Paul Holmer: How literature functions

“Literature is not a disguised theory, nor an implied didacticism. Instead, it communicates in such a way that, when successful, it creates new capabilities and capacities, powers and a kind of roominess in the human personality. One becomes susceptible to new competencies, new functions, new pathos and possibilities.” — Paul Holmer, C.S. Lewis: The Shape of His Faith and Thought


5 responses to “Paul Holmer: How literature functions

  1. Did Paul Holmer attribute his own sayings to other authors? For example, Dr. Holmer quotes C. S. Lewis as saying, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” Dr. Holmer is the only source I can find for this quote.


  2. Dave — No, and I’ve been looking everywhere for it! But I will ask Don W. King. He’s a Lewis scholar. I found the two Holmer quotes on my blog in Michael J. Christiansen’s book “C.S. Lewis on Scripture.” Stay tuned. –Colin


  3. Colin — Thanks. I also emailed an inquiry to the C.S. Lewis Institute and if they reply, will post it here.


  4. Hey Dave — here’s what Don W. King said:

    “I know the phrase ‘irrigates the deserts’ appears in The Abolition of Man, but there Lewis is referring to what education should do. Another possible source is An Experiment in Criticism where Lewis writes extensively about literature and reading.”

    King is at Montreat, and author of “C.S. Lewis, Poet” among other books.


  5. Thanks Don,

    A friend on facebook mentioned the reference in The Abolition of Man and also noted it didn’t apply. No word yet from the C. S. Lewis Institute. There is always a chance it came from an unpublished source such as a letter or a note.