A new book by retired Grove City College professor of English Dr. Janice Brown examines redemption in the work of three of the 20th century’s most influential Christian writers.
“The Lion in the Waste Land: Fearsome Redemption in the Work of C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, and T.S. Eliot,” published by The Kent State University Press, grew out of Brown’s teaching of the authors’ works at the College.
“My students’ interest in and enthusiasm for these writers inspired me to study them more deeply and realize more fully their continuing relevance,” Brown, who retired from the College in 2015, said.
“The book is the culmination and the encapsulation of nearly all the important things I have thought about and taught about during a teaching career of more than 40 years. I hope the message of ‘fearsome redemption’ that it explores will enrich and bless its readers as much as the writing of the book has enriched and blessed me,” she said.
The book’s title references the Christ-like character Aslan -– a fearsome lion who is “good, but not safe” – from Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, Eliot’s view of the world as a treacherous waste land of disappointment and danger and Sayers’ recognition that redemption can be terrifying.
“The Lion in the Waste Land” explores the different literary niches the authors occupied and their shared ideas about redemption in the midst of 20th-century chaos. It discusses how Lewis, Sayers and Elliot each performed the work of Christian apologists through their writing and the similarities in their concepts of Christ, war and suffering.
“This book is the first time that a thorough connection has been made between the major themes of Lewis and the similar themes of two very eminent and popular writers who were his contemporaries,” Brown said.
The book is the result of more than a decade of work, during which Brown said she shared parts of it with, and received valuable feedback from, students and colleagues at Grove City College.
Brown specializes in the work of Sayers and writers associated with the Inklings, an informal literary society active around the University of Oxford in the 1930s and 1940s. She taught at Grove City College for 21 years and organized C.S. Lewis and Inklings Society conferences at the College in 2008 and 2015. In 1998, her work “The Seven Deadly Sins in the Work of Dorothy L. Sayers” was a finalist for the Edgar Alan Poe Award. She received her Ph.D. from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.
“The Lion in the Waste Land" is available online from The Kent State University Press or Amazon.