The thoughts of CS Lewis, message of “hope and faith” in the human being “for the current moment” – Exaudi

Professor María Luz Álvarez García, from the Faculty of Teaching and Pedagogical Sciences of the Catholic University of Valencia (UCV), carried out research on the writer and professor at the University of Oxford CS Lewis (1998- 1963), author of a book as well -works known as the Cosmic Trilogy, the seven volumes of The Chronicles of Narnia and the Devil’s Letters to His Nephew essays (1942) and A Sorrow of Observation (1961). According to Álvarez García, “Lewis serves as a guide for the situations and circumstances we encounter in the present moment and provides not only invaluable advice, but also hope and faith that the essence of the human being is eternal and indestructible. »

“Despite the attacks suffered by man in his ranks, Lewis always maintained that human creativity will be present sooner or later, despite the trials and difficulties which, individually and collectively, they will undoubtedly face at all times and in any place,” he said.

In this sense, this professor’s study, which is part of her doctoral thesis, refers to the faith of the British writer: “Lewis’s ability to communicate, the liveliness and freshness of his literary style, his eloquence and his knowledge allowed him to become a champion of the defense of Christianity. He was someone eager to share his belief in the intellectual and imaginative power that comes with the Christian faith.

“Since his return from atheism to theism and then to Christianity, his entire life has been oriented with this compass. He probably made more converts through his conferences, his talks and his books than through the work of eminent theologians, more erudite on the subject, but less close to the public,” he says.

Literature as a form of knowledge of what humanity shares

Álvarez García points out, on the other hand, that Lewis proposed in his 1961 essay The reading experience (Alba Editorial, 2000) a proposal for a “new” literary criticism at the time “which opened the way for later literary criticism”. The Northern Irish intellectual develops the concept of literature as “Logos”; that is, literature “as a form of knowledge of what humanity shares.”

The UCV professor states that, according to Lewis, “this substrate, the Logos, would be expressed in various forms and ways; Its message would be transmitted through the arts and literature, which are the ways in which the human being, thanks to the faculty of imagination aided by reason, exercises his creative activity in the world, in response to the “Great Imagination » ».

Professor María Luz Álvarez García

According to Álvarez García, “in Lewis, art, great literature, in this case, is both messenger and message, hence its capacity to transmit and to be Logos”. Thus, “the writer transmits in the work a seed which, if the ground is favorable, will germinate in the mind of the reader, giving rise to a generative process analogous to that which occurs in the physical nature of things”.

Lewis was “deeply interested in myths,” and this expert believes that “the ultimate goal of Lewis’s work is to unite imagination, reason, and faith in order to reach the truth behind the appearances of sense perceptions.” This truth would be within the reach of all men, since there would be a substrate common to all humanity, formed by the broad and vast human experience and accessible on condition of having the appropriate receptive attitude; that is, ensuring that the individual self does not get in the way.

Great literature “remedy of provincialism”

The teaching professor emphasizes that Lewis considered necessary a concrete attitude towards the reading experience: “To receive literature, it is an inexorable condition for getting out of oneself: putting aside preconceived ideas, one’s own interests, mental associations and giving in. ” at work. That is to say, individuality must be temporarily put aside to surrender to what reading can provide. The motto Lewis offers in front of each work of art is: “Look. Hear. Receive””.

“To capture the message of the work, the Logos that it transmits, the reader will have to look carefully at what is presented to him, listen to what it tells him and give him space, receive the work. On the contrary, when using literature, the reader precisely imposes his individuality, his own ideas, desires or attitudes towards the work, thus becoming immune to its message,” he asserts.

Lewis’s literary theory establishes, according to Álvarez García, that “a good book is recognized as such because it allows for good reading.” In other words, “it brings thoughts to the reader, helps them understand certain aspects of life, offers them another look at the world and at themselves and makes them good readers. After the experience of good literature, the reader grows, his intelligence, his capacity for judgment and his sensitivity are refined, broadened and deepened. This is why great literature helps him get out of himself, cures him of provincialism.

“Now, a bad book feeds the reader’s “selfish” fantasies, flatters his vanity and, by giving rise to his desires without wondering where they come from or where they are going; “This locks him once again into his restricted and known circle,” he remarks.