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Re: [mythsoc] Mention of Lewis in article in The New Yorker

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  • John D Rateliff
    ... I ve now had a chance to read it, and I think it unfair both to Johnson and Lewis. I don t know if Johnson had a masochistic streak or not; in any case,
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 7, 2008
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      On Dec 4, 2008, at 1:27 AM, WendellWag@... wrote:
      > Does anyone have any comment about this mention of Lewis in a
      > review (by
      > Adam Gopnik) of two new biographies of Samuel Johnson in the
      > December 4, 2008
      > issue of The New Yorker?

      I've now had a chance to read it, and I think it unfair both to
      Johnson and Lewis.
      I don't know if Johnson had a masochistic streak or not; in any
      case, this article's assertions do not persuade me of it. But Lewis
      was certainly not a masochist; his failing, which he fought hard
      against, tended more towards sadism by his own account.
      More importantly, I don't think Lewis waited until the end of his
      life to become human; there's his long and, until the end, happy
      relationship with Janie Moore, for instance, that has to be taken
      into account.
      There are more, and better, comparisons between CSL & Dr. Johnson
      than this waiting to be made.
      --JDR

      P.S.: Hasn't Gopnik written about CSL before? I seem to remember a
      piece about Narnia, or possibly Pullman, from a year or so ago.


      Here's the full paragraph from the article:
      Johnson certainly wouldn�t be alone among strong critics in having
      [masochistic] tastes; the list includes Lytton Strachey and Kenneth
      Tynan. Yet the sense of shame is, for such men, usually stronger even
      than the sexual appetite. (Kathleen Tynan wrote of her husband�s
      inability to come to terms with his fetish because of his need to
      think well of himself.) Johnson�s piety is more impressive if we
      imagine it up against the keen daily edge of erotic appetite, rather
      than simply a long-term bulwark against imagined insanity. Compare
      him with C. S. Lewis, who modelled himself on Johnson, and we recall
      that Lewis, too, becomes human when at the end of his life he wanted
      something, the physical love of his American mistress. We love
      Johnson for his humanity, and what makes us human is the contest
      between our desires and our doctrines.



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