Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

What is "Mythopoeic"?

Expand Messages
  • Staci Dumoski
    Gereetings all, Last night, I was telling my husband about a group of writers I ve joined with online who are all interested in writing mythopoeic fiction.
    Message 1 of 16 , Aug 12, 1999
    • 0 Attachment
      Gereetings all,

      Last night, I was telling my husband about a group of writers I've joined
      with online who are all interested in writing mythopoeic fiction. It's
      something I'm quite excited about, but my husband looked at me as if I was
      cracked.

      "How can you right Mythopoeia when they're all dead?" he said.

      "Well, the Inklings are dead," I said, "but there are still lots of people
      writing mythopoeic fiction..." and proceeded to list some of the more
      recent writers who might be considered to be doing so.

      Well, my husband, a "stodgy academic", refused to be swayed from his
      opinion that "Mythopoeia" was a literary movement that ended when all the
      original participants of the movement were dead.

      As a writer, I feel that Mythopoeia is alive and well, and don't like
      someone telling me that I can't write it, just because I didn't have the
      priveledge of sitting around a table with the Likes of Tolkien and Lewis
      sharing ideas.

      I'd be interested in hearing what others have to say on the issue, and I
      can't think of a better forum.

      Best,
      Staci

      Staci Ann Dumoski Phantastes
      Editor and Publisher "The Fantasy Writer's Guide"
      editor@... http://www.phantastes.com
    • Steve Schaper
      It would be interesting to define mythopoeia versus fantasy in general or even faery tales in general. --Steve ====================================== It s
      Message 2 of 16 , Aug 12, 1999
      • 0 Attachment
        It would be interesting to define 'mythopoeia' versus fantasy in
        general or even faery tales in general.

        --Steve
        ======================================
        It's 1999, where's Moonbase Alpha?
        ======================================
      • d.bratman@xxxxx.xxx
        I m not quite sure how to respond to Staci s post, though it s interesting enough that I d like to do so. First we must remember that the Inklings did not
        Message 3 of 16 , Aug 12, 1999
        • 0 Attachment
          I'm not quite sure how to respond to Staci's post, though it's interesting
          enough that I'd like to do so.

          First we must remember that the Inklings did not consider themselves a
          formal literary movement, and that they certainly never said they were
          writing "Mythopoeic Literature" with capital letters. "Mythopoeic" is
          an adjective applied long after the fact that seems to describe better
          than any other single word what was most essentially important about
          what they had in common as writers.

          But it was certainly never claimed by anyone that they were the only ones
          who could write with that quality. The group, the Inklings, is dead and
          cannot be revived; but it's no more impossible today to write mythopoeic
          fiction than it is impossible to write fairy tales because Perrault and
          Grimm are dead, or impossible to write serious war novels because Crane
          and Remarque and Hemingway and Jones are dead.

          Some might say that we shouldn't write literature of a particular kind or
          style because it's out of keeping with the temper or spirit of the times.
          That I find to be a very odd argument. There's nothing inherent in the
          digits 1999 or 2000 to prevent us from writing something that might have
          been written in 1950. True, some things change that quickly; but other
          things do not. We should write what we feel moved to write, for it is
          those who come after us, and not we ourselves, who will determine what was
          typical and representative of our time.

          David Bratman
          - not responsible for the following advertisement -
        • WendellWag@xxx.xxx
          In a message dated 8/12/99 11:49:57 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... I suppose that there s been similar claims in other art forms. Some film critics and
          Message 4 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
          • 0 Attachment
            In a message dated 8/12/99 11:49:57 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
            unicorn@... writes:

            > Well, my husband, a "stodgy academic", refused to be swayed from
            > his opinion that "Mythopoeia" was a literary movement that ended
            > when all the original participants of the movement were dead.

            I suppose that there's been similar claims in other art forms. Some film
            critics and historians say that the term "film noir" can only be applied to
            American films of the '40's and '50's, and anything else is "neo-noir" or
            some such. I think that's an equally ridiculous distinction.

            In your case, Staci, there's only one solution: divorce.

            In a message dated 8/13/99 12:21:13 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
            d.bratman@... writes:

            > First we must remember that the Inklings did not consider
            > themselves a formal literary movement, and that they certainly
            > never said they were writing "Mythopoeic Literature" with
            > capital letters.

