Fantasy and C.S. Lewis

A fascinating three-part documentary on fantasy fiction is under way on BBC4. The first part on Wednesday dealt with children’s fiction in particular. I was interested by the pasting dished out to C.S Lewis, a proponent of ‘bullying Anglicanism’ (surely a contradiction in terms); a propagandist and ‘warper of children’s minds’ who purveyed a brutal and cruel creed quite unlike that of the Jesus of the Gospels. Will Self thought the Christian allegory the thing that made the novels interesting, but Philip Pullman thought them not Christianity but something quite different: a ‘high-minded exclusion’ of normal children from salvation.
The open season on Lewis was in contrast to the lengthy treatment afforded to Philip Pullman and the notions of ‘dust’, sin and experience in the His Dark Materials trilogy. I’m bound to note Bernice Martin’s article in Redefining Christian Britain on Pullman’s religion.
The series continues tomorrow night with the epic tradition, including Tolkien and Lewis.

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