Lewis, Tolkien, TS Eliot, Vikings, Virgil, Bill and Ted: On History

The hardy romp through theories, stages and general phenomenon of history, as provided by Mark Tiberius Gilderhus in History and Historians: A Historiographical Introduction, brings to mind the various intersections of a notion such as “historical consciousness” and a “philosophy of history” and various readings in cultural apologetics thus far.[1]  It would be nearly a crime to not begin with material from C.S. Lewis, given his significant role in modern apologetics, and so we begin, working backwards perhaps though history to find our way.

[1] And as this was written during my final course in the online MA program in Cultural Apologetics at Houston Baptist University, a number of such connections flooded my mind. Were I to have written a thesis, this might be the outline of how it could have gone.

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Wordsworth, The Prelude – Lewis’s List #5



Surprised by Joy – as impatient as the wind – WW SBJ

It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me; Milton’s “enormous bliss” of Eden (giving the full, ancient meaning to “enormous”) comes somewhere near it – CSL SBJ

“When C.S. Lewis first read William Wordsworth as a teenager, he violently disliked him” Mary Ritter begins her chapter on Lewis’s #5 pick on his list of ten books which Lewis felt had “shaped his vocational attitude and philosophy of life.”[i]  Themes of Nature, of Reason and Imagination, and perhaps above all, Joy, are what Ritter cites as the most profound influences of Wordsworth on Lewis.  The theme of Joy, found in the opening lines of Wordsworth’s poem Surprised by Joy, plays a central role in Lewis’s own conversion and approach to apologetics (argument for the existence of God); hence, the (same) title of Lewis’s autobiography, Surprised by Joy (with Wordsworth’s opening line given on the title page).

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Lewis Among Ancients … and Moderns

“The Renaissance never happened!”

C.S. Lewis declared, more than a bit ironically, when accepting the newly created Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Cambridge University in 1954, which he would hold until his death in 1963.  Instead, there is a legacy from the Ancients through the Christian Medievals that was not broken, Lewis claimed, until the age of Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets, around 1800. For instance, art and poetry began to reflect primarily one’s own emotions (subjectivism) rather than the glory of creation.

Consider what scenes or passages from his many writings, including fiction such as The Chronicles of Narnia (ex. knightly valor and courage) or anything else of his you’ve heard or read that might betray Lewis’s very unmodern, cosmic bias.  WE will take a particular look at his Abolition of Man through this journey …

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Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy – Lewis’s List #7



#7 on C.S. Lewis’s List: The TEN Books that Influenced Him Most , this book by the Roman philosopher Boethius (480-525 A.D.), in which he considers the whims of Lady Fortune after suffering ruin in fortune, society and name (and possibly anticipating his punishment of death) for trumped up charges of treason, Lewis cites as one of the most influential books in medieval literature, as well as one of the ten books that influenced Lewis the most.  The most translated book of the Middle Ages (Alfred the Great, Chaucer and Queen Elizabeth I all did so), Lewis claimed “until about two hundred years ago it would, I think, have been hard to find an educated man in any European country who did not love it.” [1]

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