            Not only did they not consider themselves a literary movement, but it's
            possible to imagine an alternate world in which no one ever considered them a
            literary movement. That is, consider an alternate history in which the
            Inklings hung out together in the same way they did in our world, read each
            other's manuscripts as they did in our world, wrote the same books they did
            in our world, but no literary scholar ever happened to think of them as being
            part of a single literary movement. After all, it was a distinct jump (which
            I think was first made by Chad Walsh in his 1949 book C. S. Lewis: Apostle to
            the Sceptics) when someone first said, "You know, this C. S. Lewis, J. R. R.
            Tolkien, and Charles Williams, even though there are differences between
            their writings, there's also a basic similarity to them."

            Come to think of it, how likely is it that people would be calling the works
            of the Inklings "mythopoeic literature" if Glen GoodKnight hadn't in 1967
            come up with the name of the Mythopoeic Society?

            The same thing can be said of other literary movements. It took a distinct
            jump for someone to look at the works of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley,
            Keats, and Byron and say, "These guys wrote similar stuff. Let's call them
            all romantic poets."

            In a message dated 8/12/99 11:49:57 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
            unicorn@... writes:

            > Last night, I was telling my husband about a group of writers
            > I've joined with online who are all interested in writing
            > mythopoeic fiction.

            Thanks for the compliment, but if I were capable of writing mythopoeic
            literature instead of merely talking about it, I'd be doing so right now.

            Wendell Wagner
          • THEODORE SHERMAN
            ... Well, let s remember that Glen GoodKnight did not coin the term mythopoeic literature. Lewis uses the term in his little preface to MacDonald s Lilith
            Message 5 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
            • 0 Attachment
              WendellWag@... wrote:

              > From: WendellWag@...
              >
              > Come to think of it, how likely is it that people would be calling the works
              > of the Inklings "mythopoeic literature" if Glen GoodKnight hadn't in 1967
              > come up with the name of the Mythopoeic Society?
              >

              Well, let's remember that Glen GoodKnight did not coin the term "mythopoeic
              literature." Lewis uses the term in his little preface to MacDonald's Lilith and
              Phantastes (in the Eerdmans editions) and Tolkien refers to mythopoeic art in "On
              Fairy-Stories." GG was wise enough to see that all these writers wrote this kind
              of literature, though their specific genres are quite different. Williams's
              mythopoeic literature differs greatly from Tolkien's, for example.

              >
              > The same thing can be said of other literary movements. It took a distinct
              > jump for someone to look at the works of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley,
              > Keats, and Byron and say, "These guys wrote similar stuff. Let's call them
              > all romantic poets."

              Well, the same principle applies to all literary movements. Johnson, Dryden, and
              Pope did not think of themselves as neo-Augustans or neo-Classicalists, just as
              Shakespeare would not have thought of himself as a "renaissance" or "Elizabethan"
              writer. All such appellations are given only after a group of writers are
              recognized as sharing distinct writing styles, themes, or genres.

              Also in this vein, and I think this is what Staci's husband *might* have been
              getting at, is the notion that no one today is writing mythopoeic fiction of the
              kind that the Inklings wrote. After all, how many of us think that any present or
              future author will equal Tolkien's productive and mythopoeic genius? That other
              writers may not rise to the standards our beloved authors set, however, doesn't
              mean that those present or future authors cannot write mythopoeic literature. I
              think R.E. Klein's The History of Our World Beyond the Wave is a wonderful
              example of mythopoeic fiction, as I do also of Stephen Lawhead's Song of Albion
              series (though I'm aware that others on this list and in the MS disagree).

              Just my scrambled musings and ravings :)

              Ted
              --
              Dr. Theodore James Sherman
              Associate Professor of English
              Middle Tennessee State University
              Murfreesboro, TN 37130
              (615) 898-2678
              tsherman@...
            • THEODORE SHERMAN
              What a brilliant post, David! Ted ... -- Dr. Theodore James Sherman Associate Professor of English Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN 37130
              Message 6 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
              • 0 Attachment
                What a brilliant post, David!

