He was a towering intellectual figure, a popular fiction author who inspired a global movie franchise around the world of Narnia, and an atheist-turned-Christian thinker. After thoroughly examining recently published Lewis correspondence, Alister challenges some of the previously held beliefs about the exact timing of Lewis's shift from atheism to theism and then to Christianity.
He paints a portrait of an eccentric thinker who became an inspiring, though reluctant, prophet for our times. You won't want to miss this fascinating portrait of a creative genius who inspired generations. Tyndale House Publishers Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title.
C. S. Lewis - A Life
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Lewis , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Oct 20, MAP rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction , biographies-and-memoirs. Oh my God. Where to begin? This book, while claiming to right the wrongs of Wilson's biography, possibly makes just as many mistakes, and isn't even entertaining to boot.
Ok, let's break this down. McGrath is an Oxford don himself, and he points out from the 2. McGrath is an Oxford don himself, and he points out from the very beginning how much he has in common with Lewis because of this, which is instantly insufferable.
Review: CS Lewis, A Life, By Alistair Mcgrath | The Independent
However, the bigger problem is that he doesn't seem to have much of an interest in writing a biography. We spend loads of time on literary analysis -- two damn chapters are devoted to Narnia analysis alone -- but do you know what we get none of? Not one single sentence? Lewis' process in writing the books! THAT'S biography! Even at the end, when writing about Joy Davidson Lewis' death, McGrath is more interested in writing about the stylistic choices made in A Grief Observed than, I dunno, exploring Lewis' grief!
Problem number 2: Titled chapter sections that limit rather than expand McGrath makes the bizarre choice of titling sections within each of his chapters, with things like "Albert Lewis' Concerns About His Son" and "Lewis' Friendship with Arthur Greeves. For example, Mrs.
Moore lived with Lewis and had a varied and complex relationship with him for almost 30 years. But after the section of the chapter that was labeled to be about her, he just ignores the next 20 years of her existence, showing up once in 1 sentence in a speculation about her influence on a character in The Screwtape Letters before another section, much later, is devoted to her final illness and death.
McGrath compartmentalizes Lewis' life so completely that entire aspects of it are totally ignored. Problem number 3: McGrath clearly cannot stand Joy Davidman and doesn't understand Lewis' attraction to her.
Let me start off with a defense here: I am NOT a huge romantic, and I do not view the uber-sentimental Shadowlands as the truth of their relationship. But when discussing Joy Davidman, McGrath falls into a trap I've seen from many male authors who write biographies of their idols: they can't stand the woman who was their idol's romantic partner usually a woman who is cut from a different cloth , and so decides that his idol's feelings couldn't have been that strong either.
They were civilly married 5 years, and married in the Christian church for 3. McGrath spends a large amount of time exploring Lewis' and Davidman's relationship BEFORE they were "really" married, asserting over and over that Lewis really didn't have any feelings for her, using the most illogical arguments ever He didn't stop talking with other women friends, so clearly he felt nothing for Davidman!
WTF, is there some rule that a man can only talk to one woman at a time? He even says things like "By , Lewis had reluctantly let Davidman move into the Kilns. If you are going to include emotions attached to actions, you better damn well have a primary source or I will be MAD.
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To make matters worse, the last 3 years of their relationship, where it's clear Lewis is crazy in love with her All you have to do is read A Grief Observed, Lewis' own words, to see this; this is hardly me being a naive romantic? One paragraph. There are maybe one or two interesting tidbits that I read in here, particularly concerning Lewis' friendship with Greeves, that I was interested to learn, but ultimately, this book is just a massive failure on all levels. View all 13 comments. May 22, Natalie Vellacott rated it liked it Shelves: christian-biography.
This was okay but didn't hold my interest. I had to abandon it towards the end due to time constraints. I hadn't read any other books about Lewis' life so some of the detail was interesting. I think this would really only appeal to serious fans of Lewis which I am not. The author devotes an entire chapter to proving that Lewis' conversion to Christianity occurred a year later than most had believed.
He opens the biography with an announcement about this stating that he is about to reveal somet This was okay but didn't hold my interest. He opens the biography with an announcement about this stating that he is about to reveal something dramatically spectacular. For me it was neither. I found the section about Narnia slightly more interesting and the references to things in Lewis' life that he had perhaps drawn the inspiration from.
I will probably read some of the other books mentioned in this biography Recommended for Lewis fans View all 6 comments. Apr 07, Daniel rated it really liked it Shelves: , biography. As King's review emphasizes, there are a few interesting and somewhat new readings of Lewis advanced in this book. The most prominent of these new readings is Mcgrath's suggestion that Lewis's memory failed him in his recollection of the date of his own conversion.
Lewis's Surprised by Joy gives the date of September 28, , whereas Mcgrath thinks it happened in June As King notes, Mcgrath is clear to say that whenever it happened, it happened as the result of a long process of which that single moment is the mere outworking, not the work.
Moore after The Great War, the disdain Lewis's popularity garnered from Oxford faculty, and the utterly cougar-like way Joy Davidman stalked and captured Lewis's hand in marriage. This edition is accessible and clear, and does not suffer from an abundance of analysis. In the preface Mcgrath states this aim clearly, promising that a more scholarly work justifying many of the conclusions he makes here will follow.
This book is The Intellectual World of C. Lewis, is pages, and will be available April A serious downside of Tyndale's need to market this book to a mass audience is the lack of deep analysis of Lewis's works.
King's review notes that the lack of analysis directed to Lewis's letters is the chief reason why this cannot be considered, as the bookjacket says, the definitive volume on Lewis; however, even though Mcgrath addresses his published works, they are not addressed much past their significance to Lewis's life. This to me is at least as disappointing as a failure to address his letters, but the limits of size surely prohibited anything more than the already-included pages.
Special to Mcgrath's exclusion in this work is Lewis the Literary Critic, but given the popular appeal of this book that Lewis took a back seat to Lewis the Apologist and Lewis the Novelist. On the other hand, this book succeeds in giving a lucid account of the events of Lewis's life and not letting analysis in the way of the progression of his story.
I found the pace fast, the level of anecdote moderate, and an efficient balance of meaning and fact. I particularly enjoyed Mcgrath's final section: Afterlife, which discussed the Lewis phenomenon and plausible reasons for its persistence. Essentially he says that the cultural shift from a primarily-Modern to a primarily-Postmodern epistemology found Lewis's narrative method in vogue, and thus did his work find a new audience.
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Examined as one is in a biography, both in distinct successes and distinct failings, it interests me how Lewis still strikes me as more than the sum of the events and achievements Mcgrath presents. At no point does Mcgrath address what of Lewis's quintessence enabled him to do what he did, but perhaps I am assuming the existence of something by requiring it as proof for what I see in Lewis.
Perhaps instead he was a gifted person who worked hard and unflaggingly committed himself to truth and love, and that worked itself out in some interesting ways. There needn't be a secret to explain his wild fame, but the texture of his character that many have found so appealing doesn't sparkle as much as it could were his works and letters considered in this assessment.
It remains true that historical figures are both what they made of themselves and what we make of them, in many cases the latter over the former.
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