Dispelling Myths about C. S. Lewis

  • Jan 11, 2016
  • Jerry Root
  • 1 Comment

C. S. Lewis once wrote an essay titled, The Funeral of a Great Myth, in it he eulogizes the religion of evolutionism. In the same spirit, I have often thought it would be good to bury a host of myths about C. S. Lewis as well.

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A Cancer in the Universe

  • Aug 26, 2015
  • David Naugle

“I agree Technology is per se neutral: but a race devoted to the increase of its own power by technology with complete indifference to ethics does seem to me a cancer in the Universe. Certainly if he goes on his present course much further man can not be trusted with knowledge.” – C. S. Lewis, responding to a letter from Arthur C. Clarke

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C. S. Lewis and the Martlets

  • Nov 30, 2013
  • Joel Heck

Most Lewis fans know a great deal about the adult C. S. Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and The Screwtape Letters. Some know about his childhood years, largely because they have read Surprised by Joy. Various biographies tell us about his early experience with schools, his war service, his university years, his search for a teaching position in Oxford, and his academic career, but not much attention is really paid to his undergraduate experience. This article will look more closely at one aspect of Lewis’s undergraduate years, his involvement with the Martlets, an undergraduate literary society of University College. There we will see the young Lewis, in love with literature, especially poetry, with developing tastes that are not yet fully formed and haven’t yet had his tastes filtered through the lens of Scripture.

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Lewis and His Dates

  • Mar 18, 2013
  • Devin Brown

C. S. Lewis opens chapter four of his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, with this statement:  “In January, 1911, just turned thirteen, I set out with my brother to Wyvern, he for the College and I for a preparatory school …” (56).
However, since we know Lewis was born on November 29, 1898, simple math tells us that in January 1911 he would have just turned twelve, not thirteen.  He would not have turned thirteen until eleven months later in November 1911.  Lewis’s statement here about his age seems to suggest that he was not particularly good at simple math.
And he wasn’t.

In fact, because of his abysmal math skills, Lewis failed the entrance exam to Oxford not once, but twice.  After World War I, a war in which Lewis saw combat in France, passing this exam (called Responsions) was waived for men who had been in the service.  Had not World War …

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New Finds about Lewis’s Conversion

  • Feb 19, 2013
  • Andrew Lazo

It all began with an overheard conversation. Last summer, at the Marion E. Wade Center doing research for a book project on Till We Have Faces, I eavesdropped a discussion concerning an unpublished manuscript by C. S. Lewis that had been labeled as an early version of Surprised by Joy.

Thoroughly intrigued, I looked over the manuscript. I soon discovered that, while it indeed contained passages closely resembling those in Surprised by Joy, published in the fifties, it also contained very obvious similarities to The Pilgrim’s Regress, written some twenty years before. I pushed aside the research I was doing on Till We Have Faces and set myself to transcribe the manuscript, which Walter Hooper calls “Early Prose Joy.” The results of that transcription, to be published this month in VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review, astounded me for three reasons.

First of all, I discovered that the manuscript contains an account of …

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Lewis’s First and Final Short Story

  • Jun 07, 2012
  • Devin Brown

A joint conference of The Frances White Ewbank Colloquium on C. S. Lewis and Friends and the C. S. Lewis and the Inklings Society was held recently at Taylor University. At one of the plenary sessions a new Lewis-related work was featured and given its official launch.

“Light”: C. S. Lewis’s First and Final Short Story written by Charlie W. Starr, a professor at Kentucky Christian University, is now available to the world through the normal bookseller websites and its publisher Winged Lion.
The book’s back cover correctly proclaims, “Starr shines a new and illuminating light on one of Lewis’s most intriguing stories.” But the real life story of how the manuscript appeared out of nowhere two decades after Lewis’s death is as intriguing as Lewis’s fictional one. Starr clearly, carefully, and convincingly reveals that what Lewis scholars had previously believed about the story is largely inaccurate.
For Lewis fans, this is an …

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With their Christianity Latent: C. S. Lewis on the Arts

  • Jun 03, 2012
  • David Naugle

Introduction: Last Fall 2011 on sabbatical, I had the privilege of being a scholar in residence at the Kilns, C. S. Lewis’s old home in an outlying residential area called Risinghurst, just about three miles from Oxford and Oxford University. I didn’t know it when I arrived, but about three days into my time there, I found out I was staying in the room in which C. S. Lewis died. It was somewhat spooky, especially when I received an email from a friend which included this line, “Please say hello to C. S. Lewis’s ghost for me.”

There might be more to that, I thought, than he realized. Here’s the story of Lewis’s death, as I was told of it. On November 22, 1963, at about 4:00 p.m., Lewis’s brother Warnie served his brother his afternoon tea. About 5:30 p.m., about an hour and a half later, Warnie heard a crash, boom, bang coming …

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Why Read Old Books: History and Its Relevance

  • Jul 02, 2010
  • Dan Hamilton

An Introduction is a signpost – pointing not to itself but to the pages that follow. While “On the Reading of Old Books” is usually reprinted (and presented) as a stand-alone essay by Lewis, it is actually the introduction to a book written by someone else: “The Incarnation of the Word of God: Being the Treatise of St. Athanasius DE INCARNATIONE VERBI DEI, Newly Translated by a Religious of C.S.M.V. St. Th.”
This book appeared in 1944 from Centenary Press/Bles (in England) and later from MacMillan (in the US); it has been reprinted at least twice since then in paperback form.
There is a progression here: to talk intelligently about the Introduction, we should first talk about the book it introduces. But to talk profitably about the book, it is enormously useful to talk first about the friendship behind it. (And one suspects a friendship, because the book is dedicated to Lewis!)
The …

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Duty with a Stamp: “Half My Life is Spent Answering Letters”

  • Jun 11, 2010
  • Andrew Cuneo

When the third volume of C.S. Lewis’s Collected Letters came out in 2006, it did not receive nearly the attention it deserved. Its publication, however, marked the summit of assembling and editing which Walter Hooper almost single-handedly accomplished in the space of eight years. But where were the mainstream reviews or the critical assessments, and what might be said of the Letters’ benefit to Lewis scholarship?
To be fair, three volumes of over a thousand pages each take some digesting. Volume I provides the portrait of a man in intellectual formation: here is the Romantic, the poet, the Idealist, the classicist, the tutor in English, the son of Albert, and the friend of Arthur Greeves. While the contents of this volume are some of the most lengthy and detailed, they are also often not as satisfying as the letter-writer of Volume II who encountered a larger world. Indeed, Volume II marks …

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A Mentor by Mail

  • Jan 27, 2010
  • David C. Downing

In 1941 a former student of C. S. Lewis, then in her thirties, asked Lewis if he would become her confessor and spiritual director. Lewis politely declined, feeling that he didn’t have the proper credentials for the job (Letters, 2, 481). Yet he continued to write her letters of candid and perceptive advice about her spiritual journey, as well as issues of marriage and family, functioning virtually as what might be called a “mentor by mail.”
Lewis wrote nearly forty books in his lifetime, and one might think he would have little time left over for private correspondence. But actually Lewis’s letters, expertly edited by Walter Hooper, fill three thick volumes, filling over 3500 pages. Many of these letters, of course, are addressed to friends and family members. But a surprising number of letters were written to complete strangers who sent in questions after reading one of Lewis’s books or hearing …

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