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Which Lewis Biography

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  • David Lenander
    For a while I thought, like John, that the Wilson bio was the best. And it is, on a number of levels. Probably the best-written, the only one that observes
    Message 1 of 13 , Mar 28, 2007
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      For a while I thought, like John, that the Wilson bio was the best.
      And it is, on a number of levels. Probably the best-written, the only
      one that observes certain conventions of the form, the only one to
      really consider some (less-positive) aspects of its subject. But there
      are a couple of major failings, and I actually prefer the Sayer, maybe
      only because I share some of its sympathy for the subject. Someone,
      likely David Bratman, in a review listed a devastatingly long list of
      minor errors in Wilson, many so easily corrected with minor checking
      that any confidence that the reader can have in any of the book's
      assertions must be undercut. (At the same time, it's not that I have
      any doubt that overall the book is accurate and right about most of
      what it says). Beyond this, there are several clear misunderstandings
      or misreadings on Wilson's part that seem almost willful
      misunderstandings of CSL. (I'm almost certain that the most notorious
      of these has been discussed a couple of times on this list, go back and
      check the backfiles). The affair of Lewis and Mrs. Moore seems to me
      so likely that those who claim it's controversial or in doubt or a
      point of debate in Wilson's book are being, themselves, willfully or
      wishfully innocent. It is an example of the problem with some of the
      other CSL biography, that this should be a debatable point in the
      Wilson bio. But the real problem is that Wilson is so convinced that
      it IS very important, and that he is so dedicated to debunking the CSL
      worship that he sees in Kay Lindskoog and, I suppose, Walter Hooper
      (how would they like being put together?) that he loses sight of his
      real subject. It's not as bad as the notorious bio-critical book about
      the Skeleton in the Wardrobe by any means, but it errs in the other
      direction, and in fact I think everyone seriously interested in CSL
      should read both Wilson and Sayer. For most of us in the MythSoc, the
      most important and best books on the subject are Lewis's own _Surprised
      by Joy_ and Carpenter's _The Inklings_, which is essentially a bio of
      the CSL in whom we're most interested. For some months I've been
      reading and enjoying _They Stand Together_, a few letters at a time
      (this is a collection of CSL's letters to his dear friend from his
      youth, back in Ireland), and it might be that this is more valuable
      than most biographies, too. I imagine that this is even more true of
      the collected letters, which I have not read.

      My two cents.

      David Lenander
      d-lena@...
      2095 Hamline Ave. N.
      Roseville, MN 55113
      651-292-8887
      http://www.umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html
    • David Lenander
      For a while I thought, like John, that the Wilson bio was the best. And it is, on a number of levels. Probably the best-written, the only one that observes
      Message 2 of 13 , Mar 28, 2007
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        For a while I thought, like John, that the Wilson bio was the best.
        And it is, on a number of levels. Probably the best-written, the only
        one that observes certain conventions of the form, the only one to
        really consider some (less-positive) aspects of its subject. But there
        are a couple of major failings, and I actually prefer the Sayer, maybe
        only because I share some of its sympathy for the subject. Someone,
        likely David Bratman, in a review listed a devastatingly long list of
        minor errors in Wilson, many so easily corrected with minor checking
        that any confidence that the reader can have in any of the book's
        assertions must be undercut. (At the same time, it's not that I have
        any doubt that overall the book is accurate and right about most of
        what it says). Beyond this, there are several clear misunderstandings
        or misreadings on Wilson's part that seem almost willful
        misunderstandings of CSL. (I'm almost certain that the most notorious
        of these has been discussed a couple of times on this list, go back and
        check the backfiles). The affair of Lewis and Mrs. Moore seems to me
        so likely that those who claim it's controversial or in doubt or a
        point of debate in Wilson's book are being, themselves, willfully or
        wishfully innocent. It is an example of the problem with some of the
        other CSL biography, that this should be a debatable point in the
        Wilson bio. But the real problem is that Wilson is so convinced that
        it IS very important, and that he is so dedicated to debunking the CSL
        worship that he sees in Kay Lindskoog and, I suppose, Walter Hooper
        (how would they like being put together?) that he loses sight of his
        real subject. It's not as bad as the notorious bio-critical book about
        the Skeleton in the Wardrobe by any means, but it errs in the other
        direction, and in fact I think everyone seriously interested in CSL
        should read both Wilson and Sayer. For most of us in the MythSoc, the
        most important and best books on the subject are Lewis's own _Surprised
        by Joy_ and Carpenter's _The Inklings_, which is essentially a bio of
        the CSL in whom we're most interested. For some months I've been
        reading and enjoying _They Stand Together_, a few letters at a time
        (this is a collection of CSL's letters to his dear friend from his
        youth, back in Ireland), and it might be that this is more valuable
        than most biographies, too. I imagine that this is even more true of
        the collected letters, which I have not read.

