Quotations and Allusions in

C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy


compiled by Arend Smilde (Utrecht, The Netherlands)




C. S. Lewis’s autobiography Surprised by Joy (1955), like most of his books, contains a great number of allusions to unspecified sources, including literal quotations. It is perhaps never vitally important to know these sources; yet tracing them can be a rewarding enterprise. Here is a listing by chapter of many such words and phrases with brief references to what I have found to be their sources and, occasionally, notes suggesting their relevance to the context in which Lewis uses them. I have also included a few other items where a short explanation may be of use to some readers. The list has its origin in the notes I added to my Dutch translation of the book, published in 1998 as Verrast door Vreugde.

Double question marks in bold type – ?? – follow items where I have not found the required information. Correc­tions and additions, including proposed new entries, are welcome. Updates are listed at the end.

This website also features an INDEX of writers and writings quoted in Surprised by Joy. The Index contains additional infor­mation in the form of dates for most of the items, including those not dealt with in the notes below. For example, “Bekkers Charicles” in chapter IV of Surprised by Joy is not in the notes, but is briefly identified (and Bekker’s name corrected  to Becker) in the Index.






book’s motto

Surprised by joy – impatient as the wind : Wordsworth, “Surprised by joy” (Sonnet, 1815).



Chapter I:  The First Years


chapter motto

Happy, but for so happy ill secured :  Milton, Paradise Lost IV, 370.


Both my parents

Neither had ever listened for the horns of elfland :  From Tennyson’s poem, “The splendour falls on castle walls” etc.  in The Princess (1847), between parts III and IV. “O sweet and far from cliff and scar / The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!”  Cf. what Lewis wrote in a letter of 25 March 1933 to his friend Arthur Greeves about a recent talk with J. R. R. Tolkien, “We agreed that for what we meant by romance there must be at least the hint of another world – one must ‘hear the horns of elfland’.Collected Letters II (2004), p. 103.


In addition to

County Down :  County in Northern Ireland, immediately south of Belfast.


The other blessing

the Blue Flower :  A symbol of romantic longing in the novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1802), by Novalis.


If aesthetic experiences

Prayer Book :  The Book of Common Prayer, service book of the Anglican Church. Large parts of it were written by Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556). By 1662 it had the form in which it was to survive for more than three centuries.


I soon staked out

What more felicity can fall to creature... :  Spenser, “Muiopotmos”, 209–210, in Complaints (1591).


Of the books that

dark backward and abysm of time :  Shakespeare, The Tempest I.2, 49.

Tenniel :  Sir John Tenniel (1820–1914), cartoonist in the satirical magazine Punch and illustrator of Alice in Wonderland.


­The first is itself

there suddenly arose in me without warning... :  According to Dorothee Sölle in her Mystik und Widerstand (1997, translated as The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance, 2001) Lewis is here quoting or alluding to the 14th-century anonymous mystical work The Cloud of Unknowing, chapter IV. It is impossible to be sure whether this is indeed a case of quotation or allusion, but there is an undeniable relevance of the Cloud passage to what Lewis says here.

“enormous bliss” :  Milton, Paradise Lost V, 297.  “...for Nature here / Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will / Her virgin fancies, pouring forth more sweet, / Wild above rule or art, enormous bliss.”

Іολίαν ποθ / Oh, I desire too much :  The phrase really consists of three words and may be transcribed as Iou, lian potho “Oh, / too much / I desire”).
    The Greek phrase can be found on the Portrait of Fortunato Martinengo Cesaresco by 16th-century Italian painter Moretto (Alessandro Bonvicino, (c. 1498-1554): it appears on a label sewn on the rim of the sitter’s black hat. The painting has been in the London National Gallery since the mid-19th century. While it seems impossible to be sure that it is the source for Lewis’s quote ( ?? ), and
although neither this portrait nor its painter is mentioned anywhere in his published writings, a passage from Lewis’s diary for 28 August 1922 makes it very likely that he had at least seen the painting, and looked at it with more than average interest:

… I took the desperate resolve of entering the National Gallery, where I finally came to the conclusion that I have no taste for painting. I could make nothing of the Titians. The only things (besides portraits) that I cared for much were Boticelli’s Mars and Venus with satyrs, and Veronese’s (?) “Unfaithfulness” in which I liked the design, tho’ I confess the actual figures always seem dull to me. However, the Italian rooms are nothing like so boring as the English.

(All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927, ed. Walter Hooper, 1991, p. 95 in U.S. edition)


The third glimpse

I heard a voice... :  Longfellow, “Tegnér’s Drapa”, in The Seaside and the Fireside (1849). Lewis is quoting the first half of the stanza. The second half runs: “And through the misty air / Passed like the mournful cry / Of sunward sailing cranes.” The poem is not a translation in blank verse, as Lewis says it is, but original work by Longfellow, viz. a lament (drapa) in Old Norse style on the death of the Swedish poet Esaias Tegnér.



Chapter II:  Concentration Camp


No Englishman will

Kalevala :   Finnish national epic, compiled from folk poetry by Elias Lönnroth in the years 1835–1849.


Our destination was

Green Hertfordshire”, Lamb calls it :  Charles Lamb (1775–1834), “Amicus Redivivus”, seventh paragraph, in Last Essays of Elia (1833). Lamb was born and raised in London, but he and his sister spent many holidays with their grandmother at Blakesware, a large country house in Hertfordshire which he fondly remembered and described in later years. 


The curious thing

Which like to rich and various gems inlaid... :  Milton, Comus (1634), 22–23. “...the sea-girt isles / That, like to rich and various gems, inlay / The unadorned bosom of the deep...”


You may ask

“to treat of the good that I found there” :  Dante, Inferno I, 8. “...ma per trattar del ben ch’i’ vi trovai...”


First, I learned

“the slow maturing of old jokes” :  G. K. Chesterton, George Bernard Shaw (1910), in the long last section called “The Philosopher” (at about one quarter the length of that section from its beginning; penultimate sentence of the paragraph starting “Now the reason why our fathers did not make marriage...”):

All the things that make monogamy a success are in their nature undramatic things, the silent growth of an instinctive confidence, the common wounds and victories, the accumulation of customs, the rich maturing of old jokes.


The reader will

Dr Grimstones school in Vice Versa :  A famous school story published in 1882, Vice Versa: A Lesson to Fathers by F. Anstey tells about a father who is magically transformed into his son and vice versa, so that the father experiences the harsh and sordid reality of school life.


So much for

to be stayed with flagons and comforted with apples... :  Song of Songs 2:5.


In attempting to give

Martial, ... “This case, I beg...” :  From Epigrammata VI.19.


But I must not

Garuda Stone :  See note on F. Anstey’s Vice Versa, above. The Garuda Stone is the magical device by which father and son swap roles.



Chapter III:  Mountbracken and Campbell


chapter motto

For all these fair people, etc. :  Free rendering of lines 48–55 of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a late 14th-century anonymus poem. The original passage starts with the words “with all the wele of the worlde”. In chapter XIV (see note there) this phrase appears to have been partly confused with another passage from Sir Gawain.


