Dominic Winter Auctioneers in Gloucestershire will auction off a delightful, previously unknown C.S. Lewis letter about his interpretation of joy. The letter, discovered tucked into a used book, reveals the author’s view of the emotion: “…real joy… jumps under one’s ribs and makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o’nights.”
The letter, addressed to an unidentified “Mrs Willis,” was written in August of 1945. The auctioneers have not been able to find out any further information about Mrs Willis, even though the letter’s content reveals a deep, personal friendship between the two, wherein Lewis waxes poetically on philosophical thoughts. The letter was found in a copy of Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain,” purchased by its owner in a secondhand bookshop. The owner didn’t discover the letter until several years later.
Lewis writes in the letter that “the physical sensations of joy and misery are in my case identical.” Lewis added a postscript as well, “Don’t you know the disappointment when you’d expected joy from a piece of music and get only pleasure: Like finding Leah when you thought you’d married Rachel!”
Lewis expanded on his conception of joy in his memoir, Surprised by Joy,published three years after the letter in 1948.
Lewis letters are uncommon and tend to attract significant interest from bidders when they come up for auction. Dominic Winter has set the estimate for the letter at £1,200-1,500 ($1,800-2,350). It will be included in the Children’s and Illustrated Books, Antique Fans, Toys, and Ceramics, and Modern First Editions auction on December 18.
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Reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections, Nate Pedersen author
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