book, (explicitly so in the final paragraphs) but they don't
            seem to be marketing it with this fact up front. Just a warning.

            The Michael White article is god-awful. "Arthur Lewis"? Who he?

            Diamond Proudbrook
          • Mike Foster
            Sayer gets my vote. In his preface to Jack, he speaks of his first meeting with his tutor Lewis and also Tolkien, who said to him [re: Lewis]: You ll never
            Message 5 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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              Sayer gets my vote. In his preface to Jack, he speaks of his first
              meeting with his tutor Lewis and also Tolkien, who said to him [re:
              Lewis]: "You'll never get to the bottom of him."

              Maybe no one could, but Sayer did the best job of it--quite possibly
              because he had a genuine friendship for Lewis--and Lewis for him.

              I'm pleased to note that Christopher Mitchell and I took 15 minutes to
              eulogize George at the end of my presentation on CSL & JRRT Saturday at
              Belmont University's CSL conference in Nashville. Only a few of the 60
              or 70 attending had heard of Sayer. By the time we walked back from the
              library to Belmont student center, the booksellers had sold their last
              copy of Jack.

              Cheers,
              Mike



              WendellWag@... wrote:

              >We had a debate at one panel at the 1998 Mythcon about which was the best
              >biography of Lewis. Yes, this is an old and tired topic. There are good and
              >bad things to be said about both books. There is no definitive biography of
              >Lewis at the moment. I could make some comments about the books, but I'm
              >really not interested in getting into that argument again.
              >
              >Wendell Wagner
              >
              >
              >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
              >Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
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            • David Bratman
              One of many factual errors in the article, although the distorted interpretations are even more harmful. (Even A.N. Wilson, the most salacious of Lewis s
              Message 6 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                One of many factual errors in the article, although the distorted
                interpretations are even more harmful. (Even A.N. Wilson, the most
                salacious of Lewis's biographers - that should tell you how to rank his
                work - doesn't spend as much space in an entire book on Lewis's dark "inner
                drives" or his lusts for comely young matrons as White does in one short
                article.)

                The nugget of fact in the statement you query is that Lewis's later
                religious commentaries were not quite the aggressively muscular apologetics
                that his earlier books were.

                David Bratman


                At 02:25 PM 11/6/2005 -0600, Jay Hershberger wrote:

                >I don't know much about the shape and chronology of Lewis' life,
                >but even I was able to detect multiple errors in Mr. White's article.
                >For instance, Mr. White claims that Lewis never wrote another word of
                >"religious commentary" after 1949. Is this true? If I am mistaken,
                >please let me know; I thought that Letters to Malcolm and A Grief
                >Observed were both written rather late. Do they not count as "religious
                >commentary?" What about the Chronicles themselves? They at least
                >induce religious commentary by others. Any thoughts?
              • Jay Hershberger
                Thanks for the information, David. And to all who responded. I think I will start with Sayer s book on Lewis. Cheers, Jay Hershberger Moorhead, MN ... From:
                Message 7 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                  Thanks for the information, David. And to all who responded. I think I
                  will start with Sayer's book on Lewis.

                  Cheers,

                  Jay Hershberger
                  Moorhead, MN

                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                  Of David Bratman
                  Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 9:56 AM
                  To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: RE: [mythsoc] count the errors

                  One of many factual errors in the article, although the distorted
                  interpretations are even more harmful. (Even A.N. Wilson, the most
                  salacious of Lewis's biographers - that should tell you how to rank his
                  work - doesn't spend as much space in an entire book on Lewis's dark
                  "inner
                  drives" or his lusts for comely young matrons as White does in one short
                  article.)

                  The nugget of fact in the statement you query is that Lewis's later
                  religious commentaries were not quite the aggressively muscular
                  apologetics
                  that his earlier books were.

                  David Bratman


                  At 02:25 PM 11/6/2005 -0600, Jay Hershberger wrote:

                  >I don't know much about the shape and chronology of Lewis' life,
                  >but even I was able to detect multiple errors in Mr. White's article.
                  >For instance, Mr. White claims that Lewis never wrote another word of
                  >"religious commentary" after 1949. Is this true? If I am mistaken,
                  >please let me know; I thought that Letters to Malcolm and A Grief
                  >Observed were both written rather late. Do they not count as
                  "religious
                  >commentary?" What about the Chronicles themselves? They at least
                  >induce religious commentary by others. Any thoughts?