To speak of my

a Fabian :  Fabianism was an English variety of democratic socialism during the latter decades of the nineteenth century.


I am always glad

before Arnold :  i.e. before the time of the Thomas Arnold (1795–1842), English educational reformer.


Much the most

Sohrab and Rustum : A poem by the English poet Matthew Arnold (1822-88, son of Thomas Arnold), first published in 1853.

ogni parte ad ogni parte splende :  Dante, Inferno VII, 75. “Each part emitting its radiance to each other part” – “Each part” means each of the nine angelic choirs; “each other part” means each of the nine celestial spheres.



Chapter IV:  I Broaden my Mind


chapter motto

I struck the board... :  George Herbert, “The Collar” (from The Temple, 1633).


In January 1911

just turned thirteen :  Born on 29 November 1898, he had in fact just turned twelve.

Tamburlaine :  Tamburlaine the Great (1590) by Christopher Marlowe, tragedy in blank verse about the life, conquests, and death of the 14th-century Mongol conqueror Timur the Lame, or Timurlane.

Brownings Paracelsus :  Dramatic poem by the English poet Robert Browning (first published 1835) based on the life of the Swiss doctor, alchemist and philosopher Paracelsus (1493-1541). He has an obsessive lust for knowledge; although he is aware of the importance of love, he does not discover the true and fruitful relationship between love and knowledge until he dies.


The smoking was

Hippodrome :  Originally denoting an open-air court for horse and chariot races in ancient Greece and Rome, the English word has come to cover a variety of popular entertainments. The Royal Hippodrome (or “New Vic”) was a Belfast theatre built in 1907 and demolished in 1996. Lewis also mentions the Empire Theatre of Varieties, which lasted from 1894 till 1965.


Most reluctantly, venturing

I believe... One does feel :  From a satiric poem by Ronald Knox, “Absolute and Abitofhell (1913), written in response to Foundations: A Statement of Christian Belief in Terms of Modern Thought by Seven Oxford Men (1912).

When suave politeness, tempering bigot zeal
Corrected I believe to One does feel.

Knox further developed his critique in Some Loose Stones: Being a Consideration of Certain Tendencies in Modern Theology Illustrated by reference to the Book called “Foundations” (1913). (The authors of Foundations were B. H. R. Brook, W. H. Moberly, R. G. Parsons, E. J. Rawlinson, B. H. Streeter, and the future bishop of Canterbury, William Temple.)


One reason why

prattler :  George Herbert, “Conscience” (from The Temple, 1633). “Peace, pratler, do not lowre: / Not a fair Look, but thou dost call it foul: / Not a sweet dish, but thou dost call it sowre: / Musick to thee doth howl. / By listning to thy chatting fears / I have both lost mine eyes and eares...”


To these nagging

by maistry :  Walter Hilton, The Scale of Perfection I.33.

...lift up thine heart to God acknowledging thy wretchedness, and cry mercy with a good trust of forgiveness. And strive no more therewith, nor hang no longer thereupon, as thou wouldest by mastery not feel such wretchednesses.
(ed. Evelyn Underhill 1923.)


There was another

Lucretius :  De rerum natura II, 180.


We became – at least

knut :  obsolete word for dandy.


Pogo’s communications, however

“looked upon to lust after her” :  Matthew 5:28



Chapter V:  Renaissance


chapter motto

Traherne :  Thomas Traherne (1637–1674), Anglican divine; author of Centuries of Meditations, first published in 1908. Each of the five chapters in this book contain one hundred meditations and are therefore called “Centuries”. The present quotation is from the first Century’s second medtiation.


This long winter

as the poet says, “The sky had turned round” :  Charles Williams, “Palomides before his christening”, 77, from Taliessin through Logres (1938).

the sunward-sailing cranes :  See note to I heard a voice... in chapter I.


After this everything

the whole Ring :  Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), a cycle of four operas by Richard Wagner: Das Rheingold (1854), Die Walküre (1856), Siegfried (1857) and Götterdämmerung (1874).

Descend to earth, descend, celestial Nine... :  This poem in so far as it has survived (792 lines of it) has been published, along with much more otherwise unpublished poetry, by Don W. King in his book C. S. Lewis, Poet: The Legacy of His Poetic Impulse (Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio, 2001). The present poem appears as the first item in Appendix One.


But they were

Clovelly :  A picturesque fishing village in Cornwall, in the South-West of England.

John Betjeman :  English poet (1906–1984); he was a pupil of C. S. Lewis’s at Magdalen College, Oxford, during the years 1926–1927.


The interesting thing

the Seventh Benjamin (a rabbit, as you will have guessed) :  An allusion to Beatrix Potter’s Benjamin Bunny (1904).



Chapter VI:  Bloodery


chapter motto

Any way for Heaven sake... :  John Webster (English dramatist, c. 1580–1634), The Duchess of Malfi, IV.2. The words quoted are spoken by the Duchess to her murderers shortly before they kill her.


Going to the Coll

Park Lane :  Street near Hyde Park, where traditionally the richest people in London live.


One’s first hours

one was to be taken and another left :  Cf. Matthew 24:40.


As we sat round

Chesterfield... Stanhope :  Lord Chesterfield (1694–1773) wrote the Letters to his Son, Philip Stanhope (1774) to help this (natural) son to avoid the mistakes which Chesterfield had himself made in the course of his life.


In justice to Wyvern

As common as a barber’s chair :  perhaps an allusion to Shakespeare, All’s well that ends well II.2, 18. “It is like a barber’s chair, that fits all buttocks.”


Indeed, taking them

the Marconi period :  Guglielmo Marconi (1874–1937), inventor of radio telegraphy and Nobel laureate for Physics 1909. He worked mostly in England. In 1912 the Marcony Company secured a big order from the British government. A scandal followed when it appeared that several ministers, including the Prime Minster Lloyd George, owned shares in this company. See G. K. Chesterton’s Autobiography (1936), chapter IX, “The case against corruption”.



Chapter VII:  Light and Shade


chapter motto

Goldsmith :  Oliver Goldsmith (1731–1774), English novelist. The quotation is from his best-known novel, the Vicar of Wakefield, where it is the headline of chapter XXV.


I have now

Mr Ian Hay :  John Hay Beith, alias Ian Hay (1876–1952), The Lighter Side of School Life (1914), p. 107.

“G. B. S.” and  “G. K. C.” :  George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) and Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874–1936). Lewis is refer­ring to The Lighter Side of School Life, a series of pen-pictures by the witty and popular novelist Ian Hay (John Hay Beith, 1876–1952); chapter 4 of that book is on “Boys”, i.e. schoolboys, in two sections, “The Government” and “The Opposition”. The latter section has the following episode (pp. 106–107):

...Then comes the Super-Intellectual – the ‘Highbrow.’ He is a fish out of the water with a vengeance, but he does exist at school – somehow. He congregates in places of refuge with other of the faith; and they discuss the English Review, an mysterious individuals who are only referred to by their initials – as G. B. S. and G. K. C. Sometimes he initiates these discussions because they really interest him, but more often, it is to be feared, because they make him feel superior and grown-up. Somewhere in the school grounds certain youthful school­mates of his, inspired by precisely similar motives but with different methods of procedure, are sitting in the centre of a rhododendron bush smoking cigarettes. In each case the idea is the same – namely, a hankering after meats which are not for babes. But the smoker puts on no side about his achievements, whereas the ‘highbrow’ does. (...) Intellectual snobbery is a rare thing among boys, and therefore difficult to account for.


