Lewis and Mythology
I wonder if The Iliad and The Odyssey are still required reading in college. They were part of the core course called “World Literature I” when I was in college decades ago. Literature which contains mythology seems to be often neglected today, and unfortunately the students do not always enroll in the courses as electives. If Lewis were living today he would be disappointed in the lack of interest in the ancient world. He may even have thought today’s students are somewhat ignorant of the classics. However, there is some hope that in reading his books that people will like the literature that he admired and taught so well. 🙂
Required reading changes depending on the school: some people will run into a book in high school and college, or change schools and have to read a book twice in different courses, or they may never read them at all. So much of it depends on the instructor, and there is little standardization. But I think that's a good thing--there are so many good/worthwhile books, the diversity of reading helps push us into new thought processes.
I think part of what makes Lewis (and the other Inklings) special is the idea that diversity of learning, as long as they are all dedicated to deep delves into their respective interests, is of significant value. Lewis' love of mythology echoes in his writing, but his versions are much more accessible for those who don't have that deep love of old mythology.
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It is true that requirements can change over time, but a liberal arts school should always have a literature requirement for all of its students. It shouldn’t matter what the students major in. I’m sure if Lewis were alive today he would say college and university students should know something about the ancient world and its literature. If a respectable school which claims to be a liberal arts institution doesn’t require its students to read any ancient literature such as of the Greeks and Romans maybe it isn’t so respectable anymore. The students should at least read The Odyssey and The Iliad and at least one or two of the Greek plays. If Professor Digory Kirke were a real person he would probably say the same thing, “What do they teach them in the schools ?“ 🙂