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                • John D Rateliff
                  Actually, of the three main biographies on CSL, I d recommend starting with the Green & Hooper. That s the authorized biography, and it does the best job of
                  Message 8 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                    Actually, of the three main biographies on CSL, I'd recommend starting with the Green & Hooper. That's the authorized biography, and it does the best job of discussing the main outlines of his life, works, and career. Although now more than thirty years old, it's still not been superceded as a whole. Then if you'd like to read more I'd read the Sayer next, since it's a warm portrait by a friend, as much memoir as biography; it'll convey why Lewis's friends thought so highly of him. Its main shortcoming is that it's too uncritical of its subject, which isn't that much of a flaw in a biography. Then I'd read the Wilson, who's deliberately iconoclastic and wants to establish that, all in all, CSL while talents was also a rather strange man.
                    Or, if you want a shorter take on things, Carpenter's THE INKLINGS is as much a biography of CSL as the group.
                    Enjoy!
                    --JDR

                    P.S.: "Never wrote another word" is White's garbled version of a comment by Carpenter that, after his mauling by Anscombe, CSL stopped writing straightforward apologetics for many years and, when he resumed, his religious books were much more personal in tone (e.g., MIRACLES, THE PROBLEM OF PAIN, MERE XIANITY vs. REFLECTIONS ON THE PSALMS and LETTERS TO MALCOLM: CHIEFLY ON PRAYER).


                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: Jay Hershberger <hershjay@...>
                    Sent: Nov 7, 2005 10:27 AM
                    To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: RE: [mythsoc] count the errors

                    Thanks for the information, David. And to all who responded. I think I
                    will start with Sayer's book on Lewis.

                    Cheers,

                    Jay Hershberger
                    Moorhead, MN
                  • Jay Hershberger
                    Thanks, John. I look forward to reading them all. Cheers, Jay Hershberger Moorhead, MN ... From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On
                    Message 9 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                      Thanks, John. I look forward to reading them all.

                      Cheers,

                      Jay Hershberger
                      Moorhead, MN

                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                      Of John D Rateliff
                      Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 12:46 PM
                      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com; mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: RE: [mythsoc] count the errors

                      Actually, of the three main biographies on CSL, I'd recommend starting
                      with the Green & Hooper. That's the authorized biography, and it does
                      the best job of discussing the main outlines of his life, works, and
                      career. Although now more than thirty years old, it's still not been
                      superceded as a whole. Then if you'd like to read more I'd read the
                      Sayer next, since it's a warm portrait by a friend, as much memoir as
                      biography; it'll convey why Lewis's friends thought so highly of him.
                      Its main shortcoming is that it's too uncritical of its subject, which
                      isn't that much of a flaw in a biography. Then I'd read the Wilson,
                      who's deliberately iconoclastic and wants to establish that, all in all,
                      CSL while talents was also a rather strange man.
                      Or, if you want a shorter take on things, Carpenter's THE INKLINGS is
                      as much a biography of CSL as the group.
                      Enjoy!
                      --JDR

                      P.S.: "Never wrote another word" is White's garbled version of a comment
                      by Carpenter that, after his mauling by Anscombe, CSL stopped writing
                      straightforward apologetics for many years and, when he resumed, his
                      religious books were much more personal in tone (e.g., MIRACLES, THE
                      PROBLEM OF PAIN, MERE XIANITY vs. REFLECTIONS ON THE PSALMS and LETTERS
                      TO MALCOLM: CHIEFLY ON PRAYER).


                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: Jay Hershberger <hershjay@...>
                      Sent: Nov 7, 2005 10:27 AM
                      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: RE: [mythsoc] count the errors

                      Thanks for the information, David. And to all who responded. I think I
                      will start with Sayer's book on Lewis.

