Reflecting the Eternal: Dante's Divine Comedy in the Novels of C.S. Lewis
|by Marsha Daigle-Williamson, Dr.|
| Retail: $14.95|
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Pub Date: October 2015
Item Number: 706651
Categories: Religion and Culture
The characters, plots, and potent language of C. S. Lewis’s novels reveal everywhere the modern writer’s admiration for Dante’s Divine Comedy. Throughout his career Lewis drew on the structure, themes, and narrative details of Dante’s medieval epic to present his characters as spiritual pilgrims growing toward God.
Dante’s portrayal of sin and sanctification, of human frailty and divine revelation, are evident in all of Lewis’s best work. Readers will see how a modern author can make astonishingly creative use of a predecessor’s material—in this case, the way Lewis imitated and adapted medieval ideas about spiritual life for the benefit of his modern audience.
Nine chapters cover all of Lewis’s novels, from Pilgrim’s Regress and his science-fiction to The Chronicles of Narnia and Till We Have Faces. Readers will gain new insight into the sources of Lewis’s literary imagination that represented theological and spiritual principles in his clever, compelling, humorous, and thoroughly human stories.
"In a remarkably thorough and systematic manner, the author demonstrates a wealth of similarities between Dante’s Divine Comedy and all of Lewis’s fìcrion, including even The Chronicles of Narnia, specifically The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” and The Silver chair—similarities in every conceivable aspect: actual citations, allusions, episodes, characters, settings, structure, philosophy, theology, and even specific words and phrases. And she does this in a clear, readable, unaffected style that keeps the book from reading like a catalog or an index. Even her unique way of handling her voluminous footnotes (locating not only the footnotes themselves hut even their designations to the back of the book, thereby reducing the interruption of the flow of the text proper) is an example of her courteous concern for the reader as well as of her scholarship. Reflecting the Eternal is a tribute not only to the genius of Dante and Lewis. It is also a tribute to the genius, industry, courtesy, and modesty of the author."
“In this well-researched and thoroughly documented study, Daigle-Williamson provides overwhelming evidence that Dante's Divine Comedy served as both source and influence for Lewis's fiction. Her work fills a significant gap in C. S. Lewis scholarship, supporting the bold claim that Dante's masterpiece is, in fact, the model for Lewis's fiction. She has created a book that will satisfy not only literary critics but general readers and fans looking for a deeper appreciation of Lewis's artistry, theology, and imaginative vision.”
“This is an immensely impressive work. It is what scholarship ought to be—perspicacious, readable, measured, and exhaustive (in the good scholarly sense of that word). I found myself continually delighted on page after page. Lovers of Dante and Lewis will find themselves ‘surprised by joy.’”
“An impressive feat of C.S. Lewis scholarship, both for its theme (the presence of the greatest Christian poetic storyteller in one of the greatest Christian prose storytellers) and for its comprehensive and complete treatment of that theme, which combines clarity with profundity, accuracy in detail with “big picture” wisdom, and theological theory with moral practice.”
“Although others have observed Dantean parallels and allusions in C.S. Lewis’s fiction, Marsha Daigle-Williamson’s Reflecting the Eternal is the first book to examine the Divine Comedy’s presence in all of Lewis’s novels. This fact makes it an important and groundbreaking work of criticism for both Lewis scholars and other passionate readers of his work. The book contains enough specific, original examples of convincing parallelism and allusion to make it an invaluable resource for scholars, yet it is not overburdened with critical jargon that would render it heavy going for general readers....
Everything said, in the end there is no denying that Daigle-Williamson’s achievement in this book is monumental, as it demonstrates for the first time the extent of allusion to a great (many would say the greatest) medieval poet by a great twentieth-century mythopoeic writer. The groundbreaking status of this work of criticism makes it a must for all libraries with C.S. Lewis collections and a vast source for new insights into Lewis’s fiction for serious researchers, for anyone teaching a course with Lewis on the syllabus, for upper-level secondary and post-secondary students, and, not least, for general readers.”
Marsha Daigle-Williamson (PhD, University of Michigan) is Professor Emerita at Spring Arbor University where she taught English for over twenty-five years and won numerous teaching awards. She serves as translator for the Preacher to the Papal Household, and has translated sixteen books from the Italian as well as publishing over forty articles, profiles, and reviews. Dr. Daigle-Williamson has presented at the International Congress on Medieval Studies eight times in the past ten years and has been a member of The Dante Society of America for over fifteen years.