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What is "Mythopoeic"?

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  • 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 1 of 16 , Aug 12, 1999
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      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 2 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
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        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 3 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
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          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 4 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
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            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 -
            >
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            > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
            > 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 5 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
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              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 6 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
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                >
                >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 7 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
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                  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 8 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
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                    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 9 of 16 , Aug 13, 1999
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                      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?
                      ======================================

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                      ONElist: your connection to online communities.

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                    • 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 10 of 16 , Aug 14, 1999
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                        >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 11 of 16 , Aug 18, 1999
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                          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 12 of 16 , Aug 19, 1999
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                            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 13 of 16 , Aug 19, 1999
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                              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
                              >
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                              > 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 14 of 16 , Aug 19, 1999
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                                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
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