                      Cheers,

                      Jay Hershberger
                      Moorhead, MN



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                      ting+child+book&w3=Science+fiction+and+fantasy&w4=Business+writing+book&
                      w5=Writing+book+for+child+course&c=5&s=137&.sig=Rn-cSb7_faV3YJBtHr7xbQ>
                      book
                      Writing
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                      +book&w5=Writing+book+for+child+course&c=5&s=137&.sig=RKTCZ23aMh5hWai7M6
                      vyOQ> child book
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                      ing+book&w2=Writing+child+book&w3=Science+fiction+and+fantasy&w4=Busines
                      s+writing+book&w5=Writing+book+for+child+course&c=5&s=137&.sig=CU40vJKWs
                      tG3japdfhQDqg> fiction and fantasy

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                    • David Bratman
                      ... I d start with Sayer for exactly the same reason. G&H is a valuable source, but much too dry for casual reading. Also, G&H was recently massively
                      Message 10 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                        At 10:46 AM 11/7/2005 -0800, John D. Rateliff wrote:
                        >Actually, of the three main biographies on CSL, I'd recommend starting with
                        >the Green & Hooper. That's the authorized biography, and it does the best
                        >job of discussing the main outlines of his life, works, and career. Although
                        >now more than thirty years old, it's still not been superceded as a whole.
                        >Then if you'd like to read more I'd read the Sayer next, since it's a warm
                        >portrait by a friend, as much memoir as biography; it'll convey why Lewis's
                        >friends thought so highly of him.

                        I'd start with Sayer for exactly the same reason. G&H is a valuable
                        source, but much too dry for casual reading. Also, G&H was recently
                        massively rewritten and extended by H, and I haven't studied all the
                        changes; nor are all editions that say "revised" actually the rewritten
                        edition.

                        >P.S.: "Never wrote another word" is White's garbled version of a comment by
                        >Carpenter that, after his mauling by Anscombe, CSL stopped writing
                        >straightforward apologetics for many years and, when he resumed, his
                        >religious books were much more personal in tone (e.g., MIRACLES, THE PROBLEM
                        >OF PAIN, MERE XIANITY vs. REFLECTIONS ON THE PSALMS and LETTERS TO MALCOLM:
                        >CHIEFLY ON PRAYER).

                        Thank you; that clarifies the point better than I did.

                        David Bratman
                      • Mike Foster
                        I agree with David. Who better to tell the story of Lewis life than one who was taught then mentored and then befriended by him? Begin with Sayer. Mike ...
                        Message 11 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                          I agree with David. Who better to tell the story of Lewis' life than
                          one who was taught then mentored and then befriended by him? Begin with
                          Sayer.

                          Mike

                          David Bratman wrote:

                          >At 10:46 AM 11/7/2005 -0800, John D. Rateliff wrote:
                          >
                          >
                          >>Actually, of the three main biographies on CSL, I'd recommend starting with
                          >>the Green & Hooper. That's the authorized biography, and it does the best
                          >>job of discussing the main outlines of his life, works, and career. Although
                          >>now more than thirty years old, it's still not been superceded as a whole.
                          >>Then if you'd like to read more I'd read the Sayer next, since it's a warm
                          >>portrait by a friend, as much memoir as biography; it'll convey why Lewis's
                          >>friends thought so highly of him.
                          >>
                          >>
                          >
                          >I'd start with Sayer for exactly the same reason. G&H is a valuable
                          >source, but much too dry for casual reading. Also, G&H was recently
                          >massively rewritten and extended by H, and I haven't studied all the
                          >changes; nor are all editions that say "revised" actually the rewritten
                          >edition.
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >>P.S.: "Never wrote another word" is White's garbled version of a comment by
                          >>Carpenter that, after his mauling by Anscombe, CSL stopped writing
                          >>straightforward apologetics for many years and, when he resumed, his
                          >>religious books were much more personal in tone (e.g., MIRACLES, THE PROBLEM
                          >>OF PAIN, MERE XIANITY vs. REFLECTIONS ON THE PSALMS and LETTERS TO MALCOLM:
                          >>CHIEFLY ON PRAYER).
                          >>
                          >>
                          >
                          >Thank you; that clarifies the point better than I did.
                          >
                          >David Bratman
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                          >Yahoo! Groups Links
                          >
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                        • Mike Foster
                          I finally read the White blurb since the chat about it had been so lively. I stopped counting at 5. Mike
                          Message 12 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                            I finally read the White blurb since the chat about it had been so lively.

