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Which writers did you discover through Lewis

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Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby postodave » 20 Sep 2009, 16:16

I don't think we've had this before. Lewis mentions a lot of writers and often you go and take a look.He usually makes them sound good or at least worth a shot but are they? For me a list would include:
David Lindsay - Voyage to Arcturus. Not a great book but Lewis homes in on what is good about it - mixing space voyages with the spiritual - and uses it.
E.R. Edison - astonishing writing. Tolkien before Tolkien but heavy going
Gerorge Macdonald - interesting but not very readable
Charles Williams - very interesting. I search every second hand bookshop for a copy of Taliesin through Logres etc. But again not an easy read
William Miller - A Canticle for Leibowitz - well this one is more of a light read - not bad of its kind
Olaf Stapledon - now this I did get pulled into - a good weirdout
William Hope Hodgson - Lewis recommends the Night Land which I've never manafed to get into. Did like 'House on the Borderland' but it's not great writing and Lewis admits Night Land isn't either. The way my old edition of this selectively quotes Lewis on the cover is quite funny.

What comes over to me in all this is that these writers are often clumsy stylists or downright bad writers and Lewis gloms onto their ideas and produces his own more readable versions.
So I drew my sword and got ready
But the lamb ran away with the crown
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby Leslie » 20 Sep 2009, 17:28

I've started to read some William Morris and Rider Haggard. I agree with your assessment of Lewis's taste - for his light reading (as opposed to the medieval poetry that is his first love) he prefers the outlandish and fantastical (what he and Tolkien called "faerie"). There must be inherent difficulties in writing in this genre, since so many of its practitioners seem clumsy. Perhaps because the ideas are so big and unfamiliar, it's difficult to express them in words.
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby larry gilman » 20 Sep 2009, 20:15

I got onto all the usual suspects through Lewis:

George MacDonald [who must be listed by himself, as great as Lewis says he is]

G. K .Chesterton
H. Rider Haggard
William Morris
Charles WIlliams
David Lindsay (Voyage to Arcturus)
E. R. Eddison

Re. fantasy writing, Morris is a completely different beast from Tolkien or Lewis but a great master -- not at all clumsy, to my eyes. But to read him, one must put aside all that "fantasy fiction" has become since the 1960s -- learn to listen to a voice from another century. Reading Morris is more like dreaming with one's eyes open than like reading modern adventure-fantasy. His books are like novel-length fairy tales, Grimm-type fairy tales. Right now I happen to be reading the narrative Morris poem Love is Enough, CSL's first reading of which, he said in a 1930 letter to Arthur Greeves, "has been a great experience to me" (big Letters collection ed. Hooper, vol. 1, p. 911). Hm, I just noticed that I'm reading it in the same edition that Lewis, in this letter, describes himself as having just acquired (24 vols, ed. May Morris -- who is misidentified as "Mary Morris" in the footnote -- this letters collection is horribly rife with such errors, I have identified scores of them). The volume is courtesy of the Dartmouth College Library, not in my own collection. Such things are not owned by Mortal Men in these latter days, but only by major libraries . . .
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby Theophilus » 21 Sep 2009, 17:18

I learned about Charles Williams and have read as many of his works as I could find. He is hard to read at times but it is worth the effort.
I read David Lindsay's "Voyage to Arcturus" but didn't like it.
I also like George MacDonald's fantasy stories but I don't care too much for his other works.
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby larry gilman » 21 Sep 2009, 19:12

MacDonald is, as Lewis warned, a defective (realistic) novelist -- though I enjoy those books too; his real genius is in his religious writing, especially the three volumes of "Unspoken Sermons" (http://www.johannesen.com/). And in the two dream-fantasies, Phantastes and Lilith. And the fairy tales are great. G.K. Chesterton was deeply influenced by The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie; Tolkien, I think, was an admirer of The Golden Key.

I like Williams's theological writing very much (esp. Descent of the Dove) but, even after having read all of his novels, I just couldn't learn to like them -- at least, not enough to ever read them again. Ah well -- tastes vary.

Lindsay and Eddison are both very acquired tastes, like single malt whiskey. One thing I get from reading them is an appreciation of how catholic Lewis's tastes were. Garish science-fiction magazines, poetry in Latin and Greek, these weird idiosyncratic difficult fantasy novelists . . . Lewis also loved the Gormenghast books by Mervyn Peake -- not sure if I got onto those independently, or because Lewis mentioned them in a letter or something . . .

