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Is Lewis an Irish writer?

The man. The myth.

Do you think we must describe Lewis as

Poll ended at 07 May 2006, 20:04

English writer
12
48%
Irish writer
11
44%
Neither
2
8%
 
Total votes : 25

Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Perelandra » 30 Apr 2006, 19:57

Hello,

There was an interesting discussion on Wikipedia about Lewis nationality, and I would be glad to have the opinion of the native narnians :grin: about it

The discussion on Wikipedia is quite long & not very easily read because of the minimalist layout, so I will sum it up. Can we call Lewis an Irish writer because he was born in Belfast, had an Irish passport and thought of himself as of an Irishman? Or would we rather call him an English writer, because all his works are written in English & not in Gaelic?

I found no indication here at bio page, where this question is not treated at all, and other sites do their best not to state on this matter - "Irish born writer", "Anglo-Irish writer" etc... What do you think? What do you say spontaneously - English, Irish, or neither?

I should also add that I am a new member of this prosperous community - Hi all - but of course any Lewis fan & reader is my brother (sister) in arms, by definition ;) :) :grin:
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re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby David » 30 Apr 2006, 20:47

Lewis is generally spoken of an Irish writer. Most Protestant Irish writers are spoken of as English: Jonathan Swift, William Bulter Yeats, Oscar Wilde, were all from Ireland but because they were Protestant they are usually lumped in with English writers. So was Lewis.

Lewis is like other writers whose nationality is hard to pin down. T. S. Eliot was an American but he lived most of his life in English. Sometimes he is listed as an American writer, sometimes as British. Usually you'll find him in both anthologies.

I think Lewis' writing bears the stamp of Ireland. His affinity to nature, his belief in the supernatural, all hint at Ireland.
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re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Bill » 30 Apr 2006, 22:03

He was Irish.
He was a writer.
Ergo he was an Irish writer.

What do they teach them in these schools?

:rolleyes:

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Re: re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby k-mann » 30 Apr 2006, 23:06

David wrote:Lewis is generally spoken of an Irish writer. Most Protestant Irish writers are spoken of as English: Jonathan Swift, William Bulter Yeats, Oscar Wilde, were all from Ireland but because they were Protestant they are usually lumped in with English writers. So was Lewis.


Just a side note. Didn't Oscar Wild convert to the RCC?
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re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby carol » 30 Apr 2006, 23:59

Lewis' background is difficult to put into one or the other.
I've just finished reading the second (850pp) volume of Edward Rutherfurd's historical novels of Irish history.
Wave after wave of English people were imported, in the last few centuries.
So many Ango-Irish were much more English than Irish.

And of course, Lewis was part Welsh as well!

I'd tend to call him an Irish-born English writer. His works have little to do with his childhood in Ireland, and the books he read during those childhood days were largely from outside Ireland.
The old folktales he was told by a servant were the closest thing to an Irish heritage. That's my opinion (and I'm partly Irish, my grandfather's grandfather having been a RC from Galway).
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re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby David » 01 May 2006, 00:05

Just a side note. Didn't Oscar Wild convert to the RCC?


Yes, he did, but it was on his death-bed, one or two days before he died. Most of his life, all but a couple of days, he lived as a Protestant--though, of course, I don't think Wilde gave much real commitment to that religion.
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Re: re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Perelandra » 01 May 2006, 11:17

Bill wrote:He was Irish.
He was a writer.
Ergo he was an Irish writer.

What do they teach them in these schools?

:rolleyes:

Bill


Hi Bill

Let me explain you what do "they" teach "them" in these schools
Your simple logic would be applicable to, say, a baker - the bread he makes can be eaten by anyone, for nationality is irrelevant for bread eating

Now a writer is someone who makes textes, and these textes are made in a language. They can not be enjoyed unless you speak this language. These textes, when they are good, enrich the whole of the language they are written in. So, why do you call an Irish a writer who never wrote a word of Gaelic? What would be his "Irishness" in quality of a writer? For passport & birth are not attributes of a writer, but of any person, and we are speaking of a writer, precisely.

Indeed, what do they teach them in these schools... :rolleyes:
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Re: re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Monica » 01 May 2006, 12:23

Bill wrote:He was Irish.
He was a writer.
Ergo he was an Irish writer.



What would an Englishman -- who came to America and picked up bad American English -- say about an Irishman who was lazy:

He was Irish
He was a setter
Ergo, he was an Irish setter.

(Just kidding:-)
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Re: re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Bill » 01 May 2006, 15:42

Monica wrote:
Bill wrote:He was Irish.
He was a writer.
Ergo he was an Irish writer.



What would an Englishman -- who came to America and picked up bad American English -- say about an Irishman who was lazy:

He was Irish
He was a setter
Ergo, he was an Irish setter.

