Tag Archives: Lewis

Director of Shadowlands dies, aged 90

As news comes in about the various films on the life of C.S. Lewis in progress, it is with sadness that we announce the passing of the man who directed another C.S. Lewis biopic over 10 years ago, Lord Richard Attenborough. Attenborough has been in the film industry for over half a decade and contributed much as both an actor and director. He is perhaps most acclaimed for his acting role in Jurassic Park (1993 – PG13) and as director of the film, Ghandi (1982 – PG), which won eight Oscars including Best Picture. He also directed the 1993 production of Shadowlands (PG) about the relationship of C.S. Lewis and his wife, Joy. Shadowlands starred Anthony Hopkins as “Jack” Lewis and Debra Winger as Joy, and received two Academy Award nominations (for Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay) and six BAFTA nominations including a win for Best Actor in a Leading Role. If you haven’t yet watched this  dramatic account of the tale of Lewis’ life, perhaps it’s time you did.

Richard Attenborough is the brother of the also famous broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough. He died on Sunday at the age of 90. He was living in a nursing home with his wife Sheila Sim.

Deseret News National has shared 5 inspiring quotes from the Shadowlands film in recognition of Richard’s passing.

Sources
Wikipedia: Richard Attenborough and Shadowlands
IMDB
BBC News
The Guardian

The Inklings: A Gifted Gathering

By Always Narnian

For some, the name “Inklings” may be completely unheard of and unknown, whereas titles such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Lord of the Rings are only too familiar. The authors of such works, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, were two of the many writers and academics involved in a group by the name of the Inklings. This group was founded in 1933 and continued until the early 1960s in Oxford, England. They were not a rigid organization ruled by guidelines, but a passionate group who strived to produce excellence by reading aloud and critiquing the written works of the members.

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It all started when Tolkien and Lewis, who had been involved in a previous group also called the Inklings (and which did not last for a serious length of time), started a new group by the same name in 1933. The majority of the original Inklings were students, whereas the new-founded group of Tolkien and Lewis was a more notable company of fellows — such as academics, professors, scholars and tutors. Perhaps the first materialization of the Inklings were the times when Tolkien would read aloud his intricate story The Silmarillion (published posthumously) to Lewis. [1] The group expanded, with names such as Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Hugo Dyson, Warren Lewis, Colin Hardie, Christopher Tolkien, Gervase Mathew and many others eventually becoming a part of this circle of writers.

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The Magdalen Tower

Every Thursday night the Inklings would gather at Magdalen College, in Lewis’ rooms there, whether or not all members attended. This is where they would read, discuss, and mercilessly criticize one another’s unpublished writings. “Out would come a manuscript, and we would settle down to sit in judgement upon it — real unbiased judgement, too, since we were no mutual admiration society: praise for good work was unstinted, but censure for bad work — or even not-so-good work — was often brutally frank.” [2] Such were the words of C.S. Lewis’ brother, Warren, regarding this group of impressive friends. They were not limited to this, however, as there was much merriment, tea, pert conversations and debates and they even one time had a humorous competition trying to read a publication by Amanda McKittrick Ros while attempting not to laugh! Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis’ stepson (who had the opportunity of being present at a couple of these meetings), had this to say about their joviality: “There’s a kind of a strange attitude in the academic circles of today that great minds have to be dour, serious. In fact, the reverse was true of these men: they had huge senses of humor, and the repartee and the wit and the flow of their conversation was amazing. The hallmark of an Inklings meeting, and I remember it well, was laughter.” [3]

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Starting in the 1940s, the group would have a casual gathering at The Eagle and Child pub on Tuesday mornings, which was not for the purpose of reading, but merely for the company and good time. They also gathered less frequently at other pubs such as the Lamb and Flag. The meetings at Magdalen lasted until 1949, whereas the Inkling members still met at pubs until the 1960s, until the death of Lewis brought the Inklings to a complete stop in 1963.

A good number of works — including poems, essays, and plays — came out of this remarkable team of writers. However, most well-known are Lewis’ Christian works (such as The Screwtape Letters) and his Narnia series, as well as the fantasy tales of Tolkien, who wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. C.S. Lewis even dedicated his book The Problem of Pain to the Inklings. J.R.R. Tolkien read much of The Lord of the Rings in these weekly settings, and his earliest edition of this story was also dedicated in part to these men: “…To the Inklings, because they have already listened to it with a patience, and indeed with an interest, that almost leads me to suspect that they have hobbit-blood in their venerable ancestry.” [4] The Inklings meetings were indeed not without their reward, as the creative genius of these men continues on and graces us with classic tales to pass on from generation to generation.

