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Buy for $20.99
An Oxford student of C.S. Lewis' said he found his new tutor interesting and was told by J.R.R. Tolkien, "Interesting? Yes, he's certainly that. You'll never get to the bottom of him." You can learn a great deal about people by their friends, and nowhere is this more true than in the case of C.S. Lewis, the remarkable academic, author, popularizer of faith - and creator of Narnia.
He lost his mother early in life and became estranged from his father, much to his regret. Throughout his life, key relationships mattered deeply to him, from his early days in the North of Ireland and his schooldays in England, as still a teenager in the trenches of World War One, and then later in Oxford. The friendships he cultivated throughout his life proved to be vital, influencing his thoughts, his beliefs, and his writings.
What did Arthur Greeves, a lifelong friend from his adolescence, bring to him? How did J.R.R. Tolkien, and the other members of the now famous Inklings, shape him? Why, in his early 20s, did he move in with a single mother twice his age, Janie Moore, and live with her for so many years until her death? And why did he choose to marry so late? What of the relationship with his alcoholic and gifted brother, who eventually joined his unusual household? In this sparkling new biography, which draws on material not previously published, Colin Duriez brings C.S. Lewis and his friendships to life.
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It's a Great Concept
I'm a big fan of Lewis, but I enjoy few Lewis biographies. After years of trying and failing to love the major Lewis bios (Sayer, McGrath et al), I finally put my finger on it: it thrills me to look WITH Lewis AT other things, but not so much to look AT Lewis WITH other people, especially other people whose observational powers are less masterful than Lewis's.
But this book, limited as it is in some ways, does supplement Surprised by Joy and the published Letters of Lewis nicely by fleshing out one whole compartment of life Lewis rated of utmost importance: namely, his closest friendships. This lets me look WITH Lewis some more, even if the lens is clouded by a different observer. Anyway, the total effect I found pleasing and rare. Especially because it fills in details around Surprised by Joy in a more matter-of-fact way than many heavier handed biographies.
I distrust any biographer so silly as to quote A. N. Wilson (a pox on him) as if Wilson's bio of CSL were other than thinly veiled tabloid trash, so I deduct one star from this book.
But, I give the star back because Simon Vance is performing this book, and he is Gold.
5 people found this helpful