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Corrections in the second edition of Wilson's biography

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  • WendellWag@aol.com
    At a panel at the 1998 Mythcon about the biographies of C. S. Lewis (which I was on), at one point we were talking about some outrageous claims in A. N.
    Message 1 of 7 , Jan 29, 2002
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      At a panel at the 1998 Mythcon about the biographies of C. S. Lewis (which I
      was on), at one point we were talking about some outrageous claims in A. N.
      Wilson's biography of Lewis. Someone in the audience said that these claims
      weren't in the second edition of the book. We compared the two editions of
      the books and discovered that Wilson had removed a couple of his stupider
      claims without any comment. There was nothing in the preface or anywhere
      else in which he mentioned that he had made mistakes in the first edition and
      had removed them in the second edition. Can anyone here remember what those
      mistakes were? I know that David Bratman and I were on that panel and Alexei
      Kondratiev was the chair. In addition, Mary Stolzenbach was in the audience
      and contributing to the discussion. Can they or anyone else help me by
      telling what the changes were?

      Wendell Wagner
    • Stolzi@aol.com
      In a message dated 1/29/02 6:59:38 AM Central Standard Time, ... help me by ... You need to find Kay Lindskoog s essay on the subject, which is probably at her
      Message 2 of 7 , Jan 29, 2002
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        In a message dated 1/29/02 6:59:38 AM Central Standard Time,
        WendellWag@... writes:

        > We compared the two editions of
        > the books and discovered that Wilson had removed a couple of his stupider
        > claims without any comment. There was nothing in the preface or anywhere
        > else in which he mentioned that he had made mistakes in the first edition
        > and
        > had removed them in the second edition. [snip] Can they or anyone else
        help me by
        > telling what the changes were?

        You need to find Kay Lindskoog's essay on the subject, which is probably at
        her website somewhere, I think it's http://www.lindentree.com

        The biggest one, which I do remember, was that Wilson had totally
        misinterpreted a passage in a Lewis letter about undergraduates walking
        barefoot in the grass being a sign of Nazi leanings. Lewis was actually
        pointing out to his correspondent with horror that he had heard other
        undergraduates saying stuff like this. Wilson took it as a totally serious
        sign of Lewis being anti-sensual and what not else.

        But I can't give you the exact phrases.

        Did he also take out a claim that Doug Gresham had seen Lewis and Joy
        together in a "compromising position" before their marriage - something which
        Doug has since hotly and indignantly denied?

        Mary S
      • WendellWag@aol.com
        IIn a message dated 1/29/2002 7:59:17 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi ... Um, actually, this isn t what I want. I have Kathryn Lindskoog s list of errors in
        Message 3 of 7 , Jan 29, 2002
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          IIn a message dated 1/29/2002 7:59:17 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi
          writes:


          > This is what you want. In her Appendix Four, she details a couple pages of
          > Wilson errors (sometimes she is stretching, sometimes not). You could
          > compare them with the second edn to see which ones he removed.
          >

          Um, actually, this isn't what I want. I have Kathryn Lindskoog's list of
          errors in Wilson's biography. (Indeed, I can look at that list in both
          _Light in the Shadowlands_ and in _Sleuthing C. S. Lewis_.) What I want is
          someone who has both the first and the second editions of Wilson's biography
          of Lewis who can compare the two editions to see which errors were corrected
          in the second edition. There doesn't appear to be any easy way for me to get
          a copy of the second edition.

          In a message dated 1/29/2002 5:05:47 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@...
          writes:


          > The biggest one, which I do remember, was that Wilson had totally
          > misinterpreted a passage in a Lewis letter about undergraduates walking
          > barefoot in the grass being a sign of Nazi leanings. Lewis was actually
          > pointing out to his correspondent with horror that he had heard other
          > undergraduates saying stuff like this. Wilson took it as a totally
          > serious
          > sign of Lewis being anti-sensual and what not else.
          >
          > But I can't give you the exact phrases.
          >
          > Did he also take out a claim that Doug Gresham had seen Lewis and Joy
          > together in a "compromising position" before their marriage - something
          > which
          > Doug has since hotly and indignantly denied?
          >

          These two mistakes sound to me like they were the ones that we found had been
          dropped during that panel at Mythcon 1998. I was hoping that you or David
          Bratman might have a more precise memory of the panel than I did. I was
          going to write Kathryn Lindskoog to tell her that when she repeats the list
          of errors in her appendix in _Sleuthing C. S. Lewis_ (which is the third
          edition of _The C. S. Lewis Hoax_/_Light in the Shadowlands_), she failed to
          note that Wilson drops, without comment, a couple of the worst errors in his
          second edition of his book. (Not that this makes Wilson look much better.
          He couldn't even be bothered to say in a preface, "Oops, I made a mistake.")