                Ted

                d.bratman@... wrote:

                > From: d.bratman@...
                >
                > I'm not quite sure how to respond to Staci's post, though it's interesting
                > enough that I'd like to do so.
                >
                > First we must remember that the Inklings did not consider themselves a
                > formal literary movement, and that they certainly never said they were
                > writing "Mythopoeic Literature" with capital letters. "Mythopoeic" is
                > an adjective applied long after the fact that seems to describe better
                > than any other single word what was most essentially important about
                > what they had in common as writers.
                >
                > But it was certainly never claimed by anyone that they were the only ones
                > who could write with that quality. The group, the Inklings, is dead and
                > cannot be revived; but it's no more impossible today to write mythopoeic
                > fiction than it is impossible to write fairy tales because Perrault and
                > Grimm are dead, or impossible to write serious war novels because Crane
                > and Remarque and Hemingway and Jones are dead.
                >
                > Some might say that we shouldn't write literature of a particular kind or
                > style because it's out of keeping with the temper or spirit of the times.
                > That I find to be a very odd argument. There's nothing inherent in the
                > digits 1999 or 2000 to prevent us from writing something that might have
                > been written in 1950. True, some things change that quickly; but other
                > things do not. We should write what we feel moved to write, for it is
                > those who come after us, and not we ourselves, who will determine what was
                > typical and representative of our time.
                >
                > David Bratman
                > - not responsible for the following advertisement -
                >
                > --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
                >
                > Congratulations to Molly Jones
                > This week's FRIENDS & FAMILY WINNER!
                > To enter, go to http://www.onelist.com/info/onereachsplash3.html
                >
                > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

                --
                Dr. Theodore James Sherman
                Associate Professor of English
                Middle Tennessee State University
                Murfreesboro, TN 37130
                (615) 898-2678
                tsherman@...
              • d.bratman@xxxxx.xxx
                Wendell makes a very useful and necessary point in observing that before the Inklings could be grouped together as a literary movement, someone - not
                Message 7 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
                • 0 Attachment
                  Wendell makes a very useful and necessary point in observing that before
                  the Inklings could be grouped together as a literary movement, someone
                  - not necessarily themselves, and in this case definitely NOT themselves -
                  had to decide that they belonged together. And yes, so far as I know it
                  was Glen Goodknight in 1967 who first used "mythopoeic" as a label; there
                  have been others, including the "Oxford Christians" (which includes other
                  writers, notably Sayers).

                  But it should also be added that it was inevitable that they would indeed
                  be grouped together, no less than for the Elizabethan playwrights or the
                  Romantic poets. I don't remember what Chad Walsh said in his 1949 book
                  (and if he hadn't read the then-unpublished _Lord of the Rings_, he would
                  have been rather prescient), but others in following years made the
                  same connection, notably Edmund Fuller and Charles Moorman.

                  There are other groupings to which each can be assigned, of course.
                  Williams is the grandfather of Indigenous Fantasy; Lewis is the grandfather
                  of ten thousand Narnia clones; Tolkien of ten thousand Tolclones. Lewis
                  may also be claimed as a science fiction writer. Tolkien falls, more
                  clearly than Lewis, into the imaginary worlds tradition defined by Lin
                  Carter.

                  David Bratman
                  - not responsible for the following advertisement -
                • Kevin Grant
                  ... I m not sure how you can say this. It seems to me that the Inklings, more than any other group I can think of, DID define themselves as a literary
                  Message 8 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
                  • 0 Attachment
                    >
                    >Wendell makes a very useful and necessary point in observing that before
                    >the Inklings could be grouped together as a literary movement, someone
                    >- not necessarily themselves, and in this case definitely NOT themselves -
                    >had to decide that they belonged together.


                    I'm not sure how you can say this. It seems to me that the Inklings, more
                    than any other group I can think of, DID define themselves as a literary
                    movement. Didn't Tolkien and Lewis both say that since no one was writing
                    the sorts of stories they liked, they would have to do it themselves? And
                    the very fact that the Inklings met together regularly to discuss their
                    writings and offer support and criticism for each other points to a
                    conscious awareness of being a "movement." Whether they realized what would
                    come after them or not, is not the point. What matters is that THEY
                    themselves most certainly did decide they belonged together - even despite
                    (or perhaps even because of) the differences of style that have been noted.

