Tolkien Gateway

Letter 48

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 48
RecipientC.S. Lewis
Date20 April 1943
Subject(s)Lewis's illness, teaching cadets

Letter 48 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Lewis had been traveling around England giving talks on Christian religion to RAF stations and had become ill. Tolkien was sorry to hear that Lewis had been sick, and with no U.Q.[notes 1] to suggest it was his final illness! Their Wednesday meetings must be a duty since there seemed to be so many obstacles and fiendish devices opposing it.

Ridley[notes 2] was so astounded at the ignorance of all his cadets that he leapt at the chance of another hour.

Tolkien feared that Lewis was attempting too much and was tiring himself into an easy victim for sicknesses. He hoped to persuade Lewis to reduce his travels to help with the cadets. Tolkien's efforts had not prevailed and he needed Lewis. Tolkien signed the letter "T"[notes 3]

In a postscript Tolkien stated that Ridley had a test in which the first question listed a group of words to define. Not one cadet got any of the words right.

[edit] Notes

  1. "Useless Quack", the nickname of fellow Inkling for R.E. Harvard, Tolkien and Lewis's doctor
  2. M.R. Ridley of Balliol College was teaching forces cadets on wartime "short courses", as were Tolkien and Lewis.
  3. "T" for "Tollers", Lewis's usual name for Tolkien.