Help Me Find the Accusation of Misogyny in the TIME Article on C.S. Lewis, Don v. Devil

Two recent references have created a bit of a puzzle for me which I hope you can perhaps make clear for me. Both in Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen’s A Sword Between the Sexes: C.S. Lewis and the Gender Debates and the edited volume by Carolyn Curtis and Mary Pomroy Key, Women and C.S. Lewis: What His Life and Literature Reveal for Today’s Culture (2015), the authors point to a claim of misogyny against C.S. Lewis that dates to 1947. The claim is rooted in letters from the period like this one:

“Yes, the Time article was ghastly: but I suppose no one of sense believes such things. I wouldn’t hang a dog on a journalist’s evidence myself. Who said I disliked women? I never liked or disliked any generalisation” (C.S. Lewis to Margaret Fuller, 8 Apr 1948).

I was reading these two books concurrently, and each time the reference occurred, I set the book down, a bit puzzled. I had read the Time article from 8 Sep 1947, titled “Don v. Devil” with a cover title that said “Oxford’s C.S. Lewis. His heresy: Christianity.” The reference would be kind of interesting. The article is anonymous, I think, and the article keeps all the sources quiet, so making an accusation like that would be not a little problematic. Moreover, what would “women-hating” be like in the postwar U.S. vs. postwar Britain? Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique not because equal rights for women were moving too slowly, but because women were losing opportunities in the years after the war. What would an American accusation mean at the time?

Good questions, but something began to nag at me. Nearly seven years ago, when I was writing a baby blog that few people knew about, I wrote about “Don v. Devil,” highlighting the letters to the editor that came in from the article. From the perspective of journalism it was a pretty poor job, and the writing is terrible (with a couple of bright spots). The piece looks like someone’s field notes, not a final piece of copy. I enjoy reading Time from time to time, and was surprised by the quality. Lewis probably had some reason to be skeptical of the value of talking to journalists.

But I didn’t remember any accusation of misogyny. Based on my dim memories, there was not reference to Lewis and women at all in the piece, and certainly not about him as a woman-hater. Even the clubbable-male Oxford don bit isn’t the image at the front of the story. The cover was pretty well designed, and like the article, too clever by half and not terribly deep. The whole piece runs on his gag:

Look at this bright fellow, an Oxford don and a respected literary critic who actually believes all this stuff about devils and angels and a personal god. And though he’s a best-selling author, he’d really rather be left alone.

But I don’t see anything about misogyny. So can you help me, readers, to point out what I might be missing? Lewis defends himself against the charge by saying that he doesn’t think it is right to hate or love any generalized (i.e., fictionalized) group. But where does the charge come from?

Part of my problem might be that I am using a digital version of the magazine and don’t have access to a copy from 1947 to flip through (though I have looked at every article in that edition). There might be a byline, for example, not carried over into my library version. There might also be another article in another journal from about the same time with the accusation of misogyny. Until then, I’m at a loss to know what we are even talking about.

Or, of course, it might be just before my eyes and I can’t see it. Any help?

Don v. Devil, Time Magazine, 8 Sep 1948

The lecturer, a short, thickset man with a ruddy face and a big voice, was coming to the end of his talk. Gathering up his notes and books, he tucked his hornrimmed spectacles into the pocket of his tweed jacket and picked up his mortarboard. Still talking—to the accompaniment of occasional appreciative laughs and squeals from his audience—he leaned over to return the watch he had borrowed from a student in the front row. As he ended his final sentence, he stepped off the platform.

The maneuver gained him a head start on the rush of students down the center aisle. Once in the street, he strode rapidly —his black gown billowing behind his grey flannel trousers—to the nearest pub for a pint of ale.

Clive Staples Lewis was engaged in his full-time and favorite job—the job of being an Oxford don in the Honour School of English Language & Literature, a Fellow and tutor of Magdalen College and the most popular lecturer in the University. To watch him downing his pint at the Eastgate (his favorite pub), or striding, pipe in mouth, across the deer park, a stranger would not be likely to guess that C. S. Lewis is also a best-selling author and one of the most influential spokesmen for Christianity in the English-speaking world.

Since 1941, when Lewis published a witty collection of infernal correspondence called The Screwtape Letters, this middle-aged (49) bachelor professor who lives a mildly humdrum life (“I like monotony”) has sold something over a million copies of his 15 books. He has made 29 radio broadcasts on religious subjects, each to an average of 600,000 listeners. Any fully ordained minister or priest might envy this Christian layman his audience.

Something like Hell. That audience is the result of Lewis’ special gift for dramatizing Christian dogma. He would be the last to claim that what he says is new; but, like another eloquent and witty popularizer of Christianity, the late G. K. Chesterton, he has a talent for putting old-fashioned truths into a modern idiom.

With erudition, good humor and skill, Lewis is writing about religion for a generation of religion-hungry readers brought up on a diet of “scientific” jargon and Freudian cliches. His readers are a part of the new surge of curiosity about Christianity which in Britain has floated, besides Lewis, a whole school of literary evangelists (T. S. Eliot, Graham Greene, Dorothy Sayers, et al.). Detective Story Writer Sayers has explained this new interest in Christianity as

“spontaneous . . . and not a sort of ‘Let’s-get-together-and-pep-up-Christianity’ stunt by excited missioners, than which nothing could be more detestable. . . . People have discovered by bitter experience that when man starts out on his own to build a society by his own power and knowledge, he succeeds in building something uncommonly like Hell; and they have seriously begun to ask why.”

