Thursday, January 30, 2014

C.S. Lewis

       In my late twenties and early thirties, I was a big fan of C.S. Lewis, reading everything he wrote, some of it twice. I also read everything about C.S. Lewis that I could get my hands on. It has been a long time since my twenties, but recently I was happy to see another book about him published.
       Devin Brown, a Lilly scholar and professor of English at Asbury University, has written, taught, and lectured on C.S. Lewis extensively for more than ten years and has authored a number of books related to both Lewis and Tolkien. His most recent, A Life Observed, A Spriritual Biography, contains a foreword by Douglas Gresham, Lewis's step son. Brown claims that the goal of his book was to focus closely on the story of Lewis's spiritual journey and his search for the object of the mysterious longing he called Joy, a quest which he claimed was the central story of his life.
      I went to Asbury University for the "kick-off" of the book. Douglas Gresham flew in from England to participate. I was surprised at the number of people who turned up in the Asbury auditorium to listen to Brown and Gresham, and I'm sure that the program ended much too soon for anyone who has ever been a C.S. Lewis fan. From start to finish, my attention was riveted to Gresham's anecdotes about his stepfather.
      C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were friends, both teaching at Oxford. While the movies based on Tolkien's books, The Ring series and The Hobbit have been lauded by many, I didn't like them. It seems to me that the movies didn't pick up so much of what was in Tolkien's books. The books based on C.S. Lewis's Narnia series, however, have translated wonderfully into movies.  
     The popularity of C.S. Lewis is something of a phenomenon. In so far as I know, there has never been a big publicity campaign upon publication, no talk shows, no big advertisements in magazines. So how did it happen? Has it all been word-of-mouth?

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