Colin Hardie’s Obit of C.S. Lewis


C.S. Lewis, 1898-1963

The last sentence of your obituary may give the impression that C.S. Lewis was too busy writing to have much time for social relations, and that he had little gift for them.  To many this will seem much less than the truth.  He spoke his mind and loved an argument, but was always fair and unfailingly courteous.  When children wrote to him about his Narnia books, they always and at once received a delightfully personal reply, no mere stock acknowledgement.  With his colleagues at Magdalen or Magdalene he did not casually get on Christian-name terms, but he had, in an older more formal tradition, an exacting standard of consideration for a colleague as such, whether he liked him or not.  In a college meeting he could appear brusque, when he put one devastating point with absolute clarity, and, no doubt. a tutorial with him could be a purgation, without fear or favour, but without animus.  With his friends he was a brilliant conversationalist, full of wit and humour and the apt anecdote or image.  They were a varied, almost heterogeneous, company, held together by affection and admiration for him.  His heavy build and stout red, not very expressive, face made him formidable to some, much more than he ever realized, and in some ways belied the inner mind and the grace and courtesy of his intention, but also expressed his firmness of conviction and an integrity without illusion or pretence.  His inner-eye and ear moved in a world of entrancing beauty and music, but his rooms at home or in college were dowdy and comfortable (not very), like his clothes; and he read the poetry of the many foreign languages he knew in a very British way.

–C.G.H. [Colin G. Hardie, an Inkling], “Prof. C.S. Lewis,” London Times (November 28, 1963), 18.

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