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Present Concerns

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  176 ratings  ·  24 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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Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesWatchmen by Alan MooreIt by Stephen KingSpeaker for the Dead by Orson Scott CardThe Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
Best Books of 1986
52nd out of 111 books — 62 voters
A Grief Observed by C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. LewisMiracles by C.S. LewisMere Christianity by C.S. LewisPrince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
Chronological Reading of C.S. Lewis
62nd out of 67 books — 9 voters


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Ron
Sep 05, 2009 Ron rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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Stephen
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
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
Jim
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.
Justin Dillehay
Lewis at his usual best. My personal favorites were "Modern Man and his Categories of Thought," "Private Bates," and "The Necessity of Chivalry."
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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Stephen Gambill
First time reading through this collection of essays on a variety of subjects. Some of them were thrilling to me, such as The Necessity of Chivalry, My First School, and Modern Man and His Categories of Thought. Others were interesting, but I felt disconnected due to lack of knowledge in the field or historical context. Even in those which I felt ignorance in, there were still special moments ("that shock, as if one were swallowing light itself).

This work is probably not for the casual reader o
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Seth Little
Some of these essays are diamonds ('Equality'); the rest are rubies and pearls.
RE de Leon
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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Michael
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.
Readnponder
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.
Adena
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!
Dan
Worth reading just for the essay 'On living in the atomic age'x
David
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."
Jonathan Roberts
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!
Dean Akin
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.
Bob
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
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 Brown
I loved the essay format of C.S. Lewis. Some topics were very interesting while others were good reading with little personal interest.
Travis
Like all of Lewis' works, this collection of essays is as timely and relevant today as the day it was written, if not more.
viktor palenyy
a delightful collection of insightful essays/articles
Steve
Wonderful selection of essays.
Douglas Wilson
Good stuff. Also read in July of 1987.
Zachames
Lewis at his very best.
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1069006
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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“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.” 10 likes
“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.”
10 likes
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