But this innocence

enormous bliss :   See note to chapter I.


What an answer

As Aristotle remarked, men do not become dictators to become warm : Aristotle, Politics II.7 (1267a, 15), “...the greatest crimes are caused by excess and not by necessity. Men do not become tyrants in order that they may not suffer cold; and hence great is the honor bestowed, not on him who kills a thief, but on him who kills a tyrant.”


Except at Oldie’s

beyond expectation, beyond hope:  Boswell, Life of Johnson, 4 June 1781. Johnson during a visit to Luton-Hoe “to see  Lord Butes magnificent seat” –

The library is very splendid; the dignity of the rooms is very great; and the quantity of pictures is beyond expectation, beyond hope.

Thrones, dominations... :  Milton, Paradise Lost V, 601.

He nevere yet... :  Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Prologue, 70 (description of the Knight).


Thus, even had

a delicacy, to lack which argued “a gross and swainish disposition” :  Freely quoted from John Milton, An Apology for Smectymnuus (1642), I

“Nor blame it, readers, in those years to propose to themselves such a reward, as the noblest dispositions above other things in this life have sometimes preferred: whereof not to be sensible when good and fair in one person meet, argues both a gross and shallow judgment, and withal an ungentle and swainish breast.” (from the intro­ductory section). 

Lewis also quotes this, again freely, in his chapter on Sidney and Spenser in English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, II/1, p. 339, in Sidney’s Arcadia:

We can hardly doubt that it was among the lofty romances which Milton acknowledged as his textbooks of love and chastity, replete with those beauties whereof not to be sensible argues a gross and swainish disposition.”


the other undisguised

Oh the brave music... :  Edward Fitzgerald, The Rubáiyát of ‘Omar Khayyám (1859), 12.

Corpus Poeticum Boreale :  edited by Gudbrand Vigfusson & F. York Powell, published in two volumes, Oxford 1883. Subtitle: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue from the earliest times to the nineteenth century. I: Eddic Poetry; II: Court Poetry.

Asgard :   “God-garden”; abode of the Aesir, i.e. the gods of Germanic mythology such as Odin, Thor and Loki.

Cruachan :  Capital of the old Irish province of Connacht.

the Red Branch :  A fortified palace in Tara (north of  Dublin), abode of the ancient Irish kings; also an order of knights who had the right to live there.

Tir-nan-Og :  Tír na nOc, “Land of Youth”, was one of the regions of the other world where the dispossessed gods in ancient Irish mythology might go after leaving Ireland. Anyone returning from there to the world of mortals found that either much more or much less time had passed there than in the other world.

Cuchulain, Finn :  Hero figures with supernatural powers in Celtic mythology; principal figures in the Ulster Cycle and the Fenian (or Ossianic) Cycle respectively. Chulainn, or hound of Culann”, was called after the dog whose killing was the first feat in his short and violent life as defender of Ulster. He was especially feared and famous for his battle-frenzy, and he was invincible, but not invulnerable. Finn, or Fionn mac Cumhaill (also Finn MacCool or Fingal), was the father of the bard Ossian. 


But the Northernness

Loki replied, “I pay respect to wisdom not to strength” :  Fragments from Lewis’s early work “Loki Bound” have survived and were published by Don W. King in 2001 (see note to Descend to earth etc. in chapter V, above, ). The Loki fragments appear as the second item in Appendix One and do not contain the present line.



Chapter VIII: Release


chapter motto

Pearl :  An anonymous late-14th-century poem on a fathers grief at the death of his infant daughter. The lines quoted, As Fortune is wont, at her chosen hour, etc., are 129–132. 


A few chapters ago

leprechauns :  A type of dwarf in Irish fairy tales.


The hours my father

Mahaffy :  John Pentland Mahaffy (1839–1919), Professor of Ancient History at Trinity College, Dublin, where he was Provost from 1914 onwards.

Jowett :  Benjamin Jowett (1817–1893), Regius Professor of Greek at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was Master from 1870 onwards. See note to The Master of Balliol in chapter IX.


Such was the situation

Sandhurst :  Location of the Royal Military Academy.


I should be sorry

as the proverb has it, like an ass to the harp :  See Erasmus, Adagium 335 (asinvs ad lyram).



Chapter IX:  The Great Knock


chapter motto

Lord Chesterfield :  See note to chapter VI. The quotation (inaccurate) is from Chesterfield's letter dated at Bath, October 19, 1748.


If Kirk’s ruthless

The Master of Balliol :  Very probably Jowett (see note to chapter VIII, above). He was an influential figure in Oxford during the latter decades of the nineteenth century as many other colleges came to be headed by Balliol graduates.


It will be imagined

ful drery was hire chere :  Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, The Clerk’s Tale, 458. “Al drery was his cheere and his lookyng.”


Having said that

McCabe :  Joseph Martin McCabe (1867–1955) left the Franciscan Order and the Roman Catholic Church in 1896; for the rest of his life he was a militant rationalist and freethinker and a prolific writer. He had just died at the time when Surprised by Joy was published.

The Golden Bough :  A thirteen-volume work on religious anthropology by J. G. Frazer, published in  1890–1915.


Such is my ideal

“settled, calm, Epicurean life” :  Tennyson, “Lucretius” (1868), 215. “Nothing to mar the sober majesties / Of settled, sweet Epicurean life.”


But Homer came

wise-wife :  witch, sorceress.

“eucatastrophe” (as Professor Tolkien would call it) :  J. R. R. Tolkien coined this word to denote a modified form of Happy Ending, as a distinctive feature of fairy-stories. See “On Fairy-Stories”, his Andrew Lang Lecture at the University of St Andrews in March 1939, first published in 1947, then in 1964, and lastly in 1983 in a volume of his essays called The Monsters and the Critics. In the fourth paragraph from the end of the section called “Recovery, Escape, Consolation” (p. 153 in the 1983 edition), Tolkien says

... At least I would say that Tragedy is the true form of Drama, its highest function; but the opposite is true of Fairy-story. Since we do not appear to possess a word that expresses this opposite – I will call it Eucatastrophe. The eucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy-tale, and its highest function.

    The consolation of fairy-stories, the joy of the happy ending: or more correctly of the good catastrophe, the sudden joyous “turn” (for there is no true end to any fairy-tale): this joy, which is one of the things which faire-stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially  escapist, nor “fugitive”. In its fairy-tale – or otherworld – setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.

Charlotte M. Yonge :  English novelist (1823–1901), much in favour with the Oxford Movement. She was a Sunday school teacher all her life.

