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From the Library of C. S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey Paperback – June 5, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Celebrated essayist, critic and fantasy novelist C.S. Lewis enjoys a posthumous popularity among evangelicals thanks to his defense, mounted in The Screwtape Letters and elsewhere, of traditional Christianity in a modern, secular world. In this collection of short excerpts from authors that Lewis cited favorably either in his own writings or in his library marginalia, Bell, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Bible, concentrates on religious influences. The selection, grouped according to such themes as "God’s Love," "Sin and Temptation," and "Heaven, Death, and Immortality," includes pieces by Church Fathers, from Athanasius to Aquinas; medieval mystics like Julian of Norwich and Francis of Assisi; Reformation-era luminaries like Luther, Calvin and Pascal; and modern clergymen and religious academics like George MacDonald and C.H. Dodd, along with some surprises, like Carl Jung on Jesus and prayers from Samuel Johnson. A few sections devoted to secular writings include critical appreciations of Shakespeare and Jane Austen and poetry by Chaucer, Coleridge and Wordsworth. The pieces are not always well chosen; the snippets of Aquinas convey mostly a sense of arid pedantry, and a eulogistic letter by Lewis’s friend J.R.R. Tolkien goes on about obscure academic rivalries. And the emphasis on religious writings lends the book a strongly devotional, pious and sermonizing tone. The collection’s most congenial feature for contemporary readers is the heavy dose it provides of G. K. Chesterton, a modern Catholic writer whose punchy, demotic style was a strong influence on Lewis’s own popular Christian apologetics.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“This is the perfect entrance to the world C. S. Lewis inhabited, and it arrives just when that world of books is under threat of extinction. Thanks to those who have given us such a gold mine.”
–Walter Hooper, Literary Advisor to the C. S. Lewis Estate, one of the world’s leading authorities on the life and works of C. S. Lewis, and the editor of dozens of Lewis’s works

“This is a knowledgeable and inspired selection from what C. S. Lewis called the ‘old books’ that nurtured his mind, spirit, and imagination. All who love the writings of the master will enjoy these engaging passages from the vast range of Lewis’s reading and relish the light that they cast upon his concerns.”
–Colin Duriez, author of A Field Guide to Narnia, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, and The C. S. Lewis Encyclopedia

“C. S. Lewis, one of the great men of letters of the twentieth century, loved books. To truly know Lewis, one must become familiar with the body of literature that marked his life. Jim Bell and Tony Dawson give curious students of Lewis a glimpse of the books and authors that informed his life’s work and kindled his imagination.”
–Jerry Root, assistant professor of Christian Formation and Ministry at Wheaton College, co-editor of The Quotable C. S. Lewis and C. S. Lewis scholar

“One of the great benefits of reading C. S. Lewis is his singular ability to introduce his own readers to the works of other authors. In this volume, Bell and Dawson have made it easier for us to uncover the literary influences and preferences that characterized Lewis’s own reading. The editors have arranged these excerpts around a variety of appealing subjects such as fantasy and imagination, suffering, prayer and contemplation, and God’s love. This arrangement invites the reader to enter into the selections devotionally–to enjoy and benefit from these literary treasures much as Lewis himself did. This book is an excellent resource for those interested in meeting new authors, as well as a wonderful way to remind ourselves of favorite texts too long neglected.”
–Marjorie Lamp Mead, associate director of The Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College, co-editor of Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis and C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307730824
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307730824
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #477,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. C. Walter on December 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As possibly the most popular and influential Christian intellectual of the 20th century, Lewis has generated great interest in his literary and spiritual influences. As one looks further and further into the subject, there is an impossible desire to read every book that Lewis loved. This book (the most fascinating "Lewis-related" book I've seen) collects short excerpts (most are a single page) from writers who influenced Lewis, thus giving the reader a taste of many fascinating writers and making it possible for one to focus in on a few avenues for further exploration in the future. Looking through the book, it's just hard to believe that no one ever thought of doing this before.
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In order to understand the deep sea of Lewis' thinking and opinions, it is necessary to explore the many streams and rivers of thought, experience and philosophy that contributed to that great ocean of erudition. Lewis was a scholar who read an incredible amount of material in the course of his life. Throughout his writings one finds continuous references to ideas and observations that he picked up from the great writers of the ancient and medieval world, as well as his own great contemporaries. Lewis debts to these writers inevitably leads one to seek out and explore them as well.
In my own case, I discovered two of my favorite writer/thinkers, G. K. Chesterton and George MacDonald, through my reading of C. S. Lewis. The book under review gives one an expanded opportunity to discover and enjoy the reading heritage that was so important to Lewis and to the development of his theology and philosophy. Even more, it allows children of a desicated age to experience and drink in some of the great thinkers and writers of our Western heritage. Writers who, alas, are no longer shared with students as a part of what we used to call a higher education.
Therefore, if you love C. S. Lewis, Western Civilization, or just reading, get this book, read it, think it and treasure it. It will be one of the best investments that you have ever made.
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Format: Hardcover
C.S. Lewis is one of this centuries most influential writers/thinkers. This book does an excellent job of giving us deep insight into the writings which had a profound influence on Lewis' own spiritual pilgrimage. Even if you have only a remote interest in his writings or thought, get this book. If I could give higher than 5 stars I would. Great!!
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If you are a C.S. Lewis reader, you don't want to miss this book on Lewis' influential authors and mentors. Most of us have been influenced by people who we hold in high regard. When we quote a book, author, poem etc. it is because these authors have contributed to our life's journey and have helped us on our way.

