David B. Hart's essay on Maurice Cowling, "A Most Partial Historian" (December 2003), is terrific. It is beautifully written, with many excellent observations and much wisdom. If the books in Cowling's trilogy are half as interesting as the review, they must make good reading.
I am perplexed, however, at Mr. Hart's approval of Cowling's critique of C. S. Lewis (an "uncomfortably accurate pastiche"). Cowling's assessment--as well as Mr. Hart's approval of it--seems odd. Mr. Hart has done a good job of describing Cowling as a fairly cloistered academic, whose curmudgeonly rants against modernity have not gained him much of an audience. This is exactly the opposite of Lewis, whose clarity and appeal on the subjects Cowling holds dear are second to none, and whose arguments on behalf of the faith have stirred millions of highbrows and lowbrows, intellectuals and "common" men and women, of the past and current century. Lewis was all that Cowling apparently is not, among both academics and the rest of us. Cowling's criticisms of Lewis sound like those of a talented yet inferior Monday-morning quarterback criticizing Terry Bradshaw for some defects of form while not acknowledging that he led the Steelers to four Superbowl triumphs.
Richard K. Mason
David Hart replies:
First, let me remark that I am fairly certain that Richard K. Mason is the...