When worlds collide; or, the legacy of those we read on our minds

by Anna Blanch on September 6, 2009

Sometimes we feel we know an author because we have read them, sometimes it takes years before we truly understand, if ever, how an author has impacted us, and sometimes we can work alongside an author and never fully comprehend their genius.

Lewis put it like this, in Experiment in Criticism

Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realise the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realise it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The ma who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others.

Lewis is such an author for me. Though he was gone long before i lived (I have long thought it fascinating that a man so self-effacing should due less than 2 hours before JFK meaning so very little publicity surrounded his death) I have had the experience of meeting with and working for scholars who have met him, or were also, in the least deeply shaped by him.
I was reading Mere Christians by Mary Anne Phemister and Andrew Lazo, a collection of short reminiscences by authors, public figures, and professors whose lives have been touched and altered by Lewis and his work. It is stirring stuff and reminded me that i need to get back into Experiment in Criticism again soon, very soon though probably not till I hit Scotland.

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