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Lewis article

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  • David Bratman
    Pretty good article on Lewis by Richard Jenkyns, disguised as a review of Alan Jacobs book, though it really isn t. This link might avoid a payment wall,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 18, 2005
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      Pretty good article on Lewis by Richard Jenkyns, disguised as a review of
      Alan Jacobs' book, though it really isn't. This link might avoid a payment
      wall, perhaps:


      Jenkyns lustily defends Lewis:

      >The rancor of some of Lewis's foes does seem to belong more to
      >psychopathology than literary criticism. But is there anything in it? Not
      >much, I think. Boys and girls are equally heroic and virtuous in the
      >stories. The accusation of misogyny I do not understand. The charge of
      >racism is based on the fact that the Calormenes, the people of the great
      >pagan empire to the south of Narnia, are described as swarthy ... The
      >swarthiness of the Calormenes is merely one of the facts about them (no one
      >complains about the paleness of the White Witch, the chief villain in the
      >first of the books). Emeth, the chivalrous Calormene warrior, is as
      >admirable as anyone in the series. Aravis, the heroine of The Horse and his
      >Boy, is a Calormene; she becomes queen of a northern kingdom, and mother of
      >its greatest king, who is therefore of mixed race, if you care about such
      >things, which Lewis evidently did not.

      >Lewis has been much censured for [Susan]--by A.N. Wilson, in a hostile
      >biography, and once more by Pullman, who explains that Susan has passed
      >through puberty and her sexual maturation "is so dreadful and so redolent of
      >sin" that Lewis has "to send her to Hell." This is simply a misreading. In
      >the first place, as Jacobs rightly notes, Susan is not sent to hell; she is
      >left on earth, her future development and destiny unknown. More
      >significantly, her creator's complaint is that she has not matured enough ...
      >Susan's fault, in other words, is not maturation but worldliness,
      >conformity, and a kind of childishness.
      >In fact, Lewis might more justly be faulted for the opposite error: for
      >making his children grow up before their time and become boringly sententious.

      and he turns Lewis's supposed santification from a flaw into a virtue:

      >When the dust of battle clears, the curious and enduring fact about C.S.
      >Lewis is that he is still there. One might expect the Narnia books to have
      >come to seem too middle class, too English, too dated in their language and
      >their values; but they still delight a vast number of young readers. ... At
      >Wheaton College in Illinois, Alan Jacobs's institution, Lewis's pipes and
      >beermugs may be reverentially inspected in a glass case; and on the big
      >screen he has been impersonated by Anthony Hopkins; and in Monrovia,
      >California he is sanctified in a stained-glass window. Such things do not
      >happen to many professors of English.
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