Would you have read C.S. Lewis’ favorite books?
The topic of C. S. Lewis’ favorite books has been brought up in the news section of the website, but I wondered how people in the forums thought about it. Have you read The Faerie Queen and Greek and Norse mythology and have you enjoyed books like these? I read The Faerie Queen in college for a course called Spenser and His Times, but back then I was not sure if I enjoyed it (it was more like just an assignment). Now I have a different view and see books like these as mysterious and intriguing. I liked Edith Hamilton’s Mythology since it was a lively retelling of the ancient tales. I don’t know if Lewis read that translation, but of course there are other fine versions to choose from that he may have enjoyed. On the whole I liked reading ancient and medieval literature such as The Odyssey and stories about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, which was something that Lewis and Tolkien admired. I wondered if the people here had similar tastes, or at least enjoyed something like it. 🙂
Probably not. I've read some Arthurian literature for school and I just don't see the appeal. (I enjoy Disney's adaptation of the first part of T. H. White's The Once and Future King, but I'm guessing C. S. Lewis wouldn't have liked that. He might not even have warmed to OAFK itself.) I read part of Spencer's Faerie Queen for school too and I can't remember whether I liked or disliked it. But the fact that I don't remember disliking it actually speaks really well of it because I typically hate epic poetry. Speaking of which, I hate Paradise Lost which C. S. Lewis loved. I consider it clunky, overwritten, misogynistic garbage. While I wouldn't put it in the same category, I don't really like The Lord of the Rings, which C. S. Lewis also loved, either. I have enjoyed some of E. Nesbit's children's fantasies which Lewis loved as a kid. George Macdonald's fantasies are a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned.
I am interested in Greek mythology, though at this point of my life I'm more interested in what modern authors have made out of it than in the original sources. My favorite adaptations of Greek myths are The God Beneath the Sea and The Golden Shadow by Edward Blishen and Leon Garfield, the short-lived TV show, The Storyteller: Greek Myths, and Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by our very own C. S. Lewis.
It's actually kind of amazing that I love so many books by Lewis considering what unimpressive taste I consider him to have had in literature. It gives me hope that maybe people might love the books I write even though they're not interested in the books I like to read.
For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen check out my new blog!
As I remember Spenser and His Times was dropped from the Hope College catalog a semester or two after I took the course. It was not a very popular course perhaps because people struggled with the archaic language of Spenser, although I thought that made the poetry quite beautiful. If C. S. Lewis were a student at Hope, he probably would have taken the course since he loved that long poem The Faerie Queen. He might have even liked a small Christian college where two professors became scholars of his work. I think he did like small institutions which taught great literature, which would include myths and legends. Probably people like Lewis better than some of the sources that he used since he had a great talent for making his own appealing stories out of them, which was something the mythmakers had not quite mastered.
I think he liked North American Indian mythology too. He mentioned “Hiawatha names” in one of his essays about writing stories. Probably he read H. R. Schoolcraft’s collection of myths of the Ojibwa Indians or Longfellow’s Hiawatha. I think he would have enjoyed them as much as the Greek and Roman myths. These stories have a magic kind of like Narnia.
I haven't read it yet, but on my list is Phantastes by Macdonald. Anyone else read it and if so, what did you think? I know it's one often mentioned by Lewis.
I remember that I liked Phantastes when I read it, although I don’t remember a lot of the actual story. The main character’s name was John and he went on a journey in order to satisfy his longing for happiness, which was called Sehnsucht , an experience a lot like Lewis’ own conversion. Lewis refers to the book quite often and it was his favorite. My favorite MacDonald book is At the Back of the North Wind, a much simpler fantasy about the adventures of a boy named Diamond and a woman who is the North Wind. I also liked MacDonald’s fairy tales because they have a magic like Narnia. The old fashioned Scottish stories have their own unique charm. I think Lewis loved all of MacDonald’s books. I would recommend all of them for your own personal spiritual journey. 🙂
I guess C. S. Lewis must have liked sea stories very much. Homer’s Odyssey may have inspired him to write Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I liked those stories very much and their connections with Greek mythology and fairy tales have always fascinated me. I loved reading Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe as a child. And of course Dawn Treader was always my favorite Narnia book. 🙂