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Which Lewis Biography?

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  • Jason Fisher
    A question for the Lewisians on the list. I m looking to read a Lewis biography, and I m interested in the concensus of this group as to which is the best one.
    Message 1 of 11 , Mar 26, 2007
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      A question for the Lewisians on the list. I'm looking to read a Lewis biography, and I'm interested in the concensus of this group as to which is the best one.

      Thanks!
      Jason
    • John D Rateliff
      It depends. A. N. Wilson s is probably the best, but some object to his iconoclasm. George Sayer does a better job of portraying CSL as his admirers would wish
      Message 2 of 11 , Mar 26, 2007
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        It depends. A. N. Wilson's is probably the best, but some object to
        his iconoclasm. George Sayer does a better job of portraying CSL as
        his admirers would wish him to be portrayed, but thirty years elapsed
        between his researching the book and writing it. For a
        straightforward approach, Green & Hooper's still serves as the
        standard biography, but some won't touch it because of their
        antipathy to all Fr. Hooper's works. So: you pays your money and
        takes your chances.
        Hope this helps.
        --JDR


        On Mar 26, 2007, at 3:09 PM, Jason Fisher wrote:
        > A question for the Lewisians on the list. I'm looking to read a
        > Lewis biography, and I'm interested in the concensus of this group
        > as to which is the best one.
        >
        > Thanks!
        > Jason
      • Jason Fisher
        ... It depends. A. N. Wilson s is probably the best, but some object to his iconoclasm. George Sayer does a better job of portraying CSL as his admirers would
        Message 3 of 11 , Mar 26, 2007
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          --- John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote ---
          It depends. A. N. Wilson's is probably the best, but some object to
          his iconoclasm. George Sayer does a better job of portraying CSL as
          his admirers would wish him to be portrayed, but thirty years elapsed
          between his researching the book and writing it. For a
          straightforward approach, Green & Hooper's still serves as the
          standard biography, but some won't touch it because of their
          antipathy to all Fr. Hooper's works. So: you pays your money and
          takes your chances.
          Hope this helps.

          It certainly does! Especially because I *did* take a chance: I bought the Wilson biography two days ago. It was hard not to, as it was a hardcover first edition in pristine condition for only $10. :)

          So now at least I know it's a good treatment of the subject for a first foray. I don't think I'll object to the iconoclasm; I might actually appreciate that quality. If my interest persists (and it probably will), I imagine I'll check out one or both of the others at some point. (And I've read Carpenter's "The Inklings", so I had some of the basic facts already.)

          Thanks again for the opinion.
          Jason

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • William Cloud Hicklin
          The one caveat I would make with regard to Wilson is that he posits a physical relationship between CSL and Mrs Moore as if it were fact, when actually he s
          Message 4 of 11 , Mar 26, 2007
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            The one caveat I would make with regard to Wilson is
            that he posits a physical relationship between CSL
            and Mrs Moore as if it were fact, when actually he's
            just speculating. That particular question has never
            been answered and probably never will be.


            --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Jason Fisher
            <visualweasel@...> wrote:
            >
            > --- John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote ---
            > It depends. A. N. Wilson's is probably the best,
            but some object to
            > his iconoclasm. George Sayer does a better job of
            portraying CSL as
            > his admirers would wish him to be portrayed, but
            thirty years elapsed
            > between his researching the book and writing it.
            For a
            > straightforward approach, Green & Hooper's still
            serves as the
            > standard biography, but some won't touch it because
            of their
            > antipathy to all Fr. Hooper's works. So: you pays
            your money and
            > takes your chances.
            > Hope this helps.
            >
            > It certainly does! Especially because I *did* take
            a chance: I bought the Wilson biography two days ago.
            It was hard not to, as it was a hardcover first
            edition in pristine condition for only $10. :)
            >
            > So now at least I know it's a good treatment of the
            subject for a first foray. I don't think I'll object
            to the iconoclasm; I might actually appreciate that
            quality. If my interest persists (and it probably
            will), I imagine I'll check out one or both of the
            others at some point. (And I've read Carpenter's "The
            Inklings", so I had some of the basic facts already.)
            >
            > Thanks again for the opinion.
            > Jason
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been
            removed]
            >
          • Joan.Marie.Verba@sff.net
            ... From: Jason Fisher ... biography, and I m interested in the concensus of this group as to which is the best one. A. N. Wilson s is
            Message 5 of 11 , Mar 26, 2007
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              --- Original Message ---
              From: Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...>

              > A question for the Lewisians on the list. I'm looking to read a Lewis
              biography, and I'm interested in the concensus of this group as to which is
              the best one.

              A. N. Wilson's is worth reading (I have it), but at the time it was published,
              there was a lot of discussion among Lewis fans about its errors. So read with
              caution. Sayers is better, in my opinion, and of course read Surprised by Joy,
              which is Lewis in his own words.

