The C.S. Lewis Blog has posted an interview with Dr. Steven Beebe, the professor and chair of communication studies at Texas State University, who found a bit of an unpublished manuscript (as we reported earlier) that seems to be the beginnings of a book on language that both Tolkien and Lewis may have collaborated on. Here’s a brief excerpt:
CSL.com: How does Tolkien play into it, since it is my understanding from the press release that there is no indication he started work on the project? Is that more a theory even given the “we” and “authors” indications?
Steven Beebe: It was only this year that I realized that while doing my laundry at a local laundromat in San Marcos, Tex., that I made the connection that the manuscript I had found in 2002 was the beginning of a book that Lewis had planned to write with Tolkien. I was doing research about Tolkien and Lewis and read about their planned book and began reading all I could find about their planned project. As I was reading the description of their planned book, I immediately realized that Lewis did indeed begin the book — it was the manuscript that I had transcribed. (I was with my wife and we were both reading silently in the Laundromat when I excitedly burst out with “I know what it is!” My wife said, “What what is?” And I said: “I know what the Lewis manuscript is!”) There were many scholars who concluded that the book was never started and certainly never written. Clearly the book was never published. There is no evidence that Tolkien started work on the project. In a 1944 letter Tolkien wrote to his son, Christopher, about the collaborative Lewis/Tolkien book project, J.R.R. Tolkien laments that he doubted he’d have the time to work on all of the projects he had planned including the planned book with C. S. Lewis. I surmise that although Tolkien would have liked to have written the book, he simply was too busy working on Lord of the Rings and other projects to work on the collaborative Lewis/Tolkien project.