Friday, February 19, 2010

My Indifference to C.S. Lewis

Keith Ghormley got me thinking again about C.S. Lewis.

I'm an unalloyed fan of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustice Scrubbs is a fine, recognizable character.

But, frankly, besides a thumbs up for LWW, I think that the remainder of the Narnia Chronicles are pretty poor fiction. I do respect the end of The Last Battle -- both for offing the Pevensie children at the beginning of the novel, and also for his portrayal of the fully inaugurated eschaton (where everything is brighter and more real than the reality it just replaced, rather than "heavenly," misty, and ethereal). But it's a dull, plodding read for the most part, as are the other books in the series.

And while I like his portrayal of the changing relationship between Mark Studdock and his wife, Jane, through That Hideous Strength, Perelandra is largely just awful.

I first came across Lewis through his theological writings. Everybody was reading The Screwtape Letters (which I've dipped into but have never read entirely), so I picked up his book on the Psalms and some other works that I thought would be serious theology, even if written for a broader lay audience.

I recall being distinctly unimpressed. There was no Biblical difficulty for which Lewis didn't seem to avoid by taking the stupid way out. E.g., the imprectatory Psalms are in the Bible for Lewis to teach us how not to pray. Blah. After reading a bit of this I concluded I just didn't have time to waste on such nonsense. So I've never really gotten his position in the modern evangelical pantheon. But then, perhaps, because I think that most of the folks in the modern evangelical Pantheon are overrated (e.g., Francis Schaeffer), perhaps Lewis does belong there after all.


Blogger Reepicheep said...

Eustace? What about Reepicheep in Voyage? Come on now Jim!

March 11, 2010 2:49 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubbs, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence, and masters called him Scrubb. I can't tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He didn't call his Father and Mother 'Father' and 'Mother,' but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and tee-totalers and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house was very little furniture and very few clothes on the bed and the windows were always open.
Eustace Clarence liked animals, especially beetles, if they were dead and pinned on a card. He liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools."

Can't beat that.

The scene with Reepicheep that I find most touching is at the end of Treader, when Reep throws away his sword and enters the world beyond the barrier. But aside from that he's a pretty flat character in the books -- he doesn't growth or develop or learn much of anything.

March 12, 2010 4:35 PM  
Blogger Reepicheep said...

Good quotes.

True, Lewis doesn't show Reep "develop". I'm not sure how to judge if he learned anything in the brief exposure we have to him.

Indeed what I like about Reep is his stayed devotion. I like that he doesn't change in that respect. I think that's the point of his character?

March 14, 2010 10:04 PM  

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