I began my last essay by asking the reader to imagine that it costs money to quote C.S. Lewis and that only the FIRM could give permission and sell the quotes. Of course I was spoofing a bit, but not entirely. I told a respondent to go to the website telegraph.co.uk and read about a family that were (are?) having a legal battle with C.S. Lewis’s estate. They had bought a Narnian domain name as a gift for his son’s 11th birthday and the FIRM did not want them to have it.
According to Kathryn Lindskoog, in her book Sleuthing C.S. Lewis: More light in the Shawdowlands (Mercer University Press, 2001), some funny things are going on. In an Appendix called Who owns C.S. Lewis?, she says, “The results of that investigation, reported here for the first time, reveal the existence of a tangled network of business enterprises that spans the globe and may involve large-scale tax evasion.”
Lindskoog is dead now, and it may be a good thing, because she was shunned and ridiculed for what she wrote. What seems certain is that the C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. manages the publication of Lewis’s works and that there are two mysterious shareholders, one located in the Swiss Alps and the other in Liechtenstein.
In her book Lindskoog reports on the FIRM’s going price for Lewis quotes and tells how much she had to pay for one she used, so be careful or, if you can’t be careful, be generous to the FIRM.
This alerted one reader to query just who the FIRM might be and suggested that we might run a contest for the best acronym for the FIRM. I think this is a brilliant idea, but would like to remind contestants that acronyms are meaningless unless spelled correctly. The entries so far have been: Fomenting International Rights of Manufacturers; Forbidding Intentional Religious Mawkishness; and Foundation for Instigating Reformed Modernity, all, unfortunately, submitted by one person.
The contest is now open to tell the world (speaking broadly) what the acronym might mean—to you at least. There will be prizes given:
- First Prize: A bobble head of Susan
- Second Prize: A drawing of the “Toolshed”
- Third Prize: A rough sketch of Wormwood
- Fourth Prize: A photo of Walter Hooper and the Pope
- Fifth Price: A bobble tail and pitchfork of Screwtape
But don’t stop with acronyms—there must be other things that we can imagine about the FIRM and, of course, about quoting Lewis.
September 15, 2014