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The Complete Poems - Question

Comprising most of Lewis' writings.

The Complete Poems - Question

Postby Gandalf » 01 Feb 2009, 02:02

I'm looking into purchasing C.S. Lewis's Poems and am trying to decide how best to do this and get all published material.

From what I understand, there are at least five collections of poems by C.S. Lewis:
Spirits in Bondage (ISBN 1596053720)
Poems (ISBN 0156027690)
Narrative Poems (ISBN 0156027984)
The Collected Poems of C.S. Lewis (ISBN 0006278337) - published in 1994
The Complete Poems (ISBN 0007157061) - published in 2006

My understanding is that "The Collected Poems of C.S. Lewis" includes "Spirits of Bondage" and "Poems" as well as 17 other previously unpublished poems. If one purchases this and "Narrative Poems", one has all of his poetry.

My question is, what is "The Complete Poems"? Is it all of the previous material? Does it included the extra 17 poems from "The Collected Poems"? Has ANYONE ever heard of this before?
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Re: The Complete Poems - Question

Postby Sven » 01 Feb 2009, 18:45

The Complete Poems supposedly combines the contents of The Collected Poems and Narrative Poems. It's a hard find, as not very many copies were published. I've never seen a copy of it, but I have the other two.

One note, if you're looking for The Collected Poems in used bookstores. The title page does state the name of the book is The Collected Poems of C. S. Lewis, but, the front cover and spine only say Poems. This is very confusing as there is an earlier, much shorter collection with that one word title. The 1994 collection has the ISBN you mentioned above, the cover is illustrated with a tropical island seen through a looking glass and traversed by a rope, with the name C. S. Lewis imposed on the rope and the title Poems above that.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: The Complete Poems - Question

Postby Gandalf » 04 Feb 2009, 16:21

Double post. See below.
Last edited by Gandalf on 04 Feb 2009, 16:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Complete Poems - Question

Postby Gandalf » 04 Feb 2009, 16:23

Thanks so much! I'll be looking for either Collected Poems and Narrative Poems or The Complete Poems.

Any idea why The Complete Poems was a limited printing and hasn't been reprinted? Seems like Lewis fans would salivate over such a collection.
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Re: The Complete Poems - Question

Postby Sven » 04 Feb 2009, 20:31

I suspect the estate and the publisher over-estimated the saleability of the book. There were a few collections released about the same time, possibly hoping to ride on the success of the LWW movie. Another excellent collection from about that time I do have is of all of Lewis' essays and shorter fiction. It also sold very few copies.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: The Complete Poems - Question

Postby Gandalf » 11 Feb 2009, 23:45

I've been in contact with a representative from HarperCollins and discovered that this book was actually canceled before it was printed (this explains why I can't even find expensive used copies). It never made it to release. This is a real pity about The Complete Poems. I'm trying to get in touch with HarperCollins to let them know that there is some demand, even if it is minimal.

I'm in the process of trying to track down the Essay Collection: Literature, Philosophy and Short Stories book (I already have the companion Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church).This book would go nicely with those two, along with Selected Books and the Signature Collection.

Also, I wonder, since they seemed to be publishing collections to include all of his non-university published material, if there were plans for a volume of his other unpublished essays (those from Selected Literary Essays, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literatureand the ones from God in the Dock and On Stories that weren't included in the other Essay Collections). If so, I suppose this volume would have been dropped at the same time as The Complete Poems. Pity really, for all of us C.S. Lewis completists.
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Re: The Complete Poems - Question

Postby Gandalf » 13 Feb 2009, 05:54

I got some more information regarding The Complete Poems from a very helpful gentleman at HarperCollins. Below is his email:

Thank you for your enquiry and your interest in this project. The Complete Poems by C.S. Lewis has not yet been published, despite information on certain websites. It was planned to be an amalgam of the two old books Poems and Narrative Poems, i.e. all Jack's verse writing in one book, in the way we have tried to bring all his essays or all his letters into compendium volumes. However, it has come to light that there exists some additional poems, and we delayed publication in order to research and collate that unpublished material. I am hoping that this volume will finally be published in 2010, and that fans will consider it to have been worth waiting for.


So this volume is apparently going to happen and will apparently include even more unpublished material than the 1996 Poems.

In addition, I asked him about the missing essays. He seemed surprised to find out that there were around 40 essays that hadn't been included in either Essay Collection volume. He asked me to send him a list of them...
...so that we could investigate the feasibility of a third volume.
Of course, I included the essays from Selected Literary Essays & Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, 'Our English Syllabus', 'The Idea of an "English School"', 'A Reply to Professor Haldane', 'Rejoinder to Dr. Pittenger', and the Preface from Essays Presented to Charles Williams. Anything I miss?
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