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Writing, Personal Psychology, and World Events

Lady Arwen
The Mermod Moderator

I have, of late, been spending a good amount of time coping with the worldwide panini by working on Dungeon and Dragons plots, reviewing history notes, and listening to Sabaton (power/heavy metal band that only produces pieces about historical events and traumas), which has all conspired to lead me to thinking about the role of PTSD in lived experience prior to its identification (which was about twenty years after Lewis passed away). As many have noted, World War I clearly had echoes and reverberations in Tolkien's writing (the most popular example being the Dead Marshes, despite his insistence that none of his writing was influenced by lived experience), and Lewis very clearIy acknowledges the presence of World War II in LWW. 

Given that topics of writing often spring from concern or reflection on both past and present events, I'm wondering what other world events might have served as pivotal influences on Lewis, and where those might show up. This is in part inspired by the Sehnsucht discussion started by @rose which reflected on the attempts to regain feelings or experiences that were lost (I am greatly oversimplifying here). Were there spaces where Lewis' writing was cathartic or healing to him, in that, instead of attempting to regain something that was lost, he perhaps was able to let go of something that had stayed with him too long?

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Topic starter Posted : May 19, 2021 9:02 pm
NarniaWeb Guru

The first place I'd point to for support for this might be Lewis losing his mother at a young age; it seems like he may have drawn from the grief he felt in this experience while writing about Digory struggling with the idea of losing his own mother. Perhaps he wished he could have seen back then how deeply God cared about his loss, even as Aslan shows Digory.

In the Space Trilogy, the main character Dr. Ransom has a near-death experience which is hauntingly similar to Lewis' account of his own brush with death in Surprised by Joy. He describes Ransom not thinking too much from his own perspective but merely having the impression that "here is a man dying." The description is almost word for word what Lewis says about his own injury and near-death during the war.

  Did this help him towards catharsis? It's not easy to say for sure. He may have just been trying to write about death from his own experience to make it more realistic, but if he was using his writing to deal with hard memories, these two instances definitely stand out as possible examples.

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Posted : May 20, 2021 11:12 pm
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