Jack expressed no relief at the lifting of this millstone from around his neck, but he became happier and more relaxed than he had been for many a year. He settled gently and comfortably into the pattern of middle-aged bachelordom with Warnie and prepared to live out his life in such style. The Kilns was their haven, and Oxford their comfortable, friendly sea, inhabited by good friends, men of intellect and worthy opponents for lively debate. Jack wore his shabby old clothes and his old fisherman's hat of Irish tweed; he wrote, he read, he taught. Jack was, in a Hobbit-like way, comfortable and at peace. He was an academic success and a literary success. Those things which he could not do for himself, such as keeping up with his ever increasing volume of correspondence, he delegated to Warnie, who gladly acted as his private secretary.”
"Oh well, the one reason I want to keep up some censorship is that the so-called dirty story, let's say the indecent story, as one hears it in many bars - where it is not at all indecent and not at all disgusting and often told with great wit and humour - this is the only folk art we've got left, and once you allow all these things into literature, that surviving folk-art will disappear and will be replaced by a professional art of the same sort which I think will be simply ghastly."
C.S. Lewis Interview with Wayland Young (19 Jan 1962) Journal of Inklings Studies (Vol 1 No 1)
Here we find a beautiful example, taken from the end of "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields":
We heard of the horns in the hills ringing,
the swords shining in the South-kingdom.
Steeds went striding to the Stoningland
as wind in the morning. War was kindled.
There Theoden fell, Thengling the mighty,
to his golden halls and green pastures
in the Northern fields never returning,
high lord of the host. Harding and Guthlaf,
Dunhere and Deorwine, doughty Grimbold,
Herefara and Herubrand, Horn and Fastred,
fought and fell there in a far country:
in the Mounds of Mundburg under mould they lie
with their league-fellows, lords of Gondor.
Neither Hirluin the Fair to the hills by the sea,
nor Forlong the old to the flowering vales
ever, to Arnach, to his own country
returned in triumph; nor the tall bowmen,
Derufin and Duilin, to their dark waters,
meres of Morthlond under mountain-shadows.
Death in the morning and at day's ending
lords took and lowly. Long now they sleep
under grass in Gondor by the Great River.
Grey now as tears, gleaming silver,
red then it rolled, roaring water:
foam dyed with blood flamed at sunset;
as beacons mountains burned at evening;
red fell the dew in Rammas Echor.
Jack put his affairs in order, did his best to provide for his brother and his stepsons, and answered his letters as he always had. Few of his friends had any idea as he gaily saw them off after a visit that he was dying and knew it. Warnie came home, and he took his turn in caring for his younger brother for those last months. He looked after Jack with great devotion, for Warnie too realized that Jack was going to go on ahead and leave him behind, just as Joy had already done.
On Friday, November 22, 1963, the famous writer Aldous Huxley died. On the same day in Dallas, Texas, John F. Kennedy, then president of the United States of America, was shot dead. Also on the same day at 5:34 in the afternoon, C. S. Lewis died at his much loved home, The Kilns, Kiln Lane, Headington Quarry, Oxford. He was the finest man I ever knew in my life, and I miss him to this day. But he was ready to go. He had done all he wanted to do and said all that he wanted to say; and more important still, God was ready to take him home.
Jack left behind him a large number of loving friends, a huge number of admiring acquaintances, and untold millions of fans around the world, and he also left a mass of unpublished manuscripts of things he had started and then rejected or started and not had time to finish.
But that moan was not only his. As if the sound released something greater than itself, another moan answered it. The silence groaned. They heard it. The supernatural mountain on which they stood shook and there went through Battle Hill itself the slightest vibration from that other quaking, so that all over it china tinkled, and papers moved, and an occasional ill-balanced ornament fell. Pauline stood still and straight. Margaret shut her eyes and sank more deeply into her pillow. The dead man felt it and was drawn back away from that window into his own world of being, where also something suffered and was free. The groan was at once dereliction of power and creation of power. In it, far off, beyond vision in the depths of all the worlds, a god, unamenable to death, awhile endured and died.
