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Literary Catholicity

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An Alternate Reading of Influence in the Work of C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton

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The influence of G. K. Chesterton on the outlook and work of C. S. Lewis has long been a passing note for critics of Lewis. While some have admired Lewis’s adaptation of Chestertonian insights, others have made his mimesis the grounds for a general dismissal. None of these critics, however, have directly examined the nature of this influence itself. This essay addresses this critical omission by establishing the ways in which Lewis purposefully imitated his predecessor’s particular way of being a Christian who writes. From Chesterton, Lewis borrowed an approach to literary influence that not only rejects originality as an ultimate measure but also elevates deliberate literary imitation of earlier insights as necessary to Christian writing. In doing so, both writers drew on a common tradition, reworking and rearticulating it, and thereby contributed their own voices and insights to it.

Affiliations: 1: Northwest Nazarene University ; 2: Case Western Reserve University


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