Pylos :  Residence of King Nestor in Homer’s Odyssey. In Book III Telemachus, starting his quest for his father Odysseus, is kindly received at the aged king’s court but gets no useful information. Since excavations in the mid-20th century, ancient “sandy Pylos”, as Homer often calls it, is believed to have been the location of present-day Pylos-Navarino, on the southern west coast of the Peleponnese

Sir Maurice Powicke :  Frederick Maurice Powicke (1897-1963), medieval historian, Regius Professor of History at Oxford from 1929. His many works include a volume the 13th century in the Oxford History of England, published in 1953. Location of the saying about “civilised people in all ages” unknown. ??


Smewgy and Krik

My debt to him is very great :  In his earlier book Miracles (1947), chapter X, Lewis refers to Kirkpatrick as

The very man who taught me to think – a hard, satirical atheist (ex-Presbyterian) who doted on the Golden Bough and filled his house with the products of the Rationalist Press Association ... and he was a man as honest as the daylight, to whom I here willingly acknowledge an immense debt. His attitude to Christianity was for me the starting point of adult thinking; you may say it is bred in my bones. And yet, since those days, I have come to regard that attitude as a total misunderstanding.



Chapter X:  Fortune’s Smile


chapter motto

The fields, the floods... :  Spenser, The Faerie Queene I.ix.12, 8–9.


These leaves were

R.A.S.C. :  Royal Army Service Corps. Formed in 1888 as Army Service Corps, it was not called Royal until 1918. Its job was to deliver all supplies including petrol, food and ammunition up to the front line. In 1965 this branch of the British army was reorganized and renamed as Royal Corps of Transport.

Inceptus clamor... :  “The cry rising in the gaping mouth is muffled”. Vergil, Aeneid VI, 493.


Though my friendship

Plymouth Brothers :  Properly called Plymouth Brethren, of briefly “the Brethren”, this religious sect or movement without organized ministry was founded around 1827 in Dublin. It was Puritanical in outlook and prohibited many secular occupations for its members. Its first meeting on English soil was established in Plymouth in 1831, The movement then soon spread throughout the U.K. and, in time, all over the world. Adherents are sometimes designated as “Darbyites”, after evangelist John Nelson Darby, one of the founding figures in Plymouth.

Loki Bound :  See note to Descend to earth... in chapter V, above.

The Newcomes :  Novel by William Makepeace Thackeray (18111863), first publisehed in 24 parts in 1853-1855 and very popular in the 19th century. The book’s subtitle is “Memoirs of a most respectable Family”, and the name of the principal character is Clive (C. S. Lewis’s official first name).


First of all

what Dyson calls the ancient, bitter earth :  Hugo Dyson and John Butt, Augustans and Romantics 16891839. Introductions to English Literature, ed. Bonamy Dobrée, Vol. III (1940), pp. 90–91, about the poet William Wordsworth:

It is a pity that the accident of Wordsworth’s habitation and life-long preference has made him known as a Lake-Poet. He is an earth poet. Not the green earth of the pastoral poetry of Pope and Gray and Philips, but the ancient bitter earth from which men wrest a living. The earth of Hesiod and of Piers Plowman.”

Lewis quoted from this and other passages in the same book in a letter to his brother of 3 March 1940; Collected Letters II, p. 361.


Although these hills

Handramit and Harandra :  The two main types of landscape on the planet Malacandra (Mars) in C. S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet (1938).

smoke and stir :  Milton, Comus, 5. “In regions mild of calm and serene air, / Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot / Which men call Earth...”


I number it among

infinite riches ... a little room :  Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta (ca. 1592), I.1, 37. “Thus methinks should men of judgement frame / Their means of traffic from the vulgar trade, / And, as their wealth increaseth, so enclose / Infinite riches in a little room.”


My relations to my father

eating and drinking my own condemnation :  1 Corinthians 11:29. “For he who eats and drinks without a proper sense of the Body, eats and drinks to his own condemnation” (Moffatt translation).

the Authorized Version :  Standard English translation of the Bible, dating from 1611; King James Bible is (or was) the usual American name for this translation.

The Syrian captain ... the house of Rimmon :  See 2 Kings 5:18.



Chapter XI:  Check


chapter motto

When bale is at highest... :  “Sir Aldingar” is a medieval ballad, included in Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). George MacDonald used the same motto for chapter 4 of Phantastes, where the hero, Anodos, first meets the “shadow” that his dreaded companion for the rest of his journey through Fairy Land.


I have already hinted

Edda :  Two Icelandic books, containing between them most of what is now known about Norse mythology, are each called Edda. The Prose Edda is an early-13th-century Icelandic work by Snorri Sturluson and hence is also called Snorri Edda; intended as a handbook for poets, it is a treasure trove of prose retellings and verse quotations of much ancient mythological lore. The Poetic or Elder Edda is a 13th-century manuscript (discovered in 1643) containing poems on gods and heroes probably dating from various points in time between the ninth and eleventh centuries.

Sagas :  A saga is an Old Norse semi-fictional historical narrative, often telling about events in the period roughly around the year 1000, and written down in the 13th century after a long oral tradition. 

the Ash :  Yggdrasill, the “world tree” in Norse mythology. According to modern interpretations this immense tree was not originally conceived to be an ash tree but a taxus.

“I should know most and should least enjoy” :  Robert Browning (1812–1889), “Cleon”, 317; the poem was published in Men and Women (1855). In Browning, the relation between knowing most and enjoying least seems to be biographical rather than psychological –

While every day my hairs fall more and more,
My hand shakes, and the heavy yeas increase –
The horror quickening still from year to year,
The consummation coming past escape
When I shall know most, and yet least enjoy –
When all my works wherein I prove my worth,
Being present still to mock me in men's mouths,
Alive still, in the praise of such as thou,
I, I the feeling, thinking, acting man,
The man who loved his life so over-much,
Sleep in my urn.

the Wordsworthian predicament ... a “glory” had passed away :  See Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from recollections of early childhood” (1807), II. “But yet I know, where’er I go, / That there hath passed away a glory from the earth.” See also the penultimate paragraph of Surprised by Joy (“I cannot, indeed, complain, like Wordsworth, that the visionary gleam has passed away.”)


In my scheme

“Why seek ye the living...” :  Luke 24:5–6.


If nothing else

by “maistry :  After Walter Hilton; see note to chapter IV.


Such, then, was

Santayana, “All that is good is imaginary...”  :  George Santayana (1863–1952), Spanish-born American philosopher, poet and novelist. The maxim may – ?? – be a paraphrase by Lewis. According to a quotation in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a similar idea is expressed in the first part, Persons and Places (1944), p. 167, of Santayana’s autobiography: “That the real was rotten and only the imaginary at all interesting seemed to me axiomatic”.
    The only books by Santayana which Lewis can be known to have read, however, are Reason in Art (1905), Three Philosophical Poets (1910, on Lucretius, Dante and Goethe), and Winds of Doctrine (1913). As appears from his diary, he read all of these in 1923-1924.

Hardly, but not

Tantum religio :  Or, in full, Tantum Religio potuit suadere malorum. “So much evil is made acceptable by religion.” Lucretius, De rerum natura I, 101.


Among all the poets

Yeats : William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet and dramatist. Cf. Lewis’s first reference to Yeats in chapter VII, as one of the authors he first read in the “Wyvern” school library.


