Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
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Andy:
Making the Best of It

It is interesting . . . to ask what Lewis thought about cities, those symbols of human social life. Wesley Kort avers, “While Lewis affirms the importance of social spaces that accommodate and stimulate the potentials of persons and grant to persons a sense of being a home, he offers no realistic models of social space equivalent to those he gives for personal spaces and open landscapes.” Compare also the testimonial of Helen Gardner, as Meilander introduces it: “Despite the fact that much of his [academic] work concerned the debt of English literature to the literature of the Renaissance, no vision of ‘cities, large and small, with splendid public monuments’ ever played a large role in his imagination. For Lewis, she suggests, the simple loyalties of the comitatus were never replaced by the more complex loyalties of the ‘city.’” . . .

London itself appears in the Narnia chronicles, but always as negative (particularly in The Magician’s Nephew, but it is also war-torn London from which the children must be sent away in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as well). All of the other cities in the Narnia chronicles are evil—from Charn to Calormen. Hell itself is a city in The Great Divorce, but Heaven is a countryside. I shall leave as homework for Lewis aficionados this question: does anything good happen in a city in any of Lewis’s writings? One wonders if C. S. Lewis himself stood in need of some imaginative conversion by the Bible’s own images of the New Jerusalem.