C.S. Lewis

HSchinske at aol.com HSchinske at aol.com
Tue Oct 3 16:03:57 EDT 2000

In a message dated 10/2/2000 3:33:32 PM Pacific Daylight Time, Nat wrote:

> >3. I'm struck by how intrusive the obviously religious elements in 
>  >Narnia are. It's as if there were two levels of story going on: the 
>  >one he obviously enjoyed, and the one where he was aware of his 
>  >responsibility as an Adult to Care for the Moral Well-Being of His 
>  >Readers. Even Aslan's character is not always specifically preachy. 
>  >I think part of the difference may be that old creative writing 
>  >mantra: "show, don't tell." Because his showing is, in an 
>  >old-fashioned way, wonderful. It's only when he gets going on who is 
>  >a good child and who is bad, that things really start falling apart 
>  >for me.

No, I don't see it that way. I don't think he *meant* to be didactic in the 
way that, say, Thomas Hughes (_Tom Brown's Schooldays_) says that his whole 
object in writing was to get a chance to preach to boys. I think he took 
shortcuts in writing that he oughtn't to have taken (the description of 
Eustace's parents comes to mind), and that those led him into an imitation of 
didactic books. I see it as a literary failure, a failure of execution, not a 
failure of intent. Does that make any sense whatsoever?

I think he would have said that the real teaching, like the real humor, 
should be part of what's going on (with humor he called it "the bloom" on the 
writing, I think), not added in. I've always thought Lewis needed a 
first-rate editor, but gosh, who'd dare? (Except Joy Davidman, of course.)

Helen Schinske
HSchinske at aol.com
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