Thursday, September 29, 2005

Great Authors

What are the key words of modern criticism? Creative, with its opposite derivative; spontaneity, with its opposite convention; freedom, contrasted with rules. Great authors are innovators, pioneers, explorers; bad authors bunch in schools and follow models. Or again, great authors are always 'breaking fetters' and 'bursting bonds'. They have personality, they 'are themselves'. I do not know whether we often think out the implication of such language into a consistent philosophy; but we certainly have a general picture of bad work flowing from conformity and discipleship, and of good work bursting out from certain centres of explosive force--apparently self-generating force--which we call men of genius.

Now the New Testament has nothing at all to tell us of literature. I know that there are some who like to think of Our Lord Himself as a poet and cite the parables to support their view. I admit freely that to believe in the Incarnation at all is to believe that every mode of human excellence is implicit in His historical human character: poethood, of course, included. But if all had been developed, the limitations of a single human life would have been transcended and He would not have been a man; therefore all excellences save the spiritual remain in varying degrees implicit.
~C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections, "Christianity and Culture", (1967)

On this day:

1940 The two war evacuees, who had been staying with J.R.R. Tolkien and his family, moved back to their homes. (Around the Year with C.S. Lewis and His Friends)

1961 A Grief Observed is published by Faber and Faber, London, under the pseudonym N.W. Clerk. (A Year with C.S. Lewis)

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