              As for Janie Moore, there is evidence that prior to Lewis's conversion, they
              did have an affair. Sayers and Moore's daughter very much suspected one. When
              Lewis became a Christian, there is every indication that the affair ceased,
              though Janie Moore remained a part of his household until very near her death.

              Joan Marie Verba
            • William Cloud Hicklin
              ... Lewis s conversion, they ... very much suspected one. When ... that the affair ceased, ... until very near her death. ... Quite so. The problem with Wilson
              Message 6 of 11 , Mar 26, 2007
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                --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Joan.Marie.Verba@...
                wrote:

                >
                > As for Janie Moore, there is evidence that prior to
                Lewis's conversion, they
                > did have an affair. Sayers and Moore's daughter
                very much suspected one. When
                > Lewis became a Christian, there is every indication
                that the affair ceased,
                > though Janie Moore remained a part of his household
                until very near her death.
                >

                Quite so. The problem with Wilson is that he presents
                not "suspected" or "there is evidence" but simply
                "did."
              • John D Rateliff
                ... Hope you enjoy it. Do be warned that there are some gaffs in the first printing which were fixed in later editions. Basically, if something sounds a bit
                Message 7 of 11 , Mar 27, 2007
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                  On Mar 26, 2007, at 6:05 PM, Jason Fisher wrote:
                  > It certainly does! Especially because I *did* take a chance: I
                  > bought the Wilson biography two days ago. It was hard not to, as it
                  > was a hardcover first edition in pristine condition for only $10. :)

                  Hope you enjoy it. Do be warned that there are some gaffs in the
                  first printing which were fixed in later editions. Basically, if
                  something sounds a bit much to you, check it against Carpenter or one
                  of the other biographies (or query it here)


                  On Mar 26, 2007, at 8:09 PM, Joan.Marie.Verba@... wrote:
                  > As for Janie Moore, there is evidence that prior to Lewis's
                  > conversion, they
                  > did have an affair. Sayer and Moore's daughter very much suspected
                  > one. When
                  > Lewis became a Christian, there is every indication that the affair
                  > ceased,
                  > though Janie Moore remained a part of his household until very near
                  > her death.

                  Yes, as W.C.H. points out the evidence isn't absolute, but it's very
                  good; I had already reached that conclusion long before Wilson's book
                  came out. Not everyone agrees of course, so it's one of the
                  controversial points in ANW's book.

                  --JDR
                • Merlin DeTardo
                  ... to his iconoclasm... ... it was a hardcover first edition in pristine condition for only $10. :) Peering into the Mythsoc list archives... As a check on
                  Message 8 of 11 , Mar 27, 2007
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                    >Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:
                    >>---John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
                    >>It depends. A. N. Wilson's is probably the best, but some object
                    to his iconoclasm...
                    >I bought the Wilson biography two days ago. It was hard not to, as
                    it was a hardcover first edition in pristine condition for only
                    $10. :)


                    Peering into the Mythsoc list archives... As a check on Wilson, you
                    may want to browse some earlier posts to this list on the subject of
                    his Lewis biography, in these threads:

                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/message/5034
                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/message/15710
                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/message/16297
                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/message/16340

                    Wilson's accuracy, particularly in that hardcover first edition you
                    just bought, is called into question on several points.

                    A Nov. 24, 2001 _Daily Telegraph_ article that Wilson wrote on
                    Tolkien called "Wagner for Kiddies?" was also discussed in the
                    group, with further comments on accuracy:

                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/message/4369
                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mythsoc/message/4371

                    You can read that Wilson article online in _J.R.R. Tolkien: Mythos
                    and Modernity in Middle-Earth_, a special issue of the _Chesterton
                    Review_ from 2002. Wilson appears on pp. 275-276 of this (5 MB) pdf:

                    http://www.isi.org/journals/content/Chesterton_sample_2-02.pdf

                    Here's one of Wilson's challenged interpretations:

                    "It seemed obvious to me on this reading that the Ents in _The Lord
                    of the Rings_ have partly been suggested by the talking apple trees
                    in the film of _The Wizard of Oz_, and more by the suicides who have
                    turned into trees in Dante's _Inferno_."

                    For those who haven't read the _Divine Comedy_: in the second part
                    of Hell's seventh circle, suicides, having cast away their natural
                    bodies, are transformed into thorny trees, and can only talk while
                    they bleed when their branches or leaves are broken (there are
                    harpies who tear at them, and the shades of squanderers crash
                    through the woods pursued by hounds). To me, Tolkien's garrulous,
                    walking Ents seem rather different.

