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Present Concerns

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  219 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Nineteen essays-on democratic values, threats to educational and spiritual fulfillment, literary censorship, and other topics all displaying Lewis’s characteristic sanity and persuasiveness. Introduction by Walter Hooper.
Paperback, 108 pages
Published March 25th 1987 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers (first published January 1st 1987)
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Ron
Sep 04, 2008 Ron rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with functioning grey matter.
A potential reader might legitimately ask how "present" concerns expressed by C. S. Lewis fifty to sixty years ago might be. These concerned are quite current. In fact, twenty-first century readers might be surprised at the relevancy of Lewis's thoughts on literaure, education, and censorship.

Three essays--"Equality, "Talking about Bicycles" and "Living in the Atomic Age"--are worth the price of the book alone. (Spoiler warning: the latter are not about what their title suggests.)

A slim volume b
...more
Stephen
Jan 18, 2015 Stephen rated it really liked it
This collection includes nineteen essays C.S. Lewis wrote for various occasions between 1940 and 1962. While a few of the references now seem rather obscure, there are many outstanding pieces here. I will mention just a couple that stand out.

The whole reason I opened this book, which had been sitting on our shelves so long, is that I'm interested in the topic of enchantment. Online searches led me to the essay "Talking About Bicycles," and I was intrigued by Lewis's discussion there. This essay,
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Brian
Feb 06, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: c-s-lewis
Quite good and eye-opening in bits. Probably Lewis at his most political. His chapter on Chivalry is quite instructive and more than ever here he discusses the dangers of egalitarianism. Given all the discussions of envy lately, it seems the picture is a wee bit more complicated. It's not just envy, although envy is definitely one of the motives behind modern egalitarianism. It is a poisonous idea that allows or excuses envy. The solution methinks is not so much to issue more exhortations as t ...more
Mary Catelli
Being a collection of his journalism.

Journalism that would have been ephemera except for the fame of the byline is always an interesting excursion into the time of its writing. I recommend it in general for anyone looking for primary source, whether for a given era or for learning about different societies in general.

This particular one hits on all sorts of topics. The Home Guard during World War II -- not favorably --and the attitude of soldiers, which appears to have been rather cynical. Schoo
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Norman Styers
Feb 27, 2016 Norman Styers rated it liked it
These short essays by C. S. Lewis were mostly for newspapers and periodicals. For good reason they are not among his best known works. Some have interesting points, but they are often dated (as one would expect in newspaper writing), and some even tend to ramble a bit.
Jim
Jan 30, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing
A collection of Lewis's writings on political, educational, cultural, and ethical issues. Most of them are only 4-6 pages, with all 19 essays coming in at 108 pages. Excellent, excellent, excellent.
Patrick Walsh
Feb 26, 2017 Patrick Walsh rated it really liked it
This is C.S. Lewis writing for a narrower and more parochial audience. I can't recall exactly why I added this to my to-read list, but it was worth the time spent for this passage from the essay “On Living in an Atomic Age”: “If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things - praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of dart ...more
Fred Leland
Oct 07, 2016 Fred Leland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
19 essays by C.S. Lewis that are still relevant today.
Hbookbinder
Overall, there are some real gems in this collection of essays but it is a bit hit and miss.
Devon Mobley
Feb 21, 2016 Devon Mobley rated it it was amazing
Poignant and pointed as usual, Lewis is one of those thinkers who you can learn from on any topic. Present Concerns is a series of articles and transcriptions that cover a wide array of different subjects including education, war, and literature. I think the value of this work is that it is a very wise and articulate man saying meaningful things about important subjects. That is to say, it provides a respected voice that helps one move the ball down the field in their own thinking. It is short b ...more
RE de Leon
Jan 10, 2011 RE de Leon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My copy of present concerns is the most-dog eared among the CSLewis essay collections bought new from the bookstore. There's something fascinating about Lewis writing about matters of a journalistic rather than mythic scale. He brings his characteristic logic and charming writing style to bear on such matters as 'sex in literature', 'living in the atomic age', 'equality', and 'democratic education'. A fascinating read for those like me who come from a journalistic background.