          Wendell Wagner


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Stolzi@aol.com
          In a message dated 1/29/02 10:08:52 PM Central Standard Time, ... You poor guy. I walloped =mine= against the wall in the Book Toss at, I think, Wheaton.
          Message 4 of 7 , Jan 29, 2002
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            In a message dated 1/29/02 10:08:52 PM Central Standard Time,
            WendellWag@... writes:

            > There doesn't appear to be any easy way for me to get
            > a copy of the second edition.

            You poor guy. I walloped =mine= against the wall in the Book Toss at, I
            think, Wheaton. Don't know who walked off with it afterwards!

            Diamond Proudbrook
          • David S. Bratman
            Both comments that Mary refers to, which are present in the hardcover edition (Norton, 1990), were silently removed in the softcover (Fawcett Columbine, 1991),
            Message 5 of 7 , Jan 29, 2002
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              Both comments that Mary refers to, which are present in the hardcover
              edition (Norton, 1990), were silently removed in the softcover (Fawcett
              Columbine, 1991), which is not recopyrighted or marked as a second or
              revised edition in any way. In both cases, the material removed was
              replaced by relatively innocuous blither that occupied the same amount of
              space, so as not to disturb the page-breaks or leave any other indication
              that material had been changed here.

              I have both editions and can confirm this.

              There may be one or two other such changes, but most of the simple factual
              errors from the hardcover are still in the softcover, I believe.

              David Bratman


              At 02:01 PM 1/29/2002 , you wrote:
              >In a message dated 1/29/02 6:59:38 AM Central Standard Time,
              >WendellWag@... writes:
              >
              > > We compared the two editions of
              > > the books and discovered that Wilson had removed a couple of his stupider
              > > claims without any comment. There was nothing in the preface or anywhere
              > > else in which he mentioned that he had made mistakes in the first edition
              > > and
              > > had removed them in the second edition. [snip] Can they or anyone else
              >help me by
              > > telling what the changes were?
              >
              >You need to find Kay Lindskoog's essay on the subject, which is probably at
              >her website somewhere, I think it's http://www.lindentree.com
              >
              >The biggest one, which I do remember, was that Wilson had totally
              >misinterpreted a passage in a Lewis letter about undergraduates walking
              >barefoot in the grass being a sign of Nazi leanings. Lewis was actually
              >pointing out to his correspondent with horror that he had heard other
              >undergraduates saying stuff like this. Wilson took it as a totally serious
              >sign of Lewis being anti-sensual and what not else.
              >
              >But I can't give you the exact phrases.
              >
              >Did he also take out a claim that Doug Gresham had seen Lewis and Joy
              >together in a "compromising position" before their marriage - something which
              >Doug has since hotly and indignantly denied?
              >
              >Mary S
              >
              >
              >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
              >
              >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            • WendellWag@aol.com
              David, Mary, Thanks. Now I can write Kathryn without having to rely solely on my somewhat shaky memory of that panel. Wendell Wagner
              Message 6 of 7 , Jan 30, 2002
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                David, Mary,

                Thanks. Now I can write Kathryn without having to rely solely on my somewhat
                shaky memory of that panel.

                Wendell Wagner
              • Stolzi@aol.com
                On second thoughts, the book I tossed may have been the paperback without the egregious errors. I think the whole episode is symptomatic. I will quote below
                Message 7 of 7 , Jan 30, 2002
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                  On second thoughts, the book I tossed may have been the paperback without the
                  egregious errors.

                  I think the whole episode is symptomatic. I will quote below the passage
                  from Lewis' letter to Barfield (June '38) which AN Wilson so misinterpreted.
                  Readers will see that it =can= be, I won't say forced, but stretched to have
                  the meaning he gives it (that the post-conversion Lewis disapproved of the
                  listed pleasures). But it's my contention that the misinterpretation so
                  shows the complete lack of understanding Wilson had for Lewis and how his
                  mind worked, that it illustrates how unreliable the book is in general terms.

                  Lewis said: "It frightens me almost. And so it did the other night when I
                  heard two undergrads. giving a list of pleasures which were (a) Nazi. (b)
                  Leading to homosexuality. They were, feeling the wind in your hair, walking
                  with bare feet in the grass, and bathing in the rain. Think it over: it
                  gets worse the longer you look at it."

                  Diamond Proudbrook
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