I’m sometimes asked how one learns how to write a novel. The only sound advice I can give is “Read, read, read–and then read some more!” C.S. Lewis was a professor of literature. He would have known what good writing looks like. So you read, you study, you imitate–and if you have the talent, the technique will draw it out.
Just one word of warning: you’ll wind up writing what you read.
Britain’s National Health Service, always on the lookout for another choice to snatch away from people, came up with a pill that supposedly would make you stop drinking alcoholic beverages. I mean, really, c’mon–who wants all that free will jazz? When the government knows what’s best for you! Why should they just stand by and do nothing when you make wrong lifestyle choices?
And then, after poking and pushing and telling you what you can do and can’t do all your life, next thing you know, they’re bundling you into “end of life counseling” and trying to talk you into letting them kill you… They don’t want you hanging around as a “useless eater.”
What is wrong with us, that we would ever consent to stuff like this?
(P.S.–Would you believe it? I left out the original post!)
The movies spent a lot of money on special effects, but frittered it all away by cringing from C.S. Lewis’ story as he wrote it, in which “Aslan” clearly represents Our Lord Jesus Christ. Never mind what that bog-hopper Liam Neeson said about Aslan being Mohammed and Buddha, too. Really, sometimes I wonder what actors use for brains. Soggy cereal?
The old BBC series may have relied on unconvincing costumes, but one thing they did get right was the spirit of the enterprise.
Lately I’ve been bumping into quotes by C.S. Lewis in unexpected places. I took that as a sign that it was time for me to revisit his Chronicles of Narnia.
Aaah! That’s fine! The book we had is falling apart, so we ordered a boxed set (the one pictured above: you can find it at amazon, or Christianbooks.com) with colorized illustrations by Pauline Baynes. I was quite surprised by how heavy the box was, until I discovered the high quality of the books: strong, glossy paper.
But it’s what’s inside the books that counts. I’ve just finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a parable in which the great Lion, Aslan, stands for Jesus Christ. I can’t imagine there’s anybody here who’s totally unfamiliar with these books. Suffice it to say that these are Christian books, truth brought out through fantasy, that are just as well-loved now as they were when they first came out in the 1950s. They have stood the test of time; and if our civilization survives, they’ll be part of it.
Really, you have no idea what a relief it is to put away the nooze and pick up a Narnia book. I’m in The Magician’s Nephew now, watching in delighted astonishment as Lewis uses a mere few words to mow down all the self-important self-anointed bogus intellectuals who ever lived. Gee, I originally typed that as “self-imported.” Now I think I ought to let it stand. Self-imported they certainly are.
I love these books, and they have inspired my own. If you haven’t read Narnia yet, there’s a treat in store for you.
Sometimes–well, really, a lot of times–I find myself saying, “I am not a better person for having read this book or seen this movie.” It gets tiresome after a while: two or three of those in a row is hard to take.
But here’s a book that I think I really am a better person for having read: Dorothy and Jack, by Gina Dalfonzo (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI: 2020), the story of the friendship between C.S. Lewis (he liked to be called Jack) and Dorothy L. Sayers. The one discovered Narnia. The other gave the world Lord Peter Whimsy. And both did even more important work than that, although Narnia and Whimsy are what they’re best known for.
They addressed each other as fellow dinosaurs. They read, critiqued, and encouraged each other’s work. Each acquired a profound understanding of the other: their friendship never stopped deepening. And both were one of a kind–true originals, if not eccentrics.
Both loved God with all their hearts and put their trust in Jesus Christ. Both were attacked for doing so. You and I, Sayers once said, in a letter to Lewis, “have committed the two unforgivable sins: you believe in God, and your books sell” (pg. 136). Even back in the late 1940s and early 50s, the academic world was hostile to Christians. Oxford University repeatedly denied Lewis promotions that he richly deserved. For a man who loved Oxford as passionately as C.S. Lewis did, it was a hard trial to bear.
How I would have loved to know these two! Dorothy and Jack spend a weekend at the shore with Patty and Lee–what talks we’d have!
Both knew how to stand against the tide. Both knew how to endure tribulation, of which there was plenty in their lives.
I can’t help wondering whether they would’ve liked my books. What I’ve read here suggests that yes, they would.
Alas for our culture and tradition, letter-writing is practically a lost art. Both Lewis and Sayers were assiduous, prolific letter writers: it’s from their collected letters that Ms. Dalfonzo gets much of her information. C.S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers, both master writers in their own respective fields, were also masters of the art of letter-writing. Future scholars who want to write about the 21st century–presuming that there are any–will be denied this resource. Unless they settle for Collected Text Messages of Cher.
These two stood up against all the baloney that this fallen world could throw at them: stood up for themselves, for each other, for art, for scholarship–and for Jesus. First of all, Jesus.
I know, I know–none of these has ever been called Serious Mainstream Literature. You’d never catch Tolstoy writing about celebrity spiders; and Jane Austen wasn’t big on lost cities inhabited by maniacs.
But these are the authors I’ve learned from, and these are the authors whose works I love–and return to again and again.
I was especially gratified when he told me how his children loved Bell Mountain as he read it to them. They called it simply “Jack and Ellayne.” I think they were five or six years old at the time–way under the age of the target audience. But I’ve heard this a lot, over the years–mostly from adults.
Anyway, it’s an interesting article and I was very pleasantly surprised to find it available online.
In 2009, the prime minister’s top”science” advisers advised him that Britain would have to get rid of more than half its population so as to build a “sustainable” society. They didn’t tell him how he was to dump 32 million people off the island.
C.S. Lewis got it right, after all: the ultimate goal of the satanic enterprise we know as leftism is to exterminate the human race. If they can knock off the animals and plants, too, they’ll do it. Because their master’s objective is to un-create Creation.
That’s what lies behind all the “science” and the virtue signalling. Read Lewis’ That Hideous Strength for a crisp, clear picture of it.
“If I can’t rule the world, then there won’t be a world!”
Having lived through two world wars, C.S. Lewis understood the temptations of nihilism and the rage of those who reached for absolute power but couldn’t grasp it. He wrote about it several times–in The Chronicles of Narnia and in That Hideous Strength are two examples that come to mind.