Wednesday, July 06, 2005

On Plot and Theme

To be stories at all they must be series of events: but it must be understood that this series--the plot, as we call it--is only really a net whereby to catch something else. The real theme may be, and perhaps usually is, something that has no sequence in it, something other than a process and much more like a state or quality. Giantship, otherness, the desolation of space, are examples that have crossed our path. [...]

If the author's plot is only a net, and usually an imperfect one, a net of time and event for catching what is not really a process at all, is life much more? ...Art, indeed, may be expected to do what life cannot do: but so it has done.

In life and art both, as it seems to me, we are always trying to catch in our net of successive moments something that is not successive. Whether in real life there is any doctor who can teach us how to do it, so that at last either the meshes will become fine enough to hold the bird, or we be so changed that we can throw our nets away and follow the bird to its own country, is not a question for this essay. But I think it is sometimes done--or very, very nearly done--in stories. I believe the effort to be well worth making.
~C.S. Lewis, "On Stories", Of Other Worlds (1947)


Bonus quotation:

Dined with J[ack] in College, after which an Inklings at which Tollers continued to read his new Hobbit [i.e., The Lord of the Rings]: so sui generis, so alive with the peculiar charm of his "magical" writing, that it is indescribable--and merely worth recording here for an odd proof of how near he is to real magic.
~Warren Lewis, Diary entry Oct. 10, 1946, Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren H. Lewis

On this day:

1930 Warren Lewis and C.S. Lewis saw The Kilns, their future home, for the first time.

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