Although I've never been much of a fan of "excerpt" books, I couldn't help myself with CS Lewis. The text, unfortunately, does nothing with referringAlthough I've never been much of a fan of "excerpt" books, I couldn't help myself with CS Lewis. The text, unfortunately, does nothing with referring one to where these little bits of Lewis excerpted from, and thus I'm left to guess at what I'd like to read of his next (or again)....more
Very, very strange, and perhaps not in a good way. I've read this book before, but it was called "The Abolition of Man." Lewis attempts, it seems, toVery, very strange, and perhaps not in a good way. I've read this book before, but it was called "The Abolition of Man." Lewis attempts, it seems, to make fiction out of the very well developed ideas in his essay, but the end result left me confused, wanting, and (surprisingly for me) rather put off.
To begin with something good, the writing of "That Hideous Strength" is very good. The problem I have is with his presentation of ideas and his story, both of which seem oddly undeveloped. This book is completely different from the other two in the series. At first I thought it was going to be an "adult" version of "The Last Battle" as the tone was creepy, unsettling, and mysterious. I never knew who was leading who, where the true evil was and how the main characters were going to deal with it. Unfortunately this continued throughout the entirety of the book and I was left wondering why most characters were in the story at all. I soon realized that the Belbury characters were only certain outcomes of his ideas in "The Abolition of Man" made into walking characters, much like the Head. In this way I assume Lewis wanted his ideas to look more realistic, but in the end I felt only the opposite. "The Abolition of Man" was a wonderful book and I agreed with almost every argument Lewis made, but turning the ideas into living, speaking characters only made those ideas seem like jokes. Most of the conversations, further, between the characters were nothing more than Lewis drawing on previous essays/books of his in a similar way. This normally would have been good save for Lewis' poor characterisation which led to them seeming flat and confused. This may also be a reason that many readers of Lewis point to this book as evidence of his sexism, as the arguments he puts forward for obedience and characteristics of genders is, again, poorly "argued" and spoken through characters for the sake of the idea, not for character or story development. Jane's transformation seemed to me to be only a whitewashing into a simple woman (something about wanting to be "fresh" instead of "interesting"), and a woman very similar to the others in the story, none of who I found very appealing as characters. The only characters who went through any real change or development seemed to be Mark and the fellow with the red beard (spoiler-hopefully those who read the book will know who I'm referring to). Mark unfortunately fell into the problem described above as being a mouthpiece for Lewis' ideas, though did seem human from time to time. The other character who developed I actually truly felt sorry for and actually liked. No one else (even Ransom!) did I feel was at all fully represented (or represented at all).
Thus I come away from the book very dissatisfied, wishing both that more had happened and that Lewis had taken less time trying to prove his points with flat characters. He was able to do this in both "Out of Silent Planet" and "Perelandra," but in "That Hideous Strength" he only succeeds in taking the reader through a rather anti-climactic journey....more
This is probably one of the strangest books I have ever read. It took me a while to realize whether or not I liked it (in the end, I did). The problemThis is probably one of the strangest books I have ever read. It took me a while to realize whether or not I liked it (in the end, I did). The problem, I think, comes from Lewis' method of storytelling (at least here). Some of his characters reminded me of standpoints he argued against in other, non-fiction works of his (for example, "The Abolition of Man"), and though they work well in non-fiction, as characters growing and acting in a world they seem flat and contrived. That said, the antagonist in the book was the most frightening character I have ever read and the descriptions of him gave me chills. From what it seems to me, the book is a combination of "The Abolition of Man," "The Voyage of Dawn Treader," "The Magician's Nephew," "The Last Battle," and the book of Genesis, though written for adults (in reference to Narnia). In the end I enjoyed it for its story, though some of the philosophical debates, to me, seemed to be confusing and hazy. ...more
Completely disappointing. Pearce's close-minded reading of CS Lewis' life attempts to argue that Lewis was too much a bigot and coward to do what, deeCompletely disappointing. Pearce's close-minded reading of CS Lewis' life attempts to argue that Lewis was too much a bigot and coward to do what, deep down, he "really" wanted (join the Catholic church). Pearce construes facts and influences to show Lewis is being surrounded by mostly strong Catholics, both dead and alive, though forgets such men as Charles Williams (among others) and ignores George MacDonald not being Catholic. Certain views Lewis held (such as small-government and appreciation for local labor) Pearce writes as being specifically Catholic (or Catholic influenced), forgetting that Lewis was a thinking, considerate person himself (that he couldn't consider such points on his own seems beyond Pearce). In the end, Pearce's depiction of Lewis is "interpretation heavy," and he seems to think that the only people who still read Lewis are Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants (where he gets this from, I really don't know).
