The Divine Mirror in Pilgrim’s Progress

Mirrors are a big part of fantasy literature in the English tradition. It starts in a big way with the Alice classics by Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson), an Oxford Platonist, Anglican clergyman, and mathematician, when he sends his heroine Through the Looking Glass and it echos through Goudge’s work (as we saw yesterday), Tolkien’s Mirror of Galadriel and Frodo’s Light which is essentially a phial of water taken from the pool-mirror, up to the Godfather mirror fragment that plays such a large part in Deathly Hallows.

The tradition of mirrors in fantasy fiction and its origin in the natural theology and logos epistemology of Samuel Taylor Coleridge is discussed at length in The Deathly Hallows Lectures, chapter 5, ‘The Seeing Eye,’ so I won’t beat that to death again here. What I want to share today is what I think may be the first and what is certainly the most important pre-Coleridge use of a mirror that reflects the ‘I’ that is, as Lewis says, “a sacred name.” [Read more…]