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The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume II: Books, Broadcasts, and the War 1931-1949 Hardcover – June 29, 2004

4.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Review

"As we witness Lewis develop we find that these volumes are working as a kind of unconscious autobiography." -- Books & Culture

From the Back Cover

The letters found in Volume II reveal inside accounts of how The Screwtape Letters came to be written, the early meetings of the Inklings (with J.R.R. Tolkien giving readings about "hobbits" and "Middle Earth"), how C. S. Lewis became popular through BBC radio talks, but mostly how this quiet professor in England touched the lives of many through an amazing discipline of personal correspondence.
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Product Details

  • Series: Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1st edition (June 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060727640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060727642
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 2.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The second volume of letters from C.S. Lewis is more varied and consistently interesting than the first, I think. For one thing, Lewis is writing to a wider group of people. While in the first volume most letters are addressed to father, brother, or friend Arthur Reeves, now he is ensconced in Oxford, mildly famous and cursed with more correspondents than he wishes (though he is always polite, and usually thoughtful). His father has passed away, his brother does some ghost-lettering, and Arthur still gets a few epistles. But this volume also contains leaves to Dorothy Sayers (an excellent match), Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, John Betjeman, poet and painter Ruth Ritter, the Catholic student of Hinduism, Dom Bede Griffiths (whom he warns, "I now believe that refined, philosophical eastern Pantheism is far further from the true Faith than the semi barbarous pagan religions"), and a few short letters to T. S. Elliot, interesting for their terseness and studied politeness. (Besides not liking his poetry, Lewis was mad at Elliot for not contributing to a book for the widow of Charles Williams.) Possibly the most common topic of discussion is literature, much of it by one or the other correspondant. But lots more gets touched on.

Some letters are also written to help people with spiritual questions, "plot good" of some sort, or pray with people like his Italian priest friend, with whom he corresponded in Latin. (Given here in English and Latin.) You can also find many interesting observations on a variety of topics sprinkled about. ("Poetry I take to be the continual effort to bring language back to the actual.")

But the adjective that may best describe Lewis in many of these letters is "fun-loving.
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Format: Hardcover
This second volume of C.S. Lewis' letters was, I though, much better than the first. It is amazing to be able to read what c.S. Lewis was doing and what he was thinking. Reading these books of letters has gives me an entirely new perspective of C.S. Lewis. One thing that constantly amazed me was all of the books he read. It seemed that in every letter he was describing which books he had read since the last letter, and it inspired me to begin reading more regularly.

Also, and more importantly, in the latter part of this book C.S. Lewis begins answering fan mail, and in these he talks a lot about theology. These letters are especially interesting and worthwhile to read. In this volume one can also find a letter in which Lewis clearly states his inclusivistic beliefs (I don't remember which one off hand, but it was towards the beginning somwhere).

If you enjoy reading C.S. Lewis material, or if you want to see into the life of a giant of the Christian faith, this is an amazing opportunity for you.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a review of The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II: Books, Broadcasts, and the War, 1931 - 1939. ISBN 0060727640; HarperCollins, 2004.

Walter Hooper, in the preface to this volume, mentions that Owen Barfield divided Lewis into three different men: the popular theologian, the literary critic, and the writer of popular fiction. Being a fan of Lewis the literary critic doesn't mean you know Lewis the popular theologian exists, and being a fan of Lewis the writer of popular fiction doesn't necessarily mean you like Lewis the literary critic. But fans of all three Lewises owe Walter Hooper a great debt of thanks for editing three thousand-page volumes of the man's letters.

In the first volume, Lewis's correspondence was divided between his father, his brother, and his "First Friend" Arthur Greeves; with a few letters to people such as Cecil Harwood, Owen Barfield, and Leo Baker thrown in for good measure. Here, he writes to many, many people, and is much more interesting: former pupils (Dom Bede Griffiths, Mary Neylan), Sister Penelope, Dorothy Sayers, Americans . . . The years covered by this volume (1931 - 1949) cover some of Lewis's best work: The Screwtape Letters, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strenght, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, and his talks for the BBC that eventually became Mere Christianity. (This period also included more scholarly work such as his Preface to Paradise Lost and The Abolition of Man; also his editing of the Essays Presented to Charles Williams.) He talks about the etymology of Old Solar, the proper pronunciation of double vowels in Old English (palely v. paley), and how to properly read Milton, among other things.
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Format: Hardcover
My impressions upon completing Volume 2 of Lewis's Collected Letters:

(1) Regardless of your opinion of Christianity, it would be hard to deny that the contrast between the pre-conversion Lewis of Volume 1 and the post-conversion Lewis of Volume 2 is pretty remarkable.

(2) One thing remarkable about the Lewis of Volume 2 is his ability to speak the truth in love. I hope that when I need to criticize I do it as kindly as Lewis does.

(3) Whatever type of love Lewis felt for Mrs. Moore in earlier days, it seems pretty clear that in Volume 2 it is charity (and living up to a commitment).

(4) Fans of Lewis naturally gravitate to the writings of the other Inklings, thinking perhaps that they're in for more of the same, but Volume 2 shows how different the Inklings really were from one another, and that they were often bound together more by friendship than a common worldview.

(5) The sense of impending doom at the start of WWII when Warnie is still in the army is overwhelming.

(6) The part of Volume 2 after WWII is dominated by Lewis's thank-you notes to Americans who sent him packages of food, paper, etc. The insight into "Austerity Britain" is useful, but these notes get a bit tiresome after a while.

(7) Hooper-haters really need to cut him some slack. This book (at least, my British edition) is physically beautiful, and Hooper has (in my opinion) done a great job with the contents. His annotations are exactly what's needed to put the letters in context--no more, no less. (Compare his restraint to the out-of-control annotators of the new Norton editions.)

(8) It takes a very good book *about* Lewis to come close to matching the quality of Lewis's own writings, even those not intended for publication. I look forward to starting Volume 3 this evening!
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