RE de Leon
12:36 PM J
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J. Alfred
Jul 11, 2015 J. Alfred rated it liked it
Lewis is lucid and entertaining no matter what he writes about. This is a collection of the articles he wrote for newspapers and magazines on non-literary topics. Most of the stuff in here (the function of school, what it means to be a democratic society, what it means to be civilized whatsoever) one can find elsewhere in his work, but it might clarify one's own thought to see it crystallized like this, divorced from the course of a larger work. Enjoyable and a quick read.
Michael
Dec 27, 2011 Michael rated it liked it
I only recently heard about this volume of Lewis essays when my pastor alluded to it on a Sunday morning. It's a collection of journalistic articles and essays that C.S. Lewis wrote for newspapers and magazines. They're shorter pieces than those in _God in the Dock_, and they tend to deal more with the politics and events of his day. But a few of them sparkle and shine with some magnificent and memorable quotes. Recommended if you're looking for more Lewis to savor and enjoy.
Adena
Jul 27, 2012 Adena rated it it was amazing
Present Concerns consists of 19 short essays or editorials by CS Lewis, ranging in topic from chivalry, to sex in literature, to the war, to what it means to be living in an atomic age. I enjoyed every article, regardless of whether I agreed with his point or not. He has a knack for creating comparisons and analogies that are clear, logical and stick in your mind. I only wish I had read a couple of these when I was writing about chivalry in university!
Readnponder
May 20, 2010 Readnponder rated it liked it
I wasn't aware of this collection of C. S. Lewis's work until a month ago. This book features much shorter pieces (3-4 pages) rather than the 15-20 page essays found in "The World's Last Night" or "The Weight of Glory>" For this reason, I think the book would be good for newer Lewis readers who haven't built up the concentration needed to track with his lengthier pieces.

A couple of the essays are 4 and 5-star and some are 2-star. I averaged it out to 3-star.
David
Feb 18, 2009 David rated it really liked it
A collection of essays by C.S. Lewis. On Living in the Atomic Age is one essay within the book that is a must read.

"Those who care for something else more than civilization are the only people by whom civilization is at all likely to be preserved. Those who want Heaven most have served Earth best."
Dean Akin
Jul 21, 2011 Dean Akin rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
A collection of essays written during the WWII years concerning the cultural shifts in Britain. These concerns are as important to question today, as they where then. A worthwhile read, very thoughtful, interesting and timeless.
Jonathan Roberts
Jun 10, 2014 Jonathan Roberts rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Four and a half stars! Some of these essays are a bit dated. This book would have benefited from little introductions to the context or reason for Lewis to write it. Maybe subsequent editions have this, but in spite of this these essays, the parts my feeble mind can comprehend, are amazing!
Chrisanne
Short essays, easy to ingest but harder to digest. It's amazing how much skill he has and how much opinion he can present in 1200 words. Loved it!
Bob
Feb 22, 2009 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of newspaper (or newspaper-like) articles from Lewis. Nothing groundbreaking here, but a nice little potpourri of ideas from a great thinker.
Christopher  Waugh
Nov 14, 2012 Christopher Waugh rated it it was amazing
This short collection of essays are, undoubtedly, some of the most important articles Lewis ever wrote. I will return to this again and again.
Justin Dillehay
Jun 26, 2013 Justin Dillehay rated it it was amazing
Lewis at his usual best. My personal favorites were "Modern Man and his Categories of Thought," "Private Bates," and "The Necessity of Chivalry."
Justin Brown
Oct 30, 2012 Justin Brown rated it really liked it
I loved the essay format of C.S. Lewis. Some topics were very interesting while others were good reading with little personal interest.
Travis
Sep 18, 2012 Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like all of Lewis' works, this collection of essays is as timely and relevant today as the day it was written, if not more.
Wes
Wes rated it really liked it
Jan 20, 2015
Steve
Aug 05, 2011 Steve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2011
Wonderful selection of essays.
Jason Caywood
Jason Caywood rated it it was amazing
Apr 16, 2016
Michael
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Sep 04, 2015
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Sep 12, 2014
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CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than th ...more
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“I am a democrat [proponent of democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man.

I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government.

The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation. . . .

The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.”
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“A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. The real reason for democracy is: Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.” 11 likes
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