        My two cents.

        David Lenander
        d-lena@...
        2095 Hamline Ave. N.
        Roseville, MN 55113
        651-292-8887
        http://www.umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html
      • Jason Fisher
        Thanks to everyone for their detailed opinions. It s much appreciated! :) Jason [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Message 3 of 13 , Mar 28, 2007
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          Thanks to everyone for their detailed opinions. It's much appreciated! :)

          Jason

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • WendellWag@aol.com
          In a message dated 3/28/2007 10:19:37 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, d-lena@umn.edu writes: Someone, likely David Bratman, in a review listed a devastatingly
          Message 4 of 13 , Mar 28, 2007
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            In a message dated 3/28/2007 10:19:37 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
            d-lena@... writes:

            Someone,
            likely David Bratman, in a review listed a devastatingly long list of
            minor errors in Wilson, many so easily corrected with minor checking
            that any confidence that the reader can have in any of the book's
            assertions must be undercut.


            Actually, I think you're probably thinking of my letter to _Mythprint_
            commenting on a review of Wilson's book.

            There is *no* definitive biography of Lewis. As people have already
            commented, there are several passible ones that anyone interested in Lewis should
            read. Until such time as somebody gives me a big enough advance that I can
            quit my job for a couple of years and write the definitive Lewis biography,
            you'll have to make do with what's available.

            Wendell Wagner



            ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • WendellWag@aol.com
            In a message dated 3/28/2007 10:19:37 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, d-lena@umn.edu writes: Someone, likely David Bratman, in a review listed a devastatingly
            Message 5 of 13 , Mar 28, 2007
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              In a message dated 3/28/2007 10:19:37 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
              d-lena@... writes:

              Someone,
              likely David Bratman, in a review listed a devastatingly long list of
              minor errors in Wilson, many so easily corrected with minor checking
              that any confidence that the reader can have in any of the book's
              assertions must be undercut.


              Actually, I think you're probably thinking of my letter to _Mythprint_
              commenting on a review of Wilson's book.

              There is *no* definitive biography of Lewis. As people have already
              commented, there are several passible ones that anyone interested in Lewis should
              read. Until such time as somebody gives me a big enough advance that I can
              quit my job for a couple of years and write the definitive Lewis biography,
              you'll have to make do with what's available.

              Wendell Wagner



              ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • WendellWag@aol.com
              In a message dated 3/28/2007 10:19:37 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, d-lena@umn.edu writes: Someone, likely David Bratman, in a review listed a devastatingly
              Message 6 of 13 , Mar 28, 2007
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                In a message dated 3/28/2007 10:19:37 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                d-lena@... writes:

                Someone,
                likely David Bratman, in a review listed a devastatingly long list of
                minor errors in Wilson, many so easily corrected with minor checking
                that any confidence that the reader can have in any of the book's
                assertions must be undercut.


                Actually, I think you're probably thinking of my letter to _Mythprint_
                commenting on a review of Wilson's book.

                There is *no* definitive biography of Lewis. As people have already
                commented, there are several passible ones that anyone interested in Lewis should
                read. Until such time as somebody gives me a big enough advance that I can
                quit my job for a couple of years and write the definitive Lewis biography,
                you'll have to make do with what's available.

                Wendell Wagner



                ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Elizabeth Hardy
                I also found They Stand Together to be enormously helpful. For one thing, it debunked Sayer s fantastic claim that Lewis had initially read the entire Faerie
                Message 7 of 13 , Mar 29, 2007
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                  I also found They Stand Together to be enormously helpful. For one thing, it debunked Sayer's fantastic claim that Lewis had initially read the entire Faerie Queene at a sitting (a Herculean task even for such an amazing reader.) By reading Lewis's letters to Arthur Greeves, I was able to see his regular reports on his progress through the poem's books, which actually took many weeks. Then again, he was only reading it for fun, as a break from his "serious" reading at Great Bookham!