Now the fat was

Anactoria :  A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909), included in his Poems and Ballads (1866).


The other results

the unimaginable lodge for solitary thinkings :  Keats, Endymion (1818) I, 293–294.


That was the marvel

The first touch of the earth... :  Keats, Endymion IV, 614.

Unde hoc mihi? :  Luke 1:43 in the Vulgate version. Et unde hoc mihi ut veniat mater Domini mei ad me?– It is Elisabeth’s exclamation when Mary enters her house, both women being miraculously pregnant: “And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”



Chapter XII:  Guns and Good Company


chapter motto

La compagnie, de tant d’hommes vous plaist... :  “The company of so many noble, young, and active men delights you; (...) the freedom of the conversation, without art; a masculine and unceremonious way of living.” Montaigne, Essays, III.13, “On Experience”.


My first taste

“dreaming spires” :  Matthew Arnold, “Thyrsis” (1866), 19–20. “And that sweet City with her dreaming spires, /  She needs not June for beauty’s heightening.”

“last enchantments” :  Matthew Arnold, Essays in Criticism, First Series (1865). “Beautiful City! (...) whispering from her towers the last enchantments of the Middle Age...”


Though I was now

Responsions :  In Oxford, the first of three exams to be passed for obtaining the degree of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).


Now, as an alternative

“very heaven” :  Wordsworth, French Revolution, as it appeared to Enthusiasts at its Commencement (1809), 5; The Prelude (1850) XI, 108. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, / But to be young was very heaven!”


It was here that I

the humour which is ...  (as Aristotle would say) the bloom on dialectic itself  :  Lewis appears to be making his own use of a bloomimage somewhere in Aristotle; but the image itself might be his own, rather than Aristotles. This is suggested by the penultimate chapter of Lewiss Letters to Malcolm, where he refers to Aristotles description of delight as the “bloom” on an unimpeded activity; the reference is to Ethics, 1153b, but no bloom actually comes in there.


I can attribute this

the cynic’s nose, the odora canum vis or bloodhound sensitivity... : The Latin words are from Vergil’s Aeneid, IV.132 and literally mean “the smelling power of dogs”. Vergil actually means “hunting dogs (with keen noses)”. The Cynics were an ancient Greek school of philosophy originating at the Cynosarges gymnasium just outside Athens, ca. 400 B.C. The word “cynic” seems to stem as much from that gymnasium’s name as – directly – from Cyôn, Greek for “dog”, since the Cynics’ way of life caused Athenians to compare them to dogs. Meanwhile it may well be an original idea of Lewis’s to re-connect the modern meaning of cynicism to this ancient etymology and thus to further develop that meaning – suggesting the dog’s smelling power as a new point of comparison.

          In 1954 Lewis published a poem titled ‘Odora canum vis: a defence of certain modern biographers and critics’ (now in Collected Poems, 1994) poking fun at ‘disproportioned views on lust’.


In reading Chesterton

Bibles laid open... fine nets and stratagems” :  George Herbert, “Sin” (in The Temple, 1633).


In my own battalion

“unexamined life” :  Plato, Apology 38a.


The war itself

H.E. :  High Explosive. Cf. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, XXXI, 4th paragraph, “the stink and taste of high explosive on the lips...”



Chapter XIII:  The New Look


chapter motto

This wall I was many a weary month in finishing... :  Last words of the paragraph which begins “So that I had now a double Wall...”, almost exactly half-way Robinson Crusoe. (This is near the end of chapter XVII in some editions, of chapter XI in others; Defoe’s original text has no chapters.) The passage comes a few pages after Robinson Crusoe sees “the print of a man’s naked foot on the shore” and is “terrify’d to the last degree”. He fits the outer defence wall around his cave with seven muskets in “frames that held them like a carriage, that so I could fire all the seven guns in two minutes time.”


The rest of my

Falstaff, Sir Colville :  A scene in Shakespeare’s King Henry IV, second part, IV.3. “Do ye yield, sir, or shall I sweat for you? .... He saw me, and yielded; that I may justly say with the hook-nos’d fellow of Rome – I came, saw, and overcame.”

“Blighty” :  A word derived from Hindi, designating England as seen from abroad as a longed-for haven and place of plenty. Metaphorically, it may also mean an injury which, though not really serious, is just serious enough to compel (i.e. to justify) a return to England for recovery.

C.C.S. :  Casualty Clearing Station.

the water-colour world of Morris :  i.e. William Morris (1834–1896), English poet, painter, socialist and general crusader against ugliness. See also Lewis’s references to Morris

– in chapter IX, fourth paragraph from the end (starting “But Homer came first”), where he describes himself as “a boy soaked in William Morris”

– toward the end of chapter X, where he describes Morris as “my great author at this period” whose very name was “coming to have at least as potent a magic” as Wagner’s

– in chapter XI, par. 5 (“One thing, however...”), where “the world of Morris became the frequent medium of Joy”.

– in chapter XI, par. 18 (“The woodland journeyings...”), where Morris is mentioned along with Malory, Spenser and Yeats as an author whose works had, for Lewis, prefigured George MacDonald’s Phantastes.

For a fuller account of what Morris meant for Lewis, see his letters to Arthur Greeves of 1 July 1930 and 22 September 1931, in Collected Letters I (2000), pp. 911 and 970.

Malory :  Sir Thomas Malory (1400?–70), compiler and author of Le Morte Darthur (1485), a prose rendering in twenty-one books of the Arthurian legends, made up from the French versions with additions of his own.


The word “life”

Shelley in The Triumph of Life :  Unfinished poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822). It describes a vision of the captive multitude of humanity, through which the triumphal chariot passes. This is the procession of Life, the conqueror; chained to the chariot are the great men of history – vanquished by the mystery of life. The vision is succeeded by the allegory of a single life which, after a hopeful and aspiring youth, falls victim to the same mystery; love is the only armour against defeat. The vision is explained to the poet by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
–– n.b. This note is taken almost verbatim from Michael Stapleton
’s excellent Cambridge Guide to English Literature (1983).

Goethe ... des Lebens goldnes Baum :  From Goethe’s play Faust (1838), toward the end of the second scene called Studierzimmer (Study); Mephistopheles talking to the Student. “Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie / Und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.” – “Grey is, dear friend, all theory / And green the golden tree of life.” (N.B. goldnes is a slight misquotation of goldner.)


Closely linked with

Barfield of Wadham ... Harwood of The House :  “Wadham” is Wadham College in Oxford; “The House” was a nickname for Christ Church, another Oxford college. Lewis’s own college in these years was University College, which was also the one where Hamilton Jenkins (mentioned in the previous paragraph) began his studies in 1919.

“stop for Fortune’s finger” :  Shakespeare, Hamlet III.2, 66 – “...blest are those / Whose blood and judgment are so well commeddled / That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger / To sound what stop she pleases. Give me that man / That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him / In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart, / As I do thee.”


During my first two

Mods, Greats :  Short names for Classical Honour Moderations and Final Honour School, the two parts of Literae Humaniores – a four-year course in classical Greek and Roman literature and philosophy.


