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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Duriez on the fiction written by Tolkien and Lewis

My previous post was on Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship, by Colin Duriez (Mahwah, New Jersey: HiddenSpring, an imprint of Paulist Press, 2003.)

I wish to summarize the book in this way: Both Tolkien and Lewis wrote as if they were convinced that the ways of the past were better than the ways of the present.

How does this show up? In many ways. There is no gunpowder, and there are no gasoline engines, in either Narnia or Middle-Earth. That's unless we count some of the machinery of Sauron and Saruman, both clearly evil characters. There are hereditary rulers. There's no newspaper, no radio, no electricity.

But the most fundamental way is that pagan, pre-Christian world-views (as in the Glome of Lewis's Till We Have Faces, or in Tolkien's Middle-Earth) are portrayed as leading up to Christianity, whereas modern views, like those of Saruman, or the NICE, are anti-God. As Duriez put it in his discussion of Till We Have Faces:

An important element in the story, therefore, is Psyche as an ancient anticipation of Christ. Psyche is able to see a glimpse of the true God himself, in all his beauty, and in his legitimate demand for a perfect sacrifice. . . . The novel explores the depths of insight possible within the limitations of the pagan imagination, which foreshadows the marriage of myth and fact in the Gospels. Till We Have Faces, therefore, reveals the imaginative and theological affinity between Lewis and Tolkien, perhaps  more than any other book by Lewis. It is ironic that the novel was written at a time when the two friends had grown apart. (163)

Thanks for reading. Read Lewis and Tolkien.


Keetha Denise Broyles said...

I am WAY behind on my blog reading since going to CR, I PROMISE I'll try to be back SOON. In the meantime, you really should go read the comment my sister left right AFTER your Doubting Thomas comment on my cartwheel post. ;-)

Martin LaBar said...

I'll try to find this.