We had the good fortune of connecting with Louis Markos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Louis, why did you pursue a creative career?
Since I was a child, I have always wanted to be a writer, though it took me some time to realize that I was not called to be a novelist or a poet, but a man of letters or public intellectual who writes essays and non-fiction prose. I have always had a love for the written word and for storytelling, and it has always been important for me that what I write both makes good points and sounds beautiful. I believe that beautiful prose is actually more meaningful and more good and true than prose that is sloppily written. It is because I believe, with Plato and traditional Christians, that goodness, truth, and beauty are mutually reinforcing and must be taken together that I decided to become a writer as well as an English professor.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Like C. S. Lewis, my greatest role model, I have tried to write in as many different genres as possible, ever seeking to make connections between all areas of life and thought. I have written works of literary theory and criticism (on the Romantics and Victorians, as well as on Ancient Greece and Rome), close analyses of the great epics of Homer and Virgil, the classic myths of Greece and Rome, and The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, apologetics in the mode of C. S. Lewis, aesthetic history, and even two children’s novels. I’ve also written many as yet unpublished books in which I gather together the advice I gave my children when they went to college, compose letters to our modern age from the great poets of the past, survey my own life so as to gauge how the great books shaped me as a man, a Christian, and an English professor, and even a book on how the great films have helped to shape my consciousness. My secret for being so productive (I’ve published 20 books to date and have written at least another dozen) is that I write every day, always giving myself small rewards as I reach the various deadlines I have set for myself. I also make sure that my work as a writer is closely linked up with my work and ministry as a professor. I never allow my essays or books to get too esoteric, but always bring them back to earth so that students and professors alike can understand and be challenged by what I have written. I also bring to life what I have written by giving public speeches all over the country, especially to classical Christian and classical charter schools, which are helping to keep the classics alive and bring Athens and Jerusalem together. When I speak publicly, I never read my books out loud but rework what I have written into an outline which I memorize and then speak from extemporaneously. I find that this way my writing and speaking complement and reinforce each other. I want to be remembered as a writer-teacher-speaker who has devoted his life and career to inviting people from all backgrounds into the great conversation that has been going on since Moses wrote the Torah and Homer the Iliad and Odyssey. I want to be remembered as well as someone who helped bridge Athens and Jerusalem and who demonstrated in his life and art that someone can be both a Christian and a humanist. I want people to be able to say that I filled them with a passion to read, not just as a pastime, but as a way of grappling with the great ideas and the great questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? I want to show in my work–but without ever being preachy or judgmental or condemnatory–that the claims of Christ AND the great works of the ancient Greeks and Romans are not dead things from the past but living realities that must be wrestled with today.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, if you mean Texas, I would take them to my favorite of all places, the San Antonio River Walk. But if you mean specifically Houston, I would take them to see Galveston, Moody Gardens, Space Center Houston, and the Museums of Fine Arts and Natural Science. I would most love to take them to a show at the Miller Outdoor Theater, my favorite place in Houston. My tastes are pretty simple, so I would take them to Gringos, Niko Nikos, and the Pappas BBQ. I’m afraid that I only go down town when I have jury duty, but I would like them to see a show at Theater under the Stars. Really, when I have friends come, we just talk and talk and take walks at parks like Hermann Park. I do also like seeing the homes in River Oaks!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Like most of the English majors I teach at Houston Baptist University, I had a wonderful High School English teacher in NJ named Earl Hendler who told me that I would make an excellent English professor. He also challenged me to make sure I read a book fully and carefully before I made comments about it; it was his challenge that started me reading Plato more seriously. My parents, Tom and Angie Markos, always encouraged me to read and to write and to be a life-long learner. My first-role model for writing beautiful and supple prose was Ray Bradbury. C. S. Lewis taught me how to be a Christian academic, a true man of letters, and an unapologetic generalist who does not try to overspecialize himself. Lewis also taught me that a professor needs to step outside academia as often as possible to be a public educator. I am thankful to the Teaching Company/Great Courses, with whom I produced two lecture series on Lewis and on literary theory. Those series helped me to find my voice as a public intellectual. I am forever grateful to Houston Baptist University and the many great provosts, deans, and chairs I have worked under for encouraging me to complement my teaching and work with students by writing and speaking for a wider audience. HBU has also helped me carry on my central goal: to bring Athens (our Greco-Roman legacy) and Jerusalem (our Judeo-Christian legacy) together.
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