We live in censorious times. Probably we have always done so, for there has never been a shortage of people eager to criticise others and set them right. Yet it seems to me that things in this respect, as in others, are worse than they used to be. Or perhaps it’s just that much that used to seem normal is subject to adverse criticism now.
“McGrath“ – author of a new biography of Lewis – “is candid about the eccentric and less edifying side of his subject’s life. Lewis was personally shabby and unkempt, and he let his house get into an unhealthily filthy state. He refused to learn to type or drive a car. He smoked and drank heavily. Tolkien was amused to hear a reference to ‘the ascetic Mr Lewis’ on a day when he had seen him drink three pints of beer at lunchtime.”
Three pints of beer at lunchtime! Shocking indeed, though I’m not sure whether the reviewer considers this to have been “eccentric” or “less edifying”. Actually of course it was quite usual in Lewis’s day, just as it was usual to smoke, even heavily. Having a few drinks after a morning’s work was common practice, and one should consider that Lewis would have been drinking bitter or even mild, both weaker than many beers on offer today.
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