November 22, 1963

C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia series of kid books and the Screwtape Letters died.  He was also a middling good science fiction writer.  I always enjoyed his work and consider him an important writer within his area of interest. 

At the time of his death I didn’t hear about it because Aldous Huxley died the same day and got most of the fanfare.

Huxley’s Brave New World was all the rage at the time, one of those books young intellectuals all asked one another whether they’d read, and of course they all answered, “Yeah, wasn’t it great?” whether they’d read it or not.

Overall I believe Lewis has stood the test of time better than Huxley, but we can’t go back and give Lewis a better funereal showing at this late date, so I just figured I’d mention it here.

Old Jules

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24 responses to “November 22, 1963

  1. Thanks for mentioning a person whose death date will probably never be remembered otherwise.
    I’ll never forget that day, because my parents (who had read the Narnia books to me) gently broke the news to me and were quite distressed about it. I, on the other hand, felt disturbed and a bit angry because for the first time it was really brought home to me that those books were not…actually… true stories (I was about 7 and Aslan was my best imaginary friend).

    • Thanks for commenting and relating your memories of the time, Jeanne. I don’t recall ever having read the Narnia books while Lewis was alive, but I’ve read them about once per decade since. Always enjoyed them. While he was alive I only knew his science fiction work.

      Sometime in the ’60s I suppose I read everything by Huxley, same as everyone else who wanted to be well-read. I have never read one since, though, and barely remember any of them. Jules

  2. Thanks, Jules…although I personally ended up in a bit of a difference place theologically than Mr. Lewis, his writings mentored me and provided a basis upon which I could find my own way to the One he embraced and emulated as he lived his life.

    • Hi revdanyel: Thanks for the visit. I’m glad Lewis found what he was looking for spiriually, and also glad you have. Those searches and strugglings are important personal matters for each of us, wherever we individually end up. Gracias, Jules

  3. Odd how a man so faithful to one of the stuffiest churches in Western history was so careful about unstuffing thinking and talking about religion. I have always admired his clarity, if not his particular theology.

  4. My mother used to take us to the library once a week where we would load up the wagon with books. Five kids and we were all voracious readers, and any time one of us found a great book we’d pass it around until we’d all read it. The Chronicles of Narnia were a set of great books that we must have all read a dozen times through by the time we reached adulthood. I still own a set, as well as the Perelandra Trilogy. It’s funny though, I didn’t learn anything about his personal theology until I was in my forties, and it just drove it home to me again–how no matter what the author wants or intends, readers tend to find the meaning most valuable to them in the books they love. I guess we all weave our own truth out of the disparate threads of our lives. C.S. Lewis contributed some important and beautiful threads to mine. No doubt. Thanks for remembering him.

  5. I was introduced to Huxley’s work through my High School teacher in a very rural town. It was controversial for her to teach such works as A Brave New World but these are very powerful and insightful works. Such literature is very important to society along with books like 1984 and A Clockwork Orange which are frequently banned. See my visual commentary and portrait of Huxley on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2010/07/aldous-huxley-rolls-in-his-grave.html

  6. To me, he was the first to ever truly explain Christianity in a way that allowed me to actually know what it was i was raised to believe. And that, in turn, allowed me to decide that i would continue to believe in it.

    He was also only the second author ever (the first being Douglas Adams) wherein i somtimes read a single page over again several times – not because i didn’t understand the words, but rather because they were so deliciously placed together on the page.

    Thank you for remembering him, and for sharing your remembrance with the rest of us!

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  9. That’s amazing…had no idea they died at the same time. Cool blog!

    http://theeyeoffaith.com

  10. Hi! Found my way back your blog when you started following mine–thanks. I too hadn’t known that C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley died on the same day. I admire and respect both, but have a softer spot for old C.S.. Of course as a child I read his Narnia series and as a young adult read the science fiction trilogy, of which I like and remember _Perelandra_ the most. Somewhere along the way I read his _Allegory of Love_ and his book on the 16th century. And then as a parent I read the Narnia books all over again, to my son. Here’s a story from that era you might get a kick out of: .

  11. Thanks for visiting my kidlit blog, Jules. I found a similar theme in this post. You mention that Lewis probably stood the test of time better than Huxley. I’d have to agree. This death date is a decade before I was born. Yet I count the Narnia series high among my favorites, and I’ve never even heard Huxley’s name before (though I have heard of, but not read, Brave New World). Interesting…

  12. Not only did Lewis and Huxley both die on Nov. 22, 1963, but that was also, I believe, the same day Kennedy was assassinated, which would have definitely overshadowed the passing of both writers. I would have hated to have been an editor trying to lay out the front page of major daily, what with all that news happening in a single day.

    Excellent post, Jules, about two very interesting men. Like you, Lewis’s writings stick out in my memory much more so than Huxley’s.

  13. Yes, as “Conspiracy” mentions, JFK died that same day. Just as, more recently, the passing of Texas’ own Farrah Fawcett was overshadowed by Mr. Jackson’s death the same day.

    Lewis is justly noted for “Narnia” as well as Christian apologetic works, but I personally think he was at his best when writing about the field in which he was a professional and expert, namely Medieval and Renaissance Literature. His The Discarded Image is a masterpiece in the art of reading the literature of early ages on its own terms, without reading our own modern presuppositions into it. As for Huxley, he wrote a delightfully zany children’s book called The Crows of Pearblossom.” Much more approachable than Brave New World.

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