There’s a new C.S. Lewis book coming out, to be published on May 3 of this year. While it’s not a Narnia book, anyone who is a fan of Lewis’ writing might be interested in reading this. Lately, Lewis’s friend J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Sigurd and Gudrun was published, and now it seems it’s Lewis’ turn to have a lost manuscript see the light of day.
It was a translation that he would read frequently to the Inklings, which was a group that met regularly which included Tolkien. The work was believed to have been lost to a bonfire back in 1964, a year after Lewis’s death. Lewis’s secretary, Walter Hooper, was going through some of his material and found the lost manuscript. The complete translation will be published on May 3, 2011.
Lewis first started work on the translation in 1935, when he was 37, and it is believed he returned to it several times throughout his life.
“By what seems more than coincidence, I appeared at The Kilns that very day and learned that unless I carried the papers away with me that afternoon they would indeed be destroyed,” Hooper wrote. “There were so many that it took all my strength and energy to carry them back to Keble College.” For the past 46 years, Hooper has spent his time sifting through the saved material before it is transported to Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Four years ago, he realised that fragments of the famous Aeneid translation, referred to by Tolkien in his own letters, had escaped his attention. Since then he has worked with Reyes to piece together the translation, which exists in fragments spread across several notebooks.
Reyes and Hooper began collaborating when Reyes was a visiting scholar at Oxford University’s Wolfson College. “He asked me to write out any notes that would help a general reader understand the text,” said Reyes. “These notes were a glossary explaining classical allusions which were too long to be incorporated into a new edition of Lewis’s collected poetry, and so Walter wondered if the Aeneid translation could stand on its own as a volume.”
C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) is best remembered as a literary critic, essayist, theologian, and novelist, and his famed tales The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters have been read by millions. Now, A.T. Reyes reveals a different side of this diverse man of letters: translator.
Reyes introduces the surviving fragments of Lewis’s translation of Virgil’s epic poem, which were rescued from a bonfire. They are presented in parallel with the Latin text, and are accompanied by synopses of missing sections, and an informative glossary, making them accessible to the general reader. Writes Lewis in A Preface to Paradise Lost, “Virgil uses something more subtle than mere length of time…. It is this which gives the reader of the Aeneid the sense of having lived through so much. No man who has read it with full perception remains an adolescent.” Lewis’s admiration for the Aeneid, written in the 1st century BC and unfolding the adventures of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy and became the ancestor of the Romans, is evident in his remarkably lyrical translation.
C. S. Lewis’s Lost Aeneid is part detective story, as Reyes recounts the dramatic rescue of the fragments and his efforts to collect and organize them, and part illuminating look at a lesser-known and intriguing aspect of Lewis’s work.