A certain romance attaches to a lost work of art. All the more so when it is recovered. Such is the case with a translation of the Aeneid by CS Lewis, which has come to light long after scholars assumed it had perished in a bonfire of Lewis's notebooks after his death in 1963.
Now the work, which Lewis read to JRR Tolkien and other Oxford peers, has been pieced together from notebooks that were snatched from the flames and then stored in the Lewis archive. As we await the publication of the Lost Aeneid next month, it seems almost churlish to ask whether it will be any good.
For centuries it was thought that a famed "Mass for 40 Voices" by the Renaissance composer Alessandro Striggio had gone the way of so many manuscripts. But it was unearthed a couple of years ago and a recording is to be released next week. It is a shame, then, that one distinguished critic has pronounced that it is harmonically not very interesting.
Still, we can all nurture the fantasy that the old painting in an ageing relative's attic will turn out to be as valuable as the two small panels by Fra Angelico that were found in a house in Oxford after its occupant's death. It was lost, but now it is found: the masterly beneath the everyday. Thus art lurks in life. And if it does not, it is how we would like it to be.