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Letter to his father: from University College, April 1925

It was a perfect spring night with the moon nearly full, and not a breath of wind stirring nor a sound from the streets. The half light enhanced [Salisbury’s] size, and the sharp masses of shadow falling in three great patches from the three main faces of one side emphasized the extraordinary simplicity in which it differs so from say, Wells.

That is the real difference I think, and what repelled me at first the others, mixed of a dozen styles, have grown from century to century like organic things and the slow history of secular change has been built into them. One feels the people behind them more: the nameless craftsmen in this or that gargoyle which is different from every other.

Salisbury, on the other hand, is the idea of a master mind, struck out at once for ever. Barring mechanical difficulties it might have been built in a day. Doesn’t Kipling talk of the Taj-Mahal as ‘a sigh made marble’? One the same metaphor one might say that Wells is an age made into stone and Salisbury is a petrified moment. But what a moment! The more one looks the more it satisfies.

From Letters of C. S. Lewis

Letters of C. S. Lewis. Copyright © 1966 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. and W. H. Lewis. Copyright © 1988 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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