Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wheaton -- Day Two

Day Two: Tuesday April 5th

Today I continued with work on THE DARK TOWER manuscript, getting near but not achieving the end. Tomorrow I shd be able to wrap up work on this and move on to the next project. I also got to meet the other researcher currently in the Wade, who's working on an interesting project involving Tolkien. Only did a bit on the Wilkie Collins, given the push to try to get through DT in time to still leave plenty of time for other things.

Speaking of Sayers, yesterday (4/4) I bought the first book of the trip, DLS's LETTERS TO A DIMINISHED CHURCH, in the Wheaton College Bookstore. Hadn't read much of Sayers' essays before, aside from her piece on Dante in EPCW, which I hadn't particularly cared for (though I apparently liked it more than CSL, who was dismissive of it in one of his letters, fortunately not to Sayers). However, Janice had spoken highly of a piece by Sayers she'd read a year or two back, so I wanted to give her another try. And what with all my recent Bible reading, this looked like a good place to start. I began with her essay "Creed or Chaos", which had caught my eye as I was skimming through it on the shelf. Have to say, I'm tempted to say that her defense of 'Creed' makes me think what she considers 'Chaos' is a much better option for Xiandom. She divides all Xians into three groups:

(1)"heathens, whose notions of Xianity are a dreadful jumble of rags and tags of Bible anecdotes and clotted mythological nonsense"

(2) "ignorant Xians, who combine a mild, gentle-Jesus sentimentality with vaguely humanistic ethics -- most of these are Arian heretics"


(3) "the more-or-less instructed churchgoers, who know all the arguments about [i.e., against] divorce and auricular confession and communion of two kinds," but are ill-equipped to defend dogma against "a Marxian atheist or a Wellsian agnostic"

--Of these, Sayers herself strongly identifies with the last group, but being well-able and more than willing to give battle on behalf of dogma. I wd probably fall into the second category, though I certainly wdn't describe myself in those terms, having realized I was an Arian the first time I came across the term (though it's only a 'heresy' if you recognize the authority that so labelled it, which I don't).

We'll see if she makes me change my mind about the importance she puts upon "authority" and "believ[ing] rightly" before I'm through.

I also made my usual trip to the Wheaton College Bkstr, which I try to do every time I'm in Wheaton (one or two visit I either didn't make it or found them closed for the day). It was interesting to peruse and compare their holdings of their Wade Center/Special Collections authors, who have a special section of the bookstore devoted to them.

As expected, they're exceptionally well-stocked w. C. S. Lewis -- ten shelves, with a wide variety of books both by and about.

By contrast, two shelves of JRRT held only three different titles: six copies of FR (paperback) a used copy of TT (trade paperback) and four copies of Fr Xmas -- a sad day when you can't even buy a complete set of LotR off the shelf.

Geo. MacD fared better w. three shelves; likewise GKC w. two and a half (the other half being given over Madeleine L'Engle), while DSL had to content herself w. only one. Which still left her better off than Ch. Wms, who had to share his single shelf w. Malcolm Muggeridge (!), or OB, who was represented by a single book on a shelf mostly devoted to Frederick Buechner -- but then that one book was the one I'd championed for years and eventually wrote the Preface for when it finally was published, EAGER SPRING.*

So seven Wade Center authors and three from Wheaton College's Special Collections, which though Wade-ish in its orientation is a distinct entity. In the old college library, before the Wade got its own building, the two used to be housed in the same wing on the same floor, so that a door opened into a shared anteroom/display area with the Wade Collection on the left and the Special Collections on the right (which led to A. N. Wilson's accidently conflating the two side-by-side collections into one in a passing reference in his CSL biography that got him a lot of grief).

More later



*I shd also mention that the Wade Center itself has some books for sale -- duplicate copies of books in the collection, ranging from recent releases to some rare items. And of course back-issues of their journal VII, and misc. items like postcards with Tolkien/Lewis/Sayers/&c photos or artwork on them.

1 comment:

David Bratman said...

As I remember it, it wasn't a shared display area. Both Special Collections and the Wade were accessed by a back staircase in the library. You went up to the top landing, and there were two identical (and unmarked, I believe) doors. The one on the left was the Wade. The one on the right was Special Collections.

On my first visit to the Wade, I was also taken across the hall to the Special Collections display room too, and there in a case was Muggeridge's typewriter, the one mentioned by Wilson which his critics have so heatedly declared does not exist. Obviously he was taken there too, and was merely not clear that the room across the hall didn't belong to the Wade too.

Wilson has plenty of problems, but some of his critics owe him a retraction.