- 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
Jenkyns lustily defends Lewis:
>The rancor of some of Lewis's foes does seem to belong more toand he turns Lewis's supposed santification from a flaw into a virtue:
>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.
>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.