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Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer Paperback – November 4, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (November 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156027666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156027663
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A beautifully executed and deeply moving little book." —Saturday Review

"[Lewis] is writing about a path that he had to find, and the reader feels not so much that he is listening to what C.S. Lewis has to say but that he is making his own search with a humorous, sensible friend beside him. That is writing that requires great literary skill … That this should be the last book that we shall have from C. S. Lewis is a matter of genuine regret."—Times Literary Supplement

"The unbeliever is likely to enjoy the book most for its shrewd asides…Opinions of this kind are expressed with the admirable directness and simplicity which characterized the style of this often indirect and highly complex man."—New Statesman

About the Author

C. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis (1898-1963), one of the great writers of the twentieth century, also continues to be one of our most influential Christian thinkers. A Fellow and tutor at Oxford until 1954, he spent the rest of his career as Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge. He wrote more than thirty books, both popular and scholarly, inlcuding The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves, Mere Christianity and Surprised by Joy.

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

4.6 out of 5 stars
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His letters are informal and easy to read.
Chase Hendrickson
I'm an amateur student, still new to most points of religious, literary and logical criticism.
Just finished reading "Letters to Malcolm" by C.S. Lewis.
marc barber

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Jedidiah Palosaari VINE VOICE on June 27, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those books where I found myself taking an hour to read a paragraph, which I had previously read. I just needed to ruminate on Lewis' thoughts. It's not theological in the sense of Mere Christianity or The Four Loves- he is clear here and elsewhere that he does not want to write a devotional book and indeed thinks he has little to offer on the subject, as he is untrained in these areas. So while he covers the same areas as Richard Foster's Prayer, this book has a decidedly different feel. It is personal, as if it were a collection of real letters.

And thus these are just letters. Often Lewis doesn't fully explain his ideas in an understandable way, to make it appear as if he is not writing to the general public, but only to Malcolm- a friend with whom he has a lot in common, with that secret language that all friends have. I appreciated too how personal asides were imagined, like "Your son is very welcome. We do *not* dress for dinner normally." and "Please tell Betty I do not need a bed downstairs, I am feeling much better." and, contrary to what Walter Hooper would have us believe, references to his conjugal life with his former wife.

Lewis' musings have the advantage of coming at the end of his life, with the full wisdom available. I especially liked his thoughts on getting whatever we ask for in faith vs.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kim Boykin on July 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lewis's letters to a fictional friend address many of the perplexities about prayer and inhibitions to prayer likely to plague anyone who's ever thought much about it, and his writing is, as always, a pleasure to read.

I'm from a non-religious background and found the practice of verbal prayer attractive but hard to make any sense of. This book helped me to get over some of my intellectual blocks to prayer and actually pray.

(Two other recommendations for the prayer-impaired or anyone wanting to enrich their understanding of prayer: Ann and Barry Ulanov's "Primary Speech" and Karl Rahner's "The Need and the Blessing of Prayer.")
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
What can we say? Unquestionably, this is Lewis's finest book: his warmest, his calmest, his most pellucid writing. Cheerful meditations on liturgical reform, petitionary prayer, the Eucharist, purgatory, and Joy ("the serious business of Heaven"). A book to be cherished, a book to be taken to heart.
Even persons who are disinclined to venerate C S Lewis will be won over, I imagine, by this slender -- but infinitely magnanimous and supremely luminous -- offering. "One of the purposes for which God instituted prayer may have been to bear witness that the course of events is not governed like a state, but created like a work of art to which every being makes its contribution." This book on prayer is a work of art, salvific and salutary. And now we will be silent, lest our superlatives run away with us!
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By sue on December 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book by C. S. Lewis offers something his other books do not. Rather than being a work of fiction or an exploration of his thoughts on religion, this is an intimate exchange of letters between C.S. Lewis and his longtime friend, Malcolm Muggeridge. They discuss the nature of prayer, among other things, and the letters give us a glimpse into Lewis at his most thoughtful. He's not attempting to entertain or to present his case to an audience. He's exploring, with a friend, the most intimate feelings he has about religion. His frustrations, his most sublime moments communing with God, his feelings of inadequacy and much more are revealed in the form of letters to a dear friend. We can put ourselves in Lewis's place and travel the paths he travels, much as we would if we were writing the letters. This is Lewis at his most accessible. He's not the lecturer, the professor or the famous novelist. He's a man on the same search as the rest of we Christians.
Muggeridge is a perfect foil. More of a curmudgeon and skeptic, he nevertheless responds to Lewis's questions and wonderings with respect and sincerity.
Along with the Screwtape Letters, I find this to be one of Lewis's finest books about religion.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Russ Reaves on March 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
As I left for vacation a few weeks ago, I wanted to take several books in case of rainy days. I read Piper's Don't Waste Your Life (see earlier post on that book) almost in its entirety on that trip and did not get around to the second book in the stack. I chose Letters to Malcolm because I could not decide if I wanted to read a C. S. Lewis book or a book on prayer. So, here I found both in one volume. This was C. S. Lewis's last book, written about six months before he died and published some time after his death. (Incidentally, he died the same day as JFK, 11/22/63).

Letters to Malcolm presents to the reader one side of a two way dialogue between Lewis and "Malcolm." We do not get to read Malcolm's letters, but Lewis's replies usually help us to know what in on Malcolm's mind. Many people often ask, "Who is Malcolm?" Some assume it is Malcolm Muggeridge (I think I have even taught this in the past). In actuality, it seems that Malcolm is a fictional character, with just enough biographical information given to make him believable, but not too much where someone might say, "Ah, I know who Lewis has in mind here." All we know of Malcolm is that he and Lewis have been friends since college, and have kept in touch over the years. We know he is an Anglican layman with a wife named Betty and a son named George.

It is hard to say if the "Lewis" who "writes the letters" is a characterized persona or if he is Lewis-proper. There are certainly readily recognizable streams of thought and biographical details that are consistent with the "real C. S. Lewis," but there are a few surprises thrown in to keep us guessing. The daily deluge of letters that Lewis received and wrote undoubtedly gave him plenty of fodder for his "letter-writing" books like this one and The Screwtape Letters.
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