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4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,916 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
This warm and personal insider's look at the life of C.S. Lewis, gifted literary scholar and bestselling author--and one of this century's most influential Christian apologists--also includes Sayer's reviews of recent developments in C.S. Lewis studies and answers to questions the author is asked when he lectures.
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Published April 22nd 2009 by Crossway (first published June 1st 1988)
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J. Alfred
Nov 12, 2011 J. Alfred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Derek Brewer, one of Lewis' onetime pupils, records that a Cambridge professor once said that Lewis was "a very good man to whom goodness did not come easily." This biography seconds that opinion: it presents Lewis as having a troubled life, but one that was continuously offered up to the Lord as a sacrifice. In the appendix, written a decade after its intial publication, Sayer addresses several alternate biographies that had appeared of Lewis since: he says that the very real ugliness of much o ...more
Feb 19, 2016 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the latter half of this better than the first. This biography was well done and it felt like it was written with love and respect for C. S. Lewis.

The first half dealt with his childhood and his entrance into the adult world. C.S. Lewis, aka Jack, had some difficult things to endure. I've heard that he is the most oft quoted person in Christian religions. So I was kind of surprised to hear that he actually walked away from religion because of some things he was dealing with. But he came b
Justin Orman
Sep 03, 2016 Justin Orman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
C.S. Lewis was first known to me through his children's books on Narnia. I've since become introduced to him as a Christian philosopher. As a biblical theologian, Lewis, by his own admission, was an amateur. As a thinker, he has few rivals.

All biographies or books on history will be necessarily limited to the knowledge, perspective, and biases of the author. George Sayer was a close personal friend of Lewis. While his observations and comments on Lewis and his friends/family are fascinating, it
Terje Fokstuen
Feb 21, 2015 Terje Fokstuen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jack is an affectionate biography of CS Lewis by George Sayer, once a student, then a friend, of Lewis. This is an engaging, and warm look at Lewis and his writing. Sayer lays out Lewis life, and books, but what ultimately comes across is the joy and faith that characterized so much of both the public and private man. Reading this I felt that I knew something of the man, and not just the dry facts of his life but rather a bit like we had a long chat over tea on a rainy day. Strongly recommended. ...more
Nikolina Hansen
Mar 07, 2014 Nikolina Hansen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our Sunday School Class has used this book for a base of study of the many effects that CS Lewis has had on the Christian. It is the most comprehensive biography of CS "Jack" Lewis written by someone who actually knew him and spent time with him for over 30 years. Not only does it give the reader an understanding of what and why Lewis wrote like he did. It also gives a perspective of life during the early 20th century in England. I also gained a better understanding of much classical literature ...more
Mar 16, 2015 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
The beauty of his mind is what captivates people who read anything by C S Lewis. Reading his biography is like trying to see how and where that beauty came from. This biography, written by an intimate friend, shows that C S Lewis had a very unextraordinary life. He grew up, went to school, served in the military, hired on as a professor, gave lectures and wrote. None of these events show the beauty like the books he wrote. What they do show is that he was injured by an abusive teacher right afte ...more
Josh Wilson
Jul 23, 2015 Josh Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sayers's book is insightful, informative and at times, funny. For someone interested in literature and literary interpretation, and especially of classical and medieval literature, this is a must-read, because of how Sayer highlights Lewis's literary influences and scholarly conversations. Sayer draws upon numerous first-hand experiences, conversations, and letters, but writes in a way that immerses the reader in Lewis's world. In fact the experience for me evoked the "longing" so central to Lew ...more
Jacob Meiser
Aug 01, 2012 Jacob Meiser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book written by a friend of C.S. Lewis that is really helpful in understanding the man, C.S. Lewis. Although he would reject this kind of literary criticism (calling it "the personal heresy), his biography sheds light on some of Lewis' writings for me.

As a biography, this book seems mostly unbiased and does, in fact, cover some of Lewis' shortcomings and addresses all the main moral issues that are generally brought up regarding him.

