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C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis(1898-1963)
Clive Staples Lewis, known as Jack to his friends, was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and one of the most influential Christian writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. His major contributions in literary criticism, children’s literature, fantasy literature, and popular theology brought him international renown and acclaim. Lewis and his good friend J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the The Lord of the Rings, were part of the Inklings, an informal writers’ club that met at a local pub to discuss story ideas. Lewis’s fascination with fairy tales, myths, and ancient legends, coupled with inspiration drawn from his childhood, led him to write The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one of the best-loved books of all time. Six further books followed to become the immensely popular The Chronicles of Narnia. The final title in the series, The Last Battle, won the Carnegie Medal, one of the highest marks of excellence in children’s literature. His other distinguished and popular accomplishments include Out of the Silent Planet, The Four Loves, The Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity.Here’s Harper Collins’ C.S. Lewis website.

Out of the Silent Planet: Subtle allegory

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

You probably know that C.S. Lewis was a Christian apologist who wrote many popular books — both fiction and nonfiction — which explain or defend the Christian faith. His most famous work, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, some of the most-loved stories in all of fantasy fiction and children’s literature, is clearly Christian allegory. Likewise, his science fiction SPACE TRILOGY can be read as allegory, though it’s subtle enough to be enjoyed by those who don’t appreciate allegorical stories and just want to read a thoughtful science fiction adventure with an intelligent hero.

In Out of the Silent Planet, the first book in the trilogy, Dr. Elwin Ransom, a Cambridge philology professor, is kidnapped and taken by spaceship to Mars, which is called Malacandra by the alien species that live there. Suspecting that he’... Read More

Perelandra: The Garden of Eden on Venus

Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

Perelandra (1943) is the second volume of C.S. Lewis’s SPACE TRILOGY and I liked it even better than Out of the Silent Planet, its predecessor. Cambridge professor Dr. Elwin Ransom is back on Earth and has told his friend Lewis about the adventures he had on the planet Mars and the supernatural beings he met there. When Ransom explains that there’s an epic battle between good and evil, that the planet Venus is about to play an important part, and that he’s been called to Venus to do some unknown task, Lewis begins to worry about his friend. Yet he decides to help him get to Venus anyway, so Ransom goes and eventually returns to tell his tale, which Lewis has transcribed for us.

Venus is gorgeous — a lush conglomerate of archipelagos where the land floats on top of the water, so that walking on it is like walking on a waterbed. The... Read More

That Hideous Strength: A thoughtful and beautiful work of science fiction

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

Nature is the ladder we have climbed up by. Now we kick her away.

That Hideous Strength is the final volume of C.S. Lewis’s SPACE TRILOGY. This story, which could be categorized as science fiction, dystopian fiction, Arthurian legend, and Christian allegory, is different enough from the previous books, Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, that you don’t need to have read them, but it may help to vaguely familiarize yourself with their plots. Generally, in the previous stories, Dr. Elwin Ransom has been to both Mars and Venus and discovered that the planets are governed by heavenly beings and that Earth’s governor is a fallen angel. These forces are at war and the fate of the universe is at stake.

In That Hideous Strength, Ransom is back on Ear... Read More

The Magician’s Nephew: Excellent addition to the Chronicles

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

The Magician's Nephew was the sixth book that C.S. Lewis wrote in the Chronicles of Narnia, although chronologically it is placed first in the series, as a prequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This leads to many debates on when and where it is supposed to be read — but really, it doesn't make much of a difference considering that all seven of the books are complete stories within themselves. However, if you take my advice and are new to the world of Narnia, I suggest reading The Magician's Nephew after The Lion, as half the fun of reading it is to piece together the history of Narnia and how it fits into the rest of the books.

Digory Kirke is a young boy in London, living with his great aunt and uncle due to the fac... Read More

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: Classic

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

How does one review this book? Everyone knows about it, everyone has an opinion on it and not everybody likes it. Any discussion on the matter seems somewhat redundant. Deemed controversial because of its religious connotations, adored by millions of readers young and old, the subject of hundreds of different interpretations and now the focus of a blockbuster movie (with sequels still to come), it doesn't seem the "Lion, Witch and Wardrobe" debate will end any time soon.