                            I stopped counting at 5.

                            Mike

                            David Bratman wrote:

                            >Michael White, author of the most error-ridden book on Tolkien ever
                            >published, is now similarly hacking his way around C.S. Lewis.
                            >
                            ><http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2092-1859141,00.html>
                            >
                            >David Bratman
                            >
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                            >
                            >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                            >Yahoo! Groups Links
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                          • Stolzi
                            Doug Gresham, who spoke at the opening banquet for PAST WATCHFUL DRAGONS, sold copies of his new (rather slight) book JACK S LIFE. I was aggravated to have
                            Message 13 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                              Doug Gresham, who spoke at the opening banquet for PAST WATCHFUL DRAGONS,
                              sold copies of his new (rather slight) book JACK'S LIFE. I was aggravated
                              to have bought it bec it is obviously by
                              its style - and overtly in so many words, in the conclusion - a bio of Lewis
                              for children, yet it was marketed at this conference without ever a word or
                              hint to that effect.

                              Well, at least it was cheap; and it isn't too =bad=.

                              I did think he was rather riding a hobby horse in an excess number of
                              paragraphs about How Awful War Is. Sure, it is awful, and the two wars
                              surely had a large impact on CSL as well as his friends and family. But I
                              don't think Lewis himself would have wanted to dwell on the subject that
                              much, - stiff upper lip and all that. And it comes ill from a man like Doug
                              who as far as I know has never been in any war. In fact, this morning in
                              LETTERS v. 2, I was just reading some wartime snarky comments from Jack
                              about high-minded intellectual c.o.'s who have never, he says, been known to
                              be troubled by their consciences about anything before.

                              It would be great to influence all the children of the world forever against
                              war. If it could be ALL the children of the world. I don't see that
                              situation today.

                              Diamond Proudbrook
                            • Mike Foster
                              I concur with Diamond s assessment. The book needed a better copy editing job--typos as soon as p. 4--and danced over the difficult bits, but so did Colin
                              Message 14 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                                I concur with Diamond's assessment. The book needed a better copy
                                editing job--typos as soon as p. 4--and danced over the difficult bits,
                                but so did Colin D.'s book on CSL & JRRT.

                                More later. A salmon calls.

                                Stolzi wrote:

                                > Doug Gresham, who spoke at the opening banquet for PAST WATCHFUL DRAGONS,
                                >sold copies of his new (rather slight) book JACK'S LIFE. I was aggravated
                                >to have bought it bec it is obviously by
                                >its style - and overtly in so many words, in the conclusion - a bio of Lewis
                                >for children, yet it was marketed at this conference without ever a word or
                                >hint to that effect.
                                >
                                >Well, at least it was cheap; and it isn't too =bad=.
                                >
                                >I did think he was rather riding a hobby horse in an excess number of
                                >paragraphs about How Awful War Is. Sure, it is awful, and the two wars
                                >surely had a large impact on CSL as well as his friends and family. But I
                                >don't think Lewis himself would have wanted to dwell on the subject that
                                >much, - stiff upper lip and all that. And it comes ill from a man like Doug
                                >who as far as I know has never been in any war. In fact, this morning in
                                >LETTERS v. 2, I was just reading some wartime snarky comments from Jack
                                >about high-minded intellectual c.o.'s who have never, he says, been known to
                                >be troubled by their consciences about anything before.
                                >
                                >It would be great to influence all the children of the world forever against
                                >war. If it could be ALL the children of the world. I don't see that
                                >situation today.
                                >
                                >Diamond Proudbrook
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                                >Yahoo! Groups Links
                                >
                                >
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                              • Hugh Davis
                                I had great hopes that _Jack s Life_ would feature more stories like the one Doug Gresham shared in the Q&A at Past Watchful Dragons (about the archer), but,
                                Message 15 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                                  I had great hopes that _Jack's Life_ would feature more stories like the one
                                  Doug Gresham shared in the Q&A at Past Watchful Dragons (about the archer),
                                  but, alas, the anecdotes are less salacious.

