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Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (1955)

by C. S. Lewis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,939541,353 (3.95)126
Biography & Autobiography. Religion & Spirituality. Nonfiction. HTML:

A repackaged edition of the revered author's spiritual memoir, in which he recounts the story of his divine journey and eventual conversion to Christianity.

C. S. Lewis‚??the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other beloved classics‚??takes readers on a spiritual journey through his early life and eventual embrace of the Christian faith. Lewis begins with his childhood in Belfast, surveys his boarding school years and his youthful atheism in England, reflects on his experience in World War I, and ends at Oxford, where he became "the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." As he recounts his lifelong search for joy, Lewis demonstrates its role in guiding him to find God… (more)

  1. 40
    Confessions by Saint Augustine (2below)
    2below: For anyone interested in exploring spiritual autobiographies, Augustine's Confessions is a good example. Like Lewis, he begins by discussing his early life and how it shaped the development of his spiritual life as he got older. More verbose and theological than Lewis, especially after the conversion: Augustine devotes the remainder to an exegesis of Genesis.… (more)
  2. 00
    Boxen: The Imaginary World of the Young C. S. Lewis by C. S. Lewis (FFortuna)
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» See also 126 mentions

English (53)  Czech (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
Surprised By Joy: The Shape of My Early Life is C.S. Lewis's memoir of his life up to becoming a Christian, and how the Joy/longing/sehnsuct he felt at nature and fairytales and mythology primed him for God despite being an atheist. Lewis talks about his schooling, and there was just so much physical abuse and bullying throughout his childhood and adolescent schools that it's a surprise he was able to learn anything. The sheer amount of everything he read and all the languages he learned is staggering; I especially enjoyed reading about his time studying with his uber-logical tutor. Overall, a great book to read if you love CSL's books and want to learn more about his life from the man himself. Fun fact: my C.S. Lewis professor told us some call this book Suppressed By Jack because there's a lot he left out about his life.
Trigger warnings: physical abuse/punishment of children, starvation of children, neglect, bullying, passive suicidal ideation, loss of parent, war mentions, underage sexual relationships mentions, bugs/insects phobia mentions ( )
  Mialro | Feb 6, 2024 |
I'll get right to the point: I didn't love it. Have you read it? What did you get out of it? ( )
  publiusdb | Apr 4, 2023 |
51723
  WBCLIB | Feb 19, 2023 |
A fascinating self portrait of one of the most influential men in recent history.

Lewis paints such pleasing pictures of even the worst scenes, that you find yourself smiling perpetually through the whole book. ( )
  FaithBurnside | Aug 17, 2022 |
C.S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy is interesting from two perspectives: first, that it is the closest Lewis came to writing a conventional autobiography; second, that it recounts the process that led to Lewis becoming a Christian, and so is an invaluable aid to his philosophical and theological writings. Sometimes these two perspectives seem to be jostling for position: the earlier portion of the book deals with Lewis's childhood in great detail (including a painful account of his schooldays), while the more formal autobiography peters out in the book's second half. The spiritual theme is always present, but less so in the book's first part (for example, we learn less than might be expected about Lewis's teenage shift to atheism). Perhaps the reason for this is the connecting thread: Lewis's concept of 'joy'. 'Joy' is an Augustinian longing that manifests itself first in creative fantasy, then in the Nordic myths before finally finding its true aim. Perhaps for this reason, the book comes to an abrupt halt once the pursuit of 'joy' brings Lewis back to the Christian faith. While Surprised by Joy may be somewhat unusual in form, it is no less valuable for anyone interested in C.S. Lewis. ( )
  Lirmac | Mar 2, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lewis, C. S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Noble, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pearson, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skeats, ClareCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Surprised by joy - impatient as the wind
‚ÄĒWordsworth
Dedication
To Dom Bede Griffiths, O.S.B.
First words
I was born in the winter of 1898 at Belfast, the son of a solicitor and of a clergyman's daughter.
Quotations
"I am struck here by the curious mixture of justice and injustice in our lives. We are blamed for our real faults but usually not on the right occasions."
"The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation."
Our destination was the little town of -- let us call it Belsen [Watford] ê in Hertfordshire. "Green Hertfordshire", Lamb calls it; but it was not green to a boy bred in County Down. It was flat Hertfordshire, flinty Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire of the yellow soil. There I first knew bitter frost and stinging fog, sweltering heat and thunderstorms on the great scale. ... We bought sweets in drowsy village shops and pottered about on the canal bank or sat at the brow of a railway cutting watching a tunnel-mouth for trains. Hertfordshire came to look less hostile.
I was wrong in supposing that I desired Joy itself. All the value lay in that of which Joy was the desiring. Inexorably Joy proclaimed, "You want something other, outside".
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Biography & Autobiography. Religion & Spirituality. Nonfiction. HTML:

A repackaged edition of the revered author's spiritual memoir, in which he recounts the story of his divine journey and eventual conversion to Christianity.

C. S. Lewis‚??the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other beloved classics‚??takes readers on a spiritual journey through his early life and eventual embrace of the Christian faith. Lewis begins with his childhood in Belfast, surveys his boarding school years and his youthful atheism in England, reflects on his experience in World War I, and ends at Oxford, where he became "the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." As he recounts his lifelong search for joy, Lewis demonstrates its role in guiding him to find God

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Contents

I. The first years.

II. Concentration Camp.

III. Mountbracken and Campbell.

IV. I broaden my mind.

V. Renaissance.

VI. Bloodery.

VII. Light and Shade

VIII. Release.

IX. The great knock.

X. Fortune's smile.

XI. Check.

XII. Guns and good company.

XIII. The new look.

XIV. Checkmate.

XV. The beginning.
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