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C.S. Lewis: A Biography

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This account of Lewis’s life was written by two men who knew him well and remember him warmly. Photographs from personal albums and the Lewis archives. Index.


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This account of Lewis’s life was written by two men who knew him well and remember him warmly. Photographs from personal albums and the Lewis archives. Index.

30 review for C.S. Lewis: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brian Robbins

    Reading this after so long, and with more recent biographies of varying qualities in between, I was unclear what to expect when I was about to begin. Would it be like the joy of meeting a good friend after many years, or would it be a sore disappointment in the light of the more recent research I had read? I was delighted to find the former applied. This was a reunion with a best of friends. Written by a close friend of Lewis & assisted by that master of the Lewis industry, Walter Hooper, it had Reading this after so long, and with more recent biographies of varying qualities in between, I was unclear what to expect when I was about to begin. Would it be like the joy of meeting a good friend after many years, or would it be a sore disappointment in the light of the more recent research I had read? I was delighted to find the former applied. This was a reunion with a best of friends. Written by a close friend of Lewis & assisted by that master of the Lewis industry, Walter Hooper, it had all the advantages of a book written from an intimate knowledge of its subject, and including many illustrations and anecdotes from people who also knew Lewis personally. On the whole, the picture given of Lewis is an affectionate, interesting and well described portrait of a friend. Subsequent biographies of Lewis point to its lack of objectivity & its airbrushing of certain aspects of Lewis’ life & relationships - his relationship with Mrs Moore, his youthful attraction to SM, and the alcoholism of his brother. However, in terms of level of importance in Lewis’ life & work these to me are very small beer when compared with the aspects that this book considers. I actually sympathized with Green in his comments regarding analysis of Lewis’ relationship with Mrs Moore. He reluctantly enters into a very brief discussion and, not surprisingly, as a friend, takes an innocent view of it. I have to say that it little affects my regard for the quality of man and his work, even if it was in the early days a sexual relationship. Does it really affect any reasoned overall judgement of him? In my view - no. The alcoholism of Lewis’ brother remains to my mind in the realm of tittle-tattle, except where it reflects on Lewis’ long-suffering & charitable approach to his brother’s problems. I don’t think that by leaving it out we have missed a great deal of any importance other than an interesting snippet of gossip. The attraction to SM that Lewis expresses in his youthful letters to Greeves seems to me to be no more than any adolescent’s experience of sexual fantasies of one kind or another. Lewis’ fantasies may not reflect those of many of us, but even so, in what way are these really relevant to analysis of his adult life or work. The book provides much interesting source material related to Lewis’ life, is well written. There is some imbalance between the comprehensiveness of the account of his early life, set against the more limited, and occasionally patchy coverage, of the later stages of his life. All-in-all the book provides a highly enjoyable and rich account of Lewis’ life, work and relationships, and an excellent foundation on which to build further using more recent accounts and material.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julie Reed

    I always know it's coming. I know he's going to die. I know how he's going to die. And, I'm always sad all over again reading about his last, happy days at The Kilns. After reading 6 biographies of his life, I know as much about this man as anyone could probably know these days aside from those who actually knew him personally. I don't know why I love him like I do. I just do. He lived a life I couldn't imagine living. He had a brain I couldn't imagine having. He was a sweet, jolly, brilliant ma I always know it's coming. I know he's going to die. I know how he's going to die. And, I'm always sad all over again reading about his last, happy days at The Kilns. After reading 6 biographies of his life, I know as much about this man as anyone could probably know these days aside from those who actually knew him personally. I don't know why I love him like I do. I just do. He lived a life I couldn't imagine living. He had a brain I couldn't imagine having. He was a sweet, jolly, brilliant man. I love him. I really do. When I go to heaven, I'm gonna meet this man.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This biography made me fall in love with C.S. Lewis. He was such an amazing person.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Annie Booker

    A wonderful biography of one of my favourite writers

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Majors

    I liked "Jack" by George Sayer better. Maybe because I read it first. But be sure to read Lewis's own "Surprised by Joy" before either.

