In The Problem of Pain (1940) Lewis had dealt with suffering in an abstract and theoretical way. Just how far this was from a record of suffering or even a book that might help a person in the actual throes of suffering came home to Lewis after the death of his beloved Joy. Although some critics have viewed A Grief Observed as a fictionalized account of Lewis’ grieving and have assumed that the crisis of faith portrayed there was not experienced by Lewis but rather introduced as an aid to individuals who might be undergoing such a crisis, other critics have read the book as a faithful, autobiographical record of his grief. It is difficult to settle the matter, for Lewis is not known to have mentioned the work, even among close friends, after its publication. In either case, Lewis or a persona describes an intellectual edifice, which supposedly had taken into account the possibility of suffering, as a “house of cards” that came crashing down or a rope in whose strength he had thought to believe until it came time to trust its strength. If there is any truth to the claim by some critics that Lewis’ earlier work is too superficial, too dependent on logic chopping, then A Grief Observed demonstrates that Lewis is capable of depth and intensity. The emotions portrayed here are immediate and personal, beginning at the first line, which launches itself without any explanation: “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not...
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