[1] The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis & Narnia by Jon Kennedy, M.A.
[2] C.S. Lewis: Images of His World by Douglas Gilbert & Clyde S. Kilby
[3] The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion by Perry Moore
[4] The Biography of J.R.R. Tolkien, Architect of Middle-Earth by Daniel Grotta

Pictures credit: Ajnos Gamgee

7 Interesting Facts about CS Lewis

by Eriathwen

 

CS Lewis is one of the most famous Christian apologists of the 20th century and author of over 30 novels, including our beloved Chronicles of Narnia. You may already know who CS Lewis is, but here are some facts you may not know:

 

  • CS Lewis attended the cinema and on one occasion watched King Kong (1933). In a letter to Arthur Greeves he writes, “You will be surprised to hear that I have been to the cinema again! Don’t be alarmed, it will not become a habit.” Later, regarding the film he says, “I thought parts of ‘King Kong’ (especially where the natives make a stand after he’s broken the gate) magnificent.” He commented to a fellow author, “but the New York parts contemptible.”[1]

  • CS Lewis wrote four collections of poetry under the pseudonym of Clive Hamilton. “Lewis’ earliest ambition was to be numbered among the great poets, and he took great pains to write and rewrite, and rewrite his poems, some even after they were published.” [2]

  • When CS Lewis was four, his dog ‘Jacksie’ was run over with a car. Shortly after, he announced his name was now ‘Jacksie’ and would not answer to any other name, but later accepted ‘Jacks’ which became ‘Jack’, the name by which he was known to friends and family for the rest of his life. [3]

  • Lewis was strongly opposed to the creation of live-action versions of his works due to the technology at the time. His major concern was that the anthropomorphic animal characters “when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare.” This was said in the context of the 1950s, when technology would not allow the special effects required to make a coherent, robust film version of Narnia. [4]

  • CS Lewis died on November 22, 1963, a week before his 65th birthday and on the same day as Kennedy’s assassination. [5]

  • Lewis cared deeply about people. He gave away much of his income to people in need. Lewis never got rich from his Christian classics, according to Michael Maudlin, executive editor at HarperOne. “His books left him poor,” Maudlin said. “He had all of this money coming in, but he didn’t take those royalties.” Lewis vowed to donate all the money he made from his books on Christianity, Maudlin says. He got big tax bills for his Christian books but struggled to pay them because he had already given the money away. [6]

  • Lewis himself never learned to type, always depending on pens. One reason was because of the clumsiness caused by Lewis’s only having one joint in his thumbs’ preventing him from using a typewriter properly. Yet, it wasn’t just his thumbs keeping him from the typewriter, he chose not to type. “This mechanical mode of writing”, he believed, “interfered with the creative process in that the incessant clacking of the typewriter keys dulled the writer’s appreciation of the rhythms and cadences of the English language.” [7]

References

[1] Christianity Today. C.S. Lewis: Did You Know?

[2] The Christian Post. C.S. Lewis: Top 10 Facts Everyone Should Know About ‘One of the Intellectual Giants of the 20th Century’

[3] Unshakable Hope. Remembering the Other ‘Jack’

[4] The Guardian. C.S. Lewis feared film would ruin
Narnia

[5] The Huffington Post UK. C.S. Lewis Facts: 11 things you never knew about the Narnia author

 [6] CNN Belief Blog. The C.S. Lewis you never knew

[7] Desiring God. Jack’s Typewriter 

An Evening with CS Lewis: A Review

by Always Narnian

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to meet the author CS Lewis? An Evening with CS Lewis is a stage production starring British actor David Payne that allows you to take a peek into the life of this talented and famous writer.

The show is set in the year 1963 and the audience is meant to be a group of American writers that have come to visit Lewis in his home. The show begins with David Payne, entering as Lewis, carrying a tray with a teapot on it. At one point he quips: “You Americans drink iced tea, don’t you? How strange.” According to the show, Lewis was “born at a very early age.” It included the retelling of how Lewis came up with his own nickname, ‘Jacksie,’ and how this later evolved into him being called ‘Jack.’ He spoke of the holidays he and his brother would go on (one time even visiting France) and about his old home, Little Lea, and how full of books it was. Jack was encouraged by his parents to read. His childhood was not all happy, however, as he spoke of his mother’s death and his unsatisfactory experiences with boarding school at the age of nine. After moving to another school, Lewis made the philosophical choice to believe that there was not a God, and he was somehow angry about His nonexistence.

The next few subjects covered included: Lewis’ experiences in the trenches during World War I, his position as Tutor at Magdalen College, and his meeting of J.R.R. Tolkien at a play. Tolkien went on to write The Lord of the Rings, and, prior to its publishing, Lewis had the honor of hearing the majority of it read to him. Tolkien had become a vital part of Lewis’ life, for there was a certain occasion in which he and a man by the name of Hugo Dyson spoke to Lewis about the story of Christ. This particular conversation had a great influence upon Lewis, and it was soon after it that he came to believe in Jesus Christ. Lewis became less popular among his colleagues at the college when he began focusing on religion. Though you have perhaps heard Lewis’ conversion story countless times, this show will bring it even more alive in your memory and with a fresh appreciation one cannot always receive from reading.

The story of how Narnia came about was amusing: Lewis had begun to read part of his story to Tolkien when he told Lewis he had heard all that he wanted to hear! Tolkien’s critiques discouraged Lewis so much that he almost threw away the draft of it later on. However, he began reading it again and became interested, deciding to send it to his publisher. This was the incident that brought about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I felt like one of the main focuses of the act was the marriage of Jack to his wife, Joy. He spoke about how they began writing letters after she had read The Screwtape Letters and about her visits with Lewis while she was in England. He went on to tell what their relationship was like and how they were married. It interested me, as this was probably an area about Lewis I did not know much about. It is a simple love story and you will find yourself intrigued, moved, and entertained by this tale of Jack and Joy.