Something like a Father. C. S. Lewis’ new book, to be published in the U.S. this month, is called Miracles, A Preliminary Study (Macmillan; $2.50). Its tightly constructed theological argument: that the miraculous (“interference with Nature by supernatural power”) not only can exist but has existed in human history. “Naturalists,” who see nature as “the whole show,” with no room for a creative God in the picture, will be baffled or repelled. But those who accept the basic Christian concept of a Creator-God will be rewarded with a full measure of the quality Lewis’ devotees have come to expect—a strictly unorthodox presentation of strict orthodoxy.

Lewis (like T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden, et al.) is one of a growing band of heretics among modern intellectuals: an intellectual who believes in God. It is not a mild and vague belief, for he accepts “all the articles of the Christian faith”—which means that he also believes in sin and in the Devil. After sneezing, he was once heard to murmur that it was “because of the Fall.” He was referring, not to the season, but to the Fall of Man, which Christian theology holds responsible for the major disorders of mankind. Lewis is scornful of many modern intellectual and moral fashions: he thinks a Christian can do worse than imagine God as a fatherly ancient with a white beard. He writes:

“. . . When [people] try to get rid of manlike, or, as they are called, ‘anthropomorphic,’ images, they merely succeed in substituting images of some other kinds. ‘I don’t believe in a personal God,’ says one, ‘but I do believe in a great spiritual force.’ What he has not noticed is that the word ‘force’ has let in all sorts of images about winds and tides and electricity and gravitation. ‘I don’t believe in a personal God,’ says another, ‘but I do believe we are all parts of one great Being which moves and works through us all’—not noticing that he has merely exchanged the image of a fatherly and royal-looking man for the image of some widely extended gas or fluid.

“A girl I knew was brought up by ‘higher thinking’ parents to regard God as perfect ‘substance.’ In later life she realized that this had actually led her to think of Him as something like a vast tapioca pudding. (To make matters worse, she disliked tapioca.) We may feel ourselves quite safe from this degree of absurdity, but we are mistaken. If a man watches his own mind, I believe he will find that what profess to be specially advanced or philosophic conceptions of God are, in his thinking, always accompanied by vague images which, if inspected, would turn out to be even more absurd than the manlike images aroused by Christian theology. For man, after all, is the highest of the things we meet in sensuous experience.”

Heaven & Boiled Fish. Lewis sees no good reason to accept the modern dictum that “scientific” explanations are more authoritative than theological ones:

“The old atomic theory is in physics what Pantheism is in religion—the normal, instinctive guess of the human mind, not utterly wrong, but needing correction. Christian theology, and quantum physics, are both, by comparison with the first guess, hard, complex, dry and repellent. The first shock of the object’s real nature, breaking in on our spontaneous dreams of what that object ought to be, always has these characteristics. You must not expect Shrödinger to be as plausible as Democritus; he knows too much. You must not expect St. Athanasius to be as plausible as Mr. Bernard Shaw: he also knows too much.”

Lewis’ idea of Heaven is not the 20th Century’s watered-down version of ineffable, gaseous ecstasy, but a state as real as Sunday morning breakfast. It’s right there in the New Testament, says Lewis, referring to the resurrected Christ taking food with His disciples:

“If the truth is that after death there comes a negatively spiritual life, an eternity of mystical experience, what more misleading way of communicating it could possibly be found than the appearance of a human form which eats boiled fish?”

Sex in Heaven? Bachelor Lewis is no man to be afraid of that one either:

“The letter and spirit of Scripture, and of all Christianity, forbid us to suppose that life in the New Creation will be a sexual life; and this reduces our imagination to the withering alternative either of bodies which are hardly recognizable as human bodies at all or else of a perpetual fast. As regards the fast, I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure, should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer no, he might regard absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses, the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it.”

Steep Descent. The man who can put medieval scholasticism into such comfortable modern dress was born in Belfast, Ireland, where his grandfather, an itinerant Welsh boilermaker-turned-shipbuilder, had settled. At the age of twelve, young Clive deserted the Church of Ireland (affiliated with the Anglican Church) for atheism. After a brief World War I career as a 2nd lieutenant in France, where he was wounded in the back by a British shell that fell short, Lewis graduated from Oxford with honors, tried a few years as a starveling poet, and in 1925 happily accepted his present post.

When he was about 18, Lewis bought a book called Phantasies [sic], by George Macdonald, a Scottish Presbyterian best known for his Princess & Curdie and other children’s fairy tales. In the introduction to his recent anthology of Macdonald’s work (TIME, June 2), Lewis confesses the importance of that day’s purchase:

“I had already been waist-deep in Romanticism; and likely enough, at any moment, to flounder into its darker and more evil forms, slithering down the steep descent that leads from the love of strangeness to that of eccentricity and thence to that of perversity. Now Phantasies was romantic enough in all conscience; but there was a difference. . . . What it actually did to me was to convert, even to baptise . . . my imagination. It did nothing to my intellect nor (at that time) to my conscience. Their turn came far later and with the help of many other books and men.”

These books and men effected in him what he considers an entirely intellectual conversion. Without any sudden awakening or “rebirth,” Lewis found himself approaching the unexpected conclusion that Christianity is the simple truth. While groping for answers, he wrote to a friend: “The Absolute is beginning to look more and more like God.” A short time later, his return to the Anglican Church was complete.

Brown Girl to Mother Kirk. Lewis has provided a lively and dramatic account of his spiritual safari “from popular realism to Philosophical Idealism; from Idealism to Pantheism; from Pantheism to Theism and from Theism to Christianity.” In his first—and not initially successful—fantasy, The Pilgrim’s Regress, he used Bunyan’s device of a naive wayfarer beset by symbolic men and monsters.

