05 December 2006

A late love affair for Lewis

There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them. It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry ‘masculine’ when we see them in a woman; it is arrogance in them, to describe a man’s sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as ‘feminine’. But also what poor, warped fragments of humanity most mere men and mere women must be to make the implications of that arrogance plausible. Marriage heals this. Jointly the two become fully human. “In the image of God created He them.” Thus, by a paradox, this carnival of sexuality leads us out beyond our sexes.
- C S Lewis, ‘A Grief Observed’

C S Lewis married Joy Davidman: first a civil marriage in a registry office (1955), and a year later, formally, by a clergyman at her bedside. Joy was suffering from bone cancer and was bedridden. Lewis was 57 at the time (a confirmed bachelor until then) and Joy 40. Apparently, C S Lewis and Joy Davidman Gresham had known each other since 1952 when she had visited him in Oxford. Joy, an American writer, separated from her husband (William Gresham) and with two sons, moved to England and later divorced her husband to marry Lewis.

Joy died in 1960. Lewis died in 1963. In ‘A Grief Observed’, C S Lewis records his experience of bereavement at his wife’s death. The book was published in 1961.

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