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C.S. Lewis Is Dead

Nov. 24, 1963 - Professor C.S Lewis, literary historian, Christian apologist, and author of “The Screwtape Letters,” died Friday at his home in Headington, Oxford. He would have been 65 years old this Friday. Professor Lewis resigned last month as professor of medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University after suffering heart trouble. He also resigned his fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford. Although he was acknowledged in university circles as a brilliant lecturer and tutor, his wider fame rested on his three dozen or so books. He wrote science fiction and children’s stories as well as works on literature and religion. In paperback editions alone, about one million copies of his books have been sold. He married Mrs. Joy Davidman Gresham of New York, poet and essayist, in 1956. She died three years ago. Professor Lewis wrote “Miracles” in 1947. This was an expression of belief that the existence of Christianity was a miracle in itself, so he believed in miracles. The book had a particularly influential effect on one person, Mrs. Gresham. Daughter of a New York Jewish couple, she graduated from Hunter College, joined the Communist party, became a movie critic for The New Masses, married novelist William Lindsay Gresham, and then became disillusioned with the party. When her husband had a nervous breakdown, she turned to prayer. She read Professor Lewis’s book, and it led her to attend Presbyterian services. Eventually it led her, after her divorce, to Professor Lewis himself. As a widower, Lewis wrote “A Grief Observed,” which he published under the pseudonym of N. W. Clerk, describing his feelings and paying tribute to his wife. In the book, he recounts his wavering faith due to the overwhelming grief which he suffered after Davidman’s death and his struggle to regain that faith. Lewis wrote the following epitaph to place on his wife’s grave.

“Here the whole world (stars, water, air,


And field, and forest, as they were


Reflected in a single mind)


Like cast off clothes was left behind


In ashes, yet with hopes that she,


Re-born from holy poverty,


In lenten lands, hereafter may


Resume them on her Easter Day.”

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