The four Pevensie siblings are evacuated to the country estate of Professor Kirke during World War II: responsible Peter, worrisome Susan, sullen Edmund and imaginative Lucy. During a game of hide-and-seek Lucy creeps into an old apple-wood wardrobe, pushing aside heavy fur coats, and "a moment later she was standing in the middle of a wood at night time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the ... Read More

The Horse and His Boy: Odd one out

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

In many ways The Horse and his Boy is the odd one out in the context of the Narnia series — unlike the other books, this one is set completely in the fantasy world rather than describing the movements of children from this world into that. Although two children are still used as the main protagonists, the entire tone, setting and atmosphere of this book is a little different — here we are simply meant to take this other-world for granted, rather than journey into it from hum-drum life.

Though written and published as the fifth book, chronologically it is third in the series (or if you want to get really technical second-and-a-bit) considering it takes place whilst Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are kings and queens of Narnia — grownup, but before they return as children to their own world. C.S. Lewis once more brings a wonderful fantasy adventure to children's literature, adding in a touch ... Read More

Prince Caspian: Tinged with melancholy and loss

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

Prince Caspian is the direct sequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This novel was published second, but technically comes chronologically fourth in the Narnia series. In The Lion, the four Pevensie children become kings and queen of the magical Narnian realm and reign for many years, but when they return home they find themselves back in their child bodies, on the exact same day that they stepped into the wardrobe many years ago. A year later, the children are waiting at the station for their train to take them back to boarding school when they feel a strange pulling at them — and all of a sudden they are back in Narnia!

But something is different — their beautiful castle of Cair Paravel is in ruins, and the land seems ominous and empty. Realising that the time-difference between the two worlds means that a thousand years have passed in Narnia whilst only one has gone by in their own worl... Read More

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: More thoughtful

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

The third book in The Chronicles of Narnia (or the fifth if you're reading them in chronological order), is a rather unusual book within the context of the series, considering the good-against-evil theme that permeates the other six books in the series is largely absent here. Of course there are dangers and trials, as well as personal conflict that need to be resolved, but because there is no central villain nor any fundamental evil that needs to be defeated, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is more thoughtful, more carefully paced, more obviously spiritual and more episodic than any of the other books.

Likewise is the role that the children from our world play within the story. Sadly, Peter and Susan are too old to return to Narnia, and so the adventure belongs to Edmund and Lucy, as well as their ... Read More

The Silver Chair: Entertaining and re-readable adventure

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

I am always vaguely amused at the debate that goes on over the reading order of The Chronicles of Narnia and how worked up some people get over it. True, some books should be read before others and The Last Battle should definitely be read last; but in my own experience The Silver Chair (published fourth, written fifth*, and chronologically sixth in the series) was read first! Was my love and appreciation of Narnia ruined because of this? Of course not!

The Silver Chair is set about a year after the proceedings of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in which Eustace Scrubb accompanied his cousins Lucy and Edmund Pevensie into Narnia and became a much better person for it. Returning to school as a reformed bully, he happens upon a fellow school-student Jill Pole crying behind the gym, and in an attempt to cheer her up, divulges the secret of Narnia and the great Aslan. Interrupted in their discussion, Eus... Read More

The Last Battle: “Further Up and Further In!”

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Say what you will about the correct reading order of C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, one thing is certain — The Last Battle needs to be read last. It is not simply because it was written and published last in the series, that it clears up all loose ends in the previous installments and leaves no possible room for any sequels, but because it will change your entire understanding and perception of the last six books. Do what you like with the other books' reading order, but trust me on this one: The Last Battle needs to be read last.

