Thousands upon thousands of letters written in the hand of C. S. Lewis make up what is now the last original material being published under Lewis's name, much of it for the first time. Written on elegant Magdalen College letterhead (given to him by American friends), scraps of wartime economy paper (of discernibly lower grade than pre- and post-war paper), and thin sheets of typing paper (torn into thirds to get three letters out of one sheet), the letters of C. S. Lewis have accumulated into a monument of Lewis's thought, theology, and charity. One could characterize Lewis's letters as he himself characterized the letters of Charles Lamb: "You'll find his letters as good as his essays: indeed they are almost exactly the same, only more of it."

More of it indeed: At last count, the number of letters collected so far total about 3,400—and they continue to come in. Such a prolific correspondence dispels the image of the isolated bachelor Oxford don, hopelessly out of touch with his times. In fact, few professors could have been more aware of the drift of popular thought and the state of the common cultural soul.

Food for thought

On a given morning, Lewis might write to his publisher, Geoffrey Bles, and haggle over the title of his latest book; he might write a tactful letter to his former pupil John Betjeman, a major poet of the day who still resented his old tutor; or he might write to the American Dr. Firor in thanks of precious wartime food that supplemented the severe British rations.

How greatly, in fact, Lewis admired his American culinary benefactors: "The arrival of that magnificent ham leaves me just not knowing what to say. If it were known that it was in my house, it would draw every housebreaker in the neighborhood ...

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