C.S. Lewis had an incredible imagination: the Narnia Chronicles and the Space Trilogy are two examples, but so are The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces. His imaginations started early: he and his brother Warnie had their own world, chronicled in Boxen, which was edited by Walter Hooper in 1985. Lewis was only 8 when the story was first written, complete with Lewis’s original illustrations.

Boxen is the name of a kingdom, united in Parliament with a Rajah of India and the King of the Animaland (Boxen, 61) Although Lewis seldom rewrote any of his works, there is “much to suggest that of all he wrote, published and unpublished, it was the Boxen stories that he and Warnie read most often” (19). The Boxen characters were to form a major part of his incomplete Encyclopedia Boxoniana.

William Griffin compiled and in 1977 published The joyful Christian: 127 readings from C.S. Lewis.

In the reading “Thought, Imagination, Language” (called “Horrible Red things” in other essay collections) Lewis asserts that thought is different from imagination, that the false images maybe mistaken for true ones and that “anyone who talks about things than cannot be seen, or touched, or heard, or the like, must inevitably talk as if they could be….” (109).

  1. C.S. Lewis: Image and imagination. Edited by Walter Hooper. Cambridge University Press.

Lewis has a chapter in the collection called “Old English Syllabus” (21-33) in which he says that literature is different from the other arts by using language, which means using words that have meanings (37).

Baggett, David, Gary R. Habermas and Jerry L. Walls, eds. 2008. C.S. Lewis as Philosopher: Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

Chapter 15 is on “Lewis and Tolkien on the Power of the Imagination” and is by Gregory Bassham. The author notes that Lewis distinguished three kinds of productive imagination: 1) daydreaming with wish fulfillment; 2) creating an imaginative world that often includes a protagonist; 3) fantasy, which includes impossible things.

Barfield, Owen. 1989. Edited by G. B. Tennyson. Owen Barfield on C.S. Lewis. Middletown, CN: Wesleyan University Press.

Barfield and Lewis had a close “literary friendship” that lasted from 1919 to 1925. After Lewis’s conversion thye “ceased to engage each other directly in philosophical exchange (xix).

In chapter 7, called “Lewis, Truth, and Imagination (90-103),” Tennyson follows Barfield in noting that Lewis not only used imagination, but also had a theory of imagination. Barfield and Lewis argued over the nature of imagination (revelation, subjective, objective?, p. 97) but Lewis’s later reticence to discuss it was, in Barfield’s opinion, partly due to how imaginative statements differ from those that are logical (99).

Bassham, G., and J. Walls, eds. 2005. The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy: The Lion, the Witch, and the Worldview. Chicago and LaSalle, IL: Open Court.

In Chapter 11 “Narnia and the Moral Imagination,” Gayne J. Anacker defines moralimagination as “the ability to consider our decisions, our values, and our lives from fresh and different perspectives” (130). This can be expressed in various ways, such as by beautiful scenery, a tragic accident, a song or a sermon, but the most powerful contributor to our moral development is by means of stories (131).

Bell, James Stuart, Compiler, with Anthony Palmer Dawson. 2004. From the Library of C.S. Lewis: Selections from Writers who Influenced his Spiritual Journey. Colorado Springs, CO: A Shaw Book, Published by Waterbrook Press.

“This volume doesn’t attempt to ‘figure out’ C.S. Lewis but to provide a smorgasbord of the content and style of those who have shone forth as messengers of light in his life….So I believe that from these readings we can obtain clearer insight into C.S. Lewis as well as feed our imaginations and intellects upon those whose talents produced works of theology and literature that contain timeless standards” (2). For example, Chapter 1 contains readings of Julian of Norwich, George MacDonald (two), Joy Davidman, Anders Nygren, John Bunyan and George Herbert.”

Carnell, Corbin Scott. 1974. Bright Shadow of Reality: C.S. Lewis and the Feeling Intellect. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co.

