New light shed on a fragment of C S Lewis’ writing

A short piece of writing by C S Lewis, which is housed in the Bodleian Library, has become the focus of scholarly attention after an academic claimed it to be the opening pages of a proposed book by Lewis and J R R Tolkien.

The work in question consists of eight pages of Narnia Chronicles author C S Lewis’ handwriting featuring a pre-semiotic analysis in which he defines the meaning and function of language.

Professor Steve Beebe of Texas State University has been studying the manuscript for the last seven years and has now reached the conclusion that this essay represents the opening pages of a proposed book by Lewis and The Lord of the Rings author Tolkien.

In this fragment, Lewis refers to 'the authors' – in the plural – which may substantiate Professor Beebe’s theory that this essay is related to the project on which Lewis and Tolkien were working.

As documented in a letter written by Tolkien in 1944 to his son Christopher, C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien had planned to write a book together about language, the working title of which would have been Language and Human Nature. A news release from their publisher announced that the book was scheduled for publication in 1950. It was, however, never published. Scholars have thought, until now, that it was never started.

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