For one thing

an old, dirty, gabbling, tragic, Irish parson :  Rev. Dr Frederick Walker Macran (1866-1947). Several notes on conversations with him can be found in Lewis’s published diaries of the mid-1920s, All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927, edited by Walter Hooper (1991), which also has a item on “Cranny” in the Biographical Appendix.

the very world, which is the world / Of all of us... :  Wordsworth, The Prelude (1850) XI, 142–144.


Secondly, it had been

Be not too wildly amorous of the far... :  Walter de la Mare, “The Imagination’s Pride” (The Veil and Other Poems, 1921).


Thirdly, the new

delectable mountains :  Episodes in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress I (1678) and II (1684).

western gardens :  Apparently a generic name for mythical and paradisal places like Avalon and the garden of the Hesperides (see the end of this paragraph), from Arthurian and Greek mythology respectively.


Finally, there was

Promethean or Hardyesque : In ancient Greek mythology, Prometheus (“he who thinks ahead”) is a benefactor of mankind who suffers for his revolt against Zeus.  Lewis is combining allusions to the ancient Greek dramatist Aeschylus, author of the tragedy Prometheus Bound, and to English novelist Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). The idea to compare Hardy with Aeschylus was not original to Lewis, and he may have been inspired also by G. K. Chesterton’s scorn for Hardy’s bitter pessimism and alleged atheism.
    In his 1950 polemic with philosopher C. E. M. Joad on “The Pains of Animals” (in God in the Dock, 1970, p. 171), Lewis suggested the even more obvious link between the poet Shelley and the Prometheus theme (Shelley himself wrote a verse drama Prometheus Unbound):

The more Shelleyan, the more Promethean my revolt, the more surely it claims a divine sanction.

Lewis wrote a paper called “The Promethean Fallacy in Ethics” in January 1924; see All My Road Before Me, pp. 283, 284, 296.

“quietly declaims the cursings of itself” :  Matthew Arnold, “Empedocles on Etna” (1852), 301.

Carlyle’s lady :  cf. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), Lecture 2:

“I accept the universe” is reported to have been a favorite utterance of our New England transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller; and when some one repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, his sardonic comment is said to have been: “Gad! she’d better!” At bottom the whole concern of both morality and religion is with the manner of our acceptance of the universe.

        The attribution to Carlyle is doubtful. Lewis first read the passage in William James on 11 June 1922 and was “pleased to find for the first time Carlyle’s remark about the lady”; see All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927, ed. Walter Hooper (1991). Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) was a journalist and critic associated to the American literary and philosophical movement called Transcendentalism, which took much of its founding inspiration from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s first book, Nature (1836).


As for Joy

that whole year of youth... ??

Barfield’s unhappiness is briefly described in passages of Lewis’s diary for 5 Mary 1922:

Barfield seemed perfectly miserable and hoping for nothing. This wretched love affair has gone very deep tho’ it has made him a real poet. I am sure he is going to be great.
(All My Road Before Me, p. 30)

and 24 May 1922:

We then drifted into a long talk about ultimates. Like me, he has no belief in immortality, etc., and always feels the materialistic pessimism at his elbow. He is most miserable. He said however that the “hard facts” which worried us, might to posterity appear mere prejudices de siècle, as the “facts” of Dante do to us. Our disease, I said, was really a Victorian one. The conversation ranged over many topics and finally died because it was impos­sible to hold a court between two devil’s advocates.
    (ibid., p. 50)

In an undated later diary note, briefly describing the last two months of 1923, Lewis recorded that

[Barfield] has completely lost his materialism and “the night sky is no longer horrible”. I read to him in my diary the description of the talk I had with him in Wadham gardens when he was still in pessimism, and we enjoyed it.
    (ibid., p. 278)


Barfield never made

Bridges’ Testament of Beauty : Robert Bridges (1844-1930), English poet, friend and literary executor of Gerald Manley Hopkins. An anthology from Bridges’s verse and prose titled The Spirit of Man was published in 1916 with a view to the spiritual needs of a country at war. His long philosophical poem The Testament of Beauty was published to great acclaim in 1929. Bridges was Poet Laureate from 1913 and spent his last years in Oxford.

Gilbert Murray (1866-1957) : Classical scholar, Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford 1908-1936. Lewis attended Murray’s lectures on Euripides almost as soon as he began his regular studies in January 1919 (Collected Letters I, p. 426) and also consulted Murray’s work on Greek epic after reading Hippolytus in 1924 (cf. note to ch. XIV, below, and Lewis’s diary note for 7 March 1924 in All My road Before Me, p. 299).
     In 1955, the 89-year-old Murray appears to have read Surprised by Joy within a week after publication and written to Lewis – who replied on 26 September:

Yes, opposite sides of the fence, but in your middle and my early life the country on both sides had something in common which distinguished it from the country on both sides now. Hence the agnosticism of that age is in some ways more congenial to me than the Christianity of this, and you have changed in my mind only from dolce maestro to dolce nemico.
–– Collected Letters III (2006), pp. 648-649 (the two Italian terms mean “good teacher” and “good enemy”)

An affinity between Murray’ thought and even the mature Lewis is evident from several passages in Murray’s 1918 presidential address to the Classical Association, Religio grammatici.

Lord Russell’s “Worship of a Free Man” : Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), English philosopher, mathematician and prolific humanist writer and activist; Noble laureate for Literature 1950. His 3,500-word essay “The Free Man’s Worship” was first published in 1903 and later reprinted as “A Free Man’s Worship”.

the Jenkinian zest... :  A reference to his friend A. K. Hamilton Jenkin, mentioned in this chapter’s third paragraph. See also chapter XV, sixth paragraph, “..my Jenkinian love of everything which has its own strong flavour.” There are many references to Hamilton Jenkin as well as a short biography of him in Lewis’s diary published as All My Road Before Me (1991), and letters to him (plus, again, a short biography) in the first two volumes of Lewis’s Collected Letters.


It is astonishing

“the fuller splendour”behind the “sensuous curtain” :  From a passage in The Principles of Logic by the English idealist philosopher Francis Bradley (1846–1924).

That the glory of this world (...) is appearance leaves the world more glorious, if we feel it is a show of some fuller splendour; but the sensuous curtain is a deception (...) if it hides some colourless movement of atoms, some (...) unearthly ballet of bloodless categories.

The words about “the glory of this world” are also quoted by Lewis in his earlier autobiographical book, The Pilgrim’s Regress (1932), at the end of chapter VII/9. I have not traced the exact location in Bradley’s book – ??


Yet there was one

“in desire without hope” :  Dante, Inferno IV, 42. ...che senza speme vivemo in disio.”


And so the great

“We give thanks to thee for thy great glory” :  From the “Gloria” in the Latin mass. “Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam”.



Chapter XIV:  Checkmate


chapter motto

The one principle of hell is – “I am my own” :  George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Third Series (1889), Nr. 6, “Kingship” (on John 18:37).

