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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  1,047 ratings  ·  59 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
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
Of the six or seven biographies of C. S. Lewis that I've read over the years, 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 personal anecdotes. Their first meeting is especially...more
Nikolina Hansen
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
Jacob Meiser
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...more
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
Kevin Lucia
Excellent, informative, very insightful and eye-opening. As a Christian, C. S. Lewis seems to have been a REAL person. He wasn't a theologian or in the clergy. He was deeply well-read and thoughtful, but a regular guy who liked his beer and cigars. And - though this is no surprise - he bears little resemblance to many Christian "leaders" today...

AND, now I want to go on a C.S. Lewis reading spree...
Charyla Olsen
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
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.
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.
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.
Adam Talbott
My favorite Lewis bio. McGrath hits all the historical points and summarizes Lewis's books and theology, but Sayer tells you what it was like to have a beer with him.
Sayer knew Lewis well, was a student of his and then became a friend. This gives great insight into all of Lewis' character.
Nathan Eilers
Dec 10, 2011 Nathan Eilers rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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,...more
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...more
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...more
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
Cheryl Floyd
My favorite biography on C. S. Lewis. It chronicles the ups and downs of his life. He wasn't always the brilliant Christian apologist, but he was always brilliant.

It's fascinating to find out about such an amazing man from his childhood to his walk through atheism and agnosticism to finding the True Myth.

This biography respects C. S. Lewis while telling truthfully the whole of his history, which wasn't always pretty. But that makes his testimony all the more sure.
Erik Ferguson
Factual, straightforward, fairly dispassionate. Written by one of Lewis' former students at Oxford who later became a lifelong friend.

The telling is fairly dry -- Sayer is mainly concerned with a few specific objectives in writing about one of the most famous Christian writers of the last hundred years: he sets out to correct what he feels are some misconceptions held by Lewis' other biographers; to discuss Lewis' writings, including his lesser-known academically focused works; and to give insig...more
Ryan Adair
Written by someone who personally knew Jack and had quite a few interactions with him, this book was a treasure. Great insight into Lewis's life. This is a must read for any Lewis fan.
Emma Lavern
Author George Sayer, pupil and old friend of C.S. Lewis, gives an extraordinary and surprising account of Lewis' life. Much was quite shocking, and unexpected, but one must remember that he was human, and not one who wished anyone to envy his Christian life; one's focus need be solely on God. This is a great read for all those nerds of the literary and theological department. I am left with awe of the life of a man I feel, in many ways, or few, akin to. I am sad that the book ended, but it isn't...more
Jacob Sabin
Many of you know C.S. Lewis is my favorite writer. Lewis is able to speak very power Godly wisdom and has written on numerous issues of Christian theology/faith. Yet, the road was not always easy in Lewis' life. There were many things I did not even know about Lewis before reading this book. This is often cited as one of the better, if not best, biographies written on Lewis, being written by longtime friend, George Sayer. I would recommend this book in a heartbeat to any one who is a C.S. Lewis...more
There have been quite a few books written about C. S. Lewis, few of which were written by people who actually knew him. That Sayers was a longtime friend of Lewis is quite apparent in this biography. While incredible slow at times, this book contains lots of interesting facts about Lewis' life and writings. I must admit I skimmed over some of the more boring parts and read more carefully the interesting parts (note I mean boring and interesting as boring and interesting to me personally). If one...more
Theodore Zachariades
Just finished this bio of C. S. Lewis. Succinctly put this is simply superb. I could not put it down. It races along like a steed in a steeplechase. Thoroughly intimate with much that is not disclosed by Lewis himself in say, Surprised by Joy, this book fills in the gaps and more. Delicious details abound and some remarkable elements are forthrightly expressed.

If one wants to know the authentic Lewis, or Jack as known to Sayer, and all his close friends, this is the book. Do not miss this one! A...more
A good basic introduction to the life of C. S. Lewis. The author was a student and later friend of Lewis's, so one of the book's strengths is its vivid depiction of Lewis's personality. The book's writing style is a bit prosaic (it seems especially so if you turn to it having just read some Lewis) but this means the book avoids wild flights--stylistic and interpretive. There is no attempt to show superior insights into Lewis's supposed underbelly, which in this day and age, comes as something of...more
It's a good book from someone who knew Lewis for a long time. It adds to the credibility of the book. It is slow and at times dull but this may be in part because of my lack of interest in some aspects of Lewis's early life. It picks up towards the end when Lewis becomes famous. I learned quite a bit about Lewis, the man. He was a very human, yet incredibly talented and a Christian of course.
Andrea Hickman Walker
I enjoyed this. It was well-written and easy to read, without being oversimplified. I particularly like that the author and Lewis had been friends and, consequently, there was a rather personal and intimate feel to the writing. It made things more accessible and interesting, as well as providing a certain amount of insight from a perspective that one rarely finds in biographical works.
Sam Norton
A nice biography of a terribly interesting man. Seems maybe a bit slanted in favor of Lewis's Christian faith. By that, I mean that it sometimes seems that things are attributed to Jack's faith or divine intervention that don't really seem to be so. Nevertheless, my first Lewis biography to finish, and I am interested to see what other biographers have said about the man.
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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.” 1 likes
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