“THERE ARE ONLY two views that face all the facts,” wrote C.S. Lewis with his characteristic lectern-thumping certainty in “Mere Christianity” (1952). “One is the Christian view that this is a good world that has gone wrong, but still retains the memory of what it ought to have been. The other is the view called Dualism….I personally think that next to Christianity Dualism is the manliest and most sensible creed on the market.” What Lewis, red-faced reactionary and cheerleader for Christ, made of the writings of Norman Mailer — whose new novel “The Castle in the Forest” is published this week — is not recorded. It is unlikely, however, that he would have been disposed to judge them “sensible.” Nor, one suspects, would the great medievalist have found much that was “manly” in the young Mailer’s fascination with jazz, crime, orgasm, and marijuana. (“Swamp-literature!,” he might have said.) Nonetheless, could the pipe-smoke of his antimodern prejudice have been waved away for a minute, and a clear reading taken of Mailer’s work and views, Lewis — who suffered from an abrupt intellectual honesty — would have been forced to admit it: Here, as he himself was the big-hitting Christian writer of his time, was the century’s arch-apologist of dualism.
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