Jesus is king because his business is to bear witness to the truth. What truth? All truth; all verity of relation throughout the universe – first of all, that his father is good, perfectly good; and that the crown and joy of life is to desire and do the will of the eternal source of will, and of all life. He deals thus the deathblow to the power of hell. For the one principle of hell is – “I am my own. I am my own king and my own subject. I am the centre from which go out my thoughts; I am the object and end of my thought; back upon me as the alpha and omega of life, my thoughts return. ... To do my own will so long as I feel anything to be my will, is to be free, is to live.” To all these principles of hell, or of this world – they are the same thing, and it matters nothing whether they are asserted or defended so long as they are acted upon – the Lord, the king, gives the direct lie.

The statement used as chapter motto is also included as No. 203 in C. S. Lewis’s George MacDonald: An Anthology (1946).


No sooner had I

freedom” and “gentillesse :  Words from the vocabulary of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

laudator temporis acti :  Someone who sings the praises of the Past. Horatius, Ars poetica (Epistulae II.3), 173.

Donne’s maxim :  The line quoted is not in Donne but in Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream II.2, 138–139 (Lysander speaking): “For, as a surfeit of the sweetest things / The deepest loathing to the stomach brings, / Or as the heresies that men do leave / Are hated most of those they did deceive, / So thou, my surfeit and my heresy, / Of all be hated, but the most of me!”


Now that I was

Restoration Comedy :  Comedies written in the period following the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660.

Roland’s  great line :  Chanson de Roland, 1015. “Paien unt tort et chrestïens unt dreit.”


As the plot quickens

the Fark :  A. S. L. Farquharson (1871–1942), who taught Philosophy at Magdalen College, Oxford.

five great men ... Benecke ... (etc.) :  The book to read on Lewis’s academic biotope and philosophical inspiration from colleagues in the early years of his career as a tutor is James Patrick, The Magdalen Metaphysicals: Idealism and Orthodoxy at Oxford, 1901-1945 (Mercer University Press, 1985). The book’s four protagonists are Clement C. J. Webb (1865-1954), John Alexander Smith (1863-1939), R. G. Collingwood (1889-1943) and C. S. Lewis respectively, with occasional references to Carritt, Beneke (not Benecke), Brightman and Onions.

Alanus : Alanus ab Insulis, or Alain de Lille (c. 1125–1203), French scholar, rector of the university of Paris, reputed to be a universally learned man; author of De planctu naturae (Natures Lament”, a satire on human vice) and Anticlaudianus.

Macrobius :  Ambrosius Macrobius Theodosius (c. 500 A.D.). Latin grammarian, author of a mathematical and astronomical commentary on Ciceros Somnium Scipionis.

Du Cange :  Charles du Fresne, seigneur du Cange (1610–1688), French lexicographer and Byzantinologist; compiler of two major dictionaries of Medieval Latin and Medieval Greek.

Comparetti :  Domenico Comparetti (1835–1927), Italian philologist, author of Virgilio nel Medio Evo (1872; English: Virgil in the Middle Ages, 1895).

much help in getting over the last stile : The nature of this help from Dyson and Tolkien is described in some detail in two letters of Lewis to his friend Arthur Greeves, written on 22 September and 18 October 1931; see Lewis’s Collected Letters I (2000), pp. 969-972 and 975-977.

H. V. V. Dyson : A typo, both in the first and later British editions; Dyson’s initials were H. V. D.


The first move

Hippolytus of Euripides ... certainly no business of mine at the moment : Euripides (480?-406 B.C.) was one of the three great ancient Greek tragic playwrights. As appears from Lewis’s diary, it was on 1 March 1924 that he “took Euripides from his shelf for the first time this many a day, with some idea of reading a Greek play every week end (when I am not writing) so as to keep up my Greek.” On 3 March he “read the first act of the Hippolytus with great enjoyment.” The next day he

went on with the Hippolytus – splendid stuff. I wish I knew how Euripides meant the Nurse to be taken. Some of the things she says are sublime: others appear comic to us – I fancy only because we are not simple and matter of fact enough.

Then on 5 March he noted that

after some shopping, I trudged home and after tea went on with the Hippolytus: I read the chorus ἠλιβάτοις ὑπὸ κευθμῶσι γενοίμαν [ēlibatois hupo keuthmōsi genoiman]. It is strange that for so long I found this mood the only interesting one – I mean in the old days at Bookham. The whole of my mental life, even my appreciation of actual nature, was included in that romantic longing for the Ἑσπερίδων μηλόσπορον ἀκτὰν [Hesperidōn mēlosporon aktan]. I wonder if I shall be driven back upon it?

The diary fragments of 3 and 5 March are not included in the published text as found in All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis 1922-1927, edited by Walter Hooper (1991), but are found in the unpublished “Lewis Papers”, Vol. VIII, pp. 190-192.

    The passage referred to in Hippolytus is the first strophe and antistrophe in the play’s second stasimon, beginning at line 732; underlined in the following quotation are the two Greek fragments transcribed in the diary fragments (as shown above). The chorus comments on the despair that has driven Phaedra, hopeless lover of Hippolytus, to commit suicide.

Under the arched cliffs O were I lying,
    That there to a bird might a God change me,
And afar mid the flocks of the winged things flying
    Over the swell of the Adrian sea
I might soar – and soar, – upon poised wings dreaming
    O’er the strand where Eridanus’ waters  be,
Where down to the sea-swell purple-gleaming
The tears of the Sun-god’s daughters are streaming,
Of the thrice-sad sisters for Phaëtan sighing,
Star-flashes of strange tears amber-beaming!

O to win to the strand where the apples are growing
    Of the Hesperid chanters kept in ward,
Where the path over Ocean purple-glowing
    By the Sea’s Lord is to the seafarer barred!
O to light where Atlas hath aye in his keeping
    The bourn twixt earth and the heavens bestarred,
Where the fountains ambrosial sunward are leaping
By the couches where Zeus in his halls lieth sleeping,
Where the bounty of Earth the life-bestowing
The bliss of the Gods ever higher is heaping!

–– translation Arthur S. Way

Loeb Classical Library vol. 12, Euripides IV (1912), p. 221.


In the Introduction of his great work on 16th-century English literature, Lewis quotes the last of these Greek fragments. referring approvingly to their “romantic” rendering in English by his own old professor of Greek, Gilbert Murray:

Whether Professor Murray’s version of Euripides is good or bad literature, I need not here decide; but to blame it simply for being romantic, on the supposition that there are no romantic passages in the original, is absurd. How can a man translate Ἑσπερίδων μηλόσπορον ἀκτὰν or Ἱκοίμαν ποτὶ Κύπρον without sounding romantic? For the truth is that a very large area of sensibility is common to the ancient, the medieval, and the romantic mind, and that humanism stands outside that area. Until the fog of classicism has lifted, the greater classics are invisible.
English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (1954), pp. 27-28.

For Murray, see also the note on him in chapter XIII, above.


