C.S. Lewis, the Sneaky Pagan
Colin Duriez is a frequent writer and speaker on topic related to C.S. Lewis and his Inkling friends. Duriez is most recently the author of A Field Guide to Narnia. His other books include Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship, Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings, The C.S. Lewis Encyclopedia, and The J.R.R. Tolkien Handbook. Duriez lives in Leicester, England and was recently in the U.S.
Why do you think the Chronicles of Narnia are Lewis's greatest achievement and will last the longest?
In the Chronicles, you get the presence of Lewis. You get the cast of his mind in a way that's unequalled in any of his other books. Lewis once said that the imaginative man in him was more basic than any other aspect. In the Chronicles, every part of him was brought into play: the depth of his intellect, the depth of his knowledge, the richness of his imagination. They all work organically together and achieved this remarkable series of not one, but seven connected books.
It's folly to predict the future, but being a fool, I'll say that maybe in 150 years it will be the Chronicles of Narnia that are the most remembered of Lewis's work.
In order to write to a post-Christian culture, Lewis used pre-Christian, pagan ideas.
C.S. Lewis's ideas about returning to a paganism before coming to Christian faith still apply today. He recognized that we live in a post-Christian world, and for him that was the most basic category when trying to understand present society. We talk about modernism and now postmodernism, but if Lewis was around I think he'd still be saying that the fact that we're post-Christian is more fundamental.
Contemporary people have no background at all in Christian faith. They need to be brought to paganism to prepare the way ...