Continuing with Lewis’s memoir. Note how this excerpt (and the next) show literature, books, as the vehicle for the mystical experience. These experiences had this one effect among others: They contributed to Lewis’s tremendous love of and life-long dedication to poetry and stories.
Somewhat the same thing happened to me as a child. Books such as A Wrinkle in Time, The Outsiders (S . E. Hinton), The Lord of the Rings, and Lewis’s own Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Last Battle provided this kind of unspeakable joy and longing and a glimpse of something quite beyond the story and the walls of the world around me. Has it happened to you?
The second glimpse came through Squirrel Nutkin; through it only, though I loved all the Beatrix Potter books. But the rest of them were merely entertaining; it administered the shock, it was a trouble. It troubled me with what I can only describe as the Idea of Autumn. It sounds fantastic to say that one can be enamored of a season, but that is something like what happened; and, as before, the experience was one of intense desire. And one went back to the book, not to gratify the desire (that was impossible–how can one possess Autumn?) but to reawake it. And in this experience also there was the same surprise and the same sense of incalculable importance. It was something quite different from ordinary life and even from ordinary pleasure; something, as they would now say, “in another dimension.” –C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1955. @ C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.
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