Mike (the Paladin)'s Reviews > Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis
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Jan 04, 12

bookshelves: christian-theology, favorites

Okay, I started this today and finished it today, and will probably reread it. This has happened with many of Lewis' books. I've read The Four Loves several times and am getting ready to reread Miracles. There often seems to be a lot that I don't get first time through.

This is a wonderful book with some less than wonderful parts. By that I mean discourses on difficult or unpleasant events and/or topics. I won't try to go over this volume in any kind of detail. I suspect it will "strike" different readers in different ways. The book communicated to me on several levels. From surprise at the details about certain things in the British Public School system (circa early 1900s) and thankfulness that America was spared those parts to a realization that most people in the last 60 years (+or-) could be argued to have received almost no education. The book is valuable simply on the level of a biography and personal account history. (My generation, for example, was the first where Latin and what was then called "foreign languages" became "elective" classes instead of simply being required. In my generation basic math, reading, grammar skills, along with at least rudimentary knowledge of history, and social studies was "required" to pass from grade to grade and then graduate.)

Aside from this however and on deeper levels the book deals with Lewis' rejection of all things spiritual, mystical, metaphysical or religious and decision to become an atheist. It then leads us through his life and reasoning from there to theism and then to Christianity.

I could say a lot more about this book but I can't in this limited space give an account that would come close to doing it justice.

Highly recommended.
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Quotes Mike (the Paladin) Liked

C.S. Lewis
“A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.”
C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life


Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I look forward to seeing your review.


Mike (the Paladin) I'm a little more than half way through it. (I've been at it since I entered it here, the library had it ready for me this afternoon). The public school system and what was "allowed" and thought "acceptable" surprises me a good deal.


Mike (the Paladin) Well, I stopped to make dinner for myself and my daughter and to look back here. LOL


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I haven't read this yet, but I am curious to hear if you think it is worth picking up. Is it about Lewis' whole life, or just from when he met his wife?


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

d'uh! I guess I could actually look at the book cover for the answer. :)


Mike (the Paladin) So far (and I'm almost through it) Joy (Gresham) hasn't been mentioned. The book covers his youth, goes through WWI and on into his arrival at Oxford. At this time he was still an atheist. The book follows his life and thoughts, why he became an atheist and then the experiences that led him to become a Christian.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

See, I always connected the title "Joy" with his wife. It refers instead to his becoming a Christian. :)


Mike (the Paladin) I didn't even try to explain the title because I doubt I could do it justice. I'd rather aim someone at the book and have them follow Lewis' reasoning than try to give a thumbnail of it.

I still almost launched into a quick explanation.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, yes, no need to explain the title. I imagine it's an enjoyable part of the story, to "decipher" its meaning.


message 10: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Chough Even though I'm a huge fan of Lewis, I haven't read this book. His life is almost like a literary fairy tale to me (friendship with Tolkien, the "Inklings", etc.). I'm going to try to pick up a copy the next time I'm in the USA. Thanks for the review.


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