Well folks, here it is! Every Monday I will begin posting a section of some of my summarized research, as well as listing off some of the readings that I have been perusing as I have developed my work! Let me know in the comments, or Twitter what you think so far, or if you have any questions! Feel free to join the conversation via either Twitter (@ReepTheMouse) or in the comments below!

A Study of the Impact of Media in C.S Lewis’ Career.

       By 1947, Clive Staples Lewis, or Jack as he preferred, had solidified his reputation as an internationally recognized author, theologian, and media personality. Yet, in this regard, Lewis’ life remains paradoxical.  As a self-proclaimed ideological dinosaur, Jack held views that were becoming increasingly out of sync with the rapid modernization occurring in England at that time. The cover of TIME magazine in 1947 depicted Lewis as a man who could popularize “medieval scholasticism with such a comfortable modern dress” while in the same breath decry strict scientific rationalization as chief among modern day heresies. His staunch defence of traditionalism, combined with his stubborn resistance to change, left him out of place and ostracized among many of his more progressive peers and colleagues. However, despite his reputation of being stodgy and outdated, Lewis became a media sensation by utilizing remarkably non-traditional venues.  For all of Lewis’ objections to progressive trends, he could not have anticipated the degree to which new media forms would propel his career into the international spotlight. To this end, the focus of this paper will be to explore how Lewis—a deeply conservative individual—appropriated progressive mediums to establish himself in a modernizing world.

      At the start of the 1930’s, Lewis was by all accounts a relatively obscure public intellectual. Raised in the Classical literary traditions, his aspirations fuelled a desire to produce Britain’s next Romantic masterpiece in the same fashion as Milton or Spencer. Yet, Lewis was still a young author who dreamt of championing the waning classical genre. However, this was already an ambitious venture given the shifts taking place within Oxford and Cambridge at this time, which saw more contemporary works gaining favour in literary departments. His first attempt came in the form of a collection of poems entitled Spirits in BondageSpirits was an anthological approach at creating a narrative of Lewis’ personal experiences on the battlefield in France during the First World War. However, this work found itself among the hundreds of similarly themed books produced in this era, and had to compete against texts that had already garnered significant fame in this market already. His second attempt at publication came five years later. In 1926, Lewis published his epic narrative, Dymer, under the assumed name of Clive Hamilton. Dymer was by all accounts one of Lewis’ earliest professional works and was noted by critics as being both completely inaccessible and incomprehensible. His slim hope of sparking interest in this genre was completely crushed by a penchant for favouring obscure academic paradigms in both his poetic form and technical prose. Simply put, his style of writing was out of date in a modernizing world and failed to find traction in the established popular literary markets.

Works relevant to this section
Jeff Artzbasheff – Oxford’s C.S Lewis ( 1947 Time Magazine)
Samuel Joeckel – The C.S Lewis Phenomenon: Christianity and the Public Sphere ( 2013)
Alister McGrath – C.S Lewis: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet. (2013)
Lewis at War – Focus on the Family Radio productions.

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2 Comments

  1. It is quite interesting to hear about the “failures” of Lewis, who is known (still) as one of the most prolific writers of all time. Although Lewis was a genius and drew so many people in through his work some of it was not popular at the time it was written and published. This is inspiring to those of us who have the gift of writing yet don’t use it for fear of failing miserably.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Katie! It really is interesting when you realize that Lewis had two solid failures in his early years and almost gave up on writing non-academic work all together. I get into this a bit later but it was not until he was asked to write The Problem of Pain nearly a decade later that he began publishing full time.

      Like

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