L
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby Mr Bultitude » 22 Sep 2009, 14:30

I think I discovered Gormenghast independent of my Lewis reading, but I can't recall how it was that I learned of it--but now that I know that Lewis liked it I may pick it back up and try to get past page 20 ;)

I thought it worth mentioning that it was this exact thread that I referenced yesterday while at Borders looking for some new fantasy to read. I've found it difficult to find some of Lewis's own favorites at the big chain bookstores (particularly Charles Williams whom I'm dying to read for the first time), but I managed to get the only copy of the one work that Borders carried of H. Rider Haggard, She. So far I'm enjoying it. His style reminds me a bit of Poe, with that kind of pervasive sense of impending doom. Very gothic Victorian.
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby larry gilman » 22 Sep 2009, 14:46

That Haggard book, She, was (with King Solomon's Mine) Lewis's favorite, I think, of all Haggard's. There's CSL's esay "The Mythopoeic Gift of Rider Haggard" (which I have inthe Of This and Other Worlds anthology) to prove it. . . "The mythical status of She is indisputable," CSL writes: ". . . The story of Ayesha is not an escape, but it is about escape: about an attempt at the great escape, daringly made and . . " But I will quote no more lest I give a spoiler. Apparently, to judge by Lewis's remarks, Jung wrote about the book, but I have never seen that text.

Happy reading!

L
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby Mr Bultitude » 23 Sep 2009, 02:04

larry gilman wrote: Apparently, to judge by Lewis's remarks, Jung wrote about the book, but I have never seen that text.

Happy reading!

L


Yes, both Jung and Freud had something to say about it, according to blurbs on the book jacket and the introduction. Haggard actually wrote of his own work, after he had written one of the sequels I believe, that She touches on some great allegory or archetype that even he wasn't able to identify, which I thought was an interesting response to have to one's own writing.
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby postodave » 23 Sep 2009, 18:41

larry said:
Re. fantasy writing, Morris is a completely different beast from Tolkien or Lewis but a great master -- not at all clumsy, to my eyes. But to read him, one must put aside all that "fantasy fiction" has become since the 1960s -- learn to listen to a voice from another century. Reading Morris is more like dreaming with one's eyes open than like reading modern adventure-fantasy. His books are like novel-length fairy tales, Grimm-type fairy tales. Right now I happen to be reading the narrative Morris poem Love is Enough, CSL's first reading of which, he said in a 1930 letter to Arthur Greeves, "has been a great experience to me" (big Letters collection ed. Hooper, vol. 1, p. 911). Hm, I just noticed that I'm reading it in the same edition that Lewis, in this letter, describes himself as having just acquired (24 vols, ed. May Morris -- who is misidentified as "Mary Morris" in the footnote -- this letters collection is horribly rife with such errors, I have identified scores of them). The volume is courtesy of the Dartmouth College Library, not in my own collection. Such things are not owned by Mortal Men in these latter days, but only by major libraries . . .
Which reminds me very much of the effect Lord Dunsany has. the writing, the joy of language was so much a part of these older fantasy writers. You still get that all the way down to Ursula Le Guin (surely Lewis would have loved her writing) but now fantasy novels read like films. I wonder if film and TV have changed the way we read and write.
Sorry can't get this to do the quote properly.
So I drew my sword and got ready
But the lamb ran away with the crown
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby stourhead » 24 Sep 2009, 22:16

Edith Nesbit. The Aunt and Amabel is a story containing a wardrobe in a spare room which is the entryway to a magic world and Lewis acknowledged that not only did he love her stories, but that he 'borrowed' from this one for the first Narnia story.

I was surprised to know that Lewis liked Beatrix Potter, so I reread her as well.
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby deadwhitemale » 03 Oct 2009, 04:21

I first started reading Lewis around 1979-1980, when I was 22 going on 23. George Macdonald and Charles Williams I was pretty directly led to by Lewis, some time later. Chesterton? Maybe, though far less directly, and rather more recently.

Eddison I was led to more by Fritz Leiber. Clark Ashton Smith and Lovecraft I discovered independently of Lewis -- indeed, long before I first read Lewis. I think I discovered Dunsany independently too. Perhaps I was pointed to them by Robert E. Howard, or Leiber.

Tolkien I was deliberately introduced to (via The Hobbit) by a seventh grade teacher, when I was about twelve. I started reading the Trilogy at about age 13 or 14, starting out of proper order, "in the middle of things" with The Two Towers.

Oddly enough, I was first led to read Shakespeare (voluntarily) by two essays I read about the same time -- one by Lewis, "Hamlet: the Prince or the Poem?" and the other by Fritz Leiber, about King Lear -- in the very early Eighties. Previously, in the early-to-middle Seventies, I had been so put off Shakespeare by the way it was taught and presented in high school, that I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole for years.