I'm sure CS Lewis had his reasons for not becoming Catholic, and as I share some of them that I have gathered while studying him, I was hoping for an honest discussion... ...more
A very good approach, I think. Understanding the problems, world, and issues of the writers of the Psalms is key to understanding a lot of the troubleA very good approach, I think. Understanding the problems, world, and issues of the writers of the Psalms is key to understanding a lot of the troublesome parts of the Book (and any book, really, is better understood by knowing the context in which it was written). Lewis' comments on allegory and prefiguration were also welcome, as modern critical theory seems to deny the ability of seeing things on multiple levels at once. More is required to have a full understanding the work (I'm sure Lewis would agree to this), as Lewis notes that he is only a layman. Yet with any digging comes further understanding, and Lewis is always good at directing towards different things to study and look at (even if we don't agree with him)....more
I'm still not sure what I think of this book. It was a lot more allegorical than the other six (which I did not like), and the events of the first halI'm still not sure what I think of this book. It was a lot more allegorical than the other six (which I did not like), and the events of the first half did not really seem to be all that much able to lead into the events of the second half (which I also didn't like). Further, I really still don't like Jill and Eustace as much as Lucy, Edmund and others. Yet when I came away from the book I felt the same sort of feeling I did with Dawn Treader and The Magician's Nephew. The experience was just so amazing that I can't say that I didn't like it. Maybe if it had been written by someone else I would have felt differently (I really like CS Lewis)... I'm not sure I'd say I like how it ended, either, that it was too tidy, and didn't fit well, but still. Very odd how Lewis can do this to his readers, haha. ...more
I'm not sure how I would feel about this book had I read it in the "new order." I think it being the 6th book makes it more interesting (I'd rather noI'm not sure how I would feel about this book had I read it in the "new order." I think it being the 6th book makes it more interesting (I'd rather not know anything about the history of things before I got a grasp of the thing itself, I suppose).
But regardless of ordering, this is a fantastic story. It takes a bit of time to take off (I'm personally terribly bored whenever Narnia is in England), though when it does it is very interesting. Lewis' allegory of Christian creation is more apparent than in the other Narnian books, but, really, it's not allegory as much as "what could have happened had things been different." One of the very interesting things Lewis does with his tales is to make everything seem believable, even when he's talking about the beginning of the world. With the exception of Aslan, all of his characters seem like normal people (even the talking animals) together with their faults, their interesting qualities, people you might meet anywhere. What I'm trying to describe is how un-epic it all feels. The things the main characters do, though they are allegories in a way for Adam and Eve (and I only say 'in a way'), are...I guess the only way I could describe them is by giving them an opposite: they're not Milton's characters. And that's what makes it so interesting. I'm a big fan of Paradise Lost, but what Lewis does with the same foundation makes for such a more personal story. Mistakes are made, problems arise from events that any one of us could get mixed up in, and that makes things more difficult down the line (I'm sure this sounds rather strange to anyone who hasn't read the book, but I don't want to give away anything, or at least as little as possible). The whole thing seems very...organic, perhaps. Natural. and, of course, beautiful. I'm rather sad to have only one more book to read in the series......more
Great fun and a joy to read. CS Lewis took a different turn with this one than with the last four books of Narnia, and I think that revitalized the seGreat fun and a joy to read. CS Lewis took a different turn with this one than with the last four books of Narnia, and I think that revitalized the series for me (I didn't care much for the characters in the Silver Chair, the previous book). Aslan, as always, was wonderfully done, and the allegory Lewis paints in no way gets in front of the main thrust of the plot. I thought that the allegory, actually, was more fully intertwined with the story of Shasta and Bree than in the previous books, thus making it more alive and interesting (though the story alone, without any not of the allegory, I felt was exciting, thrilling, and very well told).
