Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Narnian

I am reading Alan Jacobs's The Narnian, a biography of the imaginative side of CS Lewis.  Interesting idea. I am liking if for the new angles it shows me, even though little of the information is new.

Most interestingly, now halfway through, is how sympathetic I feel toward his father Albert for the first time.  The elder Lewis alienated both his sons fairly quickly after his wife Flora died, and seems to have spent the rest of his life not really listening but believing he understood. Both Warren and Jack were generally kindly and well-liked, but could not work up much affection for their father, though they felt guilty about this and believed they should. Long after the elder Lewis had died, Jack Lewis considered the way he had treated Albert was his greatest regret.  Yet he had felt this while Albert was alive as well, but the man seemed to frustrate all attempts at reconciliation.

So it had always seemed to me from the other biographies, and while there was much to blame the sons for, I seem to have decided that the poor father had largely brought this on himself, however helplessly and unwittingly. Now I am not so sure.  If I step back from blaming altogether, and simply try to step into Albert's shoes, armed with the knowledge that his sons came eventually to the idea that they were uncomfortable with him because they were like him, I feel very sad for his long empty years once the boys began going away to boarding school. He was a dutiful father - almost.

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