                  David Lenander <d-lena@...> wrote: For a while I thought, like John, that the Wilson bio was the best.
                  And it is, on a number of levels. Probably the best-written, the only
                  one that observes certain conventions of the form, the only one to
                  really consider some (less-positive) aspects of its subject. But there
                  are a couple of major failings, and I actually prefer the Sayer, maybe
                  only because I share some of its sympathy for the subject. Someone,
                  likely David Bratman, in a review listed a devastatingly long list of
                  minor errors in Wilson, many so easily corrected with minor checking
                  that any confidence that the reader can have in any of the book's
                  assertions must be undercut. (At the same time, it's not that I have
                  any doubt that overall the book is accurate and right about most of
                  what it says). Beyond this, there are several clear misunderstandings
                  or misreadings on Wilson's part that seem almost willful
                  misunderstandings of CSL. (I'm almost certain that the most notorious
                  of these has been discussed a couple of times on this list, go back and
                  check the backfiles). The affair of Lewis and Mrs. Moore seems to me
                  so likely that those who claim it's controversial or in doubt or a
                  point of debate in Wilson's book are being, themselves, willfully or
                  wishfully innocent. It is an example of the problem with some of the
                  other CSL biography, that this should be a debatable point in the
                  Wilson bio. But the real problem is that Wilson is so convinced that
                  it IS very important, and that he is so dedicated to debunking the CSL
                  worship that he sees in Kay Lindskoog and, I suppose, Walter Hooper
                  (how would they like being put together?) that he loses sight of his
                  real subject. It's not as bad as the notorious bio-critical book about
                  the Skeleton in the Wardrobe by any means, but it errs in the other
                  direction, and in fact I think everyone seriously interested in CSL
                  should read both Wilson and Sayer. For most of us in the MythSoc, the
                  most important and best books on the subject are Lewis's own _Surprised
                  by Joy_ and Carpenter's _The Inklings_, which is essentially a bio of
                  the CSL in whom we're most interested. For some months I've been
                  reading and enjoying _They Stand Together_, a few letters at a time
                  (this is a collection of CSL's letters to his dear friend from his
                  youth, back in Ireland), and it might be that this is more valuable
                  than most biographies, too. I imagine that this is even more true of
                  the collected letters, which I have not read.

                  My two cents.

                  David Lenander
                  d-lena@...
                  2095 Hamline Ave. N.
                  Roseville, MN 55113
                  651-292-8887
                  http://www.umn.edu/~d-lena/RIVENDELL.html






                  ---------------------------------
                  Sucker-punch spam with award-winning protection.
                  Try the free Yahoo! Mail Beta.

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • WendellWag@aol.com
                  In a message dated 3/29/2007 3:38:59 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, WendellWag@aol.com writes: Until such time as somebody gives me a big enough advance that I
                  Message 8 of 13 , Mar 29, 2007
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                    In a message dated 3/29/2007 3:38:59 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                    WendellWag@... writes:

                    Until such time as somebody gives me a big enough advance that I can
                    quit my job for a couple of years and write the definitive Lewis biography,
                    you'll have to make do with what's available.


                    And, in the meantime, perhaps someone can fix whatever caused the Yahoo
                    listserver to send me three copies of my last post? I'm glad to see things that
                    I wrote get such huge distribution, but I was thinking of having many people
                    read my writings, not having some people have to read my post several times.
                    Did other people get multiple copies of my last post?

                    Wendell Wagner



                    ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Croft, Janet B.
                    I heard from my husband that his Yahoo slide rule list exploded this morning, sending up to 20 copies of the same message, so I think it s at Yahoo s end...
                    Message 9 of 13 , Mar 29, 2007
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                      I heard from my husband that his Yahoo slide rule list exploded this
                      morning, sending up to 20 copies of the same message, so I think it's at
                      Yahoo's end...





                      Janet

                      ________________________________

                      From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                      Of WendellWag@...
                      Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2007 9:10 AM
                      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Which Lewis Biography




                      In a message dated 3/29/2007 3:38:59 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                      WendellWag@... <mailto:WendellWag%40aol.com> writes:

                      Until such time as somebody gives me a big enough advance that I can
                      quit my job for a couple of years and write the definitive Lewis
                      biography,
                      you'll have to make do with what's available.

                      And, in the meantime, perhaps someone can fix whatever caused the Yahoo
                      listserver to send me three copies of my last post? I'm glad to see
                      things that
                      I wrote get such huge distribution, but I was thinking of having many
                      people
                      read my writings, not having some people have to read my post several
                      times.
                      Did other people get multiple copies of my last post?

