C.S. Lewis Criticism - Essay

William G. Johnson and Marcia K. Houtman (essay date Spring 1986)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Platonic Shadows in C. S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles," in Modern Fiction Studies, Vol. 32, No. 1, Spring, 1986, pp. 75-87.

[In the following essay, Johnson and Houtman examine references to the philosophical investigations of Plato in Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. According to the critics, Lewis frequently incorporates Platonic concepts found in The Republic, in particular the famous Allegory of the Cave.]

As a literary critic, science fiction writer, Christian apologist, and creator of the Chronicles of Narnia, in the last several decades C. S. Lewis has attained a reputation and following enviable in size and amazing in diversity....

(The entire section is 5555 words.)

Sally A. Bartlett (essay date Fall 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Humanistic Psychology in C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces: A Feminist Critique," in Studies in the Literary Imagination, Vol. XXII, No. 2, Fall, 1989, pp. 185-98.

[In the following essay, Bartlett provides a feminist reading of Till We Have Faces from the theoretical perspective of humanistic psychology. According to Bartlett, feminists and humanistic psychologists would object to Lewis's presentation of "self-effacing women" who submit to male control.]

C. S. Lewis writes in his concluding note in Till We Have Faces, "The central alteration in my own version [of the Psyche myth] consists in making Psyche's palace [the palace given her by...

(The entire section is 6081 words.)

Peter J. Schakel (essay date Fall 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Satiric Imagination of C. S. Lewis," in Studies in the Literary Imagination, Vol. XXII, No. 2, Fall, 1989, pp. 129-48.

[In the following essay, Schakel examines elements of satire in Lewis's fiction. Schakel asserts that "Lewis's success as a satirist, which has not been sufficiently taken into account in previous studies of Lewis, must be given attention if Lewis's works, and his literary imagination, are to be fully understood."]

Although satire appears prominently in many of C. S. Lewis's works and is an important part of his thought and style, it has been largely neglected, at the cost of a full understanding of his works. Lewis is usually thought of...

(The entire section is 8140 words.)

Gilbert Meilaender (essay date 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Theology in Stories: C. S. Lewis and the Narrative Quality of Experience," in Word and Story in C. S. Lewis, edited by Peter J. Schakel and Charles A. Huttar, University of Missouri Press, 1991, pp. 147-56.

[In the following essay, Meilaender discusses the significance of Christian storytelling and the human longing for divine communion in Lewis's fiction. According to Meilaender, "Lewis offers not abstract propositions for belief but the quality, the feel, of living in the world narrated by the biblical story."]

At the outset of The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader," Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace have been whisked magically off into Narnia and are now sailing...

(The entire section is 4138 words.)

Paul Piehler (essay date 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Myth or Allegory? Archetype and Transcendence in the Fiction of C. S. Lewis," in Word and Story in C. S. Lewis, edited by Peter J. Schakel and Charles A. Huttar, University of Missouri Press, 1991, pp. 199-212.

[In the following essay, Piehler examines Lewis's critical study of allegory, historical varieties of allegory, and the use of allegory in Lewis's fiction.]

I sometimes find myself bothered by the recollection that in Lewis's Oxford it was fashionable to say things like "Of course his academic work is quite brilliant, but why on earth does he waste everyone's time with all this religious stuff?" Since I was at that time enough of a hireling of Giant...

(The entire section is 5637 words.)

James E. Person, Jr. (essay date Summer 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Legacy of C. S. Lewis," in Modern Age, Vol. 33, No. 4, Summer, 1991, pp. 409-11.

[In the following essay, Person discusses the enduring popularity, major themes, and critical reception of Lewis's writings.]

On Friday, November 22, 1963, at about the same time as President John F. Kennedy prepared to enter the black limousine that would take him through downtown Dallas to his violent death, another life was coming to a far less dramatic close across the Atlantic in England. It was late afternoon in the village of Headington Quarry, a few miles outside Oxford, as a retired and infirm university professor, having just taken his afternoon tea, collapsed on the...

(The entire section is 1718 words.)

Ann Bonsor (essay date March 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'One Huge and Complex Episode': The Diary of C. S. Lewis," in Contemporary Review, Vol. 260, No. 1514, March, 1992, pp. 145-9.

[In the following essay, Bonsor discusses Lewis's personal life and relationships as revealed in All My Road Before Me.]

'If Theism had done nothing else for me, I should still be thankful that it cured me of the time-wasting and foolish practice of keeping a diary' wrote C. S. Lewis in 1955. This is an interesting and not altogether unexpected statement when one considers Lewis's complicated and secretive personality, and although it is true that the 'huge and complex episode' he refers to in his autobiography Surprised by Joy...

(The entire section is 2528 words.)

John G. West, Jr. (essay date Spring 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Politics from the Shadowlands: C. S. Lewis on Earthly Government," in Policy Review, No. 68, Spring, 1994, pp. 68-70.

[In the following essay, West discusses Lewis's views on government, political action, and public morality. According to West, "Lewis championed the time-honored idea of natural law—the belief that the fundamental maxims of civic morality are accessible to all human beings by virtue of their God-given reason."]

Even before the film Shadowlands, C. S. Lewis was probably the most widely recognized Christian thinker of the 20th century. By the end of the 1980s, his works—including Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and...

(The entire section is 2410 words.)

Michael Nelson (essay date Autumn 1996)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'One Mythology Among Many': The Spiritual Odyssey of C. S. Lewis," in Virginia Quarterly Review, Vol. 72, No. 4, Autumn, 1996, pp. 619-33.

[In the following essay, Nelson provides an overview of Lewis's literary career and intellectual development.]

The student's name was Ben. He was a first-year student in his first week of college, and as I ate my lunch in the refectory I could see that he was waiting for me to finish so that he could approach my table. "I hear that you are a Christian," he said when, my tray pushed aside, he at last came up. I nodded. "Well," he said, in a rush, "I'm a Christian, too, and last night I got into a long discussion in the dorm...

(The entire section is 5773 words.)

Gilbert Meilaender (essay date August-September 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Everyday C. S. Lewis," in First Things, No. 85, August-September, 1998, pp. 27-33.

[In the following essay, Meilaender examines Lewis's ability to illustrate the spiritual significance of commonplace experience. For Lewis, Meilaender notes, "the whole of life … every ordinary and everyday moment of it, every choice that we make, is charged with the significance of an eternal either/or."]

"One is sometimes (not often) glad not to be a great theologian. One might so easily confuse it with being a good Christian." Thus C. S. Lewis wrote in Reflections on the Psalms. Similarly, Lewis' religious writings are full of asides to the effect that he is not...

(The entire section is 6290 words.)

J. I. Packer (essay date 7 September 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Still Surprised by Lewis," in Christianity Today, September 7, 1998, pp. 54, 56-60.

[In the following essay, Packer discusses Lewis's literary career, religious beliefs, and popularity among Christians.]

Yes, I was at Oxford in Lewis's day (I went up in 1944); but no I never met him. He was regularly on show as the anchorman of the Socratic Club, which met weekly to discuss how science, philosophy, and current culture related to Christianity; but as a young believer, I was sure I needed Bible teaching rather than apologetics, so I passed the Socratic by. The nearest I ever got to Lewis was hearing him address the Oxford theologians society on Richard...

(The entire section is 4801 words.)