I was searching for another, unrelated quote, but I came across this one, and a particular statement intrigued me.

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not IN them, it only came THROUGH them, and what came through them was longing. These things--the beauty, the memory of our own past--are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth. - C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

The bolded portion is what intrigued me. What began a hundred years before C.S. Lewis wrote this? What might he be referring to?

  • Not sure this is entirely answerable, unless Lewis said something somewhere else about an event from the 1840s or 1850s. Nov 6, 2014 at 20:15
  • There are a couple of possibilities I might point to, but I don't see where I could get hard evidence for them. Nov 6, 2014 at 20:18
  • @MattGutting I think this falls under one of those question types where a bit of supposition is appropriate.
    – user3961
    Nov 8, 2014 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


If you check out "The Abolition of Man" you'll get an understanding of what he means. He's basically saying that modern education has a tendency to move our eyes from the joy that is set before us in heaven, to the created things of this world. In Lewis' time (think mid-1940's) the "modern education" system which he decries was more or less about a century old.

Basically, Lewis' beef with modern education is that it teaches our heavenly intuitions, imaginations, and feelings, are excluded by modern techniques. He wants to see us being whole creatures capable of apprehending the "shadows of heaven" that is joy.

  • Sorry for the short answer. Not really able to expound right now, but wp does a good job of summarizing the failings of the modern education system to which Lewis is referring Nov 6, 2014 at 20:26

Significant events that occurred roughly 100yrs before he wrote this quote:

  • On the Origin of Species was published on 24 November 1859. Not only did this work by Darwin directly influenced State Atheism, it also drastically changed how scientists and schools perceived the world.

  • The transition from the Industrial Revolution ended in about 1830-40. Factories and assembly lines could mass produce vehicles and modern conveniences like refrigerators and radios by Lewis's time. Capitalists were relentless in evangilizing new products that they claimed would improve your quality of life.

By the time C.S Lewis had published The Weight of Glory in 1942, he had seen the birth of the 20th century and the beginning of two World Wars. A LOT happened in the 100 years leading up to this quote. I don't think that there is one single event that you could attribute this statement to.

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