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Letter 252

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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 252
RecipientMichael Tolkien
DateNot dated; November or December, 1963
Subject(s)Commenting on Lewis' death and how the obituaries were wrong

Letter 252 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Summary

Tolkien apologized for not answering Michael's letters sooner but Jack Lewis' death had preoccupied him. People had written to him as one of Lewis' intimates but Tolkien said that that had ceased some ten years earlier. Charles Williams and then Lewis' marriage had separated them, but they did owe each other a great debt.

Lewis had been great but the cold-blooded obituaries only scraped the surface. That they contained little truth was shown by ascribing to Williams the main influence for Lewis' "space-travel" trilogy. Actually Tolkien and Lewis had planned, before Williams ever appeared, to do "time-travel" and "space-travel" stories, respectively. Publication dates were not good guides. Perelandra was published in 1943 but was written earlier. Williams only influenced the third book, That Hideous Strength, and Tolkien thought that his influence spoiled it. The Daily Telegraph had reported that Lewis was not fond of The Screwtape Letters – his best-seller (250,000). Tolkien had wondered why Lewis had dedicated it to him; now he knew (according to the Daily Telegraph).