There are certainly things that I wish Sayer would have
Gavin Breeden
A fascinating biography written by a student/friend of Lewis. I appreciated the fact that Sayer portrays Lewis with warts and all, not hesitating to point out his virtues and his flaws. At times, the book gets a bit bogged down describing in detail trips that Lewis took, the layout of his house, and stories he wrote as a child. Those things are probably only for the die hard Lewis fan. I'd have preferred more information on other things, like his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien, for instance. Rea ...more
Nathan Huffstutler
Of the several bios of Lewis that I've read, this is my very favorite. For some inexplicable reason, I feel like reading it every fall.

Sayer was a student of Lewis's at Oxford, and the two became good friends until Lewis's death. Over the years, Lewis would periodically come stay with Sayer and his wife at Malvern so that the two men could take walking tours in the Malvern hills.

Sayer includes a lot of great anecdotes. One of my favorite aspects of the book is that Sayer records in detail the
Charyla Olsen
Jul 19, 2010 Charyla Olsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book offers a pretty thorough biography of C. S. Lewis. I thought quite a bit of attention was paid to the dysfunctional aspects of his personality and it was a trifle disconcerting to think that someone so widely admired could have deep--and rather unresolved--psychological issues. However, it's also comforting to think that someone of the stature of C. S. Lewis managed to contribute a great deal to the world in spite his limitations. I would recommend it as one good biography of Lewis, bu ...more
Dec 23, 2014 kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
This is one of my favorite biographies written about one of my favorite authors. One of the most fascinating parts is how he came to write the Narnia series. He was very proud of his logical argument to defend the existence of God (i.e. that naturalism is self-defeating) but was shattered after he lost (or so he felt) a debate with Cambridge philosopher. After that, he stopped writing apologetics, giving up on logic as a way to lead people to God and turned instead to reaching the heart through ...more
I really enjoyed this book and even though I am not a literary expert by any means, I was able to keep up most of the time. It is very thorough and because the author was a friend of Jack's, it felt very authentic and gave quite a view of some private issues of his life. I will keep this book and while reading more of C.S. Lewis' writing, I plan on returning to each section of his life that led to writing each particular work. Highly recommended.
Jordan J. Andlovec
Touching and personal, like hearing of a good friend over a glass of port. George Sayers nearly 30-year friendship with "Jack" gives us a window into "the patron saint of evangelicalism" that no other biography does. It shows the warm, richly gracious man who is often seen as an untouchable intellectual giant.
RE de Leon
Along with Douglas Gresham's Lenten Lands, which isn't actually a Lewis Biography anyway, this is probably the introduction to CS Lewis most beginners should start with. Accurate, thorough, and well written. More detailed review later.
A good general biography of Lewis, though perhaps a little obessessed with Lewis' sexual habits. I swear there was a whole chapter on whether or not Lewis and his wife had sex before they got married.
This biography of C.S. Lewis appealed to me as a former student of literature and as a Christian. I learned a lot about C.S. Lewis, but above all I was amazed at his humility and kindness when he had such an awesome intelligence.
Aug 25, 2015 DD rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're going to read a biography on CS Lewis, this is the book to read! Written by a close friend who shares intimate details about his life, you really feel as if you know who CS Lewis was.
May 08, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sayer knew Lewis well, was a student of his and then became a friend. This gives great insight into all of Lewis' character.
Aug 22, 2013 Collin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Over the years, I have read most of the works written by C.S. Lewis. However, I realized recently that I knew little of the man himself. My favorite writer, the man I wish could be my grandfather and tell me the very stories he wrote, was mostly a mystery to me. So I began the work of finding a suitable biography to describe the author behind the words I love so much. I settled upon George Sayer’s, Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis.

Sayer was a student at Magdalen College, a member of Oxford University,
Aug 03, 2016 Dkovlak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a very good book about an amazing man.

I learned a lot about CS (Jack) Lewis from this book. It was nice to read a book written by someone who knew him personally.

I learned:

- He loved poetry.

– He grew up in Ireland.

- He did not own his main home, the Kilns. It was owned by Mrs. Moore, but he was able to live in it until the end of his life.

- He had many friends and he was very witty.

– He was very close, throughout his life, with his brother Warren.

– His brother Warren was an alcohol
Not much new here, but I wanted to get more personal info about Mr. Lewis and from someone other than himself (see Surprised By Joy).

