Lewis as a character in Fiction

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

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Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Feb 28, 2014 7:50 pm

Recently, I discovered that C.S. Lewis is a character in a play called Freud's Last Stand. I have also heard that he is a character in a book. I'm not sure what I think about his being a character in fiction. What do you think? Do you think Lewis should be a character in fiction? If yes, how should it be done?
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Re: Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby Meltintalle » Mar 03, 2014 5:12 pm

I think that being a character in a play is different than being a character on a written page. With a play, you have more obvious clues that it's only an interpretation: venue, the possibility of shaking the actor's hand... etc.

Depending on how well the author crafts their book, you could end up forgetting that it is not quite how the real person behind the name might act. However, I have read a novel where J. R. R. Tolkien was a character and the author chose to have him interact in such a way that most of his lines were recognizable as being taken from Tolkien's own writing. (It happened to be some of the better parts of the book, but that's also a risk you run with having famous professors as a character...) If you're going to use name/idea recognition for your characters, I'd say that is the way to go, otherwise what's the point?
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Re: Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Mar 12, 2014 9:26 am

I saw Freud's Last Confession last night. For the most part I liked it, but it showed me how much I don't know about Lewis and his works. (Or once knew and forgot). Some of the ideas where clearly from his work (They were nice and put some quotes of Lewis's in the program and I recognized some others.) I had a really hard time seeing the character on stage as Lewis - I am so used to seeing him older I have a hard time imagining him young. ;)) The character in the play was likable but whether or not he was a good representation of Lewis, I can't say. I guess I'll have to do some more research. ;))

In other words, I am still undecided on this issue. ;)) I agree Mel, that there obvious visual clues that it was an interruption in the play. Maybe I should have tried to find a picture of a younger Lewis. ;))
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Re: Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby Movie Aristotle » Apr 01, 2014 11:09 pm

On the whole I disagree with taking real people and making up fictional stories about them. Abraham Lincoln did not kill vampires.

However in this case, I think it would be interesting to see a fictional play where Lewis and Freud spoke to each other, given that it is clearly made known that the meeting onstage is purely imaginary and never happened in real life.
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Re: Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby Meltintalle » Apr 30, 2014 3:01 pm

review from someone else who saw Freud's Last Confession

Having let my own impression of the experience settle a bit, I came away with a favorable impression. (The actors, set, and costuming were excellently done!) It's a very well written play, leaving all the questions unanswered so you have to form your own opinions. It also put Lewis and Freud's words in their mouths, so while an actual interaction might not have gone quite as speculated, I don't think it misrepresents either of them.
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Re: Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » May 16, 2014 5:19 pm

Movie Aristotle wrote:On the whole I disagree with taking real people and making up fictional stories about them. Abraham Lincoln did not kill vampires.

Excellent point, especially about Abraham Lincoln. When subbing in music classes, I have often shown videos about composers and some child they friend. I don't think any of these situations actually happened and I worry about the impression that the students are left with. Before I seem to stray to far from the point, a move like that with Lewis as a character would seem quite wrong. The imagined conversation between Lewis and Freud was clearly hypothetical so it isn't as bad. I'm still not 100% sure I like the idea.

Now to the real reason I came to this thread. Does it change anything if we consider that Lewis used a fictional George MacDonald in The Great Divorce? If I remember correctly, Lewis also used himself in a fictional role in one of the Space Trilogy.
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Re: Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby Meltintalle » May 17, 2014 3:00 pm

Twigs wrote:I have often shown videos about composers and some child they friend.
Like Vivaldi's Ring? (...that's an audio drama, but I'm pretty sure the Beethoven one with the title I don't remember was filmed.) I think I automatically disregarded that genre in my initial posts. Heh. I read every single Dear America and Royal Diary and American Diary I could find when I was in middle school. :p That's marketed as historical fiction, which I have a harder time seeing as problematic. It's structured to introduce the reader/viewer to a concept: a composer, time period, event. Like, if there was a book about these two children visiting the Kilns for tea and Professor Lewis happens to mention that he's working on a book about Narnia... I'd probably be judging it on the writing quality rather than the plot.

Stuff like The Great Divorce and Freud's Last Confession seems to fall more into the category of fiction for fiction's sake...
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Re: Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby Princess Frances » May 24, 2014 12:54 am

What about historical fiction?

If your book is set in the 1950s and one of its' child characters likes that hot new series "The Chronicles of Narnia", it's only natural that the character might write to Lewis and even want to visit him.
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Re: Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby aileth » Jul 07, 2014 9:00 am

I guess it depends on how the person is portrayed--if the writer is able to present the character in a fashion true to the real person--speech patterns, mannerisms, theology, etc.

It bothers me when an author is writing historical fiction, and places modern-day thinking on the character. Sure, people are the same throughout the ages, but really, they were less concerned about the environment 3000 years ago! If you know what I mean.

A recent novel I read stated that the girl would be free from someone's guardianship when she reached 18. The problem was that the book was set in the 1870s and legal adulthood in those days was only granted at the age of 21. A very small matter, in and of itself; it demonstrates how easy it is to make mistakes of that kind.

Pattertwigs Pal wrote:If I remember correctly, Lewis also used himself in a fictional role in one of the Space Trilogy.


Yes, in Perelandra. I just read the trilogy for the first time a few weeks back, and noticed that. I found that it jarred on me. He did the same thing in the Chronicles, but for some reason it feels different. More subtle, perhaps.
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Re: Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby Future Narnian » Dec 01, 2014 5:42 pm

There is an Inklings series by Melanie Jeske set around Oxford University and a couple of fictional students of Tolkien & Lewis and their attempts to carry on what Tolkien and Lewis started. The first two books are set just after Lewis died and Tolkien appears in a couple of scenes. The last flashes back to WWII and there's a really stunning scene between the heroine & Lewis talking about God's forgiveness.

I also recall seeing Jane Austen mysteries (written by her descendant) at the library (haven't read them) and I think I have a G.K. Chesterton mystery I haven't read.

I guess for me it depends on how they're used. Something in a historical context like this or movies about composers helping children I don't mind. I found the Lincoln horror film offensive, but then again I find that type of horror film in general offensive, so that doesn't help.

If you are going to do it, I think you should get permission when possible - like Jane Austen's descendant presumably did or Lewis with George MacDonald. And keep them true to the real person. I wasn't bothered by the Inklings series (other than a couple spots get a little 'peeachy', but not Tolkien & Lewis' scenes) but not the Lincoln movie by any means.
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Re: Lewis as a character in Fiction

Postby Reepi » Jan 17, 2015 3:37 am

There is also a book called "Conversations with C. S. Lewis" which features C. S. Lewis as a character.
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