CS Lewis (Was: Favourite books)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Dec 13 17:39:10 EST 2004

Dorian wrote:

>Though I'm now a pagan, I don't find the Christian allegory in the books
>bothers me at all; there's a fair bit of paganism in them too (look at
>Bacchus and the Maenads in "Prince Caspian"), and I tend to feel that the
>"teachings" of the stories can be seen (or at least I see them) as fairly
>universal - Christianity, after all, does not have a monopoly on the ideas
>of "don't lie, cheat, steal, be mean to people" any more than it has a
>monopoly on the idea that willing self-sacrifice can be extremely powerful.
>(To take a couple of examples.)

The bit that got to me was the bit at the end of *The Last Battle* when the
Calormene soldier meets Aslan, and Aslan tells him, as near as makes no
odds, that it isn't what you *say* you are worshipping but whether you
behave in good ways in the process that makes the difference.  I took this
(at about age 8, I suppose) to mean that God was God was God and it didn't
matter what we call Her, or to put it another way that a good Muslim was
better than a bad Christian as far as God was concerned.  That was probably
the message I took away from the Narnia books more than any other, in fact.

After which I found it very difficult to cope with critics of Lewis who
said he was a bigot, because that was so not-bigotted, to me.  It almost
made up for the horrid bias in *The Horse and His Boy*.

>> The allure of the Narnian books, I think, may lie in the fact that the
>> images and emotions of the books do hold a strong imaginative power in
>> their own right.
>Oh, absolutely.  "Always winter and never Christmas", for instance, is an
>image to strike dread into any heart!

Well, apart from those of us on the list who either don't celebrate or
don't enjoy Christmas.  If for instance one of one's near and dear family
died on Christmas day, it may not thereafter be a day one feels much like
celebrating.  Always winter is a bit daunting, I agree, because after a
year or so everyone would presumably start to starve.

What made me feel slightly superior at Lewis was the scene in which the
spring starts to happen, and the White Witch and Dwarf and Edmund see it,
and then Lewis says "Unless you have looked at a world of snow for as long
as Edmund had been looking at it, you will hardly be able to imagine what a
relief those green patches were after the endless white."  I read that on a
day when there had been snow on the ground in the south of England for more
than three weeks, and I counted on my fingers and made it a whole day and a
half day the children had been in Narnia, and then I thought about the
North of England and thought "Phooey, he was a soft Southron jessie!"


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