Reading the Classics with C.S. Lewis


"Reading the Classic’s with C.S. Lewis", does capture a lot of what is interesting about C.S. Lewis, but it seems like the contributor’s views of those classics chosen are just mixed with some of Lewis’s thoughts.

The bigger question is, which classics, and in what order, would have Lewis chosen to emphasis how he felt, because those choices would have defined his legacy for us, and I don’t think this book does that.

In an early chapter, “Entering Imagined Worlds”, Lewis viewpoint on literature in general is discussed. He says there that “the good of literature is that we want to be more than ourselves. We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own.” He adds to this, and ties the thought together, by saying “We demand windows, even doors, that admit us to experiences, other than our own.

He left the Christianity of his youth, but literature eventually brought him back. His approach to the classics, and to reading, was shown in his insistence that authors like Dante, Spenser or Milton need to be understood by looking deeper into their literary forbears. Seeing a train of thought for various authors suggests that we ought to know more about how Lewis would connect the classic’s presented and what his train of thought was?

Romanticism, as a literary genre, was discussed in the book showing that Lewis felt it was more than what was generally thought during his time. He added the idea that “Sweet Desire” was a concept that should be added to understanding Romanticism.  It explains that it was the search for both a moral direction, and a sense of belonging, in people. He said a longing for more was common in all people.

Lewis’s writings about fantasy, science fiction, and imagination seem to have been the bridge back to Christianity for him, and a genre that allowed him to bring the scared into the mundane world. He said that fairy tales and the traditional treatment of the hero, was often a simile of the coming of Christ.  

Critics continue to try to explain the difference between science fiction and fantasy, but Lewis says that the difference is that science fiction writers expend more effort to make their imaginative worlds seem plausible.

Lewis said, both literary and unliterary, readers can be guilty of using a text by looking for validation of the reader's own beliefs in the work, rather than humbly "receiving" the story the author presented. He said his own view was that “in reading literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad of eye, but it is still I who see.”

I liked the book for the thoughts about Lewis that it pulled together but didn’t think the insight into the classics discussed was really Lewis’s thoughts

Quotes by C.S. Lewis Also see Literary Favorites Section 

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”  

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. 

Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.