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Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life Paperback – March 23, 1966


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich; 1st Edition 1955 edition (March 23, 1966)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156870118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156870115
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

''Fascinating.'' --Nation

''He is admirably equipped to write spiritual autobiography for the plain man, for his outstanding gift is clarity. You can take it at two levels, as straight autobiography, or as a kind of spiritual thriller, a detective's probing of clue and motive that led up to his return to the Christianity he had lost in childhood.'' --Sunday Times

''Anyone approaching this book as a study in the psychology of conversion will find the greatest interest in the dual paths - intellectual and intuitive - which converged at last. But the casual reader looking merely for an enjoyable book will equally value many other parts.'' --Saturday Review

''Since St. Augustine's meticulous analysis of what was the light, what the color, what the sound, the smell, the touch, what, indeed, was the good he loved when he loved God, few writers have taken the trouble to distinguish, with such clarity of psychological insight, the nature and the degree of attraction, the nature and the degree of satisfaction, apprehended by man.'' --Commonweal --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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

This is an autobiography of C.S. Lewis' life.
Aimee Eppes
Since I have not read this book before, and without a well edited hard copy, for all I know there may be countless other errors typographical and grammatical.
cpdejean
Really liked getting to know C.S. Lewis through this book and highly recommend reading this before any of his other books.
Maureen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

421 of 428 people found the following review helpful By Aquila on August 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is not a novel and not really an autobiography, but rather a first-hand account of one man's journey from atheism to belief in God (Christianity came much later and is not covered in this book--for that, read his many religious works). I discovered this little gem while living in Scotland, at a time when I was neck-deep in the pit of atheism and feeling almost totally lost. I don't know why I was moved to take it off the shelf and buy it, but it was to be only the first of Lewis's books that I read. It's still my favorite because its theme is so close to me.

What makes Lewis's book so remarkable is his unashamed honesty and willingness to shed all masks in the face of reality, no matter how unpleasant or frightening that reality may first seem. Lewis did not want to find God, and we feel with him that burning desire to run away once God has been discovered. The wonderful lightness and love that characterize many of Lewis's later works are not found here. Instead we see his defenses against God shattered one by one as he follows an intellectual path to belief. He tries his best to argue his way out of it, fighting every step of the way and using all the trivial excuses that human beings use, but we feel God's presence bearing down on him step by step like a great weight until he realizes that there is no escape. Lewis sees that it is indeed a burden at first if one has come to it honestly, because with it comes the realization that we are required to abandon ourselves and submit to God's will in order to find eternal peace. This is not an easy road for a human being to follow -- indeed, it is the most difficult thing in the world, and Lewis knew that very well.
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125 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Surprised by Joy" is C.S. Lewis' auto-biographical book about the early, formational years of his life, which began with a vaguely religious upbringing, led into devout Atheism, and ended in Christ's drawing Lewis home. This book is excellent as auto-biographies (Christian or non-Christian) go as C.S. Lewis was one of the 20th Century's best story-tellers and an amazingly well-read professor at Oxford as well. Whether the reader is a Christian or not, C.S. Lewis makes this story entertaining and thought-provoking.
For those readers who have come to believe in Jesus Christ as Man's only possible salvation, this book will leave them marvelling repeatedly at how Christ works in the lives of those he calls. Any Christian reader of "Surprised by Joy" will find numerous similarities in the path C.S. Lewis' salvation took him down, and a Christian reader can't help but want to join him in praising Christ for his awesome goodness in the lives of human beings he touches.
One fascinating element in C.S. Lewis' life, which is so encouraging for Christians in a post-Christian era, is that Lewis was raised by brilliant men to be constantly curious but always logical... always seeking the truth. One of the men Christ used the most in saving C.S. Lewis was a staunch Atheist; a dry, pensive, professor who demanded a rigid adherence to logic in any belief or action. This man, the "Great Knock", as Lewis, his brother, and their father called him, was so influential in Lewis' mental development that Lewis devotes a whole chapter ("The Great Knock") to discussion of him.
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful By R. Morris on February 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
C.S. Lewis has written a masterpiece on the subject of one man's conversion to Christianity. Not only that, it is a must-read for any fan of Lewis, for it sheds a great deal of light on his early life and biography. It follows Lewis from childhood to his conversion to Christianity as an adult professor, tracing the influences on his philisophical and religious thinking along the way. It is in my mind a modern Augustine's "Confessions". Lewis writes, as usual, with great candor and his usual lucid, easy to follow prose that takes complex issues and makes them understandable to everyone. This style has made him one of the finest Christian authors. His 'Mere Christianity' and 'Screwtape Letters' are other examples of his books that challenge a reader's religious philosophy. Of course, Lewis is more famous in most circles for his 'Narnia' books, which are also great, but it is his philisophical and deeply personal treatment of Christianity that makes him one of the greats.
Highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to see how one man made his journey to belief and/or wants to learn more about C.S. Lewis, the man.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kendal B. Hunter on May 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is essential for anyone curious about the life of Lewis. Or anyone who his a fan of his thought.
This book is a bout the life and conversion of Lewis, told as an autobiography, as opposed to an allegory as in "Pilgrim's Regress." It culminates with Lewis's conversion to Anglican Christianity:
"You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling . . . the steady, unrelenting approach of Him who I so earnestly desired not to meet. . . I [finally] gave in and admitted that God was God, and I knelt a prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not see then what is now the most shining and obvious thing: the Divine humility will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?"
This book, however is not religious mumbo-jumbo, and is not just strictly a religious text, but it encompasses other aspects of Lewis's life: his experience as a son, a brother, a student, an intellectual freebooter, etc.
On a human level, this book has touched and resonated with me more than any other book I have read, outside of Scripture. I have experienced many of the same things Lewis had experienced. In a slightly different way, and in a different order, but there was enough of the essence of the events to harmonize with me. I almost felt that I was Lewis in a way.
Even if you are a non-Christian, non-believer, or a non-interested person, I recommend this book as part of one humans experience in life, as one slice of humanity!
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