Lewis records “John’s” journey in quest of the beautiful island he glimpsed mysteriously in the stern, unfriendly land of Puritania, where he was born. Puritania was strictly administered by Stewards who issued complex rules of behavior and clapped forbidding masks over their faces whenever they mentioned the Landlord. Searching for his island vision, John one day found

“in the grass beside him … a laughing brown girl of about his own age, and she had no clothes on. ‘It was me you wanted,’ said the brown girl. ‘I am better than your silly Islands.’ And John rose and caught her, all in haste, and committed fornication with her in the wood.”

But John soon found that the brown girl was not what he was looking for, and journeyed on. At last, after many adventures, John confronted the “aged, appalling . . . crumbling and chaotic” face of Death itself.

Said Death:

“‘Do not think you can call me Nothing. . . . The Landlord’s Son who feared nothing, feared me. . . . Give in or struggle.’

” ‘I would sooner do the first if I could.’

” ‘Then I am your servant and no more your master. … He who lays down his liberty in that act receives it back. Go down to Mother Kirk. . . .’

” ‘You must dive into this water,’ ” said Mother Kirk. ” ‘You have only to let yourself go.’ “

Satan’s Scientists. After he had let himself go and plunged into the Church of England, Lewis found himself part of a small circle of Christian Oxonians who met informally each week or so to drink and talk.

Lewis’ new-found Christianity also introduced him to Charles Williams, the author he says has influenced his writing more than any other, living or dead. Williams was a scholarly, self-educated, Cockney-accented Londoner who died last year, leaving an astonishing assortment of essays, poetry and fiction that delighted a small circle of Christian intellectuals. His first novel, War in Heaven, told of a cops-&-robbers chase through modern England which followed when somebody turned up with the Holy Grail. The Williams books inspired Lewis to write a trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength) dealing with the forces of Good and Evil at war on the planets of the solar system. One element common to all these stories: the villain of the piece is always a scientist.

The consistent identification of scientists with the forces of evil is characteristic of Lewis. To him, scientists seem, most nearly to embody the Christian sin of Pride—setting up the human will against the Divine. For this sin, Adam & Eve were expelled from the Garden and the heroes of Greek tragedy were punished by the gods. Lewis is a bitter academic opponent of Oxford’s “progressive element” of scientists and “practical” faculty members who would lay more stress on “useful” courses than on Oxford’s traditional concern with the humanities.

The Gentle Slope. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters largely as “a kind of penance,” which his friends claim is his attitude toward all his Christian writings. He says he found it the easiest work he has ever done, but that it grew to be “a terrible bore.” It was an immediate and phenomenal success on both sides of the Atlantic. Innumerable ministers quoted Screwtape in sermons and urged it on their congregations. Catholics enjoy it as much as Protestants. One clergyman makes a practice of presenting copies to his parishioners with passages marked for their special attention. To date, Screwtape has gone through 20 British and 14 U.S. printings.

The book is a series of admonitory letters from Screwtape, a fiendishly knowing member of Hell’s “Lowerarchy,” to his nephew Wormwood, a novice tempter who is grappling with the Enemy for one of his first souls. The irony with which Lewis catalogues all the trivia most likely to keep man from God has made Screwtape a modern classic. Samples:

“It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

“The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice . . . and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. . . . Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that ‘only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilizations.’ You see the little rift? ‘Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.’ That’s the game.”

God’s Unscrupulousness. With Screwtape‘s success, Lewis became a celebrity. A man who could talk theology without pulling a long face or being dull was just what a lot of people in war-beleaguered Britain wanted. The BBC put Lewis on the air and for three years his short, plain-spoken broadcasts on what Christians believe made him, for his listeners, almost as synonymous with religion as the Archbishop of Canterbury. The R.A.F. even chose him as a kind of Christian-at-large to visit air bases and discuss theology.

Lewis hated the work. Heavy theological argument with topflight minds is his greatest pleasure, but he is too much of an intellectual snob to enjoy answering not-very-bright questions. He doggedly stuck to this chore as part of his duty to Church and country, but he once wryly blamed his unpleasant war work on the “unscrupulousness of God.” Said he:

“I certainly never intended being a hot gospeler. If I had only known this when I became a Christian!”

Down the Garden Path. Outside his own Christian circle, Lewis is not particularly popular with his Oxford colleagues. Some resent his large student following. Others criticize his “cheap” performances on the BBC and sneer at him as a “popularizer.” There are complaints about his rudeness (he is inclined to bellow “Nonsense!” in the heat of an argument when a conventionally polite 25-word circumlocution would be better form). But their most serious charge is that Lewis’ theological pamphleteering is a kind of academic heresy.

On this score, one of Lewis’ severest critics insists that his works of scholarship, The Allegory of Love (on Spenser), and A Preface to Paradise Lost, are “miles ahead” of any other literary criticism in England. But Lewis’ Christianity, says his critic, has brought him more money than it ever brought Joan of Arc, and a lot more publicity than she enjoyed in her lifetime. In contrast to his tight scholarly writing (says this critic), Lewis’ Christian propaganda is cheap sophism: having lured his reader onto the straight highway of logic, Lewis then inveigles him down the garden path of orthodox theology.

Perhaps some of those who would like Scholar Lewis to be quieter about his Christianity would be surprised to learn how quiet about it he really is. So rigidly private does he keep his private life that virtually none of his best friends have been invited even to tea at his twelve-room house in suburban Headington (as a Fellow of Magdalen, he has rooms in the college as well). Lewis sometimes refers vaguely to living with his “old mother,” though his friends know that she has been dead since his childhood. One persistent rumor identifies the “mother” as a Mrs. Moore, mother of a friend killed in World War I, whom Lewis invited to keep house for him and who is pictured as an aged, bad-tempered old party. And there are said to be other dependents in the house, in addition to Mrs. Moore.

