Alexei K. wrote:
". . . the relationship in _The Horse and His Boy_ . . . suggests a more realistic and maturer view of marriage than a rigidly hierarchical one where "submission" is the woman's only acceptable role. As others have pointed out, Lewis's views on women *did* evolve, and Joy Davidman surely had a
> lot to do with it."
Yes, as David (Lenander) pointed out in his excellent post last night, Lewis did change over time, and good for him. Change is hard, and like Arlo Guthrie I think people who achieve it admirable. The man who wrote TILL WE HAVE FACES simply has more insight into human nature than the man who wrote DYMER, and used it to good effect.
> David Lenander wrote
> I have no idea what John R was really intending in his post, and I've
> already been appropriately chastised when I mistakenly ascribed a
> meaning to his words on another subject
Please let me apologize for my earlier burst of ill-temper.
> Furthermore, I would part from agreeing with Mary that an assertion
> that women are mentally inferior doesn't mean that they are inferior in
> some absolute sense. I'm not entirely sure that I disagree, but I
> think that the places where people say such things usually involve a
> particularly nasty patronizing that really betrays a belief in an
> innate inferiority . . .
Having grown up in pre-integration Arkansas, I'm possibly oversensitive to claims that a person who thinks a particular group is inferior nonetheless isn't prejudiced against them. Likewise claims that a group is okay so long as they keep to their (submissive, subservient) place.
> Even today there are sincere Christians who apparently believe this, it
> may even be doctrinal in some sects. I think it may also be true of
> some other, non-Christian religions.
Yes, I've had many friends who sincerely believe women are innately inferior and innately subordinate to men. It was doctrinal (denominational) in almost every case.
"I almost don't want to know too much about the man, because familiarity
breeds contempt... I have discovered unflattering things about CSL, and
about CW, and about Winston Churchill and G.K. Chesterton and others... I
don't want my regard for JRRT to be tainted by things that are not relevant
to his creation of Middle-Earth and his many other related works."
I realized years ago when working on fact-checking a line of children's biographies of famous people ("People Who Have Changed the World") that every great man and woman also has at least one reprehensible trait or belief. That doesn't negate his or her greatness or goodness: cf. Tolkien's remark about Beethoven. I think Lewis was well aware of his character flaws (which we have not even begun to go into here) and worked hard, and by and large successfully, to counteract them. Then too there are his virtues that more than balance the scales: his generosity (although in fear of poverty he gave away all the money his religious books earned), his patience (he corresponded for years with people he didn't especially like because he felt a sympathetic ear did them good), his loyalty to friends, his essential humility about his own gifts and lack of concern about his own physical well-being: these are the traits that lead some of his admirers to rank him not just as a good man but a great one. Familiarity need not breed contempt; often it leads to empathy, understanding, and compassion.
The other approach works fine too. Lewis and Tolkien themselves (but not I think Williams) belonged firmly to the school that held you should ignore the author and simply concentrate on the work, although they departed from this rule freely when it suited their purpose (e.g., when CSL used the fact of Milton's Xianity to argue for orthodoxy in PARADISE LOST).
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