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Mere Humanity: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis,…

Mere Humanity: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the…

by Donald T. Williams

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1021181,954 (3.64)7
Philosophers list "What is man?" and "What is the purpose of life on this earth?" as two of the most important questions that must be asked by everyone in the quest to become a complete human being. Mere Humanity digs into the treasured writings of Chesterton, Lewis, and Tolkien for the answers.



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The subtitle is "G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on the Human Condition," and starting with "The Everlasting Man" and "The Abolition of Man" and then moving to Lewis's and Tolkien's fictional work, painstakingly explaining these writers' understanding of man's role in the world and how it differs from postmodern thought.

My experience reading this book was that it was difficult, over my head at times - especially if I hadn't read the work being analyzed - and yet, very simple and repetitive at the same time. I was very frustrated with the format, because as literary analysis taking each piece of work as a separate chapter, it was very hard for me to came up with a cohesive idea of "the human condition" as understood by these writers. He inserts his own villanelles between each chapter, and includes not one but two appendices, one of which is basically a rant against postmodernism taken to the extreme of no truth or meaning in anything. The best chapters, I thought, dealt with the texts I was most familiar with and compared humans and talking beasts, and humans to elves and hobbits. I thought I'd be able to follow the chapter dealing with the Space Trilogy, but he spent so much time plot summarizing (each book has its own section in the chapter) and quoting at length that in the end my head spun. And he had a habit of carrying wording from past chapters - Tao from "The Abolition of Man" and hnau from the Space Trilogy - in a way that was more distracting than helpful in knowing what he was talking about. I persisted because of how much I like Lewis and Tolkien, but it's not a title I'll be recommending to more than the most rabid fans. ( )
  bell7 | Jun 8, 2019 |
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