                      Wendell Wagner

                      ************************************** See what's free at
                      http://www.aol.com <http://www.aol.com>

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





                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Carl F. Hostetter
                      ... I m sure we re all thinking the same thing: There s a Yahoo SLIDE RULE list?!?! Carl (Who runs a Yahoo Pretend Fairy Language list...)
                      Message 10 of 13 , Mar 29, 2007
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                        On Mar 29, 2007, at 10:22 AM, Croft, Janet B. wrote:

                        > I heard from my husband that his Yahoo slide rule list exploded this
                        > morning,

                        I'm sure we're all thinking the same thing:

                        "There's a Yahoo SLIDE RULE list?!?!"

                        Carl

                        (Who runs a Yahoo Pretend Fairy Language list...)
                      • Croft, Janet B.
                        I m sure we re all thinking the same thing: There s a Yahoo SLIDE RULE list?!?! Carl A very active list, actually! In fact I recently accompanied Duane to a
                        Message 11 of 13 , Mar 29, 2007
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                          I'm sure we're all thinking the same thing:

                          "There's a Yahoo SLIDE RULE list?!?!"

                          Carl



                          A very active list, actually! In fact I recently accompanied Duane to a
                          slide rule collectors' meeting in Dallas, where he came in third in the
                          Fastest Slide Rule in the West competition. (Of course, there were only
                          three entrants...)



                          Janet



                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • alexeik@aol.com
                          ... From: WendellWag@aol.com To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 10:10 AM Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Which Lewis Biography And, in the meantime,
                          Message 12 of 13 , Mar 29, 2007
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                            -----Original Message-----
                            From: WendellWag@...
                            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 10:10 AM
                            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Which Lewis Biography



                            And, in the meantime, perhaps someone can fix whatever caused the Yahoo
                            listserver to send me three copies of my last post? I'm glad to see things that
                            I wrote get such huge distribution, but I was thinking of having many people
                            read my writings, not having some people have to read my post several times.
                            Did other people get multiple copies of my last post?

                            Wendell Wagner

                            <<
                            I've been getting multiple copies of every post from yahoogroups, and I suspect it's an AOL problem, as usual.
                            AlexeiRecent Activity
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                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • David Bratman
                            ... It certainly wasn t me. Wilson s minor inaccuracies, though numerous, seem to me to be petty sloppiness and to shed very little light on whether he s
                            Message 13 of 13 , Mar 31, 2007
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                              At 09:18 AM 3/28/2007 -0500, David Lenander wrote:

                              >Someone,
                              >likely David Bratman, in a review listed a devastatingly long list of
                              >minor errors in Wilson, many so easily corrected with minor checking
                              >that any confidence that the reader can have in any of the book's
                              >assertions must be undercut.

                              It certainly wasn't me. Wilson's minor inaccuracies, though numerous, seem
                              to me to be petty sloppiness and to shed very little light on whether he's
                              right or wrong about larger issues. The two aren't really connected. Some
                              of the best big-picture people are sloppy on facts, though a really good
                              one would get someone to check his facts. But Wilson's critics do have a
                              tendency to frantically seize on the litany of minor errors, exaggerate
                              their significance and the degree to which they are erroneous, and wave
                              them around as final proof of his worthlessness. It doesn't really follow.

                              >The affair of Lewis and Mrs. Moore seems to me
                              >so likely that those who claim it's controversial or in doubt or a
                              >point of debate in Wilson's book are being, themselves, willfully or
                              >wishfully innocent.

                              The affair seems far likelier than not, and its existence would explain a
                              lot about Lewis, but a fair appraisal must include that it's absolutely
                              unproven and is sheer guesswork.

                              >But the real problem is that Wilson is so convinced that
                              >it IS very important, and that he is so dedicated to debunking the CSL
                              >worship that he sees in Kay Lindskoog and, I suppose, Walter Hooper
                              >(how would they like being put together?) that he loses sight of his
                              >real subject.

                              Which makes Wilson unsuitable as the default biography, but not as a
                              contribution to the discussion. Some of Wilson's critics profess
                              bewilderment at his claim of Lewis-worship by the likes of Lindskoog and
                              Hooper, but it's quite plainly there.

                              >For most of us in the MythSoc, the
                              >most important and best books on the subject are Lewis's own _Surprised
                              >by Joy_ and Carpenter's _The Inklings_, which is essentially a bio of
                              >the CSL in whom we're most interested.

                              Surprised by Joy is an excellently-written book, and too often overlooked
                              as a biography, but it's very limited and partial in its view (not a
                              criticism, just a statement of fact). And Carpenter's Inklings is far
                              better about the group than it is about the individual members. I used to
                              reluctantly recommend Sayer as the best Lewis biography for a person who
                              just wants to read one, but my recommendation for that purpose is now
                              wholly given over to Jacobs's The Narnian.

                              David Bratman
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