                    Perhaps you are saying that they did not consiously define themselves as
                    "mythopoeic," I'm not sure. But they did define themselves as the Inklings.
                    We who have come after them have seized upon a term common to most of them
                    and have made it a defining quality of the group, but we are not the ones
                    who decided that they were a group in the first place.

                    Maybe I have misunderstood the comment. Could you explain it a bit more?


                    Kevin Grant
                  • Staci Dumoski
                    ... Actually, Wendell, I was not referring to this group. It s another one entirely, and if anyone who -is- a writer is interested in joining, please contact
                    Message 9 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
                    • 0 Attachment
                      On Fri, 13 Aug 1999 WendellWag@... wrote:

                      > > Last night, I was telling my husband about a group of writers
                      > > I've joined with online who are all interested in writing
                      > > mythopoeic fiction.
                      >
                      > Thanks for the compliment, but if I were capable of writing mythopoeic
                      > literature instead of merely talking about it, I'd be doing so right now.

                      Actually, Wendell, I was not referring to this group. It's another one
                      entirely, and if anyone who -is- a writer is interested in joining, please
                      contact me offlist.

                      Staci Ann Dumoski Phantastes
                      Editor and Publisher "The Fantasy Writer's Guide"
                      editor@... http://www.phantastes.com
                    • d.bratman@xxxxx.xxx
                      Kevin Grant asks some good and interesting questions. Here s my attempt at a response. No, the Inklings did not define themselves as the Inklings. The
                      Message 10 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Kevin Grant asks some good and interesting questions. Here's my
                        attempt at a response.

                        No, the Inklings did not define themselves as the Inklings. The
                        Inklings was, as W.H. Lewis makes clear in the introduction to his
                        brother's Letters, not a formal organization with a membership list,
                        set goals or an agenda. Unlike the Romantic poets (at least the
                        Wordsworth-Coleridge end) or the Dadaists, their members did not compose
                        manifestos to which others pledged allegiance, formally or informally.
                        If you had asked various Inklings what kind of writers they were, some
                        of them might have said "I am a Christian", but they certainly would not
                        have said "I am an Inkling" or "I am one of the Oxford Christian Movement",
                        the way some writers of science-fiction or mysteries or other genres
                        identify themselves with a group.

                        The Inklings were a very informal social group, and also something
                        vaguely approaching a writers' workshop. These activities do imply
                        something of a community of mind, but they don't require an agreement
                        on principles. Indeed, the Inklings agreed on very little, and Tolkien
                        notoriously disliked most of Williams's work, although he tried to
                        understand it and was very fond of him personally (despite some famous
                        postdated grumbles).

                        When Lewis and Tolkien said to each other that they should write the kinds
                        of books that they wanted to read, they were not passing a motion at an
                        Inklings meeting (a notion they'd have found absurd), and were not acting
                        in their capacity as Inklings at all (they'd probably have said that they
                        had no such capacity). They were acting as two individuals whose tastes
                        happened to overlap.

                        All this is not to deny that the Inklings were, in fact, a kind of literary
                        movement. They were almost forced into it, by default, since the general
                        literary community of their time did not agree with the values that they
                        did share: that there was a place for the mythopoeic, the numinous, the
                        Christian or Christian-inspired supernatural, in literature, and that
                        storytelling values were paramount.

                        But it's up to later critics to decide what amounts to an undeclared
                        literary movement. These writers had no such intention. This is important
                        because it's misleading to see Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams as three sides
                        of the same object. Their books are not in any way interchangable.

                        David Bratman
                        - not responsible for the following advertisement -
                      • Matthew Heffron
                        For the general difference between myth and fantasy, think about the difference between Tolkien s Middle-Earth literature and his short story Farmer Giles of
                        Message 11 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
                        • 0 Attachment
                          For the general difference between myth and fantasy, think about the
                          difference between Tolkien's Middle-Earth literature and his short story
                          Farmer Giles of Ham. Myth is larger - it explains things, creates a whole
                          atmosphere of a world. Most fantasy isn't large enough to create a whole
                          mythology, and not all mythologies are just fantasy (ie, Greek religion). A
                          discussion of what myth is would be very interesting, I think.

