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A Grief Observed Paperback – April 21, 2015
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C.S. Lewis joined the human race when his wife, Joy Gresham, died of cancer. Lewis, the Oxford don whose Christian apologetics make it seem like he's got an answer for everything, experienced crushing doubt for the first time after his wife's tragic death. A Grief Observed contains his epigrammatic reflections on that period: "Your bid--for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity--will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high," Lewis writes. "Nothing will shake a man--or at any rate a man like me--out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself." This is the book that inspired the film Shadowlands, but it is more wrenching, more revelatory, and more real than the movie. It is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"I read Lewis for comfort and pleasure many years ago, and a glance into the books revives my old admiratation."-- John Updike"A very personal, anguished, luminous little book about the meaning of death, marriage, and religion."-- "Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
In the first pages of the book, he tells of going to God, seeking relief from the agony he feels in his heart over the fresh loss of his beloved wife, Helen Joy, only to find - the door slammed and the sound of the door being bolted and doubled bolted from the inside.
He rails against God and his faith is stirred to its core.
In the end, he finds his way back to God, but it is not an easy journey or a primrose path.
For all of Lewis' intellectual reasonings and scholarly attainments, I find "A Grief Observed" to be his best work because it comes from the very heart of a man seeking to find the answers to life's hardest questions. It is not a philosophical insight or an intellectual wrangling, but a spirit-filled work that lays bare the heart of a man who loved his wife completely.
This is an important book. Read it. You'll be changed.
"A Grief Observed" is about Lewis' crisis of faith following the death of his wife, poet Joy Davidman, whom he wed in the final decade of his life, well aware she was dying of cancer. Their romance and the tragedy that befell them was later dramatized in the play "Shadowlands," and the subsequent film starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.
It's easy to see why Lewis, a famous Christian apologist who also wrote "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "The Screwtape Letters," first published "A Grief Observed" under the pseudonym of N.W. Clark. The brutally honest reactions to tragedy and its effect on his definition of God would have shocked his faithful readers and might have tarnished his reputation. We are taught to love God and accept that He loves us. To question that thesis, or to express anger at God or to doubt his character, might be construed as blasphemy.
Lewis writes that grief feels much like fear at times. "Meanwhile, where is God?" he asks. God is present, or seems to be, when all is well. "But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away."
Lewis does not doubt God's existence, but wonders if the Supreme Being is not what He has claimed to be.
"The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'"
These are not the kind of thoughts that many Christians would ever dare express which is why they are often of little help to those seeking reassurance or balm for their wounds. Too many self-described "Christians" are cliquish and cantankerous, professing a belief in the interest of feeling superior to those on the outside of their faith: "I'm saved, you're not. Na, na, na, na, na."
There is no such boasting from Lewis. Tragedy taught him that faith in God requires hard work, and if C.S. Lewis can struggle with belief, certainly we can, too. A remarkable, comforting book.
Brian W. Fairbanks
If you are grieving an enormous loss, you may find comfort here. I can't explain why, as C.S. Lewis did not include words of comfort. I have found absolutely no comfort in anything else I have read - with titles like Roses in December and so on. They tend to be written after the author had worked through the grief and can speak of it with the clarity of hindsight that the experience taught them. Well, when you are in the depths of sorrow, nothing makes any sense. Everything you believed has been knocked over. And that is exactly what C.S. Lewis describes in his own grief. It is profound. If you have not suffered a devastating loss, this book might not communicate well to you. But if you have, you will find a great mind and wonderful writer who understands your grief well enough to put words to it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is very different from CS Lewis' past writings ... a genre change, a style change, and a 'message' change.
Amazing how in tune with his loss is to my own.Read more