A well-known literary critic and theologian who has a presence in geek culture because of his 7-book Chronicles of Narnia (a course on Christian theology presented as a series of children's fantasy novels) and, to a lesser extent, the Space Trilogy. Lewis wrote a series of popular apologies, or defenses of Christianity, that have been enormously influential in the English-speaking world.

Lewis had a knack for relating complex theological ideas to feelings and experiences that were shared by believers and non-believers alike--for example, he begins The Case for Christianity with the anger you would feel if another person stole your seat on a bus. The argument itself has some flaws, but it illustrates Lewis' strength as an apologist: he begins with experience rather than intellectual abstractions or psuedo-logical arguments. His appeal lies also in his great honesty. In a passage from his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, he writes of his experience in an English public school where each of the older boys took on a younger boy as a lover. Lewis explains that he doesn't criticize this practice for two reasons: first, that it was the closest thing to a human relationship that most boys had in the school; second, that pedophilia is one of two sins that he was never tempted to engage in (the other is excessive gambling) and so he doesn't feel qualified to comment on it. He then says, "if you ask, 'does this mean that the sins you do talk about...' the answer is yes."

How can you not like this guy? As a result of this and his other writings (not to mention his biting wit, exhibited most amusingly in the Screwtape Letters, he has become an important influence on Christian writers from every denomination.

A side note: Lewis was a friend of J.R.R. Tolkien, who was an important influence on his decision to become a Christian. However, they later grew rather distant--in part because Tolkien was Catholic and was upset that Lewis had become Anglican, and in part because Tolkien was a bit jealous of Lewis' success as a theologian.

Clive Staples Lewis was one of the most incredible writers of our time. His works have an endurance that is seldom matched by any other. He is known for his wit, his prose, and his theology, the last of which is the most interesting trait as he spent the beginning of his life a staunch atheist. It is this conversion to which many attribute the endurance and heart of his works.

He was born in Belfast on November 29, 1898 to Albert James Lewis (1863-1929) and Flora Augusta Hamilton Lewis (1862-1908). His only brother was Warren Hamilton Lewis, born on June 16, 1895. His mother, a staunch Christian, tried to influence Lewis' path at a young age. This influence, however, died with her on August 23, (her husband's birthday) and Lewis became subject primarily to the agnostic and atheistic views of his friends at Wynard School in England.

Following his days at Wynard, he attended one term at Campbell College of Belfast, but was forced to quit due to severe respiratory distress. It was later, while studying at Cherbourg School in Malvern, England that he renounced his Christian faith.

In April of 1914, Lewis became aquainted with Arthur Greeves. Also during this time he acquired his first grasp of linguistics-a field which he'd later reference in his Space Trilogy-under the tutelage of none other than W.T. Kirkpatrick. His scholarship thus far won him attendance at University College, Oxford, where he studied until his enlistment in the Army came through on September 25, 1917. It was in the trenches of World War I that Lewis was wounded and subsequently forced to return to England due to his injuries.

It was his reflection on the death of his roommate, Edward Courtnay Francis "Paddy" Moore, that became his first work published outside of school magazines. It first appeared in the February issue of Reveille and title "Death in Battle". It was also during this time that he began his studies at Oxford again in earnest. He attained a First in Honour Moderations (Greek and Latin Literature) in 1920, a First in Greats (Philosophy and Ancient History) in 1922, and a First in English in 1923.

It is interesting to note that in May, 1921 Lewis won Chancellor's English Essay Prize for his essay "Optimism", however, no copy of "Optimism" has been found as of this date.)

Lewis had his first experience teaching during the eight month absence of E.F. Carritt, for whom he substituted as Philosophy tutor from 1924 to 1925. His extensive experience later got him elected a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he taught for 29 years.

In 1929, after much introspection, Lewis made a life-changing decision, he became a theist. In his words, "In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed...." Yet another event that would change his life dramatically occurred on September 28, 1931. Following an extensive discussion on the topic the previous day with none other than J.R.R. Tolkien (a devout catholic) and Hugo Dyson, Lewis became a Christian on the motorcycle ride from his home to the Whipsnade Zoo.

