Monday, March 20, 2006

Reading C.S. Lewis

I'm reading Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis, for my mythology class.

And really, really trying to give the man some room. Because I know I've got, how should I put this, issues with that whole Christian worldview thing.

But man is this boy fracked up.

Did he never actually speak to an adult woman?

I know he was a professor at Oxford, and I know he hung out mostly with men; but it was after women students were admitted. And he did marry. So he must have known woman. At least one woman.

He apparently actually believes that being ugly -- or rather, being not pretty, because there's no hint that our main character is like a mutant or whatever -- destroys a woman so utterly that her life is ruined by it. Wholly warped by it. She's unable to recover from such a fate.

Were there no women in his life?

Obviously there must have been. But Mr. Lewis, just as obviously, either (a) paid them no mind [because woman don't matter -- only men matter?] or (b) was not interested in reality, only in what constructs he could spin.

Either way, I'm unhappy with his fictional universe.

I'm goingto read it again, since I'm teaching it, in case I have missed something -- and I might have missed something, of course. Maybe he's got some point that's gone right past me.

I've got my doubts, though. I'm thinking I was right the first time I read Lewis, back when I was twenty-six, and he's just a stupid old tip.


zelda1 said...

I haven't read the book, but it sounds like there isn't anything salvageable. Just use it as a bad example or a way one man deals with the evil other. I don't know, every time I read certain authors, certain dead white authors, I have to keep reminding myself, different time, different place, and that makes it easier for me. But sometimes, I just have to curse and say, surely they knew better.

delagar said...

I'm reading it again, more slowly, and I'm thinking it's not so much that he's stupid as that he's blinded by his worldview. His worldview tells him only Christ's love is real love. So he *has* to write a story in which all other love is wicked: that includes, of course, love of a mother for her child, of a wife for her husband, of a parent for a child.

It's a sick, sick worldview. If you actually hold to it, it is.

Mouse said...

and you're making me read this?

Diane said...

When C.S. Lewis was alive, being "not pretty" probably did ruin a woman's life. Now it only partially ruins it.

delagar said...

You know, I'm thinking not. Even then. Most women aren't all that pretty. Most women's lives are okay despite this fact. I'm sure Lewis *thought* women's lives ought to be ruined if they weren't pretty -- if they didn't fit some standard that men desired -- but in actual fact, were they? Or did most woman, like most women today, just shrug and get on with it?