Letter: Don't blame Lewis

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Philip Hensher (Comment, 4 December) is right to observe that the Narnia stories contain evidence of C S Lewis's misogyny and racism. He is wrong to conclude that they are therefore bad or harmful.Some of the political and social mores expressed in the books are obnoxious when viewed from a liberal Nineties perspective, but Lewis can hardly be blamed for living in the time he did.

The importance of the stories lies in the very fact that the author was indeed flawed and imperfect, an intellectually astute man who had unconsciously come to use his academic skills as a defensive compensation for much that was arrested in his emotional development. I believe he subliminally expressed aspects of his own struggle in the Narnia stories, through powerfully symbolising the extremes of good and bad, right and wrong, joy and grief, reward and renunciation in his characters and situations. Children have responded to these sometimes stark (what Hensher would presumable regard as unimaginative) symbols in much the way they have to other fairy stories which resonate strongly with their own internal emotional processes.

To suggest that Narnia should be dropped down a hole for failing to be imaginative or politically correct is as absurd as suggesting Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin or Mother Goose should meet a similar fate for the same reasons.