Charles Williams “Descent into Hell”, Chapter 7, ‘Junction of Travellers’
Throughout Christian history, denunciations of lying have been loud and frequent. Who has been so abhorred as Ananias? And yet we all know the meaning of the words "pious fraud." From the beginning, the devil has loved to tempt the devout to lie for the sake of their good cause—and thereby make it a bad one. One of the first tasks of the Early Church was to separate the true Gospels from the multitudinous invented "eyewitness" accounts in which the faithful lied their heads off for the supposed good of the Church. Fabulous miracles ascribed to the boy Jesus —and more suitable to an infant devil; romantic adventures of Paul with the holy virgin Thecla; forged donations of Constantine, false Isidorian decretals, profound treatises on metaphysics attributed to a Dionysius the Areopagite who never wrote them but was sainted for them—the list is endless. Nor did it end with antiquity; most modern churches have kept up the good work of forging their own praises and their rivals' dispraise, until that clear-sighted and honest Christian Charles Williams found it necessary to write warningly of "the normal calumnies of piety," and to say of a historian, "In defence of his conclusion he was willing to cheat in the evidence—a habit more usual to religious writers than to historical." Let us clean our own house first.
You can usually tell when a hypocrite has been sinning; he denounces that sin in public — and in somebody else. The mere halfhearted sinner may try to wriggle out of his guilt by some verbal quibble; he hasn't really lied to his wife about how he spent the week-end, he just hasn't told her all the truth. But the real, thoroughgoing, incarnate lie of a Pharisee covers his guilt by trumpeting loudly about his virtue; he comes forward boldly and denounces her for lying to Mrs. Jones about that horrid new hat. And if you want to find a man whose whole life is devoted to hypocritical dishonesty and deception, it might be wise to look for one who habitually beats his child for lying.
Hued from the livid everlasting stone
the queen's hewn eyelids bruised my bone;
my eyes splintered, as our father Adam's when the first
exorbitant flying nature round creation's flank burst.
Her hair was whirlwind about her face;
her face outstripped her hair; it rose from a place
where pre-Adamic sculpture on an ocean rock lay,
and the sculpture torn from its rock was swept away.
Her hand discharged catastrophe; I was thrown
before it; I saw the source of all stone,
the rigid tornado, the schism and first strife
of primeval rock with itself, Morgause Lot's wife.
I had gone in summer at the king's word to explore
the coast of the kingdom towards the Pole; the roar
of the ocean beyond all coasts threatened on one hand;
on the other we saw the cliffs of Orkney stand.
Caves and hollows in the crags were filled with the scream
of seamews nesting and fleeting; the extreme theme
of Logres rose in harsh cries and hungry storms,
and there, hewn in a cleft, were hideous huge forms.
I remembered how the archbishop in Caerleon at a feast
preached that before the making of man or beast
the Emperor knew all carved contingent shapes
in torrid marsh temples or on cold crookt capes.
These were the shapes only the Emperor knew,
unless Coelius Vibenna and his loathly few,
squat by their pot, by the twisted hazel art
sought the image of that image within their heart.
Sideways in the cleft they lay, and the seamews' wings
everywhere flying, or the mist, or the mere slant of the things
seemed to stir them; then the edge of the storm's shock
over us obliquely split rock from rock.
Ship and sculpture shuddered; the crags' scream
mingled with the seamews'; Logres' convulsed theme
wailed in the whirlwind; we fled before the storms,
and behind us loosed in the air flew giant inhuman forms.
When from the sea I came again to my stall
King Arthur between two queens sat in a grim hall,
Guinevere on his right, Morgause on his left
I saw in her long eyes the humanized shapes of the cleft.
She sat the sister of Arthur, the wife of Lot,
four sons got by him, and one not.
I heard as she stirred the seamews scream again
in the envy of the unborn bastard and the pride of canonical Gawaine.
I turned my eyes to the lords; they sat half-dead.
The young wizard Merlin, standing by me, said:
'Balin had Balan's face, and Morgause her brother's.
Did you not know the blow that darkened each from other's?
'Balin and Balan fell by mistaken impious hate.
Arthur tossed loves with a woman and split his fate.
Did you not see, by the dolorous blow's might,
the contingent knowledge of the Emperor floating into sight?
'Over Camelot and Carbonek a whirling creature hovered
as over the Adam in Eden when they found themselves uncovered,
when they would know good as evil; thereon it was showed,
but then they must know God also after that mode.'