Wet Weather Ahead. Postwar Oxford’s swollen enrollment is now giving Lewis too much to do to spare him time for extracurricular writing. During the “long vac” this summer he has been hard at work on his volume for “Oh-Hell,” which is Oxford’s name for the Oxford History of English Literature (still in preparation). During the college year ahead, in addition to his crowded lectures, he will also be busy “tooting” his 18-odd tutorial pupils. At regular intervals they will come, singly or in pairs, to read him their essays in his handsome, white-paneled college room overlooking the deer park, or (when there is not enough coal or wood to keep it warm) in his tiny, book-crammed inner study. Lewis has informed the BBC that he is through with radiorat-ing, for an indefinite period. He has no immediate plans for further “popular” books, fantastic or theological. But Lewis admirers may not have too long to wait.

Recently in Oxford’s lively undergraduate magazine, Cherwell, he wrote:

“Perhaps no one would deny that Christianity is now ‘on the map’ among the younger intelligentsia, as it was not, say, in 1920. Only freshmen now talk as if the anti-Christian position were self-evident. . . . [Yet] we must remember that widespread and lively interest in the subject is precisely what we call a fashion. . . . Whatever . . . mere fashion has given us, mere fashion will presently withdraw. The real conversions will remain, but nothing else will. In that sense we may be on the brink of a real, permanent Christian revival: but it will work slowly and obscurely in small groups. The present sunshine … is certainly temporary. The grain must be got into the barn before the wet weather comes.”


About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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45 Responses to Help Me Find the Accusation of Misogyny in the TIME Article on C.S. Lewis, Don v. Devil

  1. Callum Beck says:

    Your quote or anything misogynistic are certainly not there in the Time article. But this is the first time I read it and found it quite interesting. I’d say it was a relatively balanced article. Not sure why Lewis found it so ghastly but a reporter’s errors are obviously a way more obvious to the person being written about than outsiders. Also wonder if he was distressed about the Mrs Moore remark, no doubt that did not improve life at home.
    Interesting that he wd have no one to his place and the rumours about Mrs Moore were well known. I wonder if his place included more visitors after she died?
    There are a lot of quotes in here I have seen no where else, did the author interview CSL? But even some of the book quotes at the beginning seem unfamiliar to me. The ending seems abrupt and jarring. For your Narnia chronology it suggests no idea of it in CSL’s head at the time of the article.
    Have you seen the original letter to Mrs Fuller, what book is it in? Is it possible that the two thoughts are not connected, that he is responding first to something she said about the article and then something else she heard that he did not like women, and in his rush to get through his letter writing chores did not realize or care that he had linked them together, Mrs Fuller wd have known the difference anyway. Finally, surely Wheaton or someone must have a paper copy of this article.


    • I’ve been thinking about a few of those things. This is probably the first public statement on Mrs Moore, though in laters he calls her his aging and sick “mother.” Secrets in Oxford probably weren’t very common. And Cambridge. A contemporary of Lewis’ at Cambridge, William Empson wrote the brilliant Seven Types of Ambiguity for his supervisor, I.A. Richards. But Empson was accused of having sex out of wedlock and stripped of his university situation. That Lewis wasn’t shows that he had few enemies in the 20s that would want to harm him, not that his whole life was secret. In his journals of the 20s, friends are popping by on a daily basis.
      Yes, I think the quotes are from Lewis’ interview. Perhaps they are accurate.
      The whole letter is below and perhaps I have missed something there.
      I have one more possibility that has occured to me: It could be that the interviewer let Lewis know that his (probably a male journalist) had an informer that thought Lewis was a woman-hater, but that the journalist never actually printed that accusation–and it is unlikely Lewis spent much time reading the Time piece, so may not have caught that difference. Maybe.
      Yes, probably UPEI has a microfiche and I just haven’t gotten there to find it, which would take a couple of hours. I’ll email Dale and find out if she can hook me up.

      April 8/48
      Dear Miss Fuller
      Thanks for the cutting. I am so slow in the uptake that I am not sure I have understood
      it–are the two nuns a separate story or padding for her version of Screwtape.
      Yes, the Time article was ghastly: but I suppose no one of sense believes such things. I
      wouldn’t hang a dog on a journalist’s evidence myself. Who said I disliked women? I never
      liked or disliked any generalisation.
      Frank Baker, who I hadn’t heard of, sounds v. sensible.
      yours sincerely
      C.S. Lewis


  2. frank4man says:

    The perceived misogyny might be in the alter ego of John fornicating with the brown girl and then realizing that wasn’t what John was looking for.


  3. Brent, I recall (with fondness) your excellent blog post soon after release of “Women and C.S. Lewis: What his life and literature reveal for today’s culture.” I will try to insert it here. If my effort fails, please help by plucking it from your archives for your readers to enjoy again. Here ’tis, hoping this shows up as a link to click and follow:


  4. nancyleek says:

    I suspect the two comments are unrelated, just as the misogyny sentence is unrelated to the next one about Frank Baker (whoever he was). This would be clear if we had Miss Fuller’s letter.


    • Yes, I”m starting to lean that way. That’s what Callum was getting at, posted above. It seems clear to me that references to the article are hasty; explaining why it’s connected is harder.

