Saturday, 2 November 2019

C.S. Lewis on Snow White

I had heard C.S. Lewis quoted as lamenting 'if only Disney did not combine so much vulgarity with his genius'. (I turned up a BBC News webpage from around the time of the recent film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe commenting on this).

However, in a copy of Lewis's A Preface to Paradise Lost (first published 1942), I find the following quote:

That strange blend of genius and vulgarity, the film of Snow-White, will illustrate the point. There was good unorginality in the drawing of the Queen. She was the very archetype of all beautiful, cruel queens: the thing one expected to see, save that it was truer to type than one dared to hope for. There was bad originality in the bloated, drunken, low-comedy faces of the dwarfs. Neither the earthiness, the avarice, nor the wisdom of true dwarfs was there, but an imbecility of arbitrary invention. But in the scene where Snow-White wakes in the woods both the right originality and the right unoriginality were used together. The good unoriginality lay in the use of small, delicate animals as comforters, in the true märchen style. The good originality lay in letting us at first mistake their eyes for the eyes of monsters. The whole art consists not in evoking the unexpected but in evoking with a perfection and accuracy beyond expectation the very image that has haunted us all our lives.

(Chapter VIII, Defence of this Style)

My secondhand copy. It's an amazing cover, though more yellow than my camera has captured.
The Oxford Paperbacks edition was first published in 1960.

Dwarf players: Earthy, Avaricious or Wise - Pick Two.

(If Earthy can be used in a Chaucerian sense, I look for Dwarven Wife-of-Bath figures to crop up soon at tabletops everywhere!)

[Not the scheduled programme, but this blog does have a few things it specialises in...]


  1. I want to stand up here for the low-comedy dwarf.

    1. Which feature of this type would you praise above all others?

  2. Willingness to be rolled down hill in a large cheese.