The eyes of the queen Morgause were a dark cavern;
there a crowned man without eyes came to a carved tavern,
a wine-wide cell, an open grave, that stood
between Caerleon and Carbonek, in the skirts of the blind wood.
Through the rectangular door the crowned shape went its way
it lifted light feet: an eyeless woman lay
flat on the rock; her arm was stretched to embrace
his own stretched arm; she had his own face.
The shape of a blind woman under the shape of a blind man
over them, half-formed, the cipher of the Great Ban,
this, below them both, the shape of the blatant beast matched,
his mouth was open in a yelp; his feet scratched.
Beyond them a single figure was cut in the rock;
it was hewn in a gyration of mow and mock;
it had a weasel's head and claws on hand and feet;
it twirled under an arch that gave on the city's street.
The child lies unborn in the queen's womb;
unformed in his brain is the web of all our doom,
as unformed in the minds of all the great lords
lies the image of the split Table and of surreptitious swords.
I am the queen's servant; while I live
down my eyes the cliff, the carving, the winged things drive,
since the rock, in those fleet lids of rock's hue,
the sculpture, the living sculpture, rose and flew.
This is one of the most freshly original and delightfully imaginative books for children that have appeared in many a long day. Like "Alice in Wonderland," it comes from Oxford University, where the author is Professor of Anglo-Saxon, and like Lewis Carroll's story, it was written for children that the author knew (in this case his own four children) and then inevitably found a larger audience.
The period of the story is between the age of Faerie and the dominion of men. To an adult who reads of Smaug the Dragon and his hoard, won by the dwarves but claimed also by the Lake men and the Elven King, there may come the thought of how legend and tradition and the beginning of history meet and mingle, but for the reader from 8 to 12 "The Hobbit" is a glorious account of a magnificent adventure, filled with suspense and seasoned with a quiet humor that is irresistible.
Hobbits are (or were) a small people, smaller than dwarves - and they have no beards - but very much larger than liliputians. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large, stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colors, chiefly green and yellow; wear no shoes because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick, warm brown hair; have long, clever, brown fingers, good-natured faces and laugh deep, fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day, when they can get it).
Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit whom we find living in his comfortable, not to say luxurious, hobbit hole, for it was not a dirty, wet hole, nor yet a bare, sandy one, but inside its round, green door, like a porthole, there were bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries, kitchens and dining rooms, all in the best of hobbit taste. All Bilbo asked was to be left in peace in this residence, known as "Bag-End," for hobbits are naturally homekeeping folk, and Bilbo had no desire for adventure. That is to say, the Baggins' side of him had not, but Bilbo's mother had been a Took, and in the past the Tooks had intermarried with a fairy family. It was the Took strain that made the little hobbit, almost against his will, respond to the summons of Gandalf the Wizard to join the dwarves in their attempt to recover the treasure which Smaug the dragon had stolen from their forefathers. Bilbo has an engaging, as well as an entirely convincing, personality; frankly scornful of the heroic (except in his most Tookish moments), he nevertheless plays his part in emergencies with a dogged courage and resourcefulness that make him in the end the real leader of the expedition.
After the dwarves and Bilbo have passed "The Last Homely House" their way led through Wilderland, over the Misty Mountains and through forests that suggest those of William Morris's prose romances. Like Morris's countries, Wilderland is Faerie, yet it has an earthly quality, the scent of trees drenching rains and the smell of woodfires.
The tale is packed with valuable hints for the dragon killer and adventurer in Faerie. Plenty of scaly monsters have been slain in legend and folktale, but never for modern readers has so complete a guide to dragon ways been provided. Here, too, are set down clearly the distinguishing characteristics of dwarves, goblins, trolls and elves. The account of the journey is so explicit that we can readily follow the progress of the expedition. In this we are aided by the admirable maps provided by the author, which in their detail and imaginative consistency, suggest Bernard Sleigh's "Mappe of Fairyland."
The songs of the dwarves and elves are real poetry, and since the author is fortunate enough to be able to make his own drawings, the illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the text. Boys and girls from 8 years on have already given "The Hobbit" an enthusiastic welcome, but this is a book with no age limits. All those, young or old, who love a fine adventurous tale, beautifully told, will take "The Hobbit" to their hearts.