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C. S. Lewis -- A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet Hardcover – March 1, 2013
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On the one hand, this is surprising. A communicant in the Church of England, Lewis was generically orthodox but not specifically evangelical in theological or spiritual emphases. His closest lifelong friends were a homosexual Unitarian (Arthur Greeves) and a traditionalist Roman Catholic (J. R. R. Tolkien). And he drank and smoked prolifically, at one point having a barrel of beer in his rooms at Oxford for the use of his students.
On the other hand, Lewis's influence on American evangelicals is not surprising. After World War II, American neo-evangelicals shook off their Fundamentalist separatism and irritability and began to actively engage culture with an eye toward changing it. Lewis--the Oxford don who wrote well-regarded studies of medieval English literature, well-written works of Christian apologetics, and well-loved children's stories--modeled the kind of influence evangelicals wished to exercise on culture high, middlebrow, and popular.
Writing about Lewis is thus something of a cottage industry among American evangelicals, with new titles on this or that aspect of his thought or life appearing regularly. Alister McGrath's new biography of Lewis is part of that cottage industry--though McGrath is a British evangelical--but nonetheless a welcome addition to it.Read more ›
Consider the subtitle of the book, "Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet." While it provides a nice takeaway line that does reflect a positive view of Lewis, McGrath doesn't hesitate to show Lewis's warts. Prior to a return to the faith, Lewis treated his father very poorly and McGrath admits there likely was a sexual relationship with Mrs. Moore.Read more ›
What cannot be denied though is that C.S. Lewis has become a saint for evangelicalism. The focus of his biography is not on that dimension of Lewis, even if he has one of the better sketches of that story, but on the life, development, theology, and career of C.S. Lewis. I'm speaking of Alister McGrath's exquisite new biography of C.S. Lewis. I can't say McGrath's two categories (eccentric genius and reluctant prophet) are addressed head-on but these two expressions certainly form deep structure themes in this book. Lewis was eccentric and he never did want the attention he garnered.
I have read four other biographies of Lewis -- Green, Wilson, Sayer, Jacobs -- and McGrath. McGrath is now the best of the lot because it provides more perspective and critical interaction than the others. Wilson's remains too critical and suspicious while Green's is now the dated volume. Jacobs set out to do more of an examination of imagination but offered more of a biography than a thematic exploration.
McGrath spent 18 months reading everything from Lewis in chronological order.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tremendous insights to C.S. Lewis!!! Great read! Dr. McGrath makes issues so understandable. His educational background and continued brilliance as a scholar brings deep... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Doc4d
This is an interesting and scholarly take on Lewis's literary life, with a new perspective on both Lewis's correspondence (though that is not discussed in detail thematically), and... Read morePublished 13 days ago by J. P. Helfers
This was a selection for a biography book club I'm in, and I was looking forward to gaining insight about Lewis. While I'm glad I read the book, it was a tough one to get through. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Diana Ruddick
I loved the book and the insights surrounding his relationship with Tolkien, Mrs. Moore and others and information about his years at Oxford and Cambridge, etc. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Philip D. Parshall
I've read a handful of Lewis biographies and this was easily the most enjoyable.
A great look into the life of a genius.
This was a marvelous biography about C. S. Lewis. In my opinion, Lewis was one of the greatest writers, philosophers and academics of the twentieth century. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Arthur