In Part III of his book, the theme of “The Baptized Imagination” is prominent, with the Inklings, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield and older literary works playing an important role in Lewis’s orientation and interpretation of biblical images. Carnell notes that “Lewis’ own highly imagistic style addresses the whole person” and that only Lewis and Archbishop Temple could fill the Oxford University Church to capacity (74).

Dickerson, Matthew and David O’Hara. 2009. Narnia and the fields of Arbol: The environmental vision of C.S. Lewis. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. [On my Kindle]

Introduction: Ecological crisis, environmental critique and Christian imagination.

“The authors examine the environmental and ecological underpinnings of Lewis’s work by exploring his best-known works of fantasy, including the seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia and the three novels collectively referred to as the Space Trilogy. Taken together, these works reveal Lewis’s enduring environmental concerns, and Dickerson and O’Hara offer a new understanding of his pioneering style of fiction. An avid outdoorsman, Lewis deftly combined an active imagination with a deep appreciation for the natural world. Narnia and the Fields of Arbol, the first book-length work on the subject, explores the marriage of Lewis’s environmental passion with his skill as a novelist and finds the author’s legacy to have as much in common with the agrarian environmentalism of Wendell Berry as it does with the fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien. In an era of increasing concern about deforestation, climate change, and other environmental issues, Lewis’s work remains as pertinent as ever.” (From Amazon)

Duriez, Colin. 2003. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The gift of friendship. Mahwah, NJ: HiddenSpring. Also: Paulist Press. (Includes a complete list of both of their writings.)

In his chapter called “Meeting of Minds and Imaginations: “Tolkien and I were talking of dragons….” (1926-1929),” Duriez comments that what emerged from Lewis’s rich background in reading was “a richness of thought, imagination, and writing that impregnated his later literary criticism, science fiction, children’s education, literary approaches to the Bible and Christian apologetics” (35)..

Glaspey, Terry W. 1996. The spiritual legacy of C.S. Lewis. Nashville TN: Cumberland House Publishing.

“What sets Lewis apart from them [Christian philosophers], and allows him to speak so effectively to so many varied people, is his ability to communicate in a way that is creatively compelling as well as intellectually satisfying. Lewis demonstrates the power of an imagination which has been captured for the cause of truth” (179).

Hannay, Margaret. 1981. C.S. Lewis. NY: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.

“C.S. Lewis should provide a starting point, a map of Lewis’s two worlds, that of his life and that of his imagination. Lewis emerges as a man haunted by longing, a man both passionately romantic and scrupulously logical, a man who, through love and suffering, progressed from dogmatism to gentleness” (xiii).

Margaret Patterson Hannay is Assistant Professor of English, Siena College, Loudonville, New York.

Hart, Dabney Adams. 1984. Through the open door: A new look at C.S. Lewis. University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press.

“This book focuses on Lewis as a teacher, how he opens doors by challenging 20th-century views… Two ideas run through and unify the book. The first is that in all his writing Lewis encourage ‘radical key’ to all Lewis’s critical and imaginative writings. Hart’s aim is to show that there is in Lewis a single, integrated, systematic theory of literature focused on the importance of imagination and language. “The book raises many of the right questions about Lewis and explores them in a stimulating and informative way.” (From Amazon)

Hein, David and Edward Henderson, eds. 2011. C. S. Lewis and Friends: Faith and the Power of Imagination. London: SPCK.

Introduction: Faith, reason and imagination by David Hein and Edward Henderson.

1) C.S. Lewis: Reason, imagination and knowledge by Peter J. Schakel.

2) Austin Farrer: The sacramental imagination by Edward Henderson.

“These essays helpfully remind us why imagination should matter to people of faith. The contributors make a compelling case that C.S. Lewis and his circle were not merely tellers of tales by theologians in their own right, whose stories and images advance faith’s search for understanding.” (From the back cover, quoting Kevin J. Vanhoozer)

Hillegas, Mark R., ed. 1969. Shadows of Imagination: The Fantasies of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

“Shadows of Imagination consists of essays by thirteen scholars who treat seriously the fantasies of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.”

