BROTHERS AND FRIENDS: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis by Warren Hamilton Lewis

BROTHERS AND FRIENDS: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis

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A small--one-ninth of the original--but nourishing slice of a solid British (Northern Irish) soul. Lewis is remembered for being the elder brother of C. S. Lewis and for writing half a dozen books on 17th-century France, among them The Sunset of the Splendid Century. Born in 1894, he led an active and, in its own way, colorful life, attending the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, then serving in France during World War I, in Sierra Leone for six postwar months, and in China (two long tours of duty) until retiring in 1932. His last 40 years, except for a stint in the Oxford City Home Guard Battalion during World War II, he spent writing, traveling, and living with his beloved ""Jack"" (the family name for C.S.L.). Warren Lewis was a Christian (he returned to his childhood faith in 1931), a confirmed bachelor, and an alcoholic. His wants were few. ""A book, a good chair, my pipe and a good bed to go when night falls,"" he once wrote to a friend, ""and I'm as happy as one can be in this very trying world."" He died in 1973, ten years after suffering the loss of Jack (""the perpetual ache of J's absence""). It was a life without grand passions or absorbing dreams, but Lewis makes a superb diarist. Though he neglects to describe (in this edition, at any rate) the exotic landscapes he saw in Asia and Africa, Lewis succeeds very well in evoking the homey, tweedy, pipe-and-sherry world of The Bird and Baby pub at Oxford; conclaves attended by a group of devout literati called the Inklings; walking tours in the countryside with Jack; church services and family gossip; books and opinions about everything under the sun. Through it all Lewis is observant, doggedly normal, and naturally frank (as when he derides Jack's unworldly ignorance in thinking Tito the king of Greece). A minor work, to be sure, but finely written and steadily interesting.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1982
Publisher: Harper & Row