Yannick Bellenger-Morvan: C.S. Lewis: An Experiment in Popular Literature?
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Even though born in East Belfast in 1898, C.S. Lewis is not famous today for being an ‘Irish’ author, properly speaking. However, his many letters show that he felt a deep sense of yearning for his native country and that he always wished to go back home. However, his academic career kept him in Oxford, where he taught medieval and Renaissance literature before he was given a chair in Cambridge, a chair that had been created especially for him in 1954. Outside his scholarly writings, C.S. Lewis is first and foremost a popular figure, the author of numerous best sellers, most of which belong to what his contemporaries would have called lowbrow culture. His first work of prose fiction, Out of the Silent Planet, published in 1938, was a science-fiction novel. Already a famous popularizer of the Scriptures on the BBC, he became well known to the general public in 1951 when the first volume of his seven children’s fantasy stories, the Narnia Chronicles, came out. As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, he was as much despised by his fellow scholars as he was praised by his readers. Quite significantly, the way a writer relates to his readership lies at the core of Lewis’s approach to literature, both as a novelist and a critic; in his major work, An Experiment in Criticism, published in 1961, two years before he died, C.S. Lewis lamented the fact that:
Some critics write of...
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