Wednesday 25 May 2011

C.S Lewis as dreamer


Roger Lancelyn Green contributes a chapter on Lewis as a dreamer to C.S Lewis at the breakfast table: and other reminiscences, edited by James Como and published in 1980.


Green gives accounts of some of Lewis's recorded dreams, and his use of dream images or pictures as a basis for his fictions:

"Lewis confessed to drawing many ideas for scenes and characters in his stories from mind pictures that came to him either waking or asleep (...).

"When we were discussing dreams and the imaginative literary use to be made of them, I complained that though I dreamed frequently, I seldom remembered anything from my dreams.

"I shall never forget the vehemence with which he turned on me and exclaimed: 'Then you may thank God that you don't!'

"And he went on to explain that he had suffered most of his life from appalling nightmares - which he remembered only too well when he awakened. This personal trial he put to very good and convincing use in the chapter called The dark island in The voyage of the Dawn Treader.


Once again it is clear that Lewis, like Tolkien, was much less of a 'plain man' than he is sometimes portrayed; and that his creativity was of the mystical (or shamanistic) kind, based on the 'irrational' associative cognition of visions and dreams.



Bruce Charlton said...

From John Wetherell:

"Thank you for this. It's refreshing to think of Lewis stripped bare of his Christianity, facing his demons biologically at night. Not that I'm suggesting dreams are purely biology. It's also refreshing to realise that he had this realm of nightmare so much a part of him. It gives the lie to the idea that he was too cosy by far. I wonder where that comes from; I can't entirely shake it off."

a_probst said...

I don't see how it necessarily follows that Lewis was "stripped bare of his Christianity" during these nightmares. The apparent lack of personal agency strips so much away; no need to single out one's faith.