A note about those who find racist depictions in this book: it is true that the Calormen are not depicted too kindly in this book BUT one must remember a few things. First, CS Lewis was a student of medieval literature, and this book in many ways should be seen as a "medieval tale" of the Narnia in the Silver Chair (which it is, as the characters there hear the tale at one point - another reason this new organization of the books is silly). For us, the Calormen could be compared to the Saracens, who were the general "bad guys" in medieval romance, and on the whole were depicted as any culture might depict another people who they don't understand: poorly. Lewis' Calormen are much the same as the Saracens in this respect, though Lewis does not condemn them wholesale. He gives their culture many "tips of the hat," such as the way the tell stories and the grandness of their main city. Yes, Lewis could have done a bit less in making the two cultures so similar, and thus avoided such problems, but in making a medieval literature for Narnia that people of his time (and our time) could understand through our own medieval literature, I think he did a pretty good job, and paid compliments at just the right moments. CS Lewis had his opinions, but he was a very kind and just man; not the type who would write a racist book for children. Maybe there's a bit more there to understand than meets the eye......more
Though not as good as the previous two books in the series (I read Prince Caspian and The Voyage of Dawn Treader this past week), The Silver Chair isThough not as good as the previous two books in the series (I read Prince Caspian and The Voyage of Dawn Treader this past week), The Silver Chair is a good, solid, Narnian tale. I didn't take as well to the main characters and spent a good deal of time missing the original four. I also had a little bit of a problem with certain choices Lewis made on depicting certain locales (which I won't mention in case the present reader is new to the book). The book is a bit more somber (I suppose) than the others in the series, and Lewis' wit comes out a little less (or at least in other ways). Still, looking forward to the next three!...more
I have long been a fan of CS Lewis' non-fiction books, mostly because his points are so intricately argued that if you disagree with him you can immedI have long been a fan of CS Lewis' non-fiction books, mostly because his points are so intricately argued that if you disagree with him you can immediately see why, and if you agree you can deepen your opinion. I hadn't read much of his fiction until now, and I must say it is very much different. Reading "Dawn Treader" for me was like looking at some beautiful piece of nature (high mountains, a tree or long grass in the wind, or, of course, the sea) and being hit by the simple beauty of it. The silence which true beauty brings to one's self is difficult to explain in words, as whenever a word is given, no matter how broad or how narrow its meaning, immediately dashes the whole image and leaves one with but a memory. But CS Lewis' descriptions of beauty, so simple that they are, reach past mere words and get at the heart of things. Too in frequently have I known a work of literature to do such a thing, and "Dawn Treader" is one of them....more
What a fun book! Long ago I had read the first book of the series (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe), though had never finished it. I saw the moviWhat a fun book! Long ago I had read the first book of the series (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe), though had never finished it. I saw the movie and didn't care for it much, but a friend told me I "had to read them, or else," and so I did. The story is very basic, and I remembered all the main parts from the movie, but the story is not what makes this book so much fun to read: it's the way Lewis tells the story. CS Lewis' nonfiction books are one of my greatest loves, and I didn't know how I would feel towards his children's literature, but I have absolutely nothing bad to say about his skills as an artist. Even when the story got more into the vein of allegory (such as whenever Aslan was around), I felt the scenes fit in with the world Lewis was aiming to depict. I'm happily now looking forward to the other five books of the series!
One last note: I have heard many people talk about Narnia as "Christian propaganda," but I saw very little "hidden agenda." Yes, Aslan was very much (to me) as I would image Jesus, and the scene where one of the dwarfs complains about him not being around did sound like some of the conversations I've had with those who have arguments against the Christian religion. For me, though, Prince Caspian was like any other book written from the true nature of a person, which I think is one of the fundamental criteria for making a good work of literature. CS Lewis was Christian, but also loved what he believed, and that shows in his work. The same could be said for any author who loves something deeply and is encouraged to write because of it. And anyway, if a reader has a problem with Lewis' Christianity, they could easily focus on another part of the story (such as the intricate descriptions of food!)...more
Spectacular and beautiful. CS Lewis' earlier books were very well written and (in my personal opinion) rather well argued. This is not an "argued" booSpectacular and beautiful. CS Lewis' earlier books were very well written and (in my personal opinion) rather well argued. This is not an "argued" book, though; the subtitle "reflections" is a more apt description. That's not to say Lewis fails to present good arguments for his ideas, but the matter of the book is more of a 'search' than of a 'telling.' Especially towards the end, Lewis shows how much he has learned through his life on how to describe the beauty that we see beyond the physicality of the world. I'm not sure I learned as much on 'prayer' itself from reading this book, but, like Surprised by Joy, I learned quite a bit about where prayer brought another human, and where I too wander when my thoughts turn to God....more