  6. 4 out of 5

    M.T. Sullivan

    I feel it only fair to preface my review with the fact that I went into reading the book knowing very little about the man or his work, other than the fact that he was a highly regarded novelist, whose work often had underlying Christian messages in the form of allegory. I had not read even one of his books, but simply admired the little I knew about the man and have similar aspirations/life goals for myself. Had I been more familiar with his works, I assume the book would have been at least som I feel it only fair to preface my review with the fact that I went into reading the book knowing very little about the man or his work, other than the fact that he was a highly regarded novelist, whose work often had underlying Christian messages in the form of allegory. I had not read even one of his books, but simply admired the little I knew about the man and have similar aspirations/life goals for myself. Had I been more familiar with his works, I assume the book would have been at least somewhat more enjoyable. That being said, the book felt almost as if it contained two parts. The majority of the first half felt like a mere collection of facts organized chronologically and presented as such, with very little in the way of flow between them. Not only that, the facts were usually small, forming nothing in the way of even short stories. It was instead an excessive amount of dates and references that repeatedly broke any and all fluidity in the structure of the book. There are some insightful and even fascinating sections, but they were few and far between; too much so to encourage deep immersion into the early life of C.S. Lewis. For example: How many times does one book need to reference another (Surprised By Joy) before it feels like a ripoff? Whatever that amount, the first half of the book repeatedly flirted with the possibility of crossing over that line. All in all, I'd say the first half was poorly formulated and thus rarely an interesting read. Then came the second half. While it, too, suffers from some of the structural issues mentioned above and an excess of referencing, with deeper dissection of Lewis' works and the ways they were formed, it recaptured my attention. Though maybe a bit heavy on the mention of great conversations from which we receive but one sentence, the second half gave a decent amount of insight into not only the inspiration of Lewis' most successful works, it also offered a fair bit into Lewis' reactions to said success and his general everyday life thereafter. Overall, the book earned a solid three stars, thanks to the stronger second half. I considered four, but I'd be remiss if I were to overlook the research heavy/story deficient first half. One thing is certain and that is that Lewis was an extraordinary man with a remarkable mind and a larger-than-life personality. He fully deserves the respect he acquired throughout his life, even if he would be quick to shoot it down. Perhaps someday I will give this biography another chance when/if I get around to reading enough of Lewis' writings. As it stands now, the book left much to be desired, but also could have been considerably worse.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I enjoyed reading about this great mans life, this particular biography for me was "too much information". I think literary Scholars would enjoy more than me the books he read and approved of. I however, am more interested in his actual life facts and found myself flicking through great amount of pages.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This was a reasonably good depiction of the major events in C.S. Lewis's life. My complaint is that it didn't give me a good sense of who he was and what made him tick. I would like to see a more thorough and intimate biography of this great thinker.

  9. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    An insightful introduction written by former student and lifelong friend, Green and Hooper, Lewis' companion-secretary for the last nine years of his life.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aggie Christine

    A lovingly written biography by friends about a friend ... Love !

  11. 4 out of 5

    Diana Glyer

    An early biography of Lewis, this has the charm of reporting events without layers (and years) of interpretation.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Krysta

    This autobiography, I believe the first, was written by Lewis's friend Roger Lancelyn Green and secretary Walter Hooper. As a result, it is very discreet, and chooses to focus largely on Lewis's academic life and academic, theological, and popular writings. It's a good overview, but maybe a little too biased to be the only account of Lewis one reads. The authors do note criticism of Lewis by friends and, well, critics, but overall the book is very forgiving and tends to defend Lewis's legacy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    This book would probably be appreciated more by literary scholars who are familiar with the impressive number of literary works cited in this biography that were written and/or read by Lewis. I was disappointed that there was not a lot of insight into the personal life of Lewis until well into the last half of the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jodynterry Gossner