                          Matt H.


                          ----Original Message Follows----
                          From: Steve Schaper <sschaper@...>
                          Reply-To: mythsoc@onelist.com
                          To: mythsoc@onelist.com
                          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] What is "Mythopoeic"?
                          Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 11:05:10 -0500

                          From: Steve Schaper <sschaper@...>

                          It would be interesting to define 'mythopoeia' versus fantasy in
                          general or even faery tales in general.

                          --Steve
                          ======================================
                          It's 1999, where's Moonbase Alpha?
                          ======================================

                          --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------

                          ONElist: your connection to online communities.

                          ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                        • Kevin Grant
                          ... I enjoyed and see great merit in your response (now I can see how easy it is to deconstruct or read into the Inklings situation). But to speak
                          Message 12 of 16 , Aug 14, 1999
                          • 0 Attachment
                            >All this is not to deny that the Inklings were, in fact, a kind of literary
                            >movement. They were almost forced into it, by default, since the general
                            >literary community of their time did not agree with the values that they
                            >did share: that there was a place for the mythopoeic, the numinous, the
                            >Christian or Christian-inspired supernatural, in literature, and that
                            >storytelling values were paramount.
                            >
                            >But it's up to later critics to decide what amounts to an undeclared
                            >literary movement. These writers had no such intention. This is important
                            >because it's misleading to see Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams as three sides
                            >of the same object. Their books are not in any way interchangable.
                            >
                            >David Bratman



                            I enjoyed and see great merit in your response (now I can see how easy it is
                            to deconstruct or read into the Inklings situation). But to speak
                            philosphically for a moment, does the historical and regular gathering of
                            Tolkien, Lewis and Williams NOT constitute a literary group if we later
                            critics say otherwise (and with the differences of character as well as
                            literary styles among the three, that wouldn't be an unreasonable
                            occurence)?

                            I agree completely - their books are not interchangeable, and in many
                            senses, no they are not three sides of the same triangle. But can't a
                            literary group be defined as much by diversity as by unity - even by
                            themselves (unconsciously, perhaps for most of them - I somehow imagine
                            Tolkien and Lewis would have consciously recognized what they were involved
                            in after a bit, what with their need for groups of male companionship and
                            the importance of such defining activities)? Yes, Tolkien was stubborn as a
                            mule, and never took anything said to him about his work well unless it was
                            praise - but does that mean he isn't a part of a literary group (I shy away
                            from using "movement" now)? Yes, he was not fond of Williams' work (and I
                            should note I know almost nothing about him myself), but does that make the
                            gathering of the group any less valid? Lewis was blatant about the
                            Christian content in his books, and Tolkien wrote as a Christian but created
                            a world where there is no Christ (for including Christ is a major intrusion
                            of the primary world into the secondary world, thus destroying the fairy
                            tale) - but can't they thrive from such differences of opinions on important
                            matters?

                            My point is that surely THEY must have been aware of that. Surely they must
                            have realized how important they were to each other, and how much they
                            affected each other's literary vision and writing. I suppose that in the
                            end I will probably agree with David Bratman that the group is truly only
                            remembered as a movement because we later critics have approved of what they
                            did and can see what has grown out of that. But I must lament the fact that
                            such a group could ever possibly be remembered or defined in any other way,
                            should even later critics decide so.

                            In any case, I agree now that they had no aspirations to be a "movement"
                            persay. I think the "group" dynamic was much more important to them - but
                            I do think they would have seen the potential they had to be a movement
                            (could such briliant literary minds NOT see it?).

                            God Bless,

                            Kevin Grant
                          • d.bratman@xxxxx.xxx
                            ... I d say it doesn t -- but that s not as arbitrary as it sounds. Literary historians don t come to their conclusions by flipping a coin, but by looking at
                            Message 13 of 16 , Aug 18, 1999
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Kevin Grant writes:

                              > does the historical and regular gathering of Tolkien, Lewis and Williams
                              > NOT constitute a literary group if we later critics say otherwise (and with
                              > the differences of character as well as literary styles among the three,
                              > that wouldn't be an unreasonable occurence)?

