Of this tragic dilemma [to lack one kind of knowledge because we are outside it] myth is the partial solution. In the enjoyment of a great myth we come nearest to experiencing as a concrete what can otherwise be understood only as an abstraction. At his moment, for example, I am trying to understand something very abstract indeed – the fading, vanishing of tasted reality as we try to grasp it with the discursive reason. Probably I have made heavy weather of it. But if I remind you, instead, of Orpheus and Eurydice, how he was suffered to lead her by the hand but, when he turned round to look at her, she disappeared, what was merely a principle becomes imaginable. You may reply that you never till this moment attached that ‘meaning’ to that myth. Of course not. You are not looking for an abstract ‘meaning’ at all. If that was what you were doing the myth would be for you not true myth but a mere allegory. You were not knowing, but tasting; but what your tasting turns out to be a universal principle. The moment we state this principle, we are admittedly back in the world of abstraction. It is only while receiving the myth as a story that you experience the principle concretely. – “Myth Became Fact”, in God in the Dock, ed. Hooper.
I sometimes accuse Lewis of being too Modernist. He was a man of his times, so it rather can’t be helped. But sometimes I think he speaks straight into my postmodern soul. The value of story and myth to tell truth is one of those ways.
I disagree with his characterization of “mere allegory.” If he means allegory in the simplistic way it became, where Object A stood in place of Object B, and there was a complete equation between the two, then yes. But true allegory, the way that it was done by those who understood allegory in it’s original Greek sense, was something else entirely.
I do think that it is interesting that this quote shows that Lewis would quite disagree with those who say that the Narnia books are allegorical. Aslan is not to be equated with Jesus, really, which would be necessary if they were allegorical. And honestly, I have theological issues with people who draw that complete equation. Because if it’s true then it is heresy. Aslan did not die to redeem everyone, just Edmund. This may make sense to people who think of Jesus as their “personal Savior” and that Edmund is then an allegory for themselves, but it is quite a bit different from the Gospels.
It is clear to me that Lewis wrote the Narnia books to be mythological, and therefore even the episode of Aslan being resurrected should be understood in a more general mythological way, and not entirely unlike the way one reads the resurrection of Gandalf, or even Harry Potter.