CONTROVERSY

Fans of the late Christian author C. S. Lewis were thrilled in 1977 at the publication of The Dark Tower and Other Stories. According to the book’s introduction, Lewis, who died in 1963, intended The Dark Tower to be another in his popular series of science fiction novels.

But many Lewis scholars and enthusiasts were disappointed in the book, believing generally that The Dark Tower did not represent what they had come to expect from Lewis. Now a book scheduled for publication later this month offers a reason: Lewis may not have written it.

In The C.S. Lewis Hoax (Multnomah Press), Lewis scholar Kathryn Lindskoog maintains several writings published since Lewis’s death and attributed to him (most notably The Dark Tower) may actually be products of a hoax. The man behind the hoax, she believes, is Walter Hooper, who has controlled the Lewis literary estate for more than two decades.

In addition to implied allegations of forgery, the book contains evidence that Hooper has overstated the extent of his association with both C. S. Lewis and Warren Lewis, the author’s brother, who died in 1973.

At the core of Lindskoog’s case is her challenge to Hooper’s story of how he came to possess The Dark Tower and two trunkloads (Hooper’s claim) of additional C. S. Lewis writings. In the introduction to The Dark Tower, Hooper tells of a three-day bonfire not long after Lewis’s death, in which Warren Lewis, on a house-cleaning binge, burned many of his brother’s papers.

As Hooper tells it, the gardener who oversaw the fire urged Warren Lewis to save some of the materials. The gardener, Fred Paxford, then turned them over to Hooper, who, on impulse, had visited Warren Lewis on the last day of the fire. Hooper waited until after Warren ...

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