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C. S. Lewis: A Life by Michael White
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C. S. Lewis: A Life

by Michael White

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441398,812 (3)20
Arguably the most influential Christian writer of the twentieth century, C.S. Lewis founded his literary reputation on the now classic critical work The Allegory of Love. Within the next five years he would garner international acclaim as the author of The Screwtape Letters and Out of the Silent Planet, the first of three science fiction novels that owe much to his dynamic friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien. In 1950, with the publication of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he would win the hearts of children worldwide. Yet Clive Staples Lewiss path to renown not only as a groundbreaking literary critic, novelist, and Christian theologian was an intellectual and emotionally chaotic one, as Michael White reveals in this probing new biography. He follows the young Lewis, a nervous man profoundly depressed by the death of his mother, in a spiritually tormented course that would take him through the trenches of World War I to the upper ranks of English letters. White cleverly deconstructs Lewiss novels and religious works to reveal the frequently tormented soul and imagination from they sprung. Most importantly, he delves into the mythos that has long surrounded Lewis and rediscovers the man beneath.… (more)

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First book of the October '13 readathon!

Michael White's biography of C.S. Lewis is engaging, careful, and warm. I think it's difficult not to be biased at all when writing a biography, but White does point out the other side of several stories, and takes
his time to lay out the circumstances of Lewis' life, his loves and friendships. He doesn't seem to have made enemies too readily, from this account: even where his deep friendship with Tolkien decayed, there's no particular evidence offered for Lewis' alleged bitterness about it.

In many ways, as White says, Lewis was a troubling man. I was interested by his interest in sadism as a young man, and by White's sensitivity in trying to portray fairly his relationship with Janie Moore. To be honest, I thought we heard a little too much about Janie the domestic tyrant, and not enough about the qualities that made Jack Lewis so faithful to her for so long -- I'm sure they must be there. I'd have liked to read more about Joy, too.

All in all, the structure of the book is a little awkward in that each chapter covers a certain topic, more or less, so there's a lot of dodging about as White tries to describe separately parts of Lewis' life which of course overlapped. But overall, it was an interesting and an easy read. ( )
  shanaqui | Oct 12, 2013 |
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