      Liked by 1 person

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Up to speed, now, on article and comments through Dale’s at 4:32 pm. My quick take on the Miss Fuller letter – that it replies point by point to assorted items in her letter to him:
        [1: unidentified clipping she sent him.] Thanks for the cutting. I am so slow in the uptake that I am not sure I have understood it–are the two nuns a separate story or padding for her version of Screwtape.
        [2: reference to the article as read by both – she probably thought it ‘ghastly’ or words to that effect, and asked if he agreed.] Yes, the Time article was ghastly: but I suppose no one of sense believes such things. I wouldn’t hang a dog on a journalist’s evidence myself. [3: Nothing to do with the Time article – taking up another remark of hers – perhaps something like ‘You are said to dislike women’] Who said I disliked women? I never liked or disliked any generalisation.
        [4: the only one in the Wikipedia disambiguation list who sounds somewhat likely is “Frank Baker (author)”, “(22 May 1908 – 1982) […] a British author of novels and short stories, mainly on fantastic or supernatural themes […] who also wrote “articles in publications such as The Guardian, Radio Times and Life and Letters”, some of the latter of which might lie behind “sounds v. sensible”- ?] Frank Baker, who I hadn’t heard of, sounds v. sensible.

        I can imagine not only the Mrs. Moore ( and “other dependents” Warnie, and – garbled references to Maureen’s former residence? or whoever they let live on the grounds (if still alive)? – and Paxford?) paragraph was experienced as “ghastly”, but also the “he is too much of an intellectual snob to enjoy answering not-very-bright questions” one, and at least the end of the “Satan’s Scientists” one with “The consistent identification of scientists with the forces of evil is characteristic of Lewis. To him, scientists seem, most nearly to embody the Christian sin of Pride—setting up the human will against the Divine” – after the quotation from Miracles including the positive references to “quantum physics” and Shrödinger! (which incidentally leaves me wondering how well they may have known each other, when Shrödinger was at Magdalen).

        Liked by 1 person

      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        I haven’t gone looking for the Miracles quotations, to collate, but wonder if “boiled” is a typo for “broiled” – and, where the Sayers’ one if from.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The scientist thing is really worth thinking about. I have been a bit too cavalier about Lewis and science in the past, and now am attending a wee bit more. I think there are careful distinctions to be made that (shockingly) TIME doesn’t make.


  5. Jon Hooper says:

    Might disliking women be another way of implying that he was uninterested in them? The article highlights certain things – his bachelorhood, his insistence that the sexual act will not be a part of heaven, the rejection of the brown girl (sexual desire) in favour of the Church, and his avoidance of making public a relationship he has with a woman (sexual or otherwise, in the case of Mrs Moore). My father was born a little after Lewis, and to his generation disliking women would simply have meant that one wasn’t interested in them romantically or sexually. Other than this, I can’t see anything either, but I haven’t read the two books you mention, and don’t have access to the original magazine.


    • Hi Jon, perhaps it is a case of all those things put together. I think most who criticize the Brown Girl thing (which is a hard image to understand) for racism, but I’m not sure colour worked that way then. Notice how the brown reindeer serve a good guy and white reindeer serve a bad guy in LWW, but in Narnia black dwarfs are clearly more problematic.
      There is also a difference between misogyny and sexism and just a male society (or female).


      • dalejamesnelson says:

        I think I always had a vague notion that the “brown girl” was a light-skinned girl with a suntan.

        Liked by 1 person

        • dalejamesnelson says:

          Re: the “brown girl” — “brown” for a light-skinned person who has a suntan is common in British writing, e.g. in Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth Bennet’s suntan is discussed, or people writing about little kids who have been playing outdoors and are “brown as a berry,” etc.


          • Thanks Dale. Does that actually sound like a plausible explanation to you of what Lewis was imagining in 1932?


            • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

              Something ‘tropical’-exotic , either way?


            • dalejamesnelson says:

              I think it is likely that Lewis was thinking of a suntanned girl (“brown girl”). When John first sees her, she is naked — well, if she’s habitually naked, as I suppose is what we should assume, she would be suntanned, however pale her skin tone might have otherwise been.

              It’s furthermore likely that Lewis was thinking of the contemporary cult of nudism or naturism for health, freedom from restrictive societal norms, etc, etc.. Wikipedia s.v. “Naturism” says, “Naturism became a more widespread phenomenon in the 1920s, in Germany, the United Kingdom, France and other European countries and spread to the United States where it became established in the 1930s.”


              • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

                I wonder if Henry De Vere Stacpoole’s Blue Lagoon (1908) – and sequels (The Garden of God (1923) and The Gates of Morning (1925) ) are relevant, here? (I’ve never read, or even skimmed any, so I don’t know what tanned girl/young woman images one might find.) Williams references some other Henry De Vere Stacpoole book in his Arthurian Commonplace Book, but I can’t recall which off the top of my head.


              • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

                Searching the Project Gutenberg Blue Lagoon transcription turns up:

                “She was as brown as a gipsy and freckled, not very much taller, but twice as plump.”;
                “Browned by the sun and sea-breeze, Emmeline’s hair blowing on the wind, and the point of Dick’s javelin flashing in the sun, they looked an ideal pair of savages, seen from the schooner’s deck.”;
                “Hannah [the boy whom the long ship-wrecked English cousins had procreated as adolescents] would press Koko [a bird] to his little brown stomach, as if in artless admission of where his heart lay.”; and
                “He looked like a little brown Cupid without wings, bow or arrow.”


              • dalejamesnelson says:

                I wonder if “tanned,” in our familiar sense of referring to someone whose skin has darkened from exposure to the sun, had to wait to become popular — certainly, to become popular as a word referring to a desirable appearance — until the great diminution of leather products had occurred. “Tanning” for centuries would first have suggested processes for preparing animal hides for use in clothing — processes that were notoriously smelly.

                There’s an interesting exchange in pride and Prejudice (circa 1820):

                —-“How very ill Miss Eliza Bennet looks this morning, Mr. Darcy,” she
                cried; “I never in my life saw anyone so much altered as she is since
                the winter. She is grown so brown and coarse! Louisa and I were agreeing
                that we should not have known her again.”

