OPINIONSrnAt Arm’s Lengthrnby William Wilsonrn”/ never had the opportunity of searching out God. He sought me out. Hernstalked me hke a redskin, took careful aim and fired.”rn—C.S. LewisrnAll My Road Before Me: The DiaryrnofC.S. Lewis, 1922-1927rnEdited by Walter Hooper;rnForeword by Owen BarfieldrnNew York: Harcourt Brace ]ovanovich;rn508 pp., $22.95rnWord and Story in C.S. LewisrnEdited by Peter ]. Schakel andrnCharles A. HuttarrnColumbia, Missouri: University ofrnMissouri Press; 316 pp., $37.50rnThe disgruntled professor whornequates academic integrity withrnpaucity of book sales and who is therebyrnconvinced that the masses who followrnthe writings of C.S. Lewis must be arncult of sorts, will take a perverse delightrnin the publication of his journal. AndrnWilliam Wilson is the assistant dean ofrnthe College of Arts and Sciences and arnmember of the religious studies departmentrnat the University of Virginia.rnafter reading it even the firmest disciplernwill have to admit that almost all ofrnthe 450 pages of entries are a repetitivernchronicle of his daily round, replete withrnrecordings of the weather and accountsrnof friends and companions now lost tornthe ages. He will have to admit, that is,rnthat the diary was published with thernclear expectation that Lewis’s readersrnare interested first in the man and hisrnwriting only secondarily. Along the wayrnone can find (as introduction, flyleaf,rnand preface promise) what a great writer’srndiary ought to give—signs of development,rnsurmises that will one day bernpublished convictions, sudden revelationsrnof thought, etc.—^but they are neverrnin the foreground, and by the end ofrnthe book the reader has had no hint ofrnhow in these early years Lewis was makingrnhimself into a writer who wouldrnchange the hearts and minds and faithrnof millions.rnThe journal is finally profitable forrnwhat it does not say. These were thernyears that Lewis, later in life, would referrnto as his period of “hotheaded atheism”;rnthe diary brings us almost to the brink ofrnthe sudden and dramatic conversion hernrecounted in his celebrated autobiography,rnSurprised by ]oy. But we witnessrnno hotheaded atheism at all in the journal,rnno antagonistic fun poked at believingrnfriends, no jumping on Russell’s,rnFreud’s, or Nietzsche’s bandwagon: thernman we see is very much like the manrnwe know. He recounts with rare pleasurernhis nature walks; he relishes conversation,rntea, thick books, and baths.rnHe befriends the plodder, is openly dismissivernof the demagogue, and isrnamused by all the chatty dons at Oxford.rnMore importantly, he holds thernworld at arm’s length, as the ChristianrnLewis was to do. Tolkien he greatly admires,rnalthough he “needs a few goodrnslaps.” Much of Dickens is overrated,rnand Dryden is entirely a “rum thing.”rnChristianity is simply one of the manyrnoptions he holds at bay. Lewis will takernhis turn reading the lesson at chapel, butrnwith some reluctance; he will attendrnMass with his father mainly for the sakernof family harmony.rnDECEMBER 1992/31rnrnrn