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C. S. Lewis and the Craft of Communication

Steven A. Beebe

C. S. Lewis, based on the popularity of his books and essays, is one of the best communicators of the twentieth century. During his lifetime he was hailed for his talents as author, speaker, educator, and broadcaster; he continues to be a best-selling author more than a half-century after his death.

C. S. Lewis and the Craft of Communication analyzes Lewis’s communication skill. A comprehensive review of Lewis’s work reveals five communication principles that explain his success as a communicator. Based on Lewis’s own advice about communication in his books, essays, and letters, as well as his communication practice, being a skilled communicator is to be holistic, intentional, transpositional, evocative, and audience-centered. These five principles are memorably summarized by the acronym HI TEA. Dr. Steven Beebe, past president of the National Communication Association and an internationally-recognized communication author and educator, uses Lewis’s own words to examine these five principles in a most engaging style.

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7 Evocative


“Do you think your readers [or listeners] will believe you just because you say so? You must go quite a different way to work. By direct description, by metaphor and simile, by secretly evoking powerful associations, by offering the right stimuli to our nerves (in the right degree and the right order), and by the very beat of vowel-melody and length and brevity of your sentences, you must bring it about that we, we readers [and listeners], not you, exclaim ‘how mysterious!’ or ‘loathsome’ or whatever it is.”1

- C. S. Lewis

“Don’t tell us the jewels had an ‘emotional’ glitter; make us feel the emotion. I can hardly tell you how important this is.”2

- C. S. Lewis

“Let the pictures tell you their own moral. For the moral inherent in them will rise from whatever spiritual roots you have succeeded in striking during the whole course of your life.”3

- C. S. Lewis

“All seven of my Narnia books, and my three science fiction books, began with seeing pictures in my head.”4 These words from C. S. Lewis’s essay “It All Began with A Picture …” describe Lewis’s version of how he came to write some of his most celebrated stories. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe started with an image of a faun carrying an umbrella with packages under his arms while walking in a snowy wood. Other...

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