I can't begin to quote all the authors, there are so many to be contemplated. Many are simple, other's need more attention but you will gain wisdom from those who have gone before us.

I begin with a quote from C.S. Lewis from his book "Grief Observed". "No soul is expected to be "a jack of all trades" but only to fully develop it's own special gifts."

Toward the end of the book, you will find an essay by T.S. Eliot which is very relevant for today. "The Idea of a Christian Society"
All quotes are from essays by each author ending with a brief description of the author.

GEORGE FOX "All life is a sacrament"
JOHN CALVIN "Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God"
JULIAN OF NORWICH "If sin had not been, we should all have been clean like our Lord, just as he originally made us"
RICHARD BAXTER "Meditation turns the truths received and remembered into warm affection, firm resolution and holy conversation:
DOROTHY SAYERS "To feel sacrifice consciously as self-sacrifice argues a failure of love"
CLOUD OF THE UNKNOWING "Humility is nothing else but a true knowledge and awareness of oneself as one really is"
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I'm a fan of C.S. Lewis, so I thought I would love this book. What Lewis fan would not like "Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey"? But I was disappointed. The "Selections from Writers" part is true. The book is composed of short passages (1 page or so) followed by two or three lines about the author. I really wanted a more about the passage, the author, how they influenced Lewis or even about why those passages were selected. Only in a few instances did the attribution mention anything about how the author or passage influenced Lewis. On the positive side, I did enjoy some of the selections. But that's all the positive I can muster.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group through their Blogging for Books program.
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Format: Hardcover
C.S. Lewis is arguably the greatest Christian author of the 20th century. The Chronicles of Narnia are revered alongside Tolkien's Lord of the Rings as one the greatest fantasy series ever written, but even more pronounced in the church are his Christian works like Mere Christianity, On Pain, The Screw Tape Letters, etc.

However, and this is a lesson the mass of Christian writers publishing today should take note of, C.S. Lewis's writing ability was not just natural talent. It was honed through years of studying the great writers of yesteryear and his contemporaries. He was a literary professor after all.

For that matter, His Christianity didn't exist in a bubble either. He read the church fathers, writings of the Catholic Saints, the scholastics, the reformers, the transcendentalists, and even the Pre-Raphaelites of the Victorian period.

The idea that we are somehow separate from the history of the church is a pernicious falsehood that stems from postmodernism's crazy idea that there is no over-arching story in the world, that every generation sits in its own little bubble.

And while C.S. Lewis lived in the era of modernism, there were elements of postmodernism starting to surface in his time, some of which he championed and some of which he mocked, particularly the ideas of Marx and Freud, saying that they were "sawing off the branch that they were sitting on," but that's a whole different discussion, and I ought not follow that rabbit trail less this review become an academic paper, but I do think including some of the authors Lewis severely disagrees with in the book would have helped build the picture of his spiritual journey.

Overall, From the Library of C.S.
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