(Just kidding:-)


Setter????

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re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Bill » 01 May 2006, 15:48

Sorry Perelandra but I stand firmly by my logic!

There seems to be some confusion here between a writer who came from Ireland and who WAS therefore Irish, and an Irish writer who wrote in English.

If I was skilled in say French, which I am not, and produced books or whatever in French that would not make make a French writer, I would be an English writer of French.

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re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Stanley Anderson » 01 May 2006, 16:48

This is similar to the discussion about English language vs "British" (or "American") English. It is not really a matter of "logic", but of how the terms (or the adjectives in particular) are defined.

If "Irish" is meant to designate the nationality of the writer then anyone born (or naturalized, I suppose) in Ireland who writes is an Irish writer. But if "Irish" means more specifically "writes in a style with a distinct Irish flavour" (whatever that flavour would be -- if Samuel Beckett's writing is "Irish" in flavour then it is a curious flavour indeed:-), then it requires something different than just being born there. Now it may be that this "style" is something that can only be acquired by having grown up there, so being born there may be a "requirement". But it may not be enough -- the mathematical phrase is a condition that is "necessary but not sufficient" -- ie, some writers born in Ireland may not have the "style" to be declared as "Irish writers".

On the other hand, one may argue that having an Irish background will influence a writer willy-nilly no matter how, or in what manner, they consciously decide to write, and therefore they will be an Irish writer no matter what. If something about Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, and Dylan Thomas unites their styles as somehow "Irish", I'm not sure I see much of it in Lewis (though I might say some of his NICE and Un-Man flavour seem to have something in common with some of Beckett's works:-). But there might be something there.

A possible third case of course (which doesn't enter into this particular debate by definition since Lewis' birth puts him in one of the first two categories) is of a non-Irish person who attempts to write in the style of "Irish writing" whatever that may be. Can that be real or is it doomed to mere "imitation". This of course gets back to that debate about whether, for instance, a man can write realistic female characters and women realistic male characters (which reminds me that I was thinking of starting another thread about Charles Williams and Bram Stoker and questioning whether their style of writing is "masculine" or "feminine". But more on that later in a different thread if I decide to pursue it). Can non-Japanese people write Haiku effectively? Can non-English-as-a-first-language speaking people write intelligible instructions for assembling a barbeque? Can Bill Clinton "feel our pain"? Can movies convey things that books make us feel? Can writers convey their own personal motivations and reasons for writing to readers who (by definition) have not gone through the writer's particular experiences? Can one human even "relate" to another human, since by definition they are distinct and separate in their experiences?

I wonder if asking these sorts of questions is "Irish" in nature at all? Who knows, maybe I can say I'm an Irish philosopher in that case:-)

--Stanley


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Re: re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Monica » 01 May 2006, 17:34

Bill wrote:Setter?


Yeah, yeah, it was a stretch. It comes from that grammatically incorrect American expression (maybe from the South?) "Let's set a spell" -- to sit down for awhile.
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Re: re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Monica » 01 May 2006, 17:57

Stanley Anderson wrote:Can non-Japanese people write Haiku effectively? Can non-English-as-a-first-language speaking people write intelligible instructions for assembling a barbeque? Can Bill Clinton "feel our pain"? Can movies convey things that books make us feel? Can writers convey their own personal motivations and reasons for writing to readers who (by definition) have not gone through the writer's particular experiences? Can one human even "relate" to another human, since by definition they are distinct and separate in their experiences?

I wonder if asking these sorts of questions is "Irish" in nature at all? Who knows, maybe I can say I'm an Irish philosopher in that case:-)


Philosophical indeed. Unfortunately, philosophical questions often must go unanswered. Imagine the unanswerable philosophical question that one could form from a combination of the above: Can Bill Clinton write intelligible instructions for assembling a barbeque that make us feel his pain?

But we Canadian librarians have a pragmatic answer to the philosophical question of whether an author is Canadian or not. The criteria is: Do they live in Canada? If you don't live in the country in which you write, you are quickly out of touch with the culture, the language, and the zeitgeist.
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Re: re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Stanley Anderson » 01 May 2006, 18:20

Monica wrote:But we Canadian librarians have a pragmatic answer to the philosophical question of whether an author is Canadian or not. The criteria is: Do they live in Canada? If you don't live in the country in which you write, you are quickly out of touch with the culture, the language, and the zeitgeist.


So in connection with the question at hand, the PCL (pragmatic Canadian Librarian) answer is that Lewis was not an Irish writer, right?

PCL sounds authoritative enough to me:-)

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re: Is Lewis an Irish writer?

Postby Bill » 01 May 2006, 18:45

Don't care about PCL. :p

Lewis was Irish; Lewis was a writer.

Anything else is logic chopping.

According to the poll, most people (so far) agree.

My final word (honest)

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