    This book is just full of information about Lewis. He was a fascinating man who was very well read, but didn't own many books on his shelves, because once he read a book, he kept it in his head!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Absolutely fantastic. You could read the intimacy and love of Green and Hooper. Very personal biography.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Delightful!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I really loved this book. I liked that it was written by a close friend and someone who knew him well. I appreciate the detail the author went into about Lewis's favorite books and authors and that it shared Lewis’s literary opinions. It's nice to know in great detail the people who influenced C.S. Lewis. I also liked the detail the author put into describing the writing process and timeline of the books that Lewis wrote himself and the motivations behind writing them. The author touched very ni I really loved this book. I liked that it was written by a close friend and someone who knew him well. I appreciate the detail the author went into about Lewis's favorite books and authors and that it shared Lewis’s literary opinions. It's nice to know in great detail the people who influenced C.S. Lewis. I also liked the detail the author put into describing the writing process and timeline of the books that Lewis wrote himself and the motivations behind writing them. The author touched very nicely on Lewis's conversion to religion and Christianity but seemed to brush lightly over other events in his life. Sometimes there were long explanations of books or stories that Lewis liked or that might have influenced his writings and then only short sections on events in Lewis's life, like how he met Joy Davidman etc. On the whole, I really enjoyed it and I felt like it was a good insight into the life of C.S. Lewis. I would read it again.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Amos

    This was a delight to read, though I admit I am a biased reader of this biography's subject. It does what I most enjoy from biographies: it lifted the veil a bit on this great man. Filled with anecdotes and insights into what inspired Lewis's imagination, I feel sure this will thrill any Lewis reader. As the book was divided into chapters devoted to certain parts of Lewis's life, the timeline can be a bit hard to follow, but I think it allowed the authors to fully flesh out those different areas. I This was a delight to read, though I admit I am a biased reader of this biography's subject. It does what I most enjoy from biographies: it lifted the veil a bit on this great man. Filled with anecdotes and insights into what inspired Lewis's imagination, I feel sure this will thrill any Lewis reader. As the book was divided into chapters devoted to certain parts of Lewis's life, the timeline can be a bit hard to follow, but I think it allowed the authors to fully flesh out those different areas. I checked this out of our public library, but now want to make it a permanent part of our collection at home. Recommend to any and everyone.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael Bering Smith

    One wonders why biographies never get easier to finish, yet one also wonders how one can shut a fifth work on Lewis, and not yet have found his life less stirring. What a man. No—what a world. A superb record from Hooper and Green. It's 433 pages? Worth the effort. Yet for a first foray, read C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet. One wonders why biographies never get easier to finish, yet one also wonders how one can shut a fifth work on Lewis, and not yet have found his life less stirring. What a man. No—what a world. A superb record from Hooper and Green. It's 433 pages? Worth the effort. Yet for a first foray, read C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Smith

    I absolutley loved reading C.S. Lewis's biography. He is such an inspirational man and knowing his story just helps you to understand where all his stories come from. His life is so interesting to read about and I even cried when it talked about his death. I would definitley recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading any of his books. :)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ci

    Possibly the first biography of CSL by someone who knew him well in life. Although it paled by later scholars' work, this biography is still the work providing source materials for other later comers. The contents are largely fact-based with limited literary critiques on CSL major works (readers can be insatiable on commentaries of their favorite authors!).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jossalyn

    didnt have a strong opinion about this author until I read this book- had read the Narnia books as a kid, but wasnt taken by them much. Read this bio after having read Tolkein's bio- now for me Lewis is done. hateful wanna-be.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Dambro

    I read this almost thirty years ago. I read it during a dark stretch of my life after reading Lewis' Mere Christianity. I remember the intense relief and sense of peace that came over me. I saw Hope in the distance and I knew I could survive. I have been reading Lewis ever since then.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kailey (BooksforMKs)

    A really wonderful book and full of delightful little tidbits. Written more like a story!

  25. 5 out of 5

    EveMoon

    I usually find biographies boring but this was surprisingly entertaining.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This biography covers the field pretty well, but George Sayer's biography "Jack" makes better reading.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I admire C.S. Lewis so much that I have read several biographies of him. I have enjoyed each one and felt that each biographer adds another dimension to the rich personality of this beloved author.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Swantje

    I don't have the revised edition, it's the original (mine is from 1976), but this one was the closed available edition to choose from.

  29. 4 out of 5

    John

    not interested should have stayed in the wardrobe

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dbjames

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