Interrupting C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis was a commanding intellectual presence. He was kind in his letters to fans and such, but apparently, if you met him in person and tried to engage him a deeper discussion, he would quickly drown you out with his own thoughts on the matter. There were few people that had the gall and intellectual prowess to interrupt him.

In a letter to his son, Tolkien recounts a hilarious meeting of the Inklings:

I reached the Mitre at 8 where I was joined by Charles Williams and the Red Admiral (Havard), resolved to take fuel on board before joining the well-oiled diners in Magdalen (C.S. Lewis and Owen Barfield). Lewis was highly flown, but we were also in good fettle; while Barfield is the only man who can tackle Lewis making him define everything and interrupting his most dogmatic pronouncements with subtle distinguo’s. The result was a most amusing and highly contentious evening, on which (had an outsider eavesdropped) he would have through it a meeting of fell enemies hurling deadly insults before drawing their guns.

On one occasion when the audience had flatly refused tohear Jack discourse on and define ‘Chance’, Jack said: ‘Very well, some other time, but if you die tonight you’ll be cut off knowing a great deal less about Chance than you might have.’ Warnie: ‘That only illustrates what I’ve always said: every cloud has a silver lining.’

-J.R.R. Tolkien in a letter to Christopher Tolkien on 11/24/1944