As well, I am sure I was first led to at least look up some classical and medieval authors by Lewis.

DWM
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby postodave » 03 Oct 2009, 13:47

Hi DWM
Just wanted to say I love some of the writers you have mentioned especially Robert Howard and H. P. Lovecraft and Fritz Leiber. Lewis seems to have read a lot of American pulp Sci Fi but not pulp fantasy. Surely he and Tolkien would have loved Poul Anderson's fantasies and Pratt's Well of the Unicorn - okay perhaps Tolkien would have given Anderson a miss. And Lewis could have got past Howard's lack of literary grace and seen him as a great story teller. Would they have liked Leiber's fantasies though with their mixed reality and language. I think they would have liked the 'Dunsany - ish' bits of Lovecraft and Lewis would have admired but disagreed with the Cthulu mythos but perhaps not the pure horror
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby deadwhitemale » 04 Oct 2009, 00:42

postodave wrote:Hi DWM
Just wanted to say I love some of the writers you have mentioned especially Robert Howard and H. P. Lovecraft and Fritz Leiber. Lewis seems to have read a lot of American pulp Sci Fi but not pulp fantasy. Surely he and Tolkien would have loved Poul Anderson's fantasies and Pratt's Well of the Unicorn - okay perhaps Tolkien would have given Anderson a miss. And Lewis could have got past Howard's lack of literary grace and seen him as a great story teller. Would they have liked Leiber's fantasies though with their mixed reality and language. I think they would have liked the 'Dunsany - ish' bits of Lovecraft and Lewis would have admired but disagreed with the Cthulu mythos but perhaps not the pure horror


Well, as far as I know, Lovecraft was a thoroughgoing philosophical Materialist who denied the supernatural altogether and didn't believe a word of the Cthulhu Mythos, except that I guess he really did see the universe as at best indifferent to humanity.

Howard could be crude (he was particularly weak at coining names), but he had a little poet in him, and sometimes he could show it. I seem to recall reading, somewhere, that Tolkien had read a little Howard and rather liked it. Howard's pseudo-prehistory and Hyborian Age bear some comparison to Tolkien's creations (in the sense that in both cases the action is set in, or alludes to, some perished era of relatively advanced civilization with sophisticated metallurgy, monumental architecture, writing, use of the wheel, domesticated animals, and so forth, long preceding the beginnings of what we know of as historical civilization, and perhaps providing the basis for many of the earliest civilizations' myths and legends.

(I suppose it is just possible that some things we don't think were invented until five or six thousand years ago could have been discovered earlier, then lost or forgotten, leaving little or no trace. Archaeology is more of an art than an exact science, and a lot of what is dug up is pretty random, and subject to misidentification and misinterpretation. For the longest time mainstream archaeology maintained that there was no or nearly no archeological evidence for much of what is recorded in the Old Testament, though gradually little bits and pieces of corroborating evidence have turned up. The Hittites were long regarded as mythical, I think, but are now regarded as fully historical. The same goes for the city of Troy. There's still a big debate about the historicity of Moses and the Exodus.)

Leiber, now ... Leiber is special problem, or could be for some Christian readers. I guess some of his work could be seen as perverse and corrupting. I can usually sort of "read around" that, and get what good there is to be gotten from it, but I can see how some people might take it. I have big philosophical/ideological differences with Leiber, but I kind of like his style at times. It's definitely not for the kids, though.

I can't quite remember how I first encountered Hodgson. I picked up a used paperback copy of his The Night Land quite some time ago, probably in the early 1980s. I'm pretty sure I had it when I moved in 1989. I didn't get round to reading The House On the Borderland until much more recently. I may have read it for the first time online, sometime within the last four or five years. I kind of think what brought me to that may have been re-reading some of Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique stories online. Those fit generally into the same "Dying Earth" genre as Hodgson's Night Land. I may have backtracked from Zothique to there.

DWM
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby Mornche Geddick » 04 Oct 2009, 16:17

Owen Barfield and Edwyn Bevan, through reading Miracles.
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Re: Which writers did you discover through Lewis

Postby moordarjeeling » 21 Nov 2009, 08:01

Mr Bultitude wrote: I've found it difficult to find some of Lewis's own favorites at the big chain bookstores (particularly Charles Williams whom I'm dying to read for the first time)


I saw some of Williams's online not long ago. I expect there would be some available through secondhand vendors such as abebooks also; Amazon may link to them.

Wonderful books imo!
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