"When we (Warnie and Lewis) set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did."
-Surprised by Joy

In 1933 "Jack" Lewis published "The Pilgrim's Regress : An Allegorical Apology for Christianity, Reason, and Romanticism". And, in the fall of that year Lewis convened his circle of friends that would come to be known as "The Inklings." For the next 16 years, on through 1949, they continued to meet in Jack's rooms at Magdalen College on Thursday evenings and, just before lunch on Mondays or Fridays, in a back room at "The Eagle and Child," a pub known to locals as "The Bird and Baby." Among the members were J.R.R. Tolkien, Warnie, Hugo Dyson, Charles Williams, Dr. Robert Havard, Owen Barfield, Neville Coghill, and others.

In the 1941 volume of The Guardian, Lewis published the 31 "Screwtape Letters." This was a piece of fiction chronicling the correspondence between two demons, by the names of Screwtape and Wormwood which ran from May 2 until November 28. In August of the same year, he gave four live radio talks over the BBC on Wednesday evenings from 7:45 to 8:00. An additional 15-minute session, answering questions received in the mail, was broadcast on September 6. These talks were known as "Right and Wrong."

Between 1950 and 1956 Lewis published his most heralded Chronicles of Narnia. This seven book series won him wide regard throughout the literary field and are one of his most enduring works. It was also during this time that he met Joy Davidman. She, however, was struck with cancer and they did not marry until April 23, 1956, when a bedside wedding was performed to prevent her deportation and confirm her English citizenship. Though her death seemed imminent, she recovered partially in 1957, which allowed her to travel with her husband to Ireland as well as Greece. However, shortly after their return from Greece in 1960, Joy died of bone cancer on July 13. In 1961, Lewis published A Grief Observed, an account of his suffering following his wife's death, under the pseudonym N. W. Clerk.

Lewis died one week before his 65th birthday on November 22, 1963. A day which for many is steeped in sadness as it was the same day that JFK was assassinated. C.S. Lewis was buried at Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry, Oxford.

Throughout his later life Lewis was awarded a number of degrees and positions. Some honorary in nature, all deserved by character. This was a man who could speak to every man, his conversion from abject atheist to theist speaks incredibly of not only him, but the value of introspective and analysis. His life and writings have not only influenced my writing, but in fact the direction of my entire life. He was such a philosopher, indeed, such a great thinker of our time. This is evident both in his works themselves as well as in their diversity. His works span multiple genres and are all extremely well written. One of the chief things in his works, however, is the undertones and symbolism he uses. Even leaving faith out of it, the themes and symbols in his works are amazing from a literature standpoint. From the amazingly imaginative and witty discourse between two demons to the wanderings and discoveries of a philologist on another planet. This man is one of the greatest authors of all time and truly the greatest Christian author of all time.

His works are as follows, subdivided by genre:

Religion and Philosophy:

The Space Trilogy Science Fiction

The Chronicles of Narnia:

Other Fiction:

Literary History and Criticism:

Devotional Works:

Autobiography, Correspondence and Journals

Sources: www.cslewis.org, cslewis.drzeus.net

Some facts about C.S. Lewis and his work:

    He never married until he was nearly 60 years old.
    His only wife, Joy Davidman, was a Jewish-American divorcee, with a son (Douglas Gresham) from her previous marriage.
    His nickname "Jack" stemmed from a childhood irritation at his given names "Clive Staples" and his further insistence, "He is called Jacksie." (His older brother Warner was alread known as "Warnsie")
    While at Cherbourg School in England, Lewis "evidenced an increasing affection for "Northernness"" e.g. Wagner's music and Norse mythology. It was during this time that he abandoned his childhood Christian faith.
    From May 2 until November 28 1941, The Guardian published 31 "Screwtape Letters" in weekly installments. Lewis was paid 2 pounds sterling for each letter and gave the money to charity.
    Lewis died on Friday, November 22, 1963. This same day, American president John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Aldous Huxley died.
    Pseudonyms used during his career: "Clive Hamilton" (1919, 1926); "N.W. Clerk" (1961).
    He was discharged from the military in December 1918. His former roommate and friend, Paddy Moore was killed in battle and buried in the field just south of Peronne, France. In 1919, the February issue of "Reveille" contained "Death in Battle," Lewis' first publication in other than school magazines.
    Two movies were made on the life of C.S. Lewis: A BBC TV version of "Shadowlands" in 1985, starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom; and a 1993 Hollywood re-make with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger (!).
    Three television adaptations were made of "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" in 1967, 1979 and 1988.
    A new film version of "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" is set to be produced in Hobsonville, Auckland, New Zealand. Andrew Adamson of Shrek fame will be directing almost all of the film at the Hobsonville Airbase and the Defence Quarters located there.
    "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" will feature a largely American cast and production is to start sometime next year, with a December 2005 release for the USA. Special Effects Studio WETA, who have done all effects for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy will do effects for TLTWATW.
    Recipe for Turkish Delight (mentioned in TLTWATW):

