An opportunity to say thank you to Mr. Lewis

In case it’s not obvious from the title of our blog, we owe a great debt to C.S. Lewis. A little over 5 years ago, our book club read An Experiment in Criticism; I’d like to think that the seeds for this blog project were planted then. Much of my philosophy, and Haley’s, around providing books to our children is received as a gift from Lewis.

For instance:

A passage that I recite to myself gently when my daughter makes straight for the serial easy-readers about unicorn fairies at the library: “The best safeguard against bad literature is a full experience of the good; just as a real and affectionate acquaintance with honest people gives a better protection against rogues than a habitual distrust of everyone.” It helps me breathe a little as I slip 2 or 3 really good books into the pile.

And on why we don’t write negative reviews: “These dethronements are a great waste of energy. Their acrimony produces heat at the expense of light. They do not improve anyone’s capacity for good reading. The real way of mending a man’s taste is not to denigrate his present favourites but to teach him how to enjoy something better.”

I’ve also written about how much I love Westminster Abbey, so imagine my delight this morning when, over at Rabbit Room, I discovered that C.S. Lewis will be getting a memorial plaque in Poet’s Corner! There will also be a two-day conference and a service of thanksgiving commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death.

However, as Sarah at Rabbit Room points out, it’s a project that needs support, as the Abbey doesn’t finance such memorials. You can learn about the memorial and donate at the Lewis in Poets’ Corner site.

In An Experiment in Criticism, Lewis observes, “Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom realise the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors.” I certainly owe some of that debt to Lewis: my imagination, my attempts at literary parenting, even the end of my childhood fear of heaven (which would require a whole other post to explain!) have all grown out of his work. I can’t pay him back, of course, but I’m planning on honoring him by donating to the memorial. I invite you to participate too!

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