Friday, November 1, 2013

Genius, Prophet, Oxford Don

C. S. Lewis would be surprised at all the attention that continues to follow him. The newest book is perhaps C. S. Lewis, A Life by Alister McGrath, published by Tyndale. Find it at www.tyndale.com. Now 50 years since Lewis was at the height of his popularity, information continues to be found and shared among those who appreciate Lewis and his writings. McGrath has gathered and analyzed a huge amount of research to help us understand Lewis and his ideas.  “How are these new facts to be woven together to make a pattern?” McGrath wonders, as he adds details now known about Lewis’s life, while he helps us understand the way it was.
   
Lewis was born in Ireland in 1898 though he spent much of his life in England. His mother died when he was young and that loss had a big impact on his life. His father insisted on sending him to school in England, which may not have been the best plan for such a shy, lonely boy. He had one brother, Warnie, and they were close and helpful to each other throughout their lives.

McGrath chose to divide his reporting on events in Lewis’s life into five parts. They are Prelude, Oxford, Narnia, Cambridge, and Afterlife, the latter meaning what happened after Lewis’s death in November 1963 and his continuing popularity, especially because of his Narnia books.

Yes, Narnia, a group of books about four children, a wardrobe (a door), an enchanted forest and a  mysterious land. That’s what keeps Lewis popular! He is like many an Irishman in that he tells wonderful stories. He taught English literature, first at Oxford, then at Cambridge, and he wrote many religious books, such as Mere Christianity. It’s like he had two writing lives and in each he was at the top of his profession. In one writing life he was an academic and sometimes a theologian, even an apologist at times; and in another he was a successful children’s book author. During World War II, he gave religious talks on the BBC,....there is much intriguing stuff in here. Go to the library and borrow this book, and give a hint as you put it on your gift list.

—Lois Sibley