19 April 2011

Enjoying Literature

"Unbelievers often attach an almost religious significance to their aesthetic experiences and have to obey their artistic consciences like mystical amoral laws. They often feel a superiority to the great mass of people who turn to books for mere recreation. In contrast, Christians know that 'the vulgar, since they include most of the poor, probably include most of [their] superiors.' They know 'that the salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world.' Therefore they do not object to tales and comedies for mere amusement and refreshment.

"Lewis credits the humanists with the mistakenly serious approach to literature. They could not really bring themselves to believe that the poet cared about the shepherds, lovers, warriors, voyages, and battles. They must be only a disguise for something more 'adult.' The Medieval readers had also believed in a poet's hidden wisdom, but they did not allow the hidden wisdom to obscure the fact that the text before them was 'a noble and joyous history.' Perhaps this was because they had been taught that the multiple meanings of Scripture never abrogated the literal sense. They pressed the siege, wept with the heroine, and shuddered at the monsters."

(Kathryn Lindskoog, Journey into Narnia, p. 79)

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