Friday, July 10, 2009

At the Pub with C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien

For me, no stay at Oxford would be complete without a visit to the famous Eagle and Child pub where C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and the other members of the Inklings used to meet.

I guess the sign is not in keeping with rabbinic thinking. According to Rashi and the Midrash, the great virtue of the eagle is that it carries the young on its back in order to shield them from men’s arrows.

I went inside and had a pint of some of the local stuff. To quote Pippin in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings film, but not the original novel: “it comes in pints?” You can tell that the stuff was good because I drank all of it. This the first time in my life that I have ever drunk a full pint of beer. I think Lewis would be proud of me. I am not much of a beer drinker, but I have recently been getting into it. I am now the sort of person who will go through a bottle over the course of watching a game. In the back of me is a letter from the year 1948 drinking to the health of the proprietor of the establishment. The letter is signed by several people among them are C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Christopher Tolkien, who was then an undergraduate student at Oxford.

Later/ I was helping out at the Chabad house when I mentioned Lewis to Mrs. Freida Brackman. She responded that she taught Lewis’ grandchildren. I response was: “so you know David Gresham.” Lewis late in life, married an American divorcee named Joy Davidman. She was an ex-Communist, who had converted to Christianity. Joy was originally from a secular Jewish family. Joy had two children, David and Douglas Gresham. (Lewis actually dedicated the Horse and His Boy to the two of them.) Joy died of cancer leaving the two children with Lewis. As a teenager, David Gresham became an Orthodox Jew. Interestingly enough, Lewis actually paid for David’s Yeshiva education. According to Mrs. Brackman, David and his wife are extremely eccentric. I would certainly love to meet them. Judging from the fact that there is little information available about David on the web, I assume that he is a very private person, who likes to avoid the public spotlight.


Miss S. said...

You can tell that the stuff was good because I drank all of it. This the first time in my life that I have ever drunk a full pint of beer.

Whoo-hoo; good for you! (Remember Maimonides however). גות שבת

James Pate said...

That's interesting how Lewis paid for his step-sons Yeshiva education. It reminds me of the story of how Pope John Paul II before he was pope encouraged a child he found to go to Judaism rather than become a Catholic, since that was the religion of the child's parents. I wonder how they reconcile that with their Christian exclusivism. I mean, Lewis and Catholics have good things to say about non-Christian religion, but they still think people should become Christians!

ShanaMaidel said...

So that's the name of my Chabad Rabbi's sister in law, huh.

Pierre Sogol said...

An old piece by someone who met and knew Gresham in adulthood;

Cumulatively from the net, it sounds like he left Torah per se and married an Indian woman, hard to tell if she was Baghdadi Jewish (families of whom were in England), or stam Indian, and lives in Dublin.

Big Bill said...

The beer is fine. just as long as you don't let the goyim take the cap off!