C.S. Lewis and his great friends have done an excellent job of keeping certain details of his life private, even decades after his death. Can't say that I blame him for his discretion (Louisa May Alcott, for example, entrusted her diaries and letters to a friend with the instruction they be destroyed upon her death. Well, yeah, you can read them all in various publ
Dec 12, 2013 Luke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I believe it was Douglas Greshem, Lewis' stepson who wrote in the preface to "A Grief Observed" that this biography by George Sayer was the best that he knew of. Being an accomplished literary man surrounded by plenty of other accomplished literary friends, it seems chances were high that we'd get an insightful, readable and thoroughly-researched set of reminiscences and biography from somebody. As a former student, but even more importantly, as a longtime friend of C.S. Lewis Sayer does a wonde ...more
Nathan Eilers
Dec 10, 2011 Nathan Eilers rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lewis fans
I'm not a big biography guy. I don't think the number of biographies I've read is in the double digits, so I don't feel super qualified to discuss this book's merits as a biography per se. There are certain things a biographer must do: decide what to include, give personal anecdotes of the subject, and shape the subject's life in a (hopefully accurate) certain way. I think Sayer does those things.

I suppose any critic would say that Sayer is simply a Lewis apologist. Whatever controversies exist
This was my third biography on C.S. Lewis (the first was Green & Hooper and the second McGrath). I liked it and appreciated the fact that it was written by a close friend and former student of his. This allowed for their personal memories and interactions with the subject and I really like those that Sayer shared. All three biographies seem to share the same childhood information and have the same take on it, but they differ in what they share and what they emphasize in his adult life. This ...more
Dec 10, 2016 Bethany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author was tutored by, and later became a friend of, C.S. Lewis, so this is a biography that I feel I can trust. The author draws on personal conversations, works of Lewis, letters and other documents.
Sep 29, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished Jack: A Life of C. S. Lewis by George Sayers earlier this week, and I genuinely loved it. This book should have already joined the many biographies in my library. Honestly, I cannot say why I have not read it earlier, because it was right up my alley.

Sayers was a pupil of Lewis at Oxford, and subsequently became a close friend. This depiction of Lewis benefits from his first hand knowledge of the man. It paints an intimate picture of the man, complete with his flaws and foibles as wel
Nov 25, 2014 Warren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for:
I can't imagine a better biography of C S Lewis. George Sayer was a pupil of Lewis at Oxford and came to be one of the author's best friends. Over the years Mr Sayer even became a sort of advisor to Lewis and assisted him through his illness is later years as well as estate matters.

George Sayer, also a professor, came to know Lewis's friends such as J R R Tolkien and others. He Researched and fully describes his childhood, his brother Warren's childhood and subsequent alcoholism, and everything
Dec 17, 2014 Jenine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is right in my venn diagram including the following elements: English schools and universities, 1898 to post-war, Narnia. The Christian stuff doesn't bother me either, avoid if it gets up your nose. I read a lot of C.S. Lewis in late high school when I was trying on Christianity. I really enjoyed reading the biography over the past week. The first half of the book especially is presented in lots of location detail and more objectivity than I expected from the author who was Lewis's student, ...more
Nov 28, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
It is interesting to read a biography written by a friend of the person. Sayer does a really good job incorporating various sources with his own experience to paint a picture of Lewis that seems his other biographers have missed. Lewis is shown to be a complex man with many fears, blemishes and insecurities along side the brilliance that most seem to know of him. It is slightly bittersweet getting to know Lewis. There is something mythical about the man that is lost in reading this biography. Le ...more
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  • Through the Shadowlands: The Love Story of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman
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  • On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature
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  • The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community

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“And once when we were walking on Bredon Hill, we met a bedraggled and exhausted fox. 'Oh, poor thing,' Jack said. 'What shall we do when the hunt comes up? I can already hear them. Oh, I know -- I have an idea.' He cupped his hands and shouted to the first riders, "Hallo, yoicks, gone that way," and pointed in the direction opposite to the one the fox had taken. The whole hunt followed his directions. There followed a long discussion about when lying was morally justifiable, but he boasted delightedly later to my wife that he had saved the life of a poor fox and showed no trace of guilt.” 3 likes
“He valued these experiences of joy more than anything else he had known, and he desired, as all who have experienced them desire, to have them again and again. It was this mystical quality that set him apart from other boys. He was surprised by joy. He spent the rest of his life searching for more of it.” 2 likes
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