                              I'd say it doesn't -- but that's not as arbitrary as it sounds. Literary
                              historians don't come to their conclusions by flipping a coin, but by looking
                              at the actual phenomena and describing it as they see it. Even Humphrey
                              Carpenter, who in his book _The Inklings_ is at pains to emphasize the
                              differences among the trio, acknowledges that they form a grouping of
                              significance.

                              > But can't a literary group be defined as much by diversity as by unity

                              Say what?

                              > Yes, Tolkien was stubborn as a mule, and never took anything said to him
                              > about his work well unless it was praise -

                              Not really; that's Lewis exaggerating. Tolkien probably was unresponsive to
                              suggestions in person, but that doesn't mean they couldn't have a major
                              influence on his next draft, and Lewis realized that too, saying that one of
                              Tolkien's frequent reactions to criticism was to write the whole work over
                              again from the beginning.

                              > but does that mean he isn't a part of a literary group (I shy away from
                              > using "movement" now)?

                              No it doesn't, but I don't think I said it does.

                              > Yes, he was not fond of Williams' work (and I should note I know almost
                              > nothing about him myself), but does that make the gathering of the group
                              > any less valid?

                              In one sense it does. It means they're not interchangable in any real way.
                              I mean that in more than the superficial sense that one of them couldn't have
                              written the other's books. I mean that for all of their very general
                              similarity (supernaturalist Christian novelist, etc.), a gulf of perception
                              and intent separates their work. Some pairs of authors don't have that gulf,
                              but you can't put down Tolkien and pick up Williams without taking a mental
                              breath and reshaping one's approach. Otherwise one is apt, however
                              unconsciously, to take LOTR as a contemporary occultist novel that happens to
                              be set in the past, or Williams's novels as secondary subcreations, and that
                              would be to seriously misread both.

                              > Lewis was blatant about the Christian content in his books, and Tolkien
                              > wrote as a Christian but created a world where there is no Christ (for
                              > including Christ is a major intrusion of the primary world into the
                              > secondary world, thus destroying the fairy tale) - but can't they thrive
                              > from such differences of opinions on important matters?

                              By all means they can, and did, and it was probably better for their
                              creativity than if they'd all been more alike. But that is a different point.

                              > My point is that surely THEY must have been aware of that. Surely they
                              > must have realized how important they were to each other, and how much they
                              > affected each other's literary vision and writing.

                              Yes, but as Diana Glyer has observed, that has nothing whatever to do with
                              similarity. They could have been entirely different in every way and still
                              influenced each other greatly.

                              > I suppose that in the end I will probably agree with David Bratman that the
                              > group is truly only remembered as a movement because we later critics have
                              > approved of what they did and can see what has grown out of that. But I
                              > must lament the fact that such a group could ever possibly be remembered or
                              > defined in any other way, should even later critics decide so.

                              It's exactly that sense of lamenting that I am trying to counteract. The
                              Inklings as a group is one way of looking at these authors, and it could
                              hardly not have been one way. But it's not the only way, and it's unlikely
                              that it ever could have been. Look at Tolkien in the context of the imaginary
                              world fantasists - Morris, Dunsany, Eddison - or in the context of the
                              Tolclones, or even in the context of Buchan and Haggard, or as sui generis in
                              no context at all, and you'll see a different picture as valid or in some
                              respects more so than the context of Lewis and Williams.

                              > I do think they would have seen the potential they had to be a movement
                              > (could such briliant literary minds NOT see it?).

                              They certainly did, and Lewis for one did try to use his shared positions with
                              the other Inklings as a basis for argumentative rhetoric.


                              David Bratman
                              - not responsible for the following advertisement -
                            • WendellWag@xxx.xxx
                              In a message dated 8/19/99 2:16:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... Diana has been evolving this theory of influence over the past few years to which I ve become
                              Message 14 of 16 , Aug 19, 1999
                              • 0 Attachment
                                In a message dated 8/19/99 2:16:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
                                d.bratman@... writes:

                                > Yes, but as Diana Glyer has observed, that has nothing whatever
                                > to do with similarity. They could have been entirely different in
                                > every way and still influenced each other greatly.

