Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

C. S. Lewis, his worlds, and his faith.

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Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby coracle » Jan 05, 2013 10:17 pm

Writers often leave clues about their own lives (including childhood) in their writings. What aspects of this have you noticed? Which things do you find most significant in Jack Lewis's work?
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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby Louloudi the Centaur » Jan 06, 2013 5:55 pm

If I remember right, Lewis lost his mother to cancer at a pretty young age. In The Magician's Nephew, Digory's mother seems to be dying of an unspecified illness, possibly cancer. I can only imagine the similar thoughts Digory and C.S. Lewis were having about losing their mothers to such an illness.
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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby Lady Arwen » Jan 06, 2013 6:08 pm

That's an interesting point, Lou, especially when you consider that Lewis writes that the apple made Digory's mother well. Perhaps a little wishfulness on the part of Lewis, where he wishes he might have found a way to make his mother well again, too.
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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby Ithilwen » Jan 07, 2013 1:17 am

I remember hearing Lewis had a nurse in real life, as did Caspian.

Also, I read somewhere that Dr. Ransom from the Cosmic Trilogy was based on his friend J.R.R. Tolkien. :)


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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby Aslanisthebest » Jan 08, 2013 8:51 pm

Good thread!

I was thinking about how C.S. Lewis wrote in...Surprised by Joy, I think? The one that was supposed to be autobiographical. Anyways, he wrote in it that he was not fond of Eton collars and fussy clothing like that. I remember there was a reference to that in The Magician's Nephew, and Digory hinting some contempt for Eton collars. ;))
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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby coracle » Jul 05, 2013 4:51 pm

I enjoy spotting mildly-disguised "when I was a boy" descriptions in the tales. How nice the sweets were (compared with what was available in the 1950s with sugar still rationed in England), how uncomfortable the clothes were (and children today are even further removed from the discomfort - it was comparing clothes with those worn by children in 1950s, and with all the stretch fabrics of today we are much more comfy).
Every time you find an intrusive "dear reader" sort of comment where Lewis the writer is talking to the child reader, it is worth looking for his own experience.
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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby Varnafinde » Jul 08, 2013 4:06 pm

Experiment School builds on other memories from his childhood. I don't think it's based on one particular school (although it may be closer to one school than to others), but incorporates everything that he thought was wrong about schools from when he was a child.

Perhaps he has some experience with politicians that he (as a grown-up) was less than impressed with, when he tells that the headmistress of the school was no good at her job, but they could always use her in Parliament. :p
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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby De_De » Jul 09, 2013 7:20 am

All through out the Narnia series Lewis always makes fun a little bit or even puts down public schools and boarding schools. It must be because when Jack's mother died he was sent off to school and he really disliked it there. So through out all the books, not to mention in SC, he puts a real emphasis how public schools ruin kids.
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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby Louloudi the Centaur » Jul 13, 2013 5:28 pm

In addition to having an ill mother, Lewis grew up to become a professor, just like Digory Kirke. And during World War II, Lewis happened to have four children in his house that he kept safe.
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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby Lilygloves » Jan 27, 2014 11:58 am

De_De wrote:All through out the Narnia series Lewis always makes fun a little bit or even puts down public schools and boarding schools. It must be because when Jack's mother died he was sent off to school and he really disliked it there. So through out all the books, not to mention in SC, he puts a real emphasis how public schools ruin kids.


I think the two biggest influences I can see in the Narnia series are the loss of his mother as in MN and his comments on schools. I remember that after Edmund has a drop from Lucy's cordial he looks better than he had since he started going to school and he started going wrong. There are also slight jabs about school in PC, since the children were going to get on the train soon to go to school. Then there is obviously SC. I believe he went to a school where the headmaster was declared mentally insane, so that is probably why he had such a horrid time there.
Obviously Lewis's faith influenced his writing, but he uses his "liar, lunatic, or lord" argument from Mere Christianity when Susan and Peter are talking to the Professor about Lucy.
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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby Alambil Stark » Sep 28, 2014 12:16 pm

His mother's illness influenced "The Magician's Nephew." I think that he tried to "save" his mother in his writings by having Digory save his mom. He was trying to get relief.
I also think that the "Experiment House" is based on Wynyard School. He went there after his mother died. Like the Head in the SC, Wynyard school closed down and its headmaster had to go to a psychiatric hospital. Lewis was deeply traumatized by his experience in that school.
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Re: Jack's Life Reflected In His Writings

Postby coracle » Sep 29, 2014 12:58 am

De_De wrote:All through out the Narnia series Lewis always makes fun a little bit or even puts down public schools and boarding schools. It must be because when Jack's mother died he was sent off to school and he really disliked it there. So through out all the books, not to mention in SC, he puts a real emphasis how public schools ruin kids.

Jack went to more than one school. It was normal for middle-class children to be sent to boarding school, often to the same one their parents or other relations had gone to. The quality of teaching, food and sleeping accommodation varied from school to school. Children were often homesick, but most learned to make friends and to be be self-reliant and not complain. This was the good side - others learned to be bullies, manipulators, dishonest and selfish.
What Jack remembered most certainly seems to have been the bad things.
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