TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On the need to cry; on the need to remember God’s past mercies; on the suitability of his Ransom trilogy, especially That Hideous Strength, for children; and on the kinds of snobbery. Lewis asks if he may dedicate The Magician’s Nephew to her friends.
22 February 1954
I am very sorry indeed to hear that anxieties again assail you. (By the way, don’t ‘weep inwardly’ and get a sore throat. If you must weep, weep: a good honest howl! I suspect we—and especially, my sex—don’t cry enough nowadays. Aeneas and Hector and Beowulf and Roland and Lancelot blubbered like school-girls, so why shouldn’t we?) You were wonderfully supported in your worries last time: I shall indeed pray that it may be so again.
Would the Kilmer family like to have the next story but one dedicated to them? Let me know: the site is still vacant.
I didn’t object to the family reading the trilogy on the ground that it would be too difficult—that would do no harm—but because in the last one there is so much evil, in a form not, I think, suitable for their age, and many specifically sexual problems which it would do them no good to think of at present. I daresay the Silent Planet is alright: Perelandra, little less so: T.H.S. most unsuitable.
I don’t think that an appreciation of ancient and noble blood is ‘snobbery’ at all. What is snobbery is a greedy desire to know those who have it, or a mean desire to flatter them, or a conceited desire to boast of their acquaintance. I think it quite legitimate to feel that such things give an added interest to a person who is nice on other grounds, just as a hotel which was nice on other grounds would have an added charm for me if it was also a building with ‘historic interest’.
I write in great haste—I can’t, like you, do it in working hours! But you’re nothing to [Charles] Lamb: as far as I can make out all his letters, which now fill two volumes, were written in the office. Happy days those.
Well I hope I shall have better news in your next. God bless you.