C.S. Lewis Books discussion

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
This topic is about Surprised by Joy
93 views
Surprised by Joy

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Joyce Jarrard | 3 comments Hi, I am a brand new member. Has anyone read "Surprised by Joy"? I am almost finished with it, and found it a bit shocking. (Lewis suffered some horrible abuse in his schooling.) "Surprised by Joyc" is an autobiographical account about how Lewis was an atheist, and then became a Christian through philosophy.

I had written a very long post about this. When I previewed it, I lost it. :-(


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I just picked this book up at a used book store recently and it's next on my "to read" list. I'll check back here when I get into it. I looked fascinating.


message 3: by Cleo (last edited Jun 09, 2013 12:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 11 comments Joyce wrote: "Hi, I am a brand new member. Has anyone read "Surprised by Joy"? I am almost finished with it, and found it a bit shocking. (Lewis suffered some horrible abuse in his schooling.) "Surprised by Jo..."

Joyce, unfortunately Surprised by Joy is one of the few Lewis books that I haven't read yet (along with Reflections on the Psalms, A Grief Observed and The Great Divorce) so I can't discuss it in length with you. Perhaps I should try to fit it and and then you, Michelle and I can give our thoughts.

Can you explain more about what you mean about "abuse"? What we would clash as abuse nowadays was I think rather normal back then. However, I know that he didn't like school and begged his father to let him be schooled at home.

I'm sorry that you lost your long post; I would have loved to read it!


Joyce Jarrard | 3 comments During two of his elementary school years his teacher was a psycho who didn't teach them anything, but beat them. (And yet he and his brother didn't tell their father.) I realize that beatings were commonplace in schools. The prep school (high school) involved a system where the spoiled elite bossed around the undergrads and made them do everything, shine their shoes, etc. so they could never get their home work done between that and the mandatory sports or "games" which Lewis hated. The shocking abuse part was that the same spoiled elite made "tarts" out of some of the boys, and used them as sex slaves. I surmised that's where the term "fag" began. It was originally a term for an underclassman, but more than just the usual hazing occurred at that prep school. I have no idea how common this practice was, or why it was condoned.


message 5: by Cleo (last edited Aug 05, 2014 07:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 11 comments I'm finally about ¾ of the way through the book. I didn't notice that Lewis said he was abused at all. He was "flogged" by the older boys for infractions, which was supposedly "normal". Lewis himself doesn't focus on the flogging at all, other than mention it. Instead he focussed on their faulty logic, so honestly it couldn't have been that traumatic to him. As for fagging, it was used to convey that underclassmen, as you term them, would have to act as servants to the older boys (Lewis calls them Bloods). That's all he conveys and how the term is used in modern times is, I think, irrelevant to this biography. I assume it was condoned because the older boys were simply making the younger ones run errands, shine their shoes, etc. Lewis says himself that his Bloods weren't that bad (chapter 6). And as for using them as "sex slaves", that's a pretty irresponsible assumption based on the text.

I think for some reason that you've read a modern viewpoint into a biography that was written in 1955 with 1955 vernacular. Nothing that I've read indicate the "crimes" that you have somehow created. It might be a good idea to read the book again.


Joyce Jarrard | 3 comments I was also talking about the "tarts" at the boarding school, who were younger boys who were sort of sex slaves to older boys, (though not exactly.) Just Google "C.S. Lewis" "Surprised by Joy" and "tarts" and you'll find the passage I'm referring to. It sounds a lot like what you hear about in the prisons, but with children, not adults. It was upsetting for me to read, and Lewis' matter of fact attitude toward it all was really bizarre to me. I guess I've lead a sheltered life....


back to top