The fiftieth anniversary of C.S. Lewis’s death was last week, and Cambridge University Press published a new collection of his reviews and criticism to commemorate the occasion, including a new essay called “Image and Imagination” that hasn’t been published before. The Guardian has an excerpt:
Does anyone suppose that the imaginative value of such fantasies can be divided for a moment from our knowledge of death, and blood, and Christianity? You may say, indeed, that it is not our crystallised knowledge of these things that counts, but the emotions which have gathered about their names. But it is easy to answer that where a reader depends merely on the associations roused by the words, he will be right only by accident: as many a young reader has found to his cost.
Good reading implies, and good writing demands of its readers, that the emotion should depend not on the name alone, but on the name understood.