Honda, Mincho. 2000. The imaginative world of C.S. Lewis: A way to participate in reality. NY: U. Press of America.

“In this book I want to make my point that Lewis’s intrinsic appeal lies in the fact that he is concerned not only with Christianity, but also with the whole objective Reality and that he perceives, participates in, and communicates that Reality with all his reason, oral consciousness and, above all conspicuously strong imagination” (vii, viii).

Mineko Honda is Associate Professor in English  in the International Politics and Economics Department at Nishogakusha University in Japan.

Khoddam, Salwa. 2011. Mythopoeic Narnia: Memory, metaphor, and metamorphoses in the chronicles of Narnia. Winged Lion Press.

“This book is primarily an attempt to secure a well-deserved place for C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia in the history of the Western Imagination as product of the confluence of the classics and Christianity….The stories are a literary, and subtle form of what he had reiterated in his Broadcast Talks…and other apologetic and literary works (assuming one can separate the two), that the purpose of life is to live in imitation of Christ….” (i)

Salwa Khoddam, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of English at Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City.

Latta, Corey. 2016. C.S. Lewis and the art of writing: What the essayist, poet, novelist, literary critic, apologist, memorist, theologian teaches us about the life and craft of writing. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books. [On my Kindle]

3) Entirely in the imagination.

13) Imagination and mere fancy.

27) My imagination seems to have died.

Lindsley, Art. 2005. C.S. Lewis’s case for Christ: Insights from reason, imagination, and faith. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.

Lindsley outlines a number of reasons to study C.S. Lewis’s case for Christ: 1) more than anyone else in the 20th century, Lewis’s writings have had a tremendous effect; 2) his ability to combine reason and imagination; 3) his unbelieving past; 4) his breadth of knowledge and intellectual abilities; 5) his interaction with other top thinkers; 6) his personal qualities (23-24).

Art Lindsley is senior fellow at the C.S. Lewis Institute in Springfield, Virginia.

Markos, Louis. 2012, A to Z with C.S. Lewis. Amazon Digital Services. [On my Kindle]

“Professor, apologist, novelist, literary critic, fantasy writer, philosopher, theologian, and ethicist, Lewis has exerted a profound influence on the way millions of people read literature, make moral choices, think about God, and live out the Christian faith. By means of a genial blend of reason and imagination, logic and fantasy, profound academic insight and good old common sense, Lewis has challenged the modern world to re-examine the claims of Christ, the Bible, and the Church, re-experience the goodness, truth, and beauty of literature, and re-expand its vision of God, man, and the universe. In each 600-word entry, Markos enlist Lewis’s aid in the study, both theoretically and practically, of a topic of perennial interest to humanity and of particular interest to the early 21st century.” (From Amazon)

Marsden, George M. 2016. C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”: A biography (Lives of great religious books). Princeton University Press.

Marsden attributes “The lasting vitality of Mere Christianity” (the title of chapter 8) to a number of factors:

  • Lewis looks for timeless truths as opposed to the culturally bound
  • He uses human nature as the point of contact with his audience
  • Lewis sees reason in the context of experience, affections and imagination

*Marshall, Cynthia. 1991. Essays on C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellon Press.

“Studies that go beyond observations noting thematic connections between C. S. Lewis’ theological writings and his imaginative fictions to probe the basic foundation of Lewis’ conception of fiction and advance our understanding of the importance Lewis granted to the imagination in perceiving truth. Also, explores the role George MacDonald (who Lewis said “baptized [his] imagination”) played in the development of his theory of fiction. Walter Hooper and Ann Loades offer essays on questions of autobiography raised by A Grief Observed; Robert Holyer writes on the epistemology of Till We Have Faces; Frank Riga discusses dreams as conduits for the imagination; and Waldo Knickerbocker discusses Lewis’ sense of Christianity as “a true fairy tale.” (From Amazon)

McGrath, Alister. 2013. The intellectual world of C.S. Lewis. Wiley-Blackwell. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

McGrath sees reason, experience, and imagination as Lewis’s apologetic method.

