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Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 15 May 2009, 12:31
by Steve
I'm midway through the collected letters Vol III and thinking its a bit disappointing there aren't that many "new" things that I haven't already seen in quotes elsewhere. And then I hit a biggie.

On 5/8/55 Lewis writes to Dorothy Sayers and says that Baynes' illustrations for the Narnia books are not that good.
Sayers had written that the frontispiece to LWW was arguably blasphemous. Lewis writes her biggest problem was her total ignorance of animal anatomy. "I have always had serious reservations about her (this is sub sigillo)". He did like her ability to draw plants, and also felt she needed the work with an elderly mother to support.

Then on 9/8/55 he agrees with Sayers calling the LWW frontispiece blasphemous, then says Hell wouldn't be large enough to hold all the mediocre religious artists, if mediocre art was literal blasphemy.

I'm thinking the LWW frontispiece (not reproduced in my paperback version) in question is this one:
Image
Source: http://www.manhattanrarebooks.com/lion_witch.htm

In my opinion, this frontispiece is not great but not bad either. This opinion of Lewis' is rather startling. My first reaction was to think him hypocritical for writing compliments to Baynes in his letters to her, if he never really liked most of them. But on second thought I think he showed patience with Baynes despite his felt dissatisfaction with her work, rather than hypocrisy.

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 16 May 2009, 00:30
by Leslie
I remember reading somewhere (maybe one of the letters?) where Lewis says that Baynes can't draw lions very well.

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 17 May 2009, 14:10
by Mornche Geddick
Image
I wonder which one they meant.
Image
This is the one I grew up with.
Image
I can't see the blasphemy in any of them. Would somebody explain it to me?

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 17 May 2009, 14:57
by john
Mornche Geddick wrote:I can't see the blasphemy in any of them. Would somebody explain it to me?


"A Major Motion Picture"

Oh, right. We were talking about lions. :rolleyes:

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 17 May 2009, 18:45
by Leslie
A frontispiece isn't a cover -- it's an illustration opposite the title page. The image that Steve posted is indeed the frontispiece from the first edition.

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 20 May 2009, 20:00
by Steve
Then some time later, Lewis perhaps becomes reconciled to Baynes' work, because he says the illustrations in the German translations of Narnia were worse than Baynes'.

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 19 Jun 2009, 22:07
by A#minor
I must admit I don't like the frontispiece in question either. But I like the Baynes' illustrations within the books!
Now that I really look at some of the illustrations of Aslan, I have to agree with Lewis that she didn't have a great knowledge of animal anatomy. Things seem just a bit out of proportion somehow. Not that I know anything about art.

What I like in all her illustrations is the energy, the feeling of them. The emotions and movement of each one is so clear as to be palpable.

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 26 Jun 2009, 02:37
by glumPuddle
That's a shame. I really like Baynes' illustrations. I think they support the words enough, but still allow the reader to fill in pictures in their own mind.

But I admit there are a few that make me cringe. Like in LWW during Aslan's conversation with the Witch. Aslan actually standing! With his hands behind his back.

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 26 Jun 2009, 12:59
by The Quangle Wangle
Yes, I always thought that particular one looked ridiculous

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 01 Jul 2009, 20:03
by msd1835
The first one looks almost as though Aslan was attacking the children. Maybe that is where the blasphemy came from. Although I believe they were just playing and rejoicing.

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 13 Aug 2009, 02:59
by Larry W.
I always liked Baynes' illustrations. To me they are inseparable from Lewis' books even though they might not be perfect. In fact, the reason I bought a new set of the Narnia books was to replace the paperbacks with their cropped pictures. I wanted my own personal hardcover set to have the complete Baynes illustrations. The Harper Collins edition that I own now has them, although they aren't in color like the more recent paperbacks.

Larry W.

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 17 Sep 2009, 17:53
by LucyP
Did any of you know that C. S. Lewis was best friends with J. R. R. Tolkien, who wrote Lord of the Rings, also a very good series of books. The movies are a bit gorey though.

HOW DO YOU GUYS GET THE COOL SIGNATURES?!?!?!

Sorry, I'm new and don't really understand how to work the website yet.

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 17 Sep 2009, 23:19
by john
LucyP wrote:Did any of you know that C. S. Lewis was best friends with J. R. R. Tolkien, who wrote Lord of the Rings, also a very good series of books. The movies are a bit gorey though.

HOW DO YOU GUYS GET THE COOL SIGNATURES?!?!?!

Sorry, I'm new and don't really understand how to work the website yet.


Yup, I think most of us know that Lewis and Tolkien were good friends, and part of a group called the Inklings.

Click on "User Control Panel" above to add a signature.

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 18 Sep 2009, 12:59
by LucyP
john wrote:
LucyP wrote:Did any of you know that C. S. Lewis was best friends with J. R. R. Tolkien, who wrote Lord of the Rings, also a very good series of books. The movies are a bit gorey though.

HOW DO YOU GUYS GET THE COOL SIGNATURES?!?!?!

Sorry, I'm new and don't really understand how to work the website yet.


Yup, I think most of us know that Lewis and Tolkien were good friends, and part of a group called the Inklings.

Click on "User Control Panel" above to add a signature.



I did, but it says I'm not authorized. does that mean a mod or admin has to make it so?

Re: Lewis' dislike of Baynes' illustrations

PostPosted: 18 Sep 2009, 15:12
by john
Hm...let me look into this. If you have continuing issues, please use the "Announcements & Support" forum.