                                Diana has been evolving this theory of influence over the past few years to
                                which I've become such a convert that I'm probably going to exaggerate her
                                views in my attempt to explain them.

                                She thinks that we should consider the influence of all the important people
                                around a writer, not just those who influenced them in the normal literary
                                sense (and not just those who were philosophically in agreement with them).
                                In particular, we should consider the most important influences on C. S.
                                Lewis to be his brother Warren, Joy Davidman, and Mrs. Moore.

                                You can get the idea that Mrs. Moore was a drag on Lewis's writings from some
                                of the things that you read about her. This comes from people taking too
                                seriously Warren's complaints that Lewis spent too much time helping her
                                around the house. But this was because Warren never did like housework, and
                                he did as little of it himself as he could get by with. The fact is though
                                that Lewis would never have had the experiences necessary to write some of
                                his books (in particular, _The Screwtape Letters_) if he hadn't lived with
                                her. Without her, he would have been a classic eccentric bachelor, probably
                                living in college rooms without even the company of his brother. (Come to
                                think of it, his life would have probably been a whole lot like mine has
                                been.) The normal experience of having to adjust his life to accommodate
                                someone else was important to his development. Furthermore, Mrs. Moore did
                                do or arrange to have done the normal, everyday household things that both
                                the Lewis brothers were incapable of.

                                Diana has made a very good argument that Lewis could never have written _Till
                                We Have Faces_ without the help of Joy Davidman. He was having a writer's
                                block, and Joy talked him out of it. She talked him through a draft and a
                                revision of each of the chapters of that book. It was as close as you could
                                get to a co-authorship as you could get without her having to have her name
                                on the book, although she didn't in the usual sense write a word of it.

                                Warren served as Lewis's secretary during all of Lewis's most important
                                writing years. Without his help in holding back the vast tide of
                                correspondence, Lewis would never have had the time to write as much as he
                                did.

                                The impression that you get from some biographies of Lewis -- that Moore was
                                a harsh taskmaster, that Davidman was an evil harpy who butted into Lewis's
                                life, that Warren was a drunk who never accomplished anything --
                                misinterprets their role in Lewis's life. Even stranger is the question of
                                why someone looking at the life of a Christian writer should treat their
                                influences in such a negative way. It's understandable, I suppose, that
                                someone writing about the Romantic poets, say, should accept their theory of
                                the writer as an autonomous genius and a master of the universe. Why though
                                someone writing about a Christian writer (who according to their theories
                                live in a vast spiritual community) should want to treat the writer as if
                                they could have written their works without the help of many other people is
                                hard to understand.

                                This makes it sound like the acknowledgments page of every book should look
                                like Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar acceptance speech, but at least movie people
                                understand that film is a collaborative art. People who discuss writers
                                should also understand that life is a collaborative art.

                                Wendell Wagner
                              • THEODORE SHERMAN
                                Has Diana published this in Mythlore or anywhere else??? Ted ... -- Dr. Theodore James Sherman Associate Professor of English Middle Tennessee State University
                                Message 15 of 16 , Aug 19, 1999
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Has Diana published this in Mythlore or anywhere else???

                                  Ted

                                  WendellWag@... wrote:

