Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Great Romance

In a previous letter, Lewis has recommended to his goddaughter, Lucy Barfield, that she read Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

"Leaving Lothlorien" by Ted Nasmith

Dear Lucy-

You've got it exactly right. A strict allegory is like a puzzle with a solution: a great romance is like a flower whose smell reminds you of something you can't quite place. I think the something is "the whole quality of life as we actually experience it." You can have a realistic story in which all the things and people are exactly like those we meet in real life, but the quality, the feel or texture or smell of it is not. In a great romance it is just the opposite. I've never met Orcs or Ents or Elves--but the feel of it, the sense of a huge past, of lowering danger, of heroic tasks achieved by the most apparently unheroic people, of distance, vastness, strangeness, homeliness (all blended together) is so exactly what living feels like to me. Particularly the heart-breaking quality in the most beautiful places, like Lothlorien. And it is so like the real history of the world: "Then, as now, there was a growing darkness and great deeds were done that were not wholly in vain". Neither optimism (this is the last war and after it all will be lovely forever) nor pessimism (this is the last war and all civilization will end), you notice. No. The darkness comes again and again and is never wholly triumphant nor wholly defeated.
~C.S. Lewis, Letters to Children (Letter to Lucy Barfield 11 September 1958)


On this day:

1944 Lewis's The Great Divorce debuts in the Guardian, the first of fifteen weekly installments.

Cool link of the day: The Artwork of Ted Nasmith

1 Comment(s):

At Wed Nov 10, 09:51:00 PM EST, Blogger Anamire said...

The huge sense of history behind LOTR is exactly what makes the world it is set in so fascinating. This, combined with the "heroic tasks achieved by the most apparently unheroic people" is what drew me to Tolkien in the first place.


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