                However little Mr. Darcy might have liked such an address, he contented
                himself with coolly replying that he perceived no other alteration than
                her being rather tanned, no miraculous consequence of travelling in the

                “Brown,” then, to refer to someone with suntanning, is the first word that occurs to this catty speaker, but “tanned” evidently has become usable to refer to suntanning and not just to “treated leather” by then, as Darcy evidently doesn’t feel compelled to agree in expressing a view that suntanning makes a woman ugly.

                Since Tess Durbeyfield worked in the open air, Hardy might have included some remark about the coloration of her skin, which would take us to around 1900.

                Suntanning as a good thing was, for a time, very Romantic. The earlier approval of pale skin suggested aristocratic life not compelled to work in the fields and dairies. Suntanning could become favorably regarded in reaction to the earlier view and because it could be linked to a way of life less “circumscribed” by “artificial” codes. Now, though, that most people who work, work indoors, tanning can suggest a way of life that permits one to take expensive vacations, use expensive devices such as motorboats, etc., and so it kind of assumes the class value that a paler skin used to have. Today, too, there’s some awareness of the damage that undue exposure can do to light-complected people.

                I suppose Lewis wrote Pilgrim’s Regress when the Romantic view of suntanning was getting settled in.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Thanks for all this Dale and David. I think of the maiden (or mistress) in Song of Solomon, the beloved who is dark but beautiful. There’s pretty good evidence to suggest it is her agricultural life there, the sun on the hills. You may be right about brown as tanned or sun-darkened, but it still doesn’t sit in my mind perfectly well.
                I do remember that Lewis was pretty fascinated in his teens with a Brown Suit. I think the real! reason for this is a cypher for his secret, lifelong love for fashion he had to put away at the cross.
                That joke made me think to look. “There is this in 1921ish: Have you seen a recent amusing illustration of Wilde’s theory that nature copies art? that a real Captain Kettle has appeared in the bay of Syracuse: complete even to the beard: and told the public prosecutor, the British Consul, and the Italian officers ‘The minute any of you gentlemen sets foot on my deck, I’ll brown her up’. By James!”
                Other references to “brown” are nature.
                Then I looked in my Downing annotated Pilgrim’s Regress, and he connects the Brown Girls to tanned girls of longing and temptation in Morris, but also lack of purity.


              • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

                Dale and Brenton, thanks for these latest (14 & 15 Jan.) contributions! Something that popped into my mind while reading them was Iris’s lines in the masque in Shakespeare’s Tempest (IV.i), “Ye sunburn’d sicklemen, of August weary, / […] your rye-straw hats put on, / And these fresh nymphs [“Naiades, of the windring brooks”] encounter”. Could even sun-burn have been a positive class/occupation-related feature, before the Romantic appeal came along? (Are the fresh nymphs also implicitly pale, however much sunlight reflected on heads above water might tan human-like skin?) It makes me want to look into bucolic and Arcadian conventions in word and painting – and do a word-search of Sidney’s Acadia…

                Liked by 1 person

              • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

                It also occurs to me, relevantly or not, how full Edith Sitwell’s Facade (1922/23) is of play with pastoral, etc. conventions and all sorts of astonishing color and racial references…

                Liked by 1 person

  6. I too wonder if it might be the emphasis on Lewis’s bachelorhood and his relations with Mrs Moore so characterized–Lewis may have picked up on an implication, either in the article itself or in conversation, that he was anti-feminine or anti-female.


  7. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Thanks for this – which I have never (to my recollection) seen, or sought to look up, famous though it is by repute! I hope to read it, soon. There must be lots of libraries with bound copies of the original – unless dishonest collectors have happened to cut them all out…

    To add to your query, do ‘we’ know anything about the writers whose names, in the long-standing Time house style of yore, were never given? Are there records, posted, open, consultable (even if, e.g., for an ‘archival research’ fee, from Time)?


  8. dalejamesnelson says:

    A few years ago the university library here discarded a huge proportion of its periodicals archive (nearly all of the rest followed eventually). The serials librarian invited me to take whatever I liked. I did have the presence of mind to snap up the bound volume of Time with that CSL issue, although, alas, I didn’t think to get the issue of the Saturday Evening Post with Owen Barfield’s “Rediscovery of Meaning” essay. Other nice things I copped include the New York Times Magazine with a profile of Tolkien, issued during the Hobbit campus craze, original reviews of The Lord of the Rings, etc. I got the complete run of Joseph Epstein’s period as editor of The American Scholar, by the way. So these grabs were exciting, but it shook me up to see so much going to recycling. I should have taken more.

    Dale Nelson

    Liked by 1 person

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Whew, there is that – I’m not sure how many reference libraries have (recklessly) done away with the original magazines/journals for more compact forms! (I remember our public library (to my dismay) analogously getting rid of most LPs when CDs came along – !) When I worked in the Newspaper Room at our million-plus total volumes Main Branch of the public library, we already had micro-forms of the local newspapers as well as bound originals (elephant folios, or whatever!), and only archival micro-forms of papers of reference (I think the London as well as the NY Times), while the loose copies of dozens of assorted national and international papers were only keep for a certain number of weeks.

      Liked by 2 people

      • dalejamesnelson says:

        To David at 6:18 am on 12 Jan. (and anyone else interested):

        Anyone interested in the subject of libraries discarding their paper archives (newspapers, magazines, old books), the reasons alleged for why this supposedly must be done, the forces behind this movement, and the possibilities of loss — should read Nicholson baker’s Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (Random House, 2001), now “dated” yet only too relevant).

        One of the things I learned from this book is that the digital versions of newspaper articles that (we are told) dispel the need for paper copies, or even for microfilms), are often made from imperfect microfilms. Baker gives examples of the gibberish that has resulted when digital copies were made from these. But if you want to check the paper originals for a better text — good luck with that!!