Mills, David, ed. 1998.  The pilgrim’s guide: C.S. Lewis and the art of witness. Eerdmans.

Chapter 7 “Speaking the Truths Only the Imagination May Grasp: Myth and ‘Real Life’” is by Stratford Caldecott (86-97). He asks why imaginary tales are so fascinating and told universally. “Perhaps because it is just such a journey that gives meaning to our own existence” (88). Lewis takes us into realms of meaning through imagination and story.

Payne, Leanne. 1979. Real Presence: The Holy Spirit in the works of C.S. Lewis. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books and Eastbourne: Monarchy Publications.

10) The Whole Imagination I: Surprised by Joy.

11) The Whole Imagination II: The Two Minds.

“The book is written primarily for all who have loved and benefited from the writings of C.S. Lewis, but it is also for those who would like to step for the first time into Lewis’s unique world of understanding. One can only marvel at the Holy “Spirit’s use of Lewis’s talents—not only in the life of the individual believer, but in the ongoing renewal that the Church is experiencing today” (9).

Mrs. Payne has been active in the ministry of healing prayer for over thirty years. She is the founder and president of Pastoral Care Ministries.

Piper, John & David Mathis, eds. 2014. The romantic rationalist: God, life, and imagination in the work of C.S. Lewis. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

Kevin Vanhoozer notes (in chapter 4) that “In bright shadow: C.S. Lewis on the imagination for theology and discipleship” (81-104) “Lewis’s own awakening, or at least the first stage of his awakening began with what he describes as the ‘baptism of his imagination’” (86). Vanhoozer maintains that Lewis taught him  that imagination dos not bring us to Christ, but helps us to abide there. “Lewis did nto but reason on the side of truth and imagination on the side of falsehood. No, but reason and imagination communicate truth….” (95) Imagination is an organ of theological meaning (98) in the respect:

  • It is a cognitive faculty for creating meaning through conceptual associations
  • It engages the will and emotions as well as the mind (the “metaphorical invitation” (99))

“Disciples need imagination to stay awake to the reality of what is in Christ. To be in bright shadow is to live in the shadowlands as people with eyes of the heart enlightened, alert to the mystery of grace in the mundane, awake to God in the ordinary” (104).

Puckett, Joe, Jr. 2012. The apologetics of joy: A case for the existence of God from C.S. Lewis’s argument from desire. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, Publishers. [Also on my Kindle]

The title of chapter 11, “Imagination and the heart’s deep need for a happy ending” sums up Puckett’s case.

Root, Jerry, Mark Neal and Stephen A. Beebe. 2015. The surprising imagination of C.S. Lewis. Abington Press.

Contents: Part 1 Imagination and the Literature of the Mind. Autobiography: 1) The book in the bookstall: Baptized imagination in Surprised by Joy. Religious Writing: 2) Hunting the wolly mammoth: Shared imagination in Mere Christianity; 3) The smell of deity: Satisfied imagination in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. Literary Criticisms: 4) Breaking out of the dungeon: Awakened imagination in An Experiment in Critism; 5) On the shoulders of giants: Realizing imagination in The Discarded Image. Part 2: Imagination and the Literature of the Heart. Fairy Stories: 6) Narnia and the North: Penetrating imagination in The Horse and His Boy; 7) A passionate sanity: Material imagination in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Science Fiction: 8) Discovering new worlds: Primary imagination in Out of the Silent Planet; 9) The magician’s bargain: Generous imagination in That Hideous Strength. Satire: 10) The hellish nature of projection: Transforming imagination in The Great Divorce; 11) The grey town: Controlled imagination in The Screwtape Letters. Poetry: 12) Searching for the hidden country: Absorbing imagination in Poems and Spirits in Bondage. Conclusion: Illuminating the path ahead. Appendix: Additional uses of the imagination as identified by C.S. Lewis.