From humour to philosophy, from history to religion, David Payne takes you through the different stages of Lewis’ life in such a way that you leave feeling as if you know Lewis better than before. Mr Payne has done an excellent job selecting certain topics to include in his An Evening With CS Lewis, as there are so many fascinating facts about Lewis to explore and only such a little time to do it. However, I would have preferred to hear a little bit more about Narnia!

An Evening with CS Lewis is a breathtaking event for any Lewis fan and even an enjoyable watch for those who may not be very familiar with the author. Payne’s portrayal of Lewis was stunning and I nearly had to remind myself that he was an actor! If you have the opportunity to view this show in your area, I encourage you not to miss out on such a chance! An Evening with CS Lewis is an experience that will satisfy your curiosity or your appreciation for the life of this beloved author.

Places that Inspired CS Lewis

by Tenethia South

Imagination can stem from the simplest things in life, such as your home, a church, or even a photo at which you glanced. Our minds remember images, and they play through our minds and inspire us to write, or sing, or do any number of things. Just like you and I, CS Lewis’s writing was influenced by places he had seen, such as his first home, Little Lea; Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland; Narni, Italy; Legananny Dolmen; and the woods by his final home, the Kilns.

Some places in Lewis’s life simply inspired him to let his imagination run wild. One of Lewis’s first homes, Little Lea, (which they called “The New House”) was a great atmosphere for imagination as it had great empty rooms and long hallways to explore. This was likely where Lewis got the idea to have Lucy find the wardrobe and Narnia while exploring a large country house in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe . Also, there were attics to be explored, which quite possibly inspired the attic that Polly and Digory explored in The Magician’s Nephew. (1)

Also, the gorgeous landscapes in Northern Ireland probably helped Lewis build the landscape of Narnia in his mind long before he ever thought of Narnia. Places that may have inspired him are the remains of a Bishop’s estate near to the cliff’s edge seen at Castlerock in County Londonderry and the ruins of Dunluce Castle in County Atrim. It’s possible that these ruins influenced the image of Cair Paravel, and that Dunluce Castle in particular inspired the ruins of the Cair in Prince Caspian. In fact, one of the drawings of Cair Paravel that Pauline Baynes did looks rather similar to what Dunluce might have looked like when it was intact. A picture of this drawing overlaid on the ruins of Dunluce can be seen on the documentary accompanying the extended cut of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe entitled CS Lewis: Dreamer of Narnia. (2, 3)

© Copyright Kenneth Allen Dunluce Castle http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/52124

Dunluce Castle. © Copyright Kenneth Allen. Source: Geograph

Even places Lewis never saw personally inspired him. While looking at a map, a place called Narni, in Italy, caught Lewis’s eye. Inspired, Lewis used the old Latin form of its name, Narnia, and thus was the world born. (4) An interesting tid-bit about Narni is that it was home to a little-known saint, Blessed Lucy of Narni, who lived there in the 1400s. Although Lewis did not know she existed when he wrote of Lucy Pevensie’s discovery of Narnia, Walter Hooper, the literary adviser of Lewis’s estate, has a cat named after her in honour of the connection between the imaginary world and the ancient city.

Another place that may have been inspiration for Lewis was Legananny Dolmen, an old tomb in Northern Ireland. In an ancient Celtic language, Bretan, dolmen is translated as “stone table.” It is not much of an assumption to say that this 10-foot high stone is the inspiration for one of the most memorable places in The Chronicles of Narnia, the Stone Table. (2)

From Wikapedia Commons

Legananny Dolmen. Source: Wikimedia Commons

What is now the CS Lewis Nature Reserve, was once the place where Lewis trod during the years in which he wrote The Chronicles of Narnia. Containing a marsh-like lake, an air raid shelter, and many varieties of birds and aquatic creatures, it is no wonder that these woods were thought to inspire the Chronicles. They much resemble what a child’s dream of Narnia might be. The CS Lewis Nature Reserve is now open for public visitation in Oxford, England, just south of the Kilns, which was Lewis’s home until his death in 1963. (4, 5)

Photo Credit -- Ajnos -- CS Lewis Nature Reserve

Photo Credit -- Ajnos

CS Lewis Lake and Nature Reserve. Source: Ajnos

By choosing to put his inspiration from Little Lea, Dunluce Castle, Narni, Legananny Dolmen, and the current CS Lewis Nature Reserve into writing, CS Lewis delivered Narnia to us. What could you do with the inspiration you have been given?

References:
1. C. S. Lewis (1990). Surprised by Joy. Fount Paperbacks. p. 9-11.
2. Discover Northern Ireland
3. CS Lewis: Dreamer of Narnia  (documentary film)
4. Roger Lancelyn Green and Walter Hooper (2002). C. S. Lewis: A Biography. Second Edition. Fount Publishers. p. 306.
5. BBOWT – CS Lewis Nature Reserve
6. Headington – The Kilns