posted June 19, 2002

Peter Schakel Writes Book on C.S. Lewis

Dr. Peter J. Schakel of the Hope College English faculty is author of "Imagination and the Arts in C.S. Lewis: Journeying to Narnia and Other Worlds," published recently by the University of Missouri Press.

The book has two central purposes: to present Lewis as a cultivated person of wide-ranging interests, and to show how an appreciation of Lewis's interests in the arts, non-literary as well as literary, deepens a reader's response to his fiction, especially the Chronicles of Narnia. According to Schakel, the book reaffirms the long- established tradition that books should be read with one's whole personality, not just with the intellect.

The book is the first study to provide a thorough analysis of Lewis's theory of imagination--the making of connections through association, intuition or inspiration-- which is central to his life, his creative and critical works, his writings on Christianity, and his ideas on education. It examines the role of imagination in the experience of reading Lewis's fiction, especially the Chronicles of Narnia, and explores Lewis's ideas about imagination in the nonliterary arts, considering the place of music, dance, art and architecture in Lewis's own life and in his poems and stories. It also considers the importance of "moral imagination" in Lewis's discussions of literature, and in the stories and poems he created.

Work on the book was supported by the 2002 Clyde S. Kilby Research Grant from the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill.

This is Schakel's fifth book on Lewis. He is author of two earlier books, "Reading with the Heart: The Way into Narnia" and "Reason and Imagination in C.S. Lewis," editor of "The Longing for a Form: Essays on the Fiction of C.S. Lewis," and co-editor with Dr. Charles A. Huttar of "Word and Story in C.S. Lewis."

Schakel is the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Professor of English and chair of the department of English at Hope. He joined the Hope faculty in 1969 after a year at the University of Nebraska. He is a graduate of Central College in Iowa and holds graduate degrees from Southern Illinois University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Copies of "Imagination and the Arts in C.S. Lewis: Journeying to Narnia and Other Worlds" are available at the college's Hope-Geneva Bookstore, located on the ground level of the DeWitt Center on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. The hardcover volume costs $32.50.