Saturday, November 23, 2013

neglected anniversaries

As I generally keep a rule of posting only one substantive post a day, and I used yesterday's up on music written in memory of JFK, I was unable to point out that yesterday was also:

1. The 50th anniversary of the deaths of both C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley. The coincidence of all three of them dying on the same day had one unfortunate consequence besides the latter two being overlooked at the time. That consequence was that, a few years later, one Lewis enthusiast had the idea of writing an imaginary conversation in which the three of them meet up in a waiting room in Limbo. The discussion consists largely of the author's Lewis figure (not much like the real Lewis, I hope) pompously and wordily lecturing the other two on the ultimate meaning of life, the universe, and everything, in a detached manner almost Kafkaesque in its lack of a sense that the participants are grappling with the idea that they've actually just turned into cockroaches died. It's a good nominee for the position of the worst book ever published about Lewis, although there's a lot of competition. (Don't miss the Freudian analysis of Narnia.)

Ironically, although the coincidence of the deaths may have overshadowed Lewis's at the time, the weight borne by JFK anniversaries has since drawn Lewis's along with it. I don't recall anybody in the Mythopoeic Society making a note of the 50th anniversary of Charles Williams' death, or any anniversary of Tolkien's death (although the Tolkien Society does like to commemorate the anniversary of Tolkien's birth), but Lewis's gets noticed. I am not aware of any Aldous Huxley societies.

2. The 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten. This has been celebrated all year, but yesterday was the actual day. Benjamin Britten, when he was still very young, wrote this:

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