The Corner

C.S. Lewis & Strauss

A reader responds to Steve Hayward’s theory:

Jonah,

I have immense respect for Steve, but here is way

short of the mark. Lewis was disdainful of political

activity and theory. If you review his upbringing prior

to entering Oxford (Surprised by Joy) and his attaining

of a rare Triple First, you’ll understand why he made this

comment in Narnia, which has nothing to do with Straussians.

After private boarding school (which he disdained) Lewis

spent three (count them 3) years being privately tutored

by “the old Knock” in grammar, dialectic and rhetoric which

included, of course, much Greek and Latin. Lewis was considered

the most talented translator of Greek plays that the Knock had

ever seen *before* he entered Oxford.

Lewis was simply echoing what WH Auden had written about when

he asked “Where are the great men?” — knowledge and accomplishment

are not democracies and Lewis was recognizing that society does

need, and require, an aristocratic intellectual class, but one

formed by the ancient classics.

Read Tracy Lee Simmons Climbing Parnassus and Jacques Barzun’s

The House of Intellect and the Narnia comment makes much more sense.

That said, The Abolition of Man is a paean to the existence of the Natural

Law, the connatural nature of which Lewis had already mentioned, in his

usual fine rhetorical form in Mere Christianity.

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