CS Lewis is one of the most loved of Christian writers, famous for books such as his Narnia Chronicles and Mere Christianity. Yet an American academic Kathryn Lindskoog recently made the controversial claim that some of the books published in Lewis’ name were not actually written by him. After Lewis died a number of manuscripts were found among his effects and published under his name. These include The Dark Tower, Forms of Things Unknown, A Man Born Blind and Christian Reunion. Lindskoog ran a computer analysis of The Dark Tower which, she says, shows that the style of writing and some themes are out of character for Lewis. She also argues that the handwriting of the manuscript is not Lewis’, and that the books were not written by Lewis but one of his associates.

Lindskoog is no kook. She is a scholar who has written many books on Lewis, worked for Lewis as a researcher in the 1950’s, and remained in contact with him until his death in 1963. Her claims are also supported by some others within the literary community.

Others however are not convinced. Many scholars who have also studied the original manuscripts believe the works are consistent with other writings of Lewis. They suggest that all Lindskoog’s analysis demonstrates is that no one, not even a great writer like Lewis, can produce the highest quality literature all the time.

The debate over Lewis is similar to a debate over some of the writings of Paul. One one side are a group of scholars who believe many of the books attributed to Paul were written not by the apostle, but by some of his associates or followers after his death. They were then published in his name to buttress the claim that they were an accurate representation of the apostle’s thought. The scholars who argue this way appeal to similar criteria as Lindskoog – writing style, themes, language. They point out that the style, themes and language of some books attributed to Paul are so far removed from the letters indisputably attributed to Paul that they must have come from another hand.

Yet more conservative scholars take a line similar to those defending the challenged Lewis works – differences in style, language and theme do not indicate a different author, but different circumstances at the time of writing.

 

Source: Information on Lindskoog and Lewis found in Sydney Morning  Herald July 24, 2001. Lindskoog’s claims are published in Sleuthing CS Lewis.

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