        He has a fascinating anecdote about newspapers. Large metro newspapers might have more than one edition per day. The microfilm copy might be made from the late edition. It seems that an early edition of one day’s paper (say the New York Times) reported something about White House policy from a briefing; afterwards the WH asked that this information be suppressed. It had been reported in an early edition but was omitted subsequently. A Time magazine reporter picked up the item from the newspaper’s early edition. An historian found the Time item and wanted to track down the source. But Time hadn’t kept its files of clippings, or it was lost, or something. It transpired that -no library in the country- had that early edition newspaper now. All that survives is an unverifiable Time magazine item. (I’m pretty sure I remember this correctly.)

        Something I personally discovered that seemed interesting: the New York Times Book Review reviewed The Fellowship of the Ring. Now here you have this thick novel, hardly looks like a children’s book, yet it’s about hobbits, elves, etc. Where do you put the review of this first LotR volume? It was on the final page of the section of the Book Review devoted to new adult fiction, and facing the first page of the Book Review devoted to children’s books! (I have the issue, saved from the university’s “papercaust” mentioned earlier in this thread, but I’m not going to check the memory right now.) I thought that was interesting — how they, perhaps, resolved the genre question by “splitting the difference.” But here’s the thing: You won’t see that when you go to the Times digital archive. You can find the text of the review, presumably unaltered (!), but you lose the Book Review layout. You don’t see what the ads were in that issue or on that particular page, if any, which might be interesting context.

        Speaking of context, a favorite example of mine is the Saturday Evening Post issues that serialized John Christopher’s very grim near-future novel No Blade of Grass. The scenario is that some plant plague kills cereal crops and the world is starving, order breaks down, etc. It adds something to the experience of reading the serial to see the text flanked by page after page of consumer goods — things to eat, things to drink, things to wear, things to drive, things to make you beautiful, etc. Yes, those issues were some of the other periodicals I rescued when the university discarded 90% or so of its magazines, in 2010.

        Dale Nelson

        Liked by 1 person

        • dalejamesnelson says:

          I misremembered about the NYTBR review of Fellowship. A more accurate account should be sent later today.


          • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

            Indeed, always interesting to see the context, and very interesting to ponder how it may be being used (e.g, esp. that Christopher example!).

            This is a good thing about scans of whole periodicals (e.g., in the Internet Archive, where I have enjoyed browsing scans of The Strand magazine – though one sometimes encounters that they’ve scanned a ‘butchered’ copy where someone has clipped out bits!) though a great and terrible thing about it is, you are always at a remove from the book as artefact – even if it’s a scan of one copy (without, e.g., any missing leaves replaced from another copy), even if it’s high resolution and you can zoom in on things the naked eye could not easily see (as I recall reading about photographing St. Catherine’s Monastery manuscripts in the Sinai), it’s still not the same as being certainly able to examine an actual copy of a printed book or original manuscript.


        • dalejamesnelson says:

          Here, to follow up something I wrote above about interesting things that one can glean from the original magazines, but not from digital texts, are some observations from issues of the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW that I saved from recycling in 2010.

          26 Nov. 1950: Brief review of Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham, p. 50. Two ads on same page: Pierre van Paasesen’s Jerusalem Calling, Dial Press: “how our civilization can be saved from destruction”; Elivia K. Fradkin’s A World Airlift, Funk and Wagnalls: proposes “an international air police patrol under the U. N. …Able to detect armed aggression before it starts and to check an incipient aggressor it would give UN agencies the time necessary to solve the problems at issue through mediation.” First page: Winston Churchill, 1942-1943.

          31 Oct. 1954: W. H. Auden’s review of The Fellowship of the Ring, “The Hero Is a Hobbit,” p. 37. On facing page 36, the reviews are books “For Younger Readers.” The page with the Tolkien review, however, features an ad for Gothic Painting published by the fine arts publisher Skira. No other reviews appear on page 37. The Gothic Painting book cost $20. Curiously, no price for The Fellowship is given, though other books reviewed in this issue include prices. Thus readers would see Tolkien’s book (with its hobbits and elves) across the page from children’s books, but, on the other hand, would see it accompanied by an ad for a book for sophisticated adults. If you turn to page 38, you will see ads for Arthur Koestler’s account of his life as a Communist, The invisible Writing, a review of a book on patients’ rights, etc. First page: autobiography of Ellen Glasgow.

          1 May 1955: Donald Barr’s review of The Two Towers, “Shadowy World of Men and Hobbits,” p. 4. No ads. Other books reviewed on page 4: two novels – Maurice Edelman’s A Dream of Treason and J. B. Priestley’s Low Notes on a High Level. The review of Edelman’s (“belongs on the top shelf of those ingenious and intelligent British thrillers”) prompts me to get it from the library. Now that might be an interesting context project – read the books that were reviewed on the same page as Tolkien’s. First page: “Why We’re as Well Off as We Are,” a review by J. K. Galbraith of a book called America’s Needs and Resources.

          22 Jan. 1956: W. H. Auden’s review of The Return of the King, “At the End of the Quest, Victory,” p. 5, full page, with photo of Tolkien and pipe. Page 25 reviews three books on UFOs, “Visitors from Space.” First page: “With MacArthur in War and Peace,” a review of a biography.

          Each of the three reviews of the LotR books gives at least a detail from Walter Lorraine’s cover art for that Houghton Mifflin volume.

          4 Feb. 1968: Robert Phelps’s review of Smith of Wootton Major on “For Young Readers” page (20), five substantial paragraphs. A Pauline Baynes drawing of children around the table of the Great Cake is the only art on the page. First page: Review of Beyond Belief: A Chronicle of Murder and Its Detection, “Murder for Fun,” dealing with the Moors Murders.

