C.S. Lewis: Pre-Christian Days 1929/1930

For the past 3 years—off-and-on—I’ve been reading the first volume of,  The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Family letters, 1905-1931. I look at the natural division of the letters by years and consider these the chapters. 1929 was an important year to Jack as he was coming to serious terms with his father’s illness and the reality of that part of his own life closing. One very important time in Jack’s life was ending and the first pages of a new volume were being written. He also bent his knee this year to Deism, but yet could and would not make the jump to Christianity. During the process of handling his father’s estate—organizing the contents of the home, especially books, and what to keep, what to sell or auction—he had left some keys tied by a string in what he hoped was his father’s desk in Belfast. The college key would be a 100 pound fee to replace. Jack corresponded several times with his life-long friend Arthur Greeves—a neighbor to the family—to look in their house and mail them to him in Oxford if found. That incident and the culmination of the travails of working through the tedious details of the estate had worn him out. The math, accounting  and legal considerations were not his areas of strength.

He began engaging, once again, in his favorite pastime: taking long walks. He preferred walking without Baron Papworth (died 1937?)—except on short exercise strolls—as it allowed freedom of travel since the family dog was not to go by such-and-such a place where an angry dog lived, etc. During these walks he would try to empty his mind of thinking and attempt to create or allow a meditative state. This seemed to do a wonder of good as some of his best descriptions of nature, thus far in his letters are provided. Some of these mention a sense of wonder or awe that he later termed Sehnsucht as the “inconsolable longing” in the human heart for “we know not what.”  See Sehnsucht. The quote below is from a few months later from a 1930 letter to Arthur Greeves. He is responding to the book: The Signature of all Things, With other Writings by Jacob Boehme.

See the Excerpts of the book Here at Google Books


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One Response to C.S. Lewis: Pre-Christian Days 1929/1930

  1. shefi says:

    I’ve found some interesting nuggets in Lewis’ writing – his thoughts on fiction generally and science fiction/fantasy in particular, some recurring themes in his writing such as “enemy territory”, “Sehnsucht” and “natural law” – but on the whole, I find his writing on Christianity too confusing and time-consuming to figure out. There are faster, more direct ways of learning about God and joy than trying to follow the convoluted meanderings of a man who is no longer with us (and thus not available to answer our questions or correct our misinterpretations). Also, I think Lewis was wrong about Sehnsuch and Joy – that the longing is its own reward and the satisfying of that longing is not available to us.

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