14 May

C. S. Lewis: Two doses, administered aurally

Category: What We're Reading
By: Ken Myers
Published: 05/14/06

Many people who've read Lewis's Mere Christianity know that the content of the book was originally presented as a series of talks on the radio (or "wireless" to be more in keeping with the patois of the period). It has long been assumed by people who care about such things that no recordings of those talks survived. However, the BBC has made available online a 14-minute selection of original reading of what became the third part of Mere Christianity, a section called "Beyond Personality." The audio quality from this recording, originally broadcast on March 21, 1944, is crude but entirely clear. Hearing Lewis's voice offers a feeling for his personality. But the recording is also a reminder of how much public culture in the West has changed in 60 years: try to imagine any country in which government-sponsored broadcasts could contain this kind of content. The BBC is to be commended for offering this treat even to those of us who don't pay for its upkeep.

The audio is available here, and requires Realplayer installed on your computer (the BBC's instructions for obtaining Realplayer are here).

In addition to the recording of portions of "Beyond Personality," the BBC web page referenced above also has a link to Lewis offering a 2-minute introduction to his book, The Great Divorce, comments originally broadcast in 1948. Lewis begins: "Blake wrote The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. If I've written of their divorce, this is not because I think myself a fit antagonist for so great a genius, nor even because I feel at all sure that I knew what he meant. . . ."

Other BBC resources about Lewis are available here. [Posted May 2006, KAM]