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All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927 [Paperback]

C. S. Lewis , C.S. Lewis
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 16, 2002
"Lewis’s diary . . . furnishes a vivid picture of post-World War I Oxford and helps explain the easy erudition he brought to such work as The Allegory of Love."—Library Journal

Before he was the beloved writer of The Chronicles of Narnia or the Christian apologist of The Screwtape Letters, twenty-three-year-old C.S. Lewis was a soldier, student, and atheist. Newly returned from the front lines of World War I, Lewis took up residence with the mother of a friend killed in combat and started to make a life for himself in Oxford. At the urging of Mrs. Moore, whose friendship had a huge effect on him, Lewis kept for five years a detailed diary of his day-to-day life—giving us a window into the inspirations and development of a man whose theology would eventually have great influence on the Christian world. In All the Road Before Me, we accompany Lewis through his days as a young writer and as a young man, determining his place in the world.

"A disarming self-portrait of Lewis as sensual, self-assured atheist and clandestine family man."—Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As an Oxford undergraduate, Lewis set up house with Janie King Moore, a woman 26 years his senior who was separated from her husband, and her daughter Maureen. Lewis's liaison with "Mrs. Moore," which he kept secret from his father, was probably sexual, according to Hooper, Lewis's biographer and personal secretary. This diary, a disarming self-portrait of Lewis as sensual, self-assured atheist and clandestine family man will chiefly interest scholars and hardcore Lewis devotees. Mostly a humdrum, skeletal recital of household chores, conversations and the academic grind, the journal's tedium is relieved by soaring passages on nature's beauty, thumbnail sketches of Lewis's friends and quick comments on his wide-ranging reading, from Beowulf to Hardy, Nietzsche, Jung and Havelock Ellis.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This is a detailed account of Lewis's twenties, during which, while living with Mrs. Janie Moore and her daughter Maureen, he struggled to win a fellowship at Oxford. Though cut by one-third, it may still prove tedious to all but Lewis's most devoted followers. Written at least partly for the entertainment of Moore (identified as "D"), the diary dwells on Lewis's friends, books, and reactions to the surrounding landscape, rarely on the inner circumstances that would soon prompt his conversion to Christianity. Lewis's diary does, however, furnish a vivid picture of post-World War I Oxford and helps explain the easy erudition he brought to such works as The Allegory of Love . Owen Barfield's foreword is helpful, but Hooper's notes are virtually useless.
- Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, Mo.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (December 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156027968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156027960
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars C.S. LEWIS, The Oxford Early Years March 11, 2003
Format:Paperback
A book with such a dry-sounding title will necessarily cause the prospective reader, even the fans of CSL, to wonder whether it is worth its price and the effort of reading it. To answer that question, I would say that the book is of real value to both the diehard Lewisophile, and the researcher of well-known characters from that period of Oxford such as John Betjeman (Lewis's comments chime nicely with the biography of 'The Young Betjeman' by Bevis Hillier).
This book is for anyone who has already read: 1) the Lewis autobiography, 'Surprised by Joy'; 2) 'Jack: a life of C.S. Lewis', the biography by his good friend, George Sayer; and 3) the official biography by W. Hooper and R.L. Green. I would rank it about equally with books like 'C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences' by James T. Como, and Kathryn Lindskoog's books, but before his collections of letters.
The time period covered is given by the title which covers his study for the second of his three degree subjects, to the second year of his English Fellowship at Magdalen. On eventually being offered a position, he was asked would he mind teaching some philosophy as well as English. In a letter to his father, he records that by that time he would have 'agreed to coach a troupe of performing bagbirds in the quadrangle' - the Lewis wit not yet baptised.
His main motive for keeping the diary was that the entries were read aloud to his companion Mrs Moore, who kept house for him. If he allowed the diary to lapse, she would prompt him to start again. This is all to the good in terms of a candid insight into his life, as publication would be the last thing he would have expected. The published text is well edited, and generally gets the flavour of his domestic and college life.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it shouldn�t be fascinating, but it is March 27, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The UK paperback edition has a shiny, lurid and embarrassing cover. Harper/Collins was clearly trying to flog this book to the religious crowd, presumably on the grounds that the author of this diary wrote, years later and among other things, religious works: a tenuous connection, one would think. Ignore the cover.
I'm not really a connoisseur of private diaries, so my words should not be taken too seriously: but I did enjoy this. It's for admirers of C.S. Lewis and graduate students. It filled me with a desire to go through the diary page by page, and read, or at least nibble on, every book Lewis mentions as having read. (If you seriously plan to do this, good luck: I recommend that you start by living next to a rich library at least a hundred years old.)
But let the buyer beware of two things ... Firstly: this is not really a private diary, since it was written to be read to a Mrs Moore, who is one of the most prominent characters in it. If you want some sort of insight into the relationship between Lewis and Moore, give up on the idea, for there is none to be had, here or anywhere else. Secondly: the diary has been edited by Walter Hooper. He claims that he only removed the dull and repetitive bits. Yes, well.
I suppose you should also be warned that the diary gives the impression that 1920s England was populated almost entirely by intelligent nitwits who blathered unintelligbly about metaphysics. Maybe this is true. It also gives the impression that everyone in 1920s England was languishing under the tyranny of idealism, which is false: G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, and soon almost everyone, would have none of it. But one cannot understand why Lewis came to believe what he did until one realises how strong this tyranny once was.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
As someone who has read nearly every Lewis title in print, my conclusion about the diary is that it is entertaining in places, is good for giving a feel for what day to day life was like for the author as he was made the transition from student to teacher, and gives fuller information about some of the characters anonymously or only briefly described in SURPRISED BY JOY and LETTERS OF C.S. LEWIS. I doubt, though, that anyone other than a Lewis enthusiast would enjoy the book. It is rather banal, certainly not on par with his later writing, and indeed rather provincial. I recommend it for Lewis scholars as reference material, but not for general reading. His brother Warren Lewis kept a far more interesting diary, posthumously published as BROTHERS AND FRIENDS.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I have always been a big fan of C.S. Lewis and this book is just one more glorious example of his skill and his intuitive writing. In fact, his diary gives us a clear picture of the man he was, and the man God was to make of him in later years. God's gifts are irrevocable and this book is a testament to that reality. C.S. Lewis was given an amazing talent to write and in his diary I can see the shaping of his mind and his heart, long before he professed to be a Christian. There is something so humble and unassuming about Mr. Lewis' writings. He was, in essence, a very simple man who led a complex mental life. I finished this book with a sense of amazement at the grace of God, who used an atheist to give the world a clearer picture of Christianity and all that it stands for. C.S. Lewis' words are always encouraging, even in his days as an unbeliever, he still managed to write reflectively and with an imcomparable sincerity. This book/diary is worth its weight in gold!
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