                                  > From: WendellWag@...
                                  >
                                  > In a message dated 8/19/99 2:16:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
                                  > d.bratman@... writes:
                                  >
                                  > > Yes, but as Diana Glyer has observed, that has nothing whatever
                                  > > to do with similarity. They could have been entirely different in
                                  > > every way and still influenced each other greatly.
                                  >
                                  > Diana has been evolving this theory of influence over the past few years to
                                  > which I've become such a convert that I'm probably going to exaggerate her
                                  > views in my attempt to explain them.
                                  >
                                  > She thinks that we should consider the influence of all the important people
                                  > around a writer, not just those who influenced them in the normal literary
                                  > sense (and not just those who were philosophically in agreement with them).
                                  > In particular, we should consider the most important influences on C. S.
                                  > Lewis to be his brother Warren, Joy Davidman, and Mrs. Moore.
                                  >
                                  > You can get the idea that Mrs. Moore was a drag on Lewis's writings from some
                                  > of the things that you read about her. This comes from people taking too
                                  > seriously Warren's complaints that Lewis spent too much time helping her
                                  > around the house. But this was because Warren never did like housework, and
                                  > he did as little of it himself as he could get by with. The fact is though
                                  > that Lewis would never have had the experiences necessary to write some of
                                  > his books (in particular, _The Screwtape Letters_) if he hadn't lived with
                                  > her. Without her, he would have been a classic eccentric bachelor, probably
                                  > living in college rooms without even the company of his brother. (Come to
                                  > think of it, his life would have probably been a whole lot like mine has
                                  > been.) The normal experience of having to adjust his life to accommodate
                                  > someone else was important to his development. Furthermore, Mrs. Moore did
                                  > do or arrange to have done the normal, everyday household things that both
                                  > the Lewis brothers were incapable of.
                                  >
                                  > Diana has made a very good argument that Lewis could never have written _Till
                                  > We Have Faces_ without the help of Joy Davidman. He was having a writer's
                                  > block, and Joy talked him out of it. She talked him through a draft and a
                                  > revision of each of the chapters of that book. It was as close as you could
                                  > get to a co-authorship as you could get without her having to have her name
                                  > on the book, although she didn't in the usual sense write a word of it.
                                  >
                                  > Warren served as Lewis's secretary during all of Lewis's most important
                                  > writing years. Without his help in holding back the vast tide of
                                  > correspondence, Lewis would never have had the time to write as much as he
                                  > did.
                                  >
                                  > The impression that you get from some biographies of Lewis -- that Moore was
                                  > a harsh taskmaster, that Davidman was an evil harpy who butted into Lewis's
                                  > life, that Warren was a drunk who never accomplished anything --
                                  > misinterprets their role in Lewis's life. Even stranger is the question of
                                  > why someone looking at the life of a Christian writer should treat their
                                  > influences in such a negative way. It's understandable, I suppose, that
                                  > someone writing about the Romantic poets, say, should accept their theory of
                                  > the writer as an autonomous genius and a master of the universe. Why though
                                  > someone writing about a Christian writer (who according to their theories
                                  > live in a vast spiritual community) should want to treat the writer as if
                                  > they could have written their works without the help of many other people is
                                  > hard to understand.
                                  >
                                  > This makes it sound like the acknowledgments page of every book should look
                                  > like Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar acceptance speech, but at least movie people
                                  > understand that film is a collaborative art. People who discuss writers
                                  > should also understand that life is a collaborative art.
                                  >
                                  > Wendell Wagner
                                  >
                                  > --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
                                  >
                                  > ONElist now has T-SHIRTS!
                                  > For details and to order, go to:
                                  > http://www.onelist.com/store/tshirts.html
                                  >
                                  > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

                                  --
                                  Dr. Theodore James Sherman
                                  Associate Professor of English
                                  Middle Tennessee State University
                                  Murfreesboro, TN 37130
                                  (615) 898-2678
                                  tsherman@...
                                • WendellWag@aol.com
                                  In a message dated 8/19/99 6:42:36 AM Eastern Daylight Time, ... At least two of her talks at Mythcon have been about this. She spoke about the overall theory
                                  Message 16 of 16 , Aug 19, 1999
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    In a message dated 8/19/99 6:42:36 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
                                    tedsherman@... writes:

                                    > Has Diana published this in Mythlore or anywhere else???

                                    At least two of her talks at Mythcon have been about this. She spoke about
                                    the overall theory and how it applied to Lewis at the 1992 Mythcon. It was a
                                    summary of her Ph.D. thesis. She spoke at the 1998 Mythcon about Joy
                                    Davidman's influence on _Till We Have Faces_. The 1992 talk is in the
                                    Proceedings of the Tolkien Centenary. You'll have to ask her if she's
                                    published anything else about this.

                                    I suggested to her at the 1992 Mythcon that she should write a definitive
                                    book on the subject of influence. This makes me, I guess, sort of the
                                    co-author of the book when it comes out. Well, I've prepared my acceptance
                                    speech for when the book wins the Mythopoeic Scholarship Award. Ahem, on
                                    behalf of my co-author and myself, I'd like to thank the members of the
                                    Academy . . . I mean, the Society . . .

                                    Wendell Wagner
                                  Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.