So, the most recent volume of THE JOURNAL OF INKLINGS STUDIES has arrived, and as always there's at least one piece to which my eye is immediately drawn -- in this case, Don King's piece on a previously unknown (to me, at least) little work by Warnie Lewis, longtime Inkling and C. S. Lewis's older brother: MENS HUMANA (or 'Kilns Table Talk').
It's long been known that Warnie, who lived with his brother and CSL's common law wife, Janie Moore, despised the latter. It's also well-known that Warnie and CSL kept a collection of things their father said* that made him look stupid** -- a prime example being their claim that he believed the ancient Babylonians were Japanese, due to his inability to understand the difference between the words "Sumerian" and "Samurai".
Now, in addition to the 100 sayings that make Albert Lewis look bad, we have seventy-two that make Mrs. Moore look bad. Except we don't: in this case we don't get the whole of MENS HUMANA but excerpts, most of them summarized rather than quoted directly.
As for the individual items, they're a mixed lot. Just as many of the sayings in PUDAITA PIE sound like jokes that flopped, some of the MENS HUMANA sound like misunderstandings, whereas a few are truly bizarre, such as this exchange:
JKM (shouting from hall): 'Warnie!'
WHL (leaves study and appears): 'Well?'
JKM: 'What's the time?'
JKM: 'Oh rubbish! It's 6.40'
WHL (nettled): 'Well why ask me?'
JKM: Because I thought you'd tell me right'
(entry # LIX, p. 113-114)
Oddly enough, editor King pretty much accepts Warnie's point of view as his own-- that Moore was a horrible woman: conceited, mean-spirited, snobbish, self-righteous, and petty, as well as "dogmatic, contentious, and irascible". He also conflates the Janie Moore who was suffering from dementia (probably Alzheimer's) in the final four years of her life with the person CSL fell in love with; much of CSL's comments when she was in her final decline sound v. familiar to anyone who's been a caregiver.
All in all, a curious and disturbing piece.
*PUDAITA PIE, published the year before last in the journal VII (volume 32, p. 59-67)
**which he wasn't: not only did he have two brilliant sons but seems to have been a voracious reader and was well-known as a sharp-witted Belfast lawyer.
2 days ago