But there are other such letters floating out there that the world has never seen. Like this letter that Lewis wrote to Sarah Hauser on the 31st of July, 1957. Ms. Hauser had written to the Professor asking whether he would please consider writing more Narnia stories, as she had enjoyed them very much. She was twelve when she sent it off and this was Lewis’s reply:
July 31, 1957
Dear Sarah Hauser,
I am delighted to hear that you like the Narnian books and it was nice of you to write and tell me. There won’t be any more. When the story stops telling itself to me, I have to stop telling to other people; if I tried to go on it would only sound forced and dull.
Lewis’s theory of artistic expression is worth considering carefully, but what strikes me in this letter is his characteristic directness about what he knew must have been disappointing news. Lewis does not hesitate, nor does he think his notions of how he tells story is beyond the child’s mind. He does not "talk down" to Ms. Hauser, but responds with a frankness that indicates respect and equality.
Everything in the story should arise from the whole cast of the author’s mind. We must write for children out of those elements in our own imagination which we share with children: differing from our child readers not by any less, or less serious, interest in the things we handle, but by the fact that we have other interests which children would not share with us. The matter of our story should be a part of the habitual furniture of our minds….We must meet children as equals in that area of our nature where we are their equals. Our superiority consists partly in commanding other areas, and partly (which is more relevant) in the fact that we are better at telling stories than they are. The child as reader is neither to be patronized nor idolized: we talk to him as man to man.
Judging by his response to Ms. Hauser, Lewis apparently thought such a relationship of equality extended even to the finer points of the nature of the creative vision.
Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.