The next Move

Alexanders Space, Time and Deity :  Samuel Alexander (1859–1938), Australian-born philosopher who first taught at Oxford and then became Professor of Philosophy in Manchester. His earliest work was Moral Order and Progress (1889), an exposition of evolutionary ethics which won him both a glowing review and the life-long friendship of C. Lloyd Morgan – another pan­theistically-minded thinker in the wake of recent great developments in biology and physical science. Alexander’s large two-volume main work Space, Time and Deity (1920) resulted from his Gifford Lectures at the University of Glasgow in 1916–1918. In the preface to the 1927 new edition he states that “the hypothesis of the book is that “Space-Time is the stuff of which matter and all things are specifications.” Lewis began reading it on 8 March 1924, as appears from his diary for that day (published in All My Road Before Me, 1991). The passage about Enjoyment and Contemplation is in the Introduction:

“Enjoyed” and “contemplated”
For convenience of description I am accustomed to say the mind enjoys itself and contemplates its objects. The act of mind is an enjoyment; the object is contemplated. If the object is sometimes called a contemplation, that is by the same sort of usage by which ‘a perception’ is used for a perceived object or percept as well as for an act of perceiving. The contemplation of a contemplated object is, of course, the enjoyment which is together with that object or is aware of it. The choice of the word enjoyment or enjoy must be admitted not to be particularly felicitous. It has to include suffering, or any state or process in so far as the mind lives through it. It is undoubtedly at variance with ordinary usage, in which, though we are said indeed to enjoy peace of mind we are also said to enjoy the things we eat, or, in Wordsworth’s words, a flower enjoys the air it breathes, where I should be obliged to say with the same personification of the flower that it contemplates the air it breathes, but enjoys the breathing. Still less do I use the word in antithesis to understanding, as in another famous passage of the same poet, “contented if he might enjoy the things which others understand.” Both the feeling and the understanding are in my language enjoyed. I should gladly accept a better word if it is offered. What is of importance is the recognition that in any experience the mind enjoys itself, and contemplates its object or its object is contemplated, and that these two existences, the act of mind and the object as they are in the experience, are distinct existences united by the relation of compresence. The experience is a piece of the world consisting of these two existences in their togetherness. The one existence, the enjoyed, enjoys itself, or experiences itself as an enjoyment; the other existence, the contemplated, is experienced by the enjoyed. The enjoyed and the contemplated are together.

In the preface to the second edition of his book (1927) Alexander spent a few more pages (xiii-xxi) on the subject.


The fox had been

with all the wo in the world” :  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (anonymous late 14th-century poem) III.23, 1717, about a fox being hunted by a pack of hounds. “With all the wo on lyue / To the wod he went away.” See also note to chapter III, motto.

Dom Bede Griffiths :  Alan Griffiths (1906-1993) is the dedicatee of Surprised by Joy. His own spiritual autobiography was published in a year earlier as The Golden String; this book is mentioned in chapter XV, par. 8 (starting “As I have said...). He came to Oxford in 1925 and had Lewis as his tutor for English literature in 1927–29. On becoming a Benedictine monk in 1933, he took the name Bede, after the 8th-century English  church historian, Beda Venera­bilis. “Dom” was the usual prefix for a Benedictine or Carthusian monk’s name, derived from Latin Dominus, “Lord”.


For of course there

(in MacDonald’s words) “something to be neither more nor less nor other than done.” : from a passage near to the end of MacDonald’s essay “A Sketch of Individual Development” (1880), in the volume A Dish of Orts (1893); p. 56 in the Electronic Classics edition available at http://www2.hn.psu.edu/faculty/jmanis/g-macdonald.htm.

... the man shall be the rightness of which he talked: while his soul is not ... longing to be himself honest and upright, it is an absurdity that he should judge concerning the way to this rightness, seeing that, while he walks not in it, he is and shall be a dishonest man: he knows not whither it leads and how can he know the way! What he can judge of is, his duty at a given moment – and that not in the abstract, but as something to be by him done, neither more, nor less, nor other than done. Thus judging and doing, he makes the only possible step nearer to righteousness and righteous judgement; doing otherwise, he becomes the more unrighteous, the more blind. For the man who knows not God, whether he believes there is a God or not, there can be, I repeat, no judgement of things pertaining to God. To our supposed searcher, then, the crowning word of the Son of Man is this, “If any man is willing to do the will of the Father, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”


Really, a young Atheist

“know of the doctrine” :  Gospel of John, 7:16–17, quoted at the end of the above passage from MacDonald.

My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

My name was legion :  Cf. Mark 5:10 and Luke 8:30.


Of course I could

that dreadful valley of Ezekiel’s :  Cf. Ezekiel 37:1–14.

I am the Lord; I am that I am; I am. :  Cf. Exodus 3:14.


You must picture me

That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me :  Job 3:25. Lewis used the same phrase in a very different context in his last book, Letters to Malcolm (1964), chapter 11. Much more relevant to his experience and view of conver­sion, however, is the way this quotation from Job appears in George MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermons, Series One (1867), nr. 2, “The Consuming Fire” –

...when we say that God is Love, do we teach men that their fear of him is groundless? No. As much as they fear will come upon them, possibly far more. But there is something beyond their fear, a divine fate which they cannot withstand ... The wrath will consume what they call themselves; so that the selves God made shall appear, coming out with tenfold consciousness of being, an bringing with them all that made the blessedness of the life the men tried to lead without God. They will know that now first are they fully themselves. ... The death that is in them shall be consumed.

Lewis included part of this same passage as nr. 7 in his George Macdonald: An Anthology (1946).

In the Trinity Term of 1929 :  The year must in fact have been 1930, as  was discovered almost simultaneously, but independently and in different ways, by two Lewis scholars (Andrew Lazo and Alister McGrath) in 2012. Trinity Term is the last of the three Terms in an academic year in Oxford, covering the late spring and early summer. The precise day is now thought to be have been in the first three weeks of June 1930.

compelle intrare, compel them to come in :  Luke 14:23. “And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”



Chapter XV:  The Beginning


chapter motto

Aliud est de silvestri cacumine videre... :  “For it is one thing to see the land of peace from a wooded ridge . .. and another to tread the road that leads to it.” Augustine, Confessions VII.21.


Thus my churchgoing

Griffiths ... a copious correspondence :  None of this early correspondence appears to have survived. The earliest of Lewis’s 46 letters to Griffiths published in the Collected Letters dates from April 1934.

either in Hinduism or in Christianity :  In a letter of 29 April 1938 to Griffiths (see note above) Lewis recalled

the view you then expressed to me, in words that I have never forgotten “The choice in the long run is between Christianity and Hinduism”.
–– Collected Letters II, 225


As I have said

protest too much :  Shakespeare, Hamlet III.2, 225; see also the preceding passage in Hamlet for some skeptical reflections on what Lewis here calls “the great passion or the iron resolution”. One important place where Lewis expressed very similar ideas is the passage towards the end of chapter 11 in his novel Perelandra, where the hero’s great and diffi­cult decision to resist evil is described (“...you might say that he had been delivered from the rhetoric of his passions and had emerged into unassailable freedom”).


But what, in conclusion

We would be at Jerusalem :  After Walter Hilton, The Scale of Perfection II.21. “What so thou hearest or seest or feelest that should let thee in thy way, abide not with it wilfully, tarry not for it restfully, behold it not, like it not, dread it not; but aye go forth in thy way, and think that thou wouldest be at Jerusalem”, etc.







4 September 2008

ch. 2, “slow maturing of old jokes”