CS Lewis, Animals and Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

Nicola Hoggard Creegan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

In the remarkable book Life of Pi by 2002 Booker Prize Winner Yann Martel, we hear the story of a young boy, a zookeeper’s son from India, who is marooned for 277 days on a 26-foot life boat with a live Bengali tiger, a hyena, a zebra, and an orangutan. Before he leaves on this ill-fated journey we find out that he is a very religious child, so religious that he believes in Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam — the more ways of worshipping God the better.
Back to his long journey on the sea, a journey so interesting and enticing that we wish it were true, even as we realize it is not, we discern we are dealing with magical realism, the stuff of the eschaton. The child wins over the live Bengali tiger. He tames him. Pi becomes the alpha male on this little boat. If ever there were a description of taming of the wild creatures it is in the delicate peace fought for and won on this little boat.
All of which brings us to C. S. Lewis, the tame animal storyteller par excellence. His books are full of talking, tame animals. They are real animals, not just allegories or types of humans. Lewis believed that humans were intended to tame the animals, as did Pi, and that there were always exemplary humans who could do so. Animals were also capable of suffering, and humans in particular should avoid intentionally afflicting suffering on them. Lewis, however, although his mythical heavenly Narnia was full of animals, stopped short of both vegetarianism and a full doctrine of animal salvation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA myth retold
Subtitle of host publicationRe-encountering CS Lewis as Theologian
EditorsMartin Sutherland
Place of PublicationEugene, Oregon
PublisherWipf & Stock
Chapter6
Pages58-66
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781630878405
ISBN (Print)9781610972475
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameC.S. Lewis secondary studies series

Keywords

  • Lewis, C. S. (Clive Staples), 1898-1963
  • Animals in literature
  • Humans
  • Animal rights
  • Animal companions

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