(CCSLQ-37) – Literature Adds

This is part of a series exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. Presently a new article is posted the first Saturday of each month (or sometimes the second if there are five Saturdays). There is an “at a glance” page (CLICK HERE) to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read the INTRODUCTION to this series.   

“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.”


Most questionable quotations I’ve researched appear to be fairly recent false attributions. That’s not the case with the expression in the spotlight today. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I had not noticed this quote before receiving a question from Josh Radke about it on June 30, 2017 on my Confirming C.S. Lewis Quotations group on Facebook. The group was created initially to help others become aware of material already researched, but it’s also where people can ask about a quotation attributed to Lewis to find out if it is really found in his writings.

Fortunately it was known when the question was asked that the quotation was found in a 1970’s book by Paul Holmer.  But, even though it was also known the book was C. S. Lewis: The Shape of His Faith and Thought, Josh didn’t have a copy of the book to see how it was mentioned. Was Holmer quoting Lewis, or merely summarizing Lewis’ views?  Josh also had already attempted to locate it in several works by Lewis that he had electronically and couldn’t find the passage.

So, when the question was submitted to me, I decided to first check online with Google Books. This is often a great place to explore when trying to find a quotation. In some cases you can preview several (or even dozens of) pages. However, with this older book, it only allowed me to see part of a page. I learned that Holmer had the passage in question on page 28 of C. S. Lewis: The Shape of His Faith and Thought. But, as you can see below, I was initially only able to see the first five words and the bottom half of them were cut off! Yet, it appeared that this was not a quotation. Josh did another search within the book (using the key word “deserts,” I had used the phrase “Literature adds to reality”) and the next image below gave further evidence to suggest that the words were from Holmer and not Lewis.

However, I wanted more proof, so I posted a question in a few Lewis FB groups to find out if anyone had a copy of the book and could look at the actual page to give definitive proof that the expression was Holmer and not Lewis. Several people responded, but it was Andrew Lazo who sent a complete picture of page 28, that also included part of the next page and this confirmed everything! As you can see below, it is clear that Holmer is NOT quoting Lewis. In fact, you can see part of the next page when he IS quoting a lengthy passage by Lewis that he uses the standard block quote style where quotation marks are not used. Thus, the mystery was solved, but the question remained how did a passage from a book from the 1970’s become falsely attributed to Lewis? I could be wrong, but my immediate thought is somewhere it was quoted and just the title of the book was given. So, because the title begins with “C.S. Lewis,” then over the years it was mistakenly believed it came from him!

The next article to be posted on August 5, 2017 is:

“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers will bring us to Him.”

Related Articles:

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Updated 8/5/2017