Sunday, April 11, 2004

More Lewis Letters

More Lewis letters of note:
  • To his brother. 1 Jan. 1940.

    I went to see ----, a professor of London, the same morning. Here is a man of my own age, who knew Barfield when he was up; of my own profession, who has written on Spenser. You'd have thought that there were all the materials for a good conversation. But no . . . every single time I tried to turn it to books, or life, or friends (as such) I was completely frustrated, i.e. about friends, he'd talk of their jobs, marriages, houses, incomes, arrangements, but not about them. Books -- oh yes, editions, prices, suitability for exams -- not their contents. In fact hardly since the old days have I had to endure so much irredeemably 'grown up' conversation. Unless I misjudge him he is one of those dreadful fellows who never refer to literature except during the hours they are paid to talk about it. . . . How small a nucleus there is in each liberal profession of people who care about the thing they are supposed to be doing; yet I suppose the percentage of garage-hands and motor touts who are really interested in motoring is about 95.

  • To Dom Bede Griffiths. 8 May 1939.
    * * *
    The process of living seems to consist in coming to realize truths so ancient and simple that, if stated, they sound like barren platitudes. They cannot sound otherwise to those who have not had the relevant experience: that is why there is no real teaching of such truths possible and every generation starts from scratch.

  • To his brother. 14 June 1932.
    * * *
    My own secret is -- let rude ears be absent -- that to tell you the truth, brother, I don't like genius. I like enormously some things that only genius can do; such as Paradise Lost and The Divine Comedy. But it is the results I like. What I don't care twopence about is the sense (apparently dear to so many) of being in the hands of 'a great man' -- you know, his dazzling personality, his lightening energy, the strange force of his mind -- and all that.
    * * *

  • To his brother. 1 April 1928.

    Our father's conversation was singularly poor in those 'anfractuosities' which so delight us. The only item worth remembering was his curious contribution to the problem of venereal disease, to the effect that obviously it must have begun with women and spread thence to men. Being asked why, he replied, "Sure how could a man have given it to a woman if he hadn't got it from a woman himself?" This is unanswerable.


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