Originally posted on JRR Tolkien Examiner on 7/11/09.
The book, to be called Language and Human Nature, was scheduled for publication in 1950. But it appears that the only work done on the manuscript was a few opening pages by Lewis.
Steven Beebe, Regents’ Professor and Chair of the Texas State Department of Communication Studies, found the text in a notebook in the Oxford University Bodleian Library. Both Tolkien and Lewis were faculty members at Oxford.
Tolkien and Lewis met in 1926 and became long-time friends, helping found the famous Inklings literary discussion group. Tolkien’s efforts were instrumental in converting the atheist Lewis to Christianity in 1931.
The duo’s friendship began to fade in the 1940s, and eventually they grew apart entirely. Tolkien felt that Lewis’ Narnia books were ill-conceived, and an inferior copy of his own fantasy writings. Tolkien was also annoyed by the former atheist’s successful efforts to be seen as a proponent and evangelizer of Christianity.
Beebe’s analysis of the manuscript will be published next year. He teaches a course called “C. S. Lewis: Chronicles of a Master Communicator” at Texas State, and will present the course this month at Oxford University.