*Sammons, Martha C. 2009. War of the fantasy worlds: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on art and imagination. Praeger.

“Most scholarship about J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis describes their shared faith and academic interests or analyzes each writer’s fantasy works. War of the Fantasy Worlds: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on Art and Imagination is the first to focus solely on their contrasting concepts of fantasy. The authors’ views of art and imagination, the book shows, are not only central to understanding the themes, value, and relevance of their fantasy fiction, but are also strikingly different.” (From Amazon)

Martha C. Sammons is Professor of English at Wright State University and a graduate of Wheaton College (B.A.) and the University of North Carolina (Ph.D.).

Schakel, Peter J. 1984. Reason and imagination in C.S. Lewis: A study of ‘Till we have faces’. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Contents. Preface. Section one—Till we have faces: the work itself. I. Introduction: The background; II. Part I, Chapters 1-2: Methods, motives, materialism; III. Chapters 3-5: Of divine mysteries and sacrifice; IV. Chapters 6-7: Love and longing; V. Chapters 8-11: Believing and perceiving; VI. Chapters 12-15: Seeing and knowing; VII. Chapters 16-20: Loving, hating, hiding; VIII. Chapter 21: The myth and the retelling; IX. Part II, Chapters 1-4: “Real life is meeting”. Section two—Till we have faces: The work in context. X. Poet of the teens and twenties: The struggling imagination; XI. Critic and story-writer of the thirties: Imagination as servant; XII. Apologist of the forties: Reason as master; XIII. Autobiographer of the fifties: Reason and imagination reconciled; XIV. Person writer of the sixties: Reason and imagination united. Notes. Table for converting page references to chapter numbers. Index.

*Schakel, Peter J. 2002. Imagination and the arts in C.S. Lewis. Columbia, MO: U. of Missouri Press.

“Peter Schakel begins by concentrating on the way reading or engaging with the other arts is an imaginative activity. He focuses on three books in which imagination is the central theme—Surprised by Joy, An Experiment in Criticism, and The Discarded Image—and shows the important role of imagination in Lewis’s theory of education. He then examines imagination and reading in Lewis’s fiction, concentrating specifically on the Chronicles of Narnia, the most imaginative of his works. He looks at how the imaginative experience of reading the Chronicles is affected by the physical texture of the books, the illustrations, revisions of the texts, the order in which the books are read, and their narrative “voice,” the “storyteller” who becomes almost a character in the stories. Imagination and the Arts in C. S. Lewis also explores Lewis’s ideas about imagination in the nonliterary arts. Although Lewis regarded engagement with the arts as essential to a well- rounded and satisfying life, critics of his work and even biographers have given little attention to this aspect of his life. Schakel reviews the place of music, dance, art, and architecture in Lewis’s life, the ways in which he uses them as content in his poems and stories, and how he develops some of the deepest, most significant themes of his stories through them. Schakel concludes by analyzing the uses and abuses of imagination. He looks first at “moral imagination.” Although Lewis did not use this term, Schakel shows how Lewis developed the concept in That Hideous Strength and The Abolition of Man long before it became popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. While readers often concentrate on the Christian dimension of Lewis’s works, equally or more important to him was their moral dimension.” (From Amazon)

Sellars, J.T. 2011. Reasoning beyond reason: Imagination as a theological surce in the work of C.S. Lewis. Eugene, OR: Pickwick.

