C. S. Lewis Essay - Lewis, C(live) S(taples) (Vol. 1)

Lewis, C(live) S(taples) (Vol. 1)

Lewis, C(live) S(taples) 1898–1963

British novelist, critic, and writer for children, Lewis was also known as a lay Christian theologian and was a member of the Oxford Christian group which included J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams.

C. S. Lewis was a man with wide interests, a man who wrote with distinction in many fields—literary history, philology, criticism, Christian apologetics, science fiction, myth, poetry, and children's literature. His readers are thus drawn from many walks of life. Some know him only as a literary historian; others only as a Britisher who has delighted them while defending the orthodox faith. Only as a poet has he had a limited audience.

James W. Sire, "The Many Faces of C. S. Lewis" (© 1966 by University of Nebraska Press; reprinted by permission from Prairie Schooner), in Prairie Schooner, Winter, 1966–67, pp. 364-66.

C. S. Lewis' planetary trilogy—Out of the Silent Planet (1938), Perelandra (1944), and That Hideous Strength (1945)—… function[s] so well at a superficial level or at some intermediate level of profundity that the reader, thinking he has fully understood [it], looks no further and misses the level at which real unity is to be found….

In the mythic theme Out of the Silent Planet concerns false myth or superstition, Perelandra genuine myth, and That Hideous Strength a speculative notion of the author's that is best described as emergent myth. In the archetypal theme the first book portrays a confirmation in Christian experience, the second a baptism, and the third a new life. At this level the novels contain an interlocking system of subthemes: the first book reason, faith, and death; the second romance, hope, and birth; the third mystery, love, and choice…. The portrayal of love and new life is the culmination of the archetypal theme and, in an important way, of the trilogy.

W. D. Norwood, Jr., "Unifying Themes in C. S. Lewis' Trilogy," in Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction, Vol. IX, No. 2, 1967, pp. 67-80.

[C. S.] Lewis was more than a scholar specializing in books for other scholars; he was also a thoroughly committed Christian believer. For some thirty years, Clive Staples Lewis had devoted himself to the artful presentation of what he believed to be true about God and man. His best-known book is [The Screwtape Letters]….

The Narnia tales, particularly [The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe], represent Lewis the myth-maker, the allegorist, at his most appealing. Still, he never attempts to avoid the profound mysteries at which his stories hint—the paradoxes of Darkness and Light, loss and gain, judgment and redemption. These too are absolute realities, as seen from Lewis's perspective as a believing Christian.

To Lewis, however, the Christian gospel was more than exalted myth or divine romance; the gospel was an eminently reasonable body of data.

D. Bruce Lockerbie, in New York Times Book Review (© 1971 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), December 26, 1971, p. 2.