It has been over two hundred years in Narnia after the events in The Silver Chair, when Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole saved Prince Rilian from imprisonment and restored him to his father and the throne. Now Rilian's descendant King Tirian enjoys the solitude of his hunting lodge with his best friend, Jewel the unicorn. But there is treachery in Narnia like nothing t... Read More

The Discarded Image: An accessible approach to medieval cosmology

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature by C.S. Lewis

To me, this might be C.S. Lewis' best book. I will have to cop to not really liking the NARNIA books (too allegorical, and those British schoolchildren are pretty annoying), and while I do quite like his SPACE TRILOGY, I think that Lewis was much better as a writer of academic non-fiction than he was as a fiction writer. In The Discarded Image, Lewis is able to tackle a huge subject: medieval cosmology and worldview, and bring both his wide reading and ability to make things understandable to the "common man" to the table.

In his eminently readable way Lewis starts by setting the stage, asking his audience (this was originally a series of lectures given to non-academics) to imagine a world according to the view pro... Read More

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 by Joseph Loconte

During a stressful stretch at work, and the persistently weighty negativity tied to the 2016 U.S. election campaign season, I found myself turning to ‘comfort reading.’ The negative vibes, for me, carried through Election Day and I looked toward J.R.R. Tolkien for relief. I knew I wouldn’t have time to return to the warm depths of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, so instead I read something I’d downloaded a few months earlier: A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friends, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18, by Joseph Loconte.

The unique relationship between two of Europe’s most influential writers o... Read More

The Oxford Inklings: The influence of a circle of friends

The Oxford Inklings by Colin Duriez

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis had an influence on modern fiction, especially speculative fiction, that is still felt to this day. In their prime, at Oxford, they saw themselves as champions of myth and meaning, bringing back the “old Western” literary values, elevating myth and “fairy stories” into a place of prominence in an academic world that was increasingly valuing modernism. The two friends surrounded themselves with British writers and thinkers of the time, a group they nick-named the Inklings, and that group’s influence on the writing of the time still cannot be calculated. The Inklings capture our imaginations just as deftly as LORD OF THE RINGS or Out of the Silent Planet do. Colin Duriez’s no... Read More

Bandersnatch: The Inklings as writers group

Bandersnatch by Diana Pavlac Glyer

Diana Pavlac Glyer abridged her academic book The Company They Keep and published the abridgement as Bandersnatch. In it, she studies the Oxford circle of writers and thinkers that included J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams through the lens of a creative community. Glyer chose the title Bandersnatch from of a quote by C.S. Lewis about Tolkien, that “No-one ever influenced Tolkien — you might as well try to influence a Bandersnatch.” In fact, the book goes on to explore in depth just how deeply and broadly Tolkien was influenced by the Inklings and by the creative currents that swirled around the group. The Inklings influenced each other, helping each ot... Read More

More books by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis Till We Have FacesTill We Have Faces — (1956) Publisher: One of Lewis’s works of allegorical fiction, this text is a reinterpretation of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. Psyche’s great beauty incurs the wrath of the goddess Venus, who sends her son Cupid to punish her.

C.S. Lewis Boxen The Imaginary Worlds of Young C.S. LewisBoxen — (2008) Ages 9-12. Publisher: The lost tales of ‘Animal-land’, written and illustrated by C.S. Lewis and his brother Warnie, which they developed into the chronicles of the kingdom of Boxen, newly published to mark the centenary of the first story. Half a century before the publication of The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis created another imaginary world. The tales of ‘Animal-land’ which eight-year-old Jack (as his family knew him) had shared with his brother Warnie developed into the chronicles of the kingdom of Boxen. In a succession of stories over the next few years, the young Lewis explored its history, geography and the colourful exploits of its inhabitants in vivid detail, writing the last of the papers, his Encyclopedia Boxoniana, in April 1928. This new landmark edition marks the centenary of the very first Boxen manuscript. Here are all the stories, some never before seen, sensitively edited and arranged to make the most of the fabulous and inventive fantasy while retaining all the vigour of a child’s imaginative writing. Lavishly and charmingly illustrated by the author, and published for the very first time in colour, together with facsimile pages from the original notebooks, this book will provide a unique insight into one of the most extraordinary minds of our age. For every reader who has been captivated by the magic of Narnia, Boxen will open a window on to another enchanted land.