C. S. Lewis and the Redemptive Imagination

narnia lives
Image by davemc500hats via Flickr

Albert Einstein was on to something when he said:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Of course, facts and empirical reality are important, even indispensable, but imagination puts the fire in the equations.  Lewis wrote,

“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up” (“On Three Ways of Writing for Children,” On Other Worlds [Harcourt, 1966], 34.)

Bruce Edwards (Professor of English, Bowling Green State University) explores the role of imagination in Lewis’s (and Tolkien’s) work in an insightful new post on the C. S. Lewis Blog.  He makes the perceptive point that

For both Lewis and Tolkien the imagination tapped by [visits to imaginary worlds] brings us back in touch with the primary means by which we come to make sense of what we euphemistically call the “real world” in the first place. Reason may give us the “facts,” but it is the imagination that allows to put such facts in meaningful order. As Lewis viewed it, the imagination provides humankind the rationale for trusting reason in the first place, uncovering the gestalt of life’s meaning—its enchanted core.


We all have our Neverlands. Literary spaces of reverie. Places of refuge. Places of recovery. For C. S. Lewis, that “Neverland” was to be found especially in the genre of the fairy tale, an affection and an admiration he shared as a guilty pleasure with his close friend and ally, J. R. R. Tolkien, architect of Middle-earth. As Lewis famously said to Tolkien at one point early in their friendship, “Tollers, people don’t write the books we want, so we have to do it for ourselves.”

No doubt the same could be said of blogs.

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2 thoughts on “C. S. Lewis and the Redemptive Imagination

  1. Thanks, Sam. Those are good observations. Maybe someone should write a book or article on a theology of imagination. That would be interesting reading!

  2. Absolutely. What did Jesus say?

    “Blessed are those who haven’t seen, and believe.”

    I sense a touch of imagination in that sentence. Of course, it is completely, objectively, gloriously true that Jesus really did come and we really should believe. But we have to believe in that which we have never seen. I think that means a little bit of imagination, a little bit of wonderment.

    great post, great blog. thanks for this.

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