Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The wind from beyond the world...

"I, like you, am worried by the fact that the spontaneous appeal of the Christian story is so much less to me than that of Paganism. Both the things you suggest (unfavourable associations from early upbringing and the corruption of one’s nature) probably are causes: but I have a sort of feeling that the cause must be elsewhere, and I have not yet discovered it. I think the thrill of the Pagan stories and of romance may be due to the fact that they are beginnings—the first, faint whisper of the wind from beyond the world—while Christianity is the thing itself: and no thing, when you have really started on it, can have for you then and there just the same thrill as the first hint. For example, the experience of being married and bringing up a family, cannot have the old bittersweet of first falling in love. But it is futile (and, I think, wicked) to go on trying to get the old thrill again: you must go forward and not backward. Any real advance will in its turn be ushered in by a new thrill, different from the old: doomed in its turn to disappear and to become in its turn a temptation to retrogression.

Delight is a bell that rings as you set your foot on the first step of a new flight of stairs leading upwards. Once you have started climbing you will notice only the hard work: it is when you have reached the landing and catch sight of the new stair that you may expect the bell again."
~The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Vol II, Letter to Arthur Greeves, Nov 8, 1931

4 Comment(s):

At Wed Sep 15, 10:12:00 AM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

Interesting... I notice that, when Lewis wants to talk about new experiences, he always talks about marriage, but he himself did not get married until the late 50s.

As foe the "Pagan" stories, which ones are he talking about? Greek and Norse myths? Or Grimms'? Because the Grimms stories are practically didactic. And whenever there's a Jew in those stories, I'm always on his side. Of COURSE he's gonna steal money; he's probably living in the ghetto! But I digress.

I think this quotation illustrates a progression of thought into Narnia. Magic and Christianity side by side, not unlike the Divine Comedy or, of course, MacDonald's books. But I don't think the goal of the fantasy story is to be told in a Christian light, thus making it better. I think that the goal is showing it in a new way.

At Wed Sep 15, 11:36:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

*looks up didactic* ;-)

I think he must be referring to the Norse and Greek mythologies.

I also am surprised how much he uses marriage to illustrate his points. The thing that surprises me even more is the accuracy of his observations about marriage, even though he wasn't married himself when he makes those observations, and didn't get to experience his parents' marriage for very long before his mother died.

At Wed Sep 15, 02:31:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

I think that all of his close friends were married and he was able to observe them. Or maybe it was an inner cry for help, the aching of a broken heart **sparkles and shojo bubbles everywhere** But maybe not.

Hey, did I use didactic right? I think I did...

At Wed Sep 15, 02:48:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Yes! I really did have to look it up. It shall be my "word of the day"!


VARIANT FORMS: also di·dac·ti·cal
ADJECTIVE: 1. Intended to instruct.
2. Morally instructive.
3. Inclined to teach or moralize
ETYMOLOGY: Greek didaktikos, skillful in teaching, from didaktos, taught, from didaskein, didak-, to teach, educate.
OTHER FORMS: di·dacti·cal·ly —ADVERB
di·dacti·cism —NOUN


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