How Did C.S. Lewis Do It?

I was all set to rail against the government scarfing up tens of millions of Americans’ private phone, email, and Facebook records–but Sen. Dianne Feinstein has like totally set my mind at ease about that. She says they do this in case someone might become a terrorist in the future. Well, now I feel a lot better. Don’t you?

While our country melts into a boiling mass of corruption, I’ve just reread The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the first of C.S. LewisChronicles of Narnia (the first one he wrote, I mean). It’s good to get away for a little while, when I lie down in bed.

Every time I read the chronicles, I stand in awe of Lewis’ technique. He makes it look so easy, you just might fail to notice it. The story just flows; and in one paragraph, without even a hint of skimping on the details, he gets more action done than any other writer can accomplish in two or three whole pages. For me, looking at it with the eye of a writer, it looks like magic! All of this stuff happens, or a character is introduced and you learn to know everything about him that you need to know–and yet only a few sentences have gone by. And yet, incredibly, nothing has been left out, either. Pure wizardry!

It’s so simple, any reasonably intelligent child can read it and enjoy it. It’s so deep, any receptive adult can dive into it headfirst without having to worry about cracking his skull on the bottom.

The fact that it was written in Christ’s service doesn’t hurt it, either.

4 comments on “How Did C.S. Lewis Do It?

  1. I know! He was amazing 😀 I liked to read before Narnia, but after we watched the old BBC version of LWW, I read the books, back to back, about seven times each. I was hooked. And even though now I haven’t read them for quite some time, I still hold them up on my list of books everyone should read. I just bought the full color editions to read to my younger brothers and sisters, and my own children some day.
    One of the things that amazes me the most about Narnia is how skilfully he was able to weave theology and Christian truths in and never once was he heavy-handed. He was definitely a word magician 😀

    1. For me the most outstanding example of Lewis’ skill is on the first page of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where his very brief description of Eustace’s parents tells us everything we need to know about them and explains why Eustace is the way he is. For those who don’t have the book handy, let me quote:

      “…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-totallers, and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on beds and the windows were always open.”

      Some writers would have needed a whole chapter to tell you half as much.

  2. I know! I love that description 😀 I think the horrible way he was brought up was why Lewis said he ‘almost deserved’ the name of Eustace (though I personally don’t have a problem with the name).
    Another example of his genius is the beautifully understated way he describes Aslan’s Country in The Last Battle. So many people (perhaps myself included) would have tried to cram as much description into it as possible, but Lewis understood that he couldn’t describe the indescribable. So what he did say was just enough to create a poignant longing in the heart.
    Oh, and back to the Harold and Alberta subject, I read this article not too long ago and it immediately made me think of Voyage of the Dawn Treader:

    1. Oh, what a super idea! Re-invent ourselves every ding-dong day! And re-invent our relationships, too!

      Always be careful when you pursue extinction. You just might catch it.

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