By the title above I do not mean that I am remembering C. S. Lewis. I'm sharing from pp. 42-43 of Walter Hooper's book, C. S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide, which I am slowly reading as I progress in my current project of reading all the books by or about C. S. Lewis that we have in our home library.

The girls and I have been talking about memory recently, so this passage jumped out at me. Hooper is quoting one of Lewis' former students, Kenneth Tynan.*

He had the most astonishing memory of any man I have ever known. In conversation I might have said to him, "I read a marvellous medieval poem this morning, and I particularly liked this line." I would then quote the line. Lewis would usually be able to go on to quote the rest of the page. It was astonishing.

Once when I was invited to his rooms after dinner for a glass of beer, he played a game. He directed, "give me a number from one to forty."

I said, "Thirty."

He acknowledged, "Right. Go to the thirtieth shelf in my library." Then he said, "Give me another number from one to twenty."

I answered, "Fourteen."

He continued, "Right. Get the fourteenth book off the shelf. Now let's have a number from one to a hundred."

I said, "Forty-six."

"Now turn to page forty-six! Pick a number from one to twenty-five for the line of the page."

I said, "Six."

"So," he would say, "read me that line." He would always identify it—not only by identifying the book, but he was also usually able to quote the rest of the page.

 


*That C. S. Lewis and the creator of Oh! Calcutta! could sustain to the end a friendship of mutual respect and enjoyment should be an inspiration to us all.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, December 27, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Edit
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