                                  Hugh


                                  >From: "Stolzi" <Stolzi@...>
                                  >Reply-To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                                  >To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                                  >Subject: Re: [mythsoc] count the errors
                                  >Date: Mon, 7 Nov 2005 16:23:18 -0600
                                  >
                                  > Doug Gresham, who spoke at the opening banquet for PAST WATCHFUL DRAGONS,
                                  >sold copies of his new (rather slight) book JACK'S LIFE. I was aggravated
                                  >to have bought it bec it is obviously by
                                  >its style - and overtly in so many words, in the conclusion - a bio of
                                  >Lewis
                                  >for children, yet it was marketed at this conference without ever a word or
                                  >hint to that effect.
                                  >
                                  >Well, at least it was cheap; and it isn't too =bad=.
                                  >
                                  >I did think he was rather riding a hobby horse in an excess number of
                                  >paragraphs about How Awful War Is. Sure, it is awful, and the two wars
                                  >surely had a large impact on CSL as well as his friends and family. But I
                                  >don't think Lewis himself would have wanted to dwell on the subject that
                                  >much, - stiff upper lip and all that. And it comes ill from a man like
                                  >Doug
                                  >who as far as I know has never been in any war. In fact, this morning in
                                  >LETTERS v. 2, I was just reading some wartime snarky comments from Jack
                                  >about high-minded intellectual c.o.'s who have never, he says, been known
                                  >to
                                  >be troubled by their consciences about anything before.
                                  >
                                  >It would be great to influence all the children of the world forever
                                  >against
                                  >war. If it could be ALL the children of the world. I don't see that
                                  >situation today.
                                  >
                                  >Diamond Proudbrook
                                  >
                                  >
                                • Jay Hershberger
                                  Thanks, Mike. Cheers, Jay Hershberger Moorhead, MN ... From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Mike Foster Sent: Monday,
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Nov 7, 2005
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                                    Thanks, Mike.

                                    Cheers,

                                    Jay Hershberger
                                    Moorhead, MN

                                    -----Original Message-----
                                    From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                                    Of Mike Foster
                                    Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 3:52 PM
                                    To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                                    Subject: Re: [mythsoc] count the errors

                                    I agree with David. Who better to tell the story of Lewis' life than
                                    one who was taught then mentored and then befriended by him? Begin with

                                    Sayer.

                                    Mike

                                    David Bratman wrote:

                                    >At 10:46 AM 11/7/2005 -0800, John D. Rateliff wrote:
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >>Actually, of the three main biographies on CSL, I'd recommend starting
                                    with
                                    >>the Green & Hooper. That's the authorized biography, and it does the
                                    best
                                    >>job of discussing the main outlines of his life, works, and career.
                                    Although
                                    >>now more than thirty years old, it's still not been superceded as a
                                    whole.
                                    >>Then if you'd like to read more I'd read the Sayer next, since it's a
                                    warm
                                    >>portrait by a friend, as much memoir as biography; it'll convey why
                                    Lewis's
                                    >>friends thought so highly of him.
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >
                                    >I'd start with Sayer for exactly the same reason. G&H is a valuable
                                    >source, but much too dry for casual reading. Also, G&H was recently
                                    >massively rewritten and extended by H, and I haven't studied all the
                                    >changes; nor are all editions that say "revised" actually the rewritten
                                    >edition.
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >>P.S.: "Never wrote another word" is White's garbled version of a
                                    comment by
                                    >>Carpenter that, after his mauling by Anscombe, CSL stopped writing
                                    >>straightforward apologetics for many years and, when he resumed, his
                                    >>religious books were much more personal in tone (e.g., MIRACLES, THE
                                    PROBLEM
                                    >>OF PAIN, MERE XIANITY vs. REFLECTIONS ON THE PSALMS and LETTERS TO
                                    MALCOLM:
                                    >>CHIEFLY ON PRAYER).
                                    >>
                                    >>
                                    >
                                    >Thank you; that clarifies the point better than I did.
                                    >
                                    >David Bratman
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                                    >Yahoo! Groups Links
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >


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