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I presume the reason that (lambda () ...) does not evaluate is
because Common Lisp, unlike Scheme, has the dual notions of
"functional meaning" and "value meaning".  The former is used
for the first element of a non-special form list, and the
latter is used for the rest.  FUNCTION is provided to allow
"functional" meaning in "value" context.  This is all so that
we can have a LIST function and still let people have variables
named LIST.