Carpenter really knows his stuff about both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and he shows it in this book. Though at a few points I think his editorialiCarpenter really knows his stuff about both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and he shows it in this book. Though at a few points I think his editorializing opinions of certain realities (such as that Warnie Lewis continued drinking because he didn't like his brother's marriage), in all the book is a good one, and certainly gives a great deal of information both on Lewis as well as Charles Williams. It felt, though, more like a collection of short biographies on each of the more well known members of the Inklings, and only at times entered into (or tried to) their collective lives. Still, a good read, and one that taught me a lot about two authors I greatly admire....more
I'm sad to write that this book really wasn't all that good. I'm a big fan of CS Lewis, and a very big fan of the thesis of this book, but Lewis was jI'm sad to write that this book really wasn't all that good. I'm a big fan of CS Lewis, and a very big fan of the thesis of this book, but Lewis was just not in form in the writing of it. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that he wrote it something like a year or two before he died, but he really seems like a cranky old man in his writing. Again, I love what he said, and I might suggest the book to others, but he really does go on and on and on......more
Great -- BUT! I got all the way to the end and in a letter from 1961 Lewis wrote to someone about his disliking towards publishing letters: "I do notGreat -- BUT! I got all the way to the end and in a letter from 1961 Lewis wrote to someone about his disliking towards publishing letters: "I do not wish to relinquish things often worth of sacred silence to subsequent reading by posterity. For nowadays inquisitive researchers dig out all our affairs and besmirch them with the poison of 'publicity' (as a barbarous thing I am giving it a barbarous name).
This letter made me stop reading the book immediately, and I've only opened it again to find this quote. Sad that such a view is held by someone who's published letters take up three full volumes......more
I have never encountered a book with such amazingly interesting and wretched stories in my life. The titular "Dark Tower" was probably one of the bestI have never encountered a book with such amazingly interesting and wretched stories in my life. The titular "Dark Tower" was probably one of the best things I've read of CS Lewis, while the following tales were some of the worst. One of them I think probably ranks with the top ten worst books I have ever read.
Awesome. Though the beginning is kinda slow, and the main idea of the book is very particular to CS Lewis' vision (the book kinda explains it), it wasAwesome. Though the beginning is kinda slow, and the main idea of the book is very particular to CS Lewis' vision (the book kinda explains it), it was really an awesome book. Like most of his other novels and non-fiction books, I feel like he puts forth his full and unashamed idea of what the world is. It doesn't seem preachy (to me), but instead opens up my mind to think about the issues. And, regardless of anything else, this was just an all around interesting read....more
Amazing! Anyone interested in Medieval or Renaissance Literature MUST read this book. While reading "The Discarded Image" I was (am) also reading "ParAmazing! Anyone interested in Medieval or Renaissance Literature MUST read this book. While reading "The Discarded Image" I was (am) also reading "Paradise Lost," and I noticed, as I read more of CS Lewis' book I understood more and more of Milton's. Had I read this book in college!!...more
Simply amazing. Probably the best book by CS Lewis I've ever read. And the most terrifying. I took particular interest in the book because of conversaSimply amazing. Probably the best book by CS Lewis I've ever read. And the most terrifying. I took particular interest in the book because of conversations with my friend Cadmus in Japan, who was of the opinion that Instinct towards preserving the species is all that drives humanity in our lives (to sum up his general position). This book shows (and I believe proves) that such ideas, along with others that are similar or spring from it (such as that values are void and that traditional ideas must be cast aside for good) will bring about nothing but pain and, well, the "abolition" of our human selves and all that is meaningful to us as Humans.
Alas, all books about amazing people are not amazing themselves. This book read as a biography of both Tolkien and Lewis, though set side by side chroAlas, all books about amazing people are not amazing themselves. This book read as a biography of both Tolkien and Lewis, though set side by side chronologically. I learned a few new things about Tolkien, and a bit about Lewis, though all of which I would rather read in a full biography, not one on the two men's friendship with one another. Lost in the book was any sense of them being friends, due to the sparsity of quotes from one about the other and also simply the patch-workness of the whole endevour. Luckily the last chapter was full of their collective ideas, though done rather speedily. I got a good bit of thinking done due to the book, and thinking I have not been able to approach for quite some time, though this is due not to the book, but to the brilliance that are Tolkien and Lewis....more
The first two chapters were really rather interesting...but then it kinda fumbled. I don't agree with a bunch of ideas Lewis has, though it's really aThe first two chapters were really rather interesting...but then it kinda fumbled. I don't agree with a bunch of ideas Lewis has, though it's really a good read nonetheless....more