“Within C. S. Lewis studies, there is also a common conception of Lewis as a modern rationalist philosopher, i.e., a rationalist who thinks arguments (and his arguments in particular) are the last answer on the questions he undertakes. Reasoning beyond Reason attempts to take this view to task by placing Lewis back into his pre-modern context and showing that his sources and influences are classical ones. In this process Lewis is viewed through the idea that imagination and reason are connected in an intimate way: they are different expressions of a single divine source of truth, and there is an imagination already present upon which reason works. Lewis’s “transpositional” view of imagination implicitly pushes towards a somewhat radical position: the imagination is to be seen as theological in its reliance upon something more than the merely material; it necessarily relies on a transcendent funding for its use and meaning. In other words, the imagination is a well-source for what we might normally label “rational.”
“To the modern mind, reason belongs to the cold, objective stare of science. Imagination and story are mere ‘culture,’ of value only as escapism or entertainment. J. T. Sellars’s remarkable book shows how one of Christianity’s most learned but enduringly popular defenders, C. S. Lewis, belonged to a richer, classical world where reason is imaginative and the imagination is rational. I warmly welcome its publication.”
–Simon Oliver, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham.

Smith, Robert Houston. 1981. Patches of Godlight: The pattern of thought of C.S. Lewis. Athens, GA: U. of Georgia Press.

In chapter 6, “Imagination and the Mystical Ascent,” Smith writes that “One of the specific values of the imaginative approach to reality is that it allows for the expression of those dark, sensuous, awesome aspects that the prose of rationalism and abstraction seldom provides” (137) However, “Lewis was emphatic in his insistence that imaginativeness not be confused with creativeness (138). He did not see the latter as genuine on the part of humans. Further, “The concepts of the imagination and of the nature of the self’s journey toward the absolue are fundamental to Lewis’s thought” (163). Lewis “lived in the conviction that ultimate reality alone could provide hope, beauty, joy, and, in the final reckoning, meaning to life” (164).

Starr, Charles W. 2012. Light: C.S. Lewis’s first and final short story. Hamden, CT: Hinged Lion Press.

This story goes “Beyond Reason and Imagination” with a dramatic ending to a man who was born blind.

Sellars, J.T. 2011. Reasoning beyond reason: Imagination as a theological source in the work of C.S. Lewis. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications.

Sellars attempts to: 1) place Lewis’s work in a premodern era; 2) enlist others to show that Lewis views the imagination “as purely phenomenologically funded” (p. 5): 3) show how Lewis’s imaginative self developed; 4) examine the role of desire in Lewis’s work; 5) demonstrate that Lewis rejected a purely rationalistic approach; 6) explore his debt to MacDonald; and 7) connect his reasoning and narrative framework to theology.

*Thorson, Stephen. 2015. Joy and poetic imagination: Understanding C.S. Lewis’s “Great War” with Owen Barfield and its significance for Lewis’s conversion and writings. Hamden, CT: Winged Lion Press.

1) Joy and poetic imagination: The experience : Lewis and the experience of joy; Barfield and poetic imagination; Anthroposophy.

6) Joy and the importance of imagination: Barfield’s Poetic Diction: Imagination as knowledge; Lewis’s Summa: Imagination as spiritual awareness; The “Great War” Letters: imagination and truth; Post-conversion: Imagination in the Psyche.

7) The Holy Spirit and the role of revlelation: Barfield: Spirit is anterior; Lewis: The Holy Spirit is other; Barfield: Inspiration from within; Lewis: Revelation from without; Imagination and revelation.

Ward, Michael. : 2008. Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the imagination of C.S. Lewis. Oxford University Press.

Planet Narnia is a ground-breaking study that will provoke a major revaluation not only of the Chronicles but of Lewis’s whole literary and theological outlook. Ward uncovers a much subtler writer and thinker than has previously been recognized, one whose central interests were hiddenness, immanence, and knowledge by acquaintance.” (From the dust jacket)

West, John G., ed. 2012. The magician’s twin: C.S. Lewis on science, scientism and society. Seattle: Discovery Institute Press.

Lewis was concerned ab out the importance of “elementary text-books” because there the “intellectual scaffold of scientism” took place. Lewis felt that we need to read good stories, re-sensitize ourselves to good and evil, recover objective beauty, re-build authentic subjectivity, rehabilitate the heart and cultivate silence so that the ‘moral imagination’ can take place.