E. Nesbit and Lewis

Discussion for any of Lewis's non-Narnian books, essays, memoirs, etc.

E. Nesbit and Lewis

Postby heliopause » Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:45 am

Thank you, whoever opened this new section! (Songsmith? Marmota?.... Songsmith!! Thank you!)
This is picking up on something transposable_element said elsewhere, that the form of magic Lewis uses in The Magician's Nephew owing a lot to the style of magic in Nesbit's books - and that Lewis acknowledged the debt by mentioning the Bastables (Nesbit's non-magic fiction family) at the beginning of TMN. I half-recalled then a scene in That Hideous Strength, which I thought was probably another Nesbit-reference. Since that's non-Narnian Lewis,this new section seems the right place to quote it! This is the scene I was referring to:
“Two shelves in the little sitting-room were filled with bound volumes of The Strand. In one of these he found a serial children’s story which he had begun to read as a child but abandoned because his tenth birthday came when he was half way through it and he was ashamed to read it after that. Now, he chased it from volume to volume till he had finished it. It was good. The grown-up stories to which, after his tenth birthday, he had turned instead of it, now seemed to him, except for Sherlock Holmes, to be rubbish.”
(From Chapter 17, 'Venus at St Anne's'. n.b.: Holmes also gets a reference in TMN!)

Edith Nesbit did publish in The Strand; Lewis's tenth birthday came in 1908, in which year she published the magic time-travel book The House of Arden (but I don't know if that was in The Strand). The wikipedia article about her makes reference to him acknowledging his debt to her, but doesn't say where or when he said it- the reference is to a secondary source. (Nicholson, Mervyn (1998). "C.S. Lewis and the scholarship of imagination in E. Nesbit and Rider Haggard".)
Last edited by heliopause on Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: E. Nesbit and Lewis

Postby marmota-b » Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:06 am

I must admit I still haven't caught up on Nesbitt, despite the number of recommendations I've already got for her books. But it's interesting that he would cling back to her and Sherlock Holmes the most. I wonder what exactly it was he appreciated about Holmes to point it out like that in that context?
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Re: E. Nesbit and Lewis

Postby adaese » Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:05 pm

Don't know if House of Arden apeared in the Strand or not, but I can see the structure lending itself to serialisation.
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Re: E. Nesbit and Lewis

Postby transposable_element » Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:23 am

It's interesting, too, the he mentions E. Nesbit and Sherlock Holmes in tandem in two different places -- at the beginning of MN, and then in this bit from That Hideous Strength.

I don't know Sherlock Holmes at all (although I've read/seen a number of adaptations, including both recent TV series, which is really rather bad of me without knowing the original). It's hard to know what Lewis means by his comment without knowing exactly what he's comparing the Sherlock Holmes stories to -- more highbrow fiction, or other works that we would now call "genre fiction"?
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Re: E. Nesbit and Lewis

Postby songsmith » Mon Jan 19, 2015 4:05 am

Oh, Holmes is very definitely genre fiction. Its popularity may have catapulted it to 'literature' but it was entertainment for the masses as much as Shakespeare was in his day. Doyle famously hated him because it took his time and energy away from "real" and "serious" works.
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Re: E. Nesbit and Lewis

Postby Glenstorm63 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 12:59 pm

I read another Nesbit book a few years ago called The Amulet. There is a hilarious queen of the Hittites or Assyrians or somewhere Mesopotamian who is so like a combo of Jadis (on the streets of London) and Lasaraleen in her house in Tasbaan, it becomes clear that Lewis either adored Nesbit's writings or at least wanted to emulate her in order to capture a similar market. Am I being too cynical?
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