Author Spotlight: C.S. Lewis
January’s Debatable brought a favorite author to the forefront of fond reminiscing: C.S. Lewis.
Known primarily for his classic allegorical tales of Narnia where Aslan represents Christ, Lewis did not start out as a children’s author.
Growing up without a mother (she died of cancer), he spent his early years in boarding school. Proving himself an superb student, he attended Oxford University and eventually began teaching English at Magdalen College, Oxford from 1925 to 1954.
Lewis brought up in the Protestant Church of Ireland, strayed from his beliefs as a teenager, and he might have been further influenced by his childhood tutor, an atheist.
However, as Lewis studied and taught, his readings brought him to the understanding of how Christ was at the center of many of the old writings. His further involvement with “The Inklings,” a group of academics and writers, which included Tolkien, Lewis converted to theism, a belief in God.
With his found discovery of religion, Lewis began a solid reputation as an apologist, with books such as The Screwtape Letters. He refrained from making specific references to a particular denomination in his writings, and remained an Anglican.
During World War II, three evacuee children came to stay with him, and he appreciated their joy of childhood. Combining this experience with his interests in mythology, Lewis decided to write a story based on his long held image of a faun carrying an umbrella and packages.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe started the popular Narnia Chronicles, and the seven book series remains popular, having influenced generations of readers.
There is more to C.S. Lewis beyond his unexpected popularity as a children’s writer. There is his relationship with Tolkien, his commitment to taking care of Mrs. Moore, his devotion to his brother, and his marriage to Joy. His story is a worthwhile study of how someone can survive loss and embrace a sincere appreciation of restoration.
I first met C.S. Lewis in a summer cabin as teen in high school. Somewhat bored, I picked up a book lying on a table, since the cover had caught my eye.
It reminded me of A Wrinkle in Time, that hinting of cosmic adventure awaiting a set of children. I casually began reading it, ignoring my friends, and only slightly feeling self-conscious about reading a book belonging to my friend’s kid sister.
I was hooked and sought out the series.
Read them all. Began reading the other works of Lewis (though not as enamored of them), watched Shadowlands, wrote a college paper on the influence of Medievalism in Narnia (had to convince my instructor on that one), and anticipated a movie that did the series justice (umm, not the BBC version), and rejoiced when one finally did arrive and was able to share that joy with my children, having waited ever so long for Mr. Tumnus to arrive. It was a memorable experience to pass on my joy of Narnia to my grand kiddo one summer visit as we read the book out loud together. The joy doubled when I realized my daughter was casually eavesdropping and added in her comments about Mr and Mrs Beaver. Generational book bonding is bliss!
C.S. Lewis died the same day JFK was assassinated. The interest in Lewis and his works continues to influence readers, academics, believers, and those who wonder “what if” about traveling to other worlds, other places to discover the end place is only the beginning.
We are huge Lewis fans here as well, Cricket! 🙂 I love what you shared! I really regret not visiting Oxford when I took my trip to England in 2016. 😦 My oldest is working her way through the Space Trilogy and it’s proving a bit more difficult than Narnia. 😉 She is also almost done with Mere Christianity. I’m hoping to reread Weight of Glory this year. 🙂
I tried his Perelanda series and it just didn’t hold the same allegorical awe for me. Have you watched Shadowlands?
I have not watched it because I was hoping to read a book about him and Joy first. Is there even one? And which one is a GOOD one?
I have yet to read about them, but I am sure there are books that do their relationship justice. Shadowlands caught well, I think, how unique their marriage was and what it became.
I adore Lewis. When I read the words, “I met C.S. Lewis . . .” it took me a moment to realize you didn’t mean IN PERSON. I was in awe for a second.
I know—I did a sneaky writer trick, didn’t I?
I had that same momentary intake of breath…..then an ah, yes, of course. But that moment was thrilling nonetheless.
I wonder how I could have managed that meeting. That would be something…
I believe it’s called a visitation, LOL.
Except I was around six years old when he passed away. My kindergarten conversant skills probably weren’t impressive enough for a visitation.
“Generational book bonding is bliss!” I love that. 🙂
Just did a re-watch of Shadowlands last week. (I was inspired after reading Becoming Mrs. Lewis which is about Joy Gresham. There’s a review on that book on my blog.)
Ooh—didn’t know about that one. Thanks!
The BBC Narnia series was brilliant! I used to love that and my mum has it on DVD somewhere. I love the books, didn’t get around to reading most of them until my 20’s but I think there was more appreciation from my reading brain by then. I really need to jump on his apologist work at some point soon.
I loved the recent movies since they were able to bring the fantastic aspect with CGI. Reepicheep came through quite well. I hear they are trying to reboot the series. Yay!
I would prefer a series, I loved the feel of Voyage of the Dawntreader in the BBC series but the film was lacking and had that dramatic black fog thing which wasn’t needed.