The Only Known Recordings of C.S. Lewis (1944–1948)

When we come to know the work of nov­el­ist and schol­ar C.S. Lewis, we usu­al­ly do it through a tex­tu­al medi­um — specif­i­cal­ly in child­hood, through that thrilling writ­ten arti­fact known as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Often this leads us into the rest of his sev­en-vol­ume Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia series (find a free audio ver­sion here), and those most deeply intrigued by the world­view that shaped that high-fan­ta­sy world may find them­selves even­tu­al­ly read­ing even Lewis’ Chris­t­ian apolo­get­ics, of which 1952’s well-known Mere Chris­tian­i­ty came as only the first. That book drew its con­tent from a series of the­o­log­i­cal lec­tures Lewis gave on BBC radio between 1942 and 1944, dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Lit­tle mate­r­i­al from these talks sur­vives — in fact, we have pre­cious few min­utes of his voice on tape in any con­text, and noth­ings at all of him on film — but you can hear about fif­teen min­utes of it in the clips above and below.

These excerpts come from “The New Men”, the last episode of Lewis’series Beyond Per­son­al­i­ty orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast on March 21, 1944, and an intro­duc­tion to The Great Divorce, his the­o­log­i­cal nov­el writ­ten in response to William Blake’s The Mar­riage of Heav­en and Hell. “If I’ve writ­ten of their divorce,” Lewis says, “this is not because I think myself a fit antag­o­nist for so great a genius, nor even because I feel at all sure that I knew what he meant.” The state­ment exem­pli­fies the clar­i­ty and humil­i­ty with which he always wrote, even when essen­tial­ly trum­pet­ing the ben­e­fits of his own faith. Giv­en the off-putting­ly com­bat­ive tenor of most high-pro­file reli­gious argu­ments made today, both for and against, the remains of Lewis’ broad­casts remind us how much we could use more thinkers like him today — in any form of media.

Relat­ed con­tent:

C.S. Lewis’ Pre­scient 1937 Review of The Hob­bit by J.R.R. Tolkien: It “May Well Prove a Clas­sic”

Watch Hand-Drawn Ani­ma­tions of 7 Sto­ries & Essays by C.S. Lewis

Free Audio: Down­load the Com­plete Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia by C.S. Lewis

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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