In Defense of Literature

Garance Franke-Ruta offers a stirring defense of C.S. Lewis over at the American Prospect:

If schools are to ban literature because it deals with morality and spiritual or religious themes, they will rapidly find themselves banning all but the most banal contemporary writing, because the history of literature in English is often also the history of Anglophone thinking about religion and morality. What next, are the metaphysical poets to be banned? Or Milton? The Chronicles of Narnia may contain metaphors or allegories with religious significance, but to ban all literature that uses literary techniques is to fundamentally misunderstand what it’s for.

Indeed, the only C.S. Lewis book the schools should have any hesitation in teaching is The Screwtape Letters, but only because that one, about demons and temptation, is likely to cause nightmares in pre-teen children. I may not like the idea of commercial movie releases driving school curricula, but children love Lewis’ books, and anything that can get children reading is a social good. So liberals should be pleased.

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