                    Here's an interesting assertion by Wilson from the same article:

                    "Moreover, though a devout Catholic, Tolkien deliberately excluded
                    religion from _The Lord of the Rings_--there is just a strange
                    moment when the hobbits are about to settle down a meal with the
                    elves, and the older, more dignified elves turn silently in prayer
                    towards the east. The hobbits, being earthly creatures, do not
                    understand what is going on."

                    In matters of direction, Wilson finds a match in Jenny Turner's "The
                    Lure of the Rings", which also appears in that _Chesterton Review_
                    issue (pp. 274-284 of the pdf). The _Review_ cites the _Sunday
                    Telegraph_ (Nov. 25, 2001) as the source, but Turner's piece can
                    also be found online at the _London Review of Books_, under the
                    title "Reasons for Liking Tolkien" (with a date of Nov. 15, 2001):

                    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v23/n22/turn03_.html

                    "Tolkien loved maps, and drew his own for the book. They are
                    strangely anthropomorphic-looking, or so I used to think. The sea,
                    the goodies, the elves, are in the West (of course), a face in
                    profile. The unknown regions and the land of shadow are at the back
                    of the head, in the East."

                    (A friend's comment, after reading that passage: "At least the
                    Jungians have the grace to mean it metaphorically when they say the
                    East is in the back of the head".)

                    -Merlin DeTardo
                  • Diane Joy Baker
                    Jack by George Sayer. ---djb ... From: Jason Fisher To: Mythsoc Listserv Sent: Monday, March 26, 2007
                    Message 9 of 11 , Mar 28, 2007
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                      Jack by George Sayer. ---djb
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: "Jason Fisher" <visualweasel@...>
                      To: "Mythsoc Listserv" <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Monday, March 26, 2007 5:09 PM
                      Subject: [mythsoc] Which Lewis Biography?


                      > A question for the Lewisians on the list. I'm looking to read a Lewis
                      biography, and I'm interested in the concensus of this group as to which is
                      the best one.
                      >
                      > Thanks!
                      > Jason
                      >
                      >
                      > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                      > Yahoo! Groups Links
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                    • Diane Joy Baker
                      Jack by George Sayer. ---djb ... From: Jason Fisher To: Mythsoc Listserv Sent: Monday, March 26, 2007
                      Message 10 of 11 , Mar 28, 2007
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                        Jack by George Sayer. ---djb
                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: "Jason Fisher" <visualweasel@...>
                        To: "Mythsoc Listserv" <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                        Sent: Monday, March 26, 2007 5:09 PM
                        Subject: [mythsoc] Which Lewis Biography?


                        > A question for the Lewisians on the list. I'm looking to read a Lewis
                        biography, and I'm interested in the concensus of this group as to which is
                        the best one.
                        >
                        > Thanks!
                        > Jason
                        >
                        >
                        > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                        > Yahoo! Groups Links
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                      • Mike Foster
                        I would concur that JACK is the best of the lot; John Rateliff and David Lenander have already expressed some reasons why. I ve still got only the first
                        Message 11 of 11 , Mar 29, 2007
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                          I would concur that JACK is the best of the lot; John Rateliff and David
                          Lenander have already expressed some reasons why. I've still got only
                          the first edition. When we visited him in 1994 and 1996, George Sayer
                          was rather emphatic about the Mrs. Moore-Lewis liaison; Maureen was his
                          source, he said. He says as much in the interview with Lyle Dorset
                          found in Wheaton [Ill]. College's Wade Collection. Sayer's other
                          miscellaneous Lewis reminiscences, which have published in several Lewis
                          collections, are also good. True, he had an affection for Lewis, but
                          that certainly is preferable to Wilson's seeming antipathy. And
                          Wilson's factual errors are inexcusable.

                          Other titles of value: THE INKLINGS by Carpenter; BROTHERS & FRIENDS ed.
                          Kilby & Mead; THEY STAND TOGETHER; ALL MY ROADS BEFORE ME, wherein
                          Lewis' journals reflect the everyday domesticity of life with Mrs.
                          Moore.

                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                          Of Diane Joy Baker
                          Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 2:58 PM
                          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Which Lewis Biography?

                          Jack by George Sayer. ---djb
                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: "Jason Fisher" <visualweasel@ <mailto:visualweasel%40yahoo.com>
                          yahoo.com>
                          To: "Mythsoc Listserv" <mythsoc@yahoogroups
                          <mailto:mythsoc%40yahoogroups.com> .com>
                          Sent: Monday, March 26, 2007 5:09 PM
                          Subject: [mythsoc] Which Lewis Biography?

                          > A question for the Lewisians on the list. I'm looking to read a Lewis
                          biography, and I'm interested in the concensus of this group as to which
                          is
                          the best one.
                          >
                          > Thanks!
                          > Jason
                          >
                          >
                          > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc
                          <http://www.mythsoc.org> org
                          > Yahoo! Groups Links
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >



                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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