A reader responds to Steve Hayward’s theory:
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.