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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Nectar and ambrosia for tea : the bringing home of myth in C.S. Lewis Esau, Debra Laurie


The peculiar talents and sensibility of C.S. Lewis have commended him to one of the broadest and largest audiences of the twentieth century, an audience spanning international boundaries and comprised of the young and old, academic and average citizen, and Christian and secularist alike. Lewis' universal appeal arises from the universality of his vision, rooted in a fundamentally mythological cosmology. Such a view sees everything as having its own profound quiddity, yet also as heralding some greater and deeper reality. Ultimately, Lewis' mythological cosmology finds its ratification and fulfillment in the Christianity which he came to embrace, and to espouse ever more deeply. Lewis' whole life was of a piece, and its mythological keynote was the product of personal experience, informing every aspect of his entire ethos. The mythological timbre of his literary aesthetic is therefore as integral to his works of inexorable logic as it is to his works of primary imagination, comprising the very grain of his pattern of thought. His mythological sensibility is not the extraneous adjunct of theory, nor does it comprise a remote or transcendent romanticism; rather, it is characterized by a peculiar "hominess" and a visceral nativeness. The fantasy worlds of Lewis' planetary romances lend concrete expression to this mythological aesthetic, providing a graphic framework for the duet of 'ordinary' and 'extraordinary' which heralds the Lewisian strain. Each of the three novels repeats in microcosm the principal structure of his mythological ethos, as does the tri-partite structure of the planetary trilogy as a whole. In the first chapter, this thesis thoroughly investigates the nature, scope, and inner consistency of the expansive Lewisian ethos. Each treating one of the planetary romances, the three subsequent chapters explore the reiteration of that mytholgoical ethos in theme, parabolic symbol, and paradigmatic method. The knitting together of theme and technique in the trilogy is judged to be successful, both in creating meaningful self-contained works of art, and in providing a powerful exponent of the Lewisian ethos.

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