Jack in Retrospect Monthly – April

During April, over the years, three books of letters from C.S. Lewis were posthumously released. Two books in the middle of series and more than a dozen talks or essays were first heard or became available this month as well.

Not long after his death, on April 18, 1966, Letters of C.S. Lewis, edited by his brother Warnie, was released. It also contained an insightful memoir. Walter Hooper edited a specific group of letters that were published on April 19, 1979, They Stand Together: The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves. Greeves was Lewis’s friend from boyhood and they kept in touch throughout his lifetime. Letters to Children released on April 11, 1985, edited by Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie Lamp Mead.  All content from these three books are now contained in the three volume The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis. While not a book of letters, All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C.S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper came out on April 18, 1991. It covers the years 1922-1927.

The only book by Lewis where he shared authorship was released on April 27, 1939. The Personal Heresy: A Controversy is co-authored with Cambridge Professor E. M. W. Tillyard. It collects six essays between the two on the issue of whether or not “all poetry is about the poet’s state of mind.”

Two other books from this month are more well known and both were published just a day apart — Christian Behavior (April 19, 1943) and Perelandra (April 20, 1943). Each of these are the middle book in a series. The former is more identified with being part of Mere Christianity and the latter is from the series of books given various names, but frequently known for Ransom, a main character in all of them.

Several joyous or sorrowful times happen to Lewis in the fourth month over the years. On April 2, 1908, his grandfather died during a time of failing health for his mother Flora. Another difficult time was on April 15, 1918, when Lewis was wounded on the battlefield in WWI at Mount Bernenchon. On a brighter note, the civil ceremony of Lewis and Joy Davidman took place on April 23, 1956, and they had an ecclesiastical wedding less than a year later. (It might be helpful to also point out that ten years after Lewis’s own death, his brother Warnie died on April 9, 1973.)

Two different series ended in April: Beyond Personality and The Great Divorce. Although recorded earlier, “The New Men” was broadcasted on the BBC April 4. It was the conclusion to the Beyond Personality set of talks (eventually becoming part of Mere Christianity). As to The Great Divorce, The Guardian published the final two installments of Who Goes Home? on April 6 and 13, 1945 (what would become the final two-thirds of chapter thirteen and the concluding fourteenth chapter.)

There were five talks or papers given over the years in April (unless otherwise noted they are in God in the Dock):

  • “Christian Apologetics” is a paper read at the Carmarthen Conference for Anglican Youth Leaders and Junior Clergy in Carmarthen, Wales during Easter 1945.
  • “The Grand Miracle” was a talk given on April 15, 1945, at St. Jude on the Hill Church, London. It was also published a few weeks later, on April 27, 1945, in The Guardian.
  • “Answers to Questions on Christianity” is the title of the printed version of his address at the Electric and Musical Industries Christian Fellowship, Hayes, Middlesex on April 18, 1944.
  • “Hamlet: The Prince or the Poem?” was the annual Shakespeare lecture Lewis gave for the British Academy in London on April 22, 1942. Available in Selected Literary Essays.
  • “On Three Ways of Writing for Children” is the talk Lewis gave on April 29, 1952, at the meeting of the Library Association at Bournemouth. Available in On Stories.

Many shorter works were published in April.

  • “A Note on Comus” in The Review of English Studies in 1932. Reprinted in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.
  • “Genius and Genius” in The Review of English Studies in 1936. Also in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.
  • “Democratic Education” on April 29, 1944 in Time and Tide. It was first under the title of “Notes on the Way” and was reprinted in Present Concerns.
  • “The Laws of Nature” on April 4, 1945 in The Coventry Evening Telegraph. Reprinted in God in the Dock
  • “On Church Music” in English Church Music in 1949. Reprinted in Christian Reflections.
  • “Lilies that Fester” in Twentieth Century, in 1955. Reprinted in The World’s Last Night.
  • “Interim Report” on April 21, 1956, in The Cambridge Review. Reprinted in Present Concerns.
  • “Will We Lose God in Outer Space?” in Christian Herald in 1958. The title was changed to “Religion and Rocketry” when reprinted in The World’s Last Night.

Part of a monthly series reflecting on the life of C.S. Lewis. A more detailed account is given each week at EssentialCSLewis.com.

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