          I intend to use the above information in an article for the Tolkien newsletter Beyond Bree, so please regard this comment as (c) by Dale Nelson.

          Liked by 1 person

          • These are great reasons that we could use context on these things. Maybe we need a rogue magazine site. Thanks for all this Dale.
            And I will have an email coming to you in a couple of days.


          • dalejamesnelson says:

            Here are some more “context glimpses” from a few magazines, this time focusing on C. S. Lewis rather than J. R. R. Tolkien.

            January 1959: Lewis’s essay “The Efficacy of Prayer” appears on pp. 59-61, with an etching by Käthe Kollwitz, “Girl Praying.” Oddly, Lewis is identified as “for many years a fellow and tutor of Magdalen College, Oxford” – but, of course, he was professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge, when the essay was published. Lewis corresponded with Prof. Douglas Bush, whose “Sex in the Modern Novel” appears in the issue, as does a full-page ad for a mail-order copy of An Unhurried View of Erotica, promising “lengthy excerpts and histories of classics like Fanny Hill.” There’s an essay on Rider Haggard, too – a favorite romancer for Lewis. Ad: “What Secret Power Did This Man Possess?” with picture of Benjamin Franklin; an ad for the Rosicrucians. One is struck by how much text, compared to today, appears in advertisements for trading stamps, travel, stereo records, etc. Cover: “Admiral Rickover’s Gamble: The Landlocked Submarine.”

            5 February 1956: Clyde S. Kilby’s review of C. S. Lewis’s Surprised by Joy with a photo of Lewis, P. 5. Preceding Page has review of Tolkien’s The Return of the King.

            8 September 1947: C. S. Lewis cover story. Article includes photos not only of Lewis but of George MacDonald and Charles Williams. Stories on airplanes approaching the speed of sound (sound barrier had not yet been broken), Punjab riots, snake-handling preacher George Miller, Tupperware. J. O. Bailey’s study of “so-called scientific fiction,” Pilgrims Through Space and Time, reviewed. (That book discusses Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet, by the way, also the two H. P. Lovecraft stories I’ve discussed in a Jack and the Bookshelf column – but no Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury – this really was an early book on the genre.) Ads: radio’s Fibber McGee and Molly for GE light bulbs, Mercury automobiles (“”More pep – and a smoother ride”), actress Rita Hayworth for Chesterfield cigarettes.

            2 May 1955: “The Greatest Divide,” on Lewis’s “De Descriptione Temporum” lecture (p. 94). Stories on Bandung Asian-African conference, Ngo Dinh Diem and South Viet Nam’s dependence on the U. S., Dracula actor Bela Lugosi a drug addict who says he doesn’t have a dime, Senator Joe McCarthy (he shows a U. S. Treasury check for $1056.75 because he paid too much taxes), railway strike, theologian Oscar Cullmann, obituary for Albert Einstein. Ads: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company warning readers about diet pills, plate glass, Friden adding machines. Cover: fashion designer Claire McCardell.

            6 February 1956: Review of Surprised by Joy on page 98, immediately followed by review of reissue of George Orwell’s novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying. Stories: Dwight Eisenhower not stating plainly whether or not he will seek a second term as U. S. president or have Richard Nixon as vice presidential running mate, four Southern governors declare that the federal government cannot prohibit segregation in the schools while Negro bus boycott in Alabama continues, first man-made satellite “nearing the end of the planning stage,” CBS’s quality “cultural show,” with budget of $4,000 per broadcast and broadcast time of Sunday mornings at 11:30, obituary of H. L. Mencken. Ads: “Polyethylene: Amazing new Uses for Wonder Classic,” with figure of little girl mascot Poly-Eth, aluminum industry. Cover: NATO’s General Gruenther.

            (c) Dale Nelson

            Liked by 1 person

            • dalejamesnelson says:

              Sorry: should be

              Ads: “Polyethylene: Amazing New Uses for Wonder Plastic”


            • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

              Thanks – very interesting! (I wonder how early Gilbert Highet was writing publicly about his love of science fiction? – I can’t remember if it was mentioned in the Art of Teaching (1950) – and, I wonder what if any contacts Lewis and Highet had with each other? And if I forgetting obvious references, in wondering that…)


            • That’s all super cool, Dale. Thanks!


      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Very interesting question, that of which editions might end up in a library or otherwise archived – especially with the frequently-recurring fictional references to ‘Extras’, etc. in mind.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Hannah says:

    This sentence from that intriguing Time Magazine article jumped out: “Now Phantasies was …….. What it actually did to me was to convert, even to baptise . . . my imagination. It did nothing to my intellect nor (at that time) to my conscience. Their turn came far later and with the help of many other books and men.” So, the imagination as gateway ….


    • Yes, I think that’s a critical point, Hannah. His introduction to the George MacDonald anthology has something like that (I have a bit on a review of that book next week). David Downing in his “Most REluctant Convert” book talked about how the medieval person had three bits that were like concentric circles: the imagination, the intellect, the conscience, with the conscience at the centre. Lewis’ conversion moved from the outside circle (imagination) ultimately to the inside circle (conscience) going through the intellect.


  10. Pingback: 1947 TIME Review of C.S. Lewis’ George MacDonald Anthology | A Pilgrim in Narnia

  11. Hannah says:

    Those medieval concentric circles are new to me and fascinating! May we now only be left with two separate circles, intellect/ratio and experiences/feelings, with any notion of conscience and imagination as vague and subjective?
    Great that you will do a review of that anthology! Do you also go into versions, eg any difference between the Harper One Anthology version of April 2015 and the Harper Collins version of June 2016? (the 2015 one seems better)


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