I love this 8-part interview with C.S. Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham.
And thought I’d share some brief thoughts on each part over the next several weeks and invite you to share your own as well. Here’s part one:
In part one, Douglas recounts the first time he met “Jack,” as a boy of 8. His expectations of meeting the “man who’s on speaking terms with the great lion, Aslan,” were impossibly high, and immediately dashed once he saw Lewis in person:
“When we walked through the door of this very shabby house in Oxfordshire in Hedington. It was disappointing to meet a man who was a stooped, balding, professorial-looking gentleman with long, nicotine-stained fingers and teeth, in the shabbiest clothes I’ve ever seen anybody wearing, I think.”
The author didn’t match the magic of the work. Can you imagine the disappointment of the poor boy at seeing Lewis? So ordinary and odd and dull looking. But first impressions can be completely wrong. Douglas doesn’t end there—and I’m glad, because if he did, I probably wouldn’t be sharing this,
“The initial, almost shock of disappointment, was almost immediately erased by his huge personality, and his great sense of fun and joie de vivre—the enjoyment of life that he bestowed on all those around him. So, I very quickly lost an illusion and gained a very good friend and, later, a very good stepfather.”
I love hearing that Lewis treated this young boy so well, and that clearly it is the way he treated everyone, young or old. And doesn’t it make you want that same joie de vivre? How great to be remembered that way–not only as full of the joy of life, but bestowing it on all those around you. Hmm. I’m not sure you can aim much higher than that.
And another thing that stood out to me:
“Jack, although being an academic, was not the sort of man who locked himself away in an ivory tower, studying to be an intellectual. He was intellectual by nature, it was just the nature of the man. But he was also always involved in outside pursuits and he was great fun to be—a lot of the biographers and people have completely missed the fact that Jack was huge fun to be with—he had a great sense of humor, he was a great raconteur. Very good at puns, for example.
If he had a group of people around him, they would all be laughing. It was almost endemic to wherever Jack was, there was laughter and enjoyment. He was good fun to be with, and that gets lost in the sort of dour biographies that have been written of him.”
I love hearing that Lewis, celebrated as one of the most brilliant minds of our age, was always involved in outside pursuits, that he was so much fun to be around, that he valued time with friends, that wherever he was there was laughter. That is quite a legacy.
What about you? What stood out to you in the interview?
And with that, I think, in the interests of outside pursuits, I’ll now go for a bike ride.
For more musings and thoughts on the second part of the interview, come back next Wednesday.
The assertion that C. S. Lewis was great fun to be with certainly fits in with his writing! Not only in the NARNIA books but in many of his other writings one sees humor and wit popping in and out. We should all know better than to think that seriousness and humor cannot go together… but we certainly have to be reminded of that, don’t we? Hope your bike ride was a good one.
So true Mary — thanks. (And yes, why thank you, my bike ride was lovely!)