Quote by C.S. Lewis
Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. . . in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.
This quote highlights the transformative power of literary experience. It suggests that reading great literature allows individuals to both escape their own realities and deeply understand the human experience. By immersing themselves in the world of books, readers become capable of seeing different perspectives and embodying multiple characters, yet, they never lose their core identity. This process of transcendence and self-discovery is compared to other meaningful aspects of life such as worship, love, moral action, and gaining knowledge. Ultimately, literature helps heal wounds and affirm the importance of individuality while expanding the boundaries of understanding.
Even religious people are vulnerable to this longing. Those who belong to communities of faith have acquired a certain patience with what is sometimes called organized religion. They have learned to forgive themselves. They do not expect their institutions to stand in for God, and they are happy to use inherited maps for some of life's journeys. They do not need to walk off every cliff all by themselves. Yet they too can harbor the sense that there is more to life that they are being shown. Where is the secret hidden? Who has the key to the treasure box of More?