C.S. Lewis and His Critics ~ The Imaginative Conservative

A more serious challenge came from English poet and historian Robert Conquest who charged Lewis and Charles Williams with holding and promoting totalitarian sympathies. While his criticism applied mainly to Williams, Lewis became a part of the controversy by praising Williams’s Arthurian poetry. The two men, Conquest claimed, willfully obscured the venerable mythology, thus rendering it and its story unintelligible to the average person. They turned the vast Arthurian legend into a “complex intellectual parlour game,” a gnostic jumble, accessible only to the Elect. In Williams (and, by inference, in Lewis), one finds “a genuine writer who has fully accepted a closed and monopolistic system of ideas and feelings, and what is more, puts it forthrightly with its libidinal component scarcely disguised.”[7] That which is intelligible advocates the use of violence “to bring in unbelievers” with human beings treated merely as a means to an end.[8] Lewis and Williams each promote a “psychology of totalitarianism—of hierarchy and sadism.”[9]
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