  • 5 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater (or lemon juice)
  • 2 cups pistachios (or other nuts, if you like)
  • powdered sugar
  • mix corn starch with cold water
    set aside
    bring hot water, sugar, and OJ to a boil
    add corn starch
    simmer for 15 minutes
    remove from heat, add lemon juice and
    flavoring (whatever you choose)
    stir in nuts
    pour into buttered pan
    when cooled and thickened (be patient!)
    cut into 1 inch cubes with knife dipped in hot water
    and roll in powdered sugar.

    and a bio I read of him about 15 years ago, can't remember
    the title (still researching it!)

    C. S. Lewis - A look into the biography of Lewis by Sam Wellman.

    C. S. Lewis, born in 1898, is acclaimed as one of the greatest Christian thinkers of the twentieth century. During his life he undergoes enormous struggles concerning himself, his family, and the biggest struggle-his belief in God, which are portrayed by the author Sam Wellman in C. S. Lewis. During the first half of his life he is an atheist with mind provoking questions unanswered, and all his struggles come together in this book to show he accomplished what very few have done.

    Sam Wellman starts the book jumping into the experience Lewis had in the army during a war, and from there explains in flashbacks his life up until that point, and then the war ends for him, when he receives a purple heart and is sent home. During that war Lewis had his most atheist thoughts, when constantly everyone is dying around him. The starting point of Lewis’s search for God begins shortly after the war, which is shown throughout this Biography.

    Lewis had many people he looked up to, W.T. Kirkpatrick, his first private teacher, the person Lewis most adored. This is where he gets most of his motivation to learn, and receives many high academic achievements as a result. Soon after the tutoring he receives from Kirkpatrick Lewis was awarded a scholarship to University College, Oxford. Lewis had done all this before he was sent off to war, but the author flashes back to this strong accomplishment. Warren, brother to Lewis, was a heavy alcoholic who Lewis loved and cared for. They both looked up to each other including their decision to later move in with Mrs. Moore. Later it is learned their mother had died of cancer in 1908, and because of this they searched for a new mother, Mrs. Moore took this role when they moved in with her in 1919. They had a life long strong relationship, and Lewis and Warren lived with her for most of their lives. The author shows how Kirkpatrick, Warren, and Moore affected Lewis highly, which led to Lewis learning much about the world, and led him to God.

    "I always before condemned as sentimentalists or hypocrites the people whose view of the dead was so different from the view they held of the same people living. Now (I find) out that it is a natural process. . ." Lewis wrote this to his friend Warnie after their friend Albert died. As portrayed in this quote from C. S. Lewis, he is always changing his mind about the world. Sometimes these changes occurred because of people he loved and their deaths. During the story many people he knows and loves die. Lewis changes and learns from those events among others, which is the strongest point of this book. He keeps an open mind and strives to search for all answers, including his belief in God. The biggest change in his life occurred in 1931 when he finally figures out God is real at the midpoint of his life. From then on he writes many renown books: Mere Christianity, The Screw Tape Letters - (One of the best books I've read), and many others. The author Wellman explains that for Lewis to fix his wrongs he tries to tell the world up until his death that God is real.

    On top of his mother dying from cancer, many of Lewis’s friends die to it as well (Albert), and even his wife Joy whom he was married to for four years since 1956, and later even him in 1963! Many people died from cancer in his life, but it only further pushed him closer to God. My grandfather died of cancer on May 1, 2004, the day of my Prom. I read this book a year before that and went back to it and found comfort. This book explains and tells well how a man would go through struggles in life, and find God only to die with a smile on their face. Despite the high amount of discouraging events that happened in C. S. Lewis’s life, this book proves that they are easily overcome with the correct attitude and faith in God, just like Lewis had.

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