Famous Misquotations: Literature Adds to Reality, It Does Not Simply Describe It…

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsJust about everywhere you see this quotation, it is attributed to C.S. Lewis: “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.” The only problem is, Lewis never wrote this. Thanks to the great detective work of C.S. Lewis expert William O’Flaherty, author of The Misquotable C.S. Lewis, we know that these sentences were actually written by Paul Homer who is discussing literature and not quoting Lewis directly. The quote can be found on page 28 of Homer’s book C. S. Lewis: The Shape of His Faith and Thought published in 1976.

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For further reading: Famous Misquotations: Blood, Sweat, and Tears
Famous Misquotations: A Civilization is Measured by How It Treats Its Weakest Members
Famous Misquotations: The Two Most Important Days in Your Life
Famous Misquotations: The Triumph of Evil is That Good Men Do Nothing
Famous Phrases You Have Been Misquoting

For further reading: The Misquotable C.S. Lewis, William O’Flaherty, Wipf and Stock, 2018.


2 responses to “Famous Misquotations: Literature Adds to Reality, It Does Not Simply Describe It…

  • Christine Betts

    wow, so did he just make the quote up?

    • Alexander Atkins

      Hi Christine: What happened here is something that often occurs with the quotations that abound on the Internet: an author is writing about a particular subject, in this case, C.S. Lewis. Then someone comes along and reads this and without reading the text carefully, assumes the author is directly quoting C.S. Lewis. So the person copies and pastes the quote and mistakenly attributes it to C.S. Lewis. Then the Internet does it thing: the quote is propagated endlessly, and pretty soon it makes it onto other blogs, books, and merchandise. All of this is a symptom of our current culture that does not think critically and believes whatever shows up on social media as “quote of the day.” Happy holidays. Cheers. Alex

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