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Jack A Life Of C S Lewis [Paperback]

George Sayer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 457 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway Books USA (20 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581347391
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581347395
  • Product Dimensions: 22.3 x 16 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 938,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Although he regarded Ulster as his homeland, Clive Staples Lewis denied being Irish. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeper insight into CSL 14 Sep 2006
Format:Paperback
As a keen reader of CSL's works, both fiction such as the Narnia Chronicles and the Science Fiction trilogy and also "serious" (though often very humorous!!)works such as Screwtape, The Great Divorce, Surprised by Joy (etc) I was not sure what to expect from "Jack". What I found was a book written with warmth and affection, but which also helped me to understand much better what Lewis wrote and to some extent why. The fact that the author was a personal friend of CSL gave the book added poignancy and credibility. I felt that I had got to know Lewis better. Since reading "Jack" I have re-read several of CSL's books, including those which I would not really have regarded as my favourites, and found that my understanding and enjoyment of them was enhanced by my having read the biography. I strongly recommend the book to readers with a love of CSL's writing and I am sure that it will increase their pleasure in reading Lewis. Worth every penny and more!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still my favourite Lewis biography 4 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sayer writes with warmth and knowledge of Lewis, without becoming sentimental or covering over defects in a gloss of nostalgia. A must for all Lewis fans.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy and Dull 4 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved A.N. Wilson's life of CSL but this was recommended by others on amazon, as a different view. (This was my first purchase on a Kindle, FWIW.)

Any fan of CSL's would enjoy Sayers' biography, but it appears to me a rather laboured support of CSL the figure, rather than the man. Sayer was obviously a friend, and wants naturally to do his duty, but compared to Wilson (hard, I know!) the prose is dull and it affects our picture of CSL. Sayers seems keen to downplay CSLs account of public school - personally I found CSLs description of relationships at Malvern (Surprised by Joy) pointed and amusing.

- Generally there seems to be a fascination with CSls sexlife, such as it was. Sayers stoutly defends CSLs relationships - but I'm really not bothered whether he had a physical relationship with Mrs Moore (probably) or before marriage to Joy (probably unlikely). Does it matter? -

I'm more interested in the man's literary powers, his books, ideas and articles, and how his life and talents affected them. There's little good criticism of these in Sayer's book. But has done his duty and any CSL fan should read it. Give me Wilson, though :)
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
79 of 80 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In Defense of Sayer 27 Oct 2000
By Christopher B. Stratton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in Lewis. It's from the viewpoint of one of his friends, who somewhat reluctantly agreed to write the book. It is a bit unfair to characterize Mr. Sayer as a sychophant that glosses over Lewis' more difficult attributes. He was a friend, and to that extent he deserves to be listened to, just as much, or more than, someone like A.N. Wilson who is clearly not a friend, and more than once misquotes Lewis to make a negative point in his biography. Check the letters. . .trust me.

Sayer includes/lets you into a part of Lewis' private world, as does Douglas Gresham in his wonderful book, and to me these are valuable things. Sure it is good to learn about the negative elements, and to bring your idols back down to earth, but it's equally as important to hear what is good about them, for this is why they are to be admired in the first place. To that extent, this is a great book, and perhaps the first you should read, if you intend to read books about Lewis. It's not perfect, but it doesn't have an agenda either, and when it comes to Lewis scholarship, that is a rare thing.

The most interesting part for me: the anecdote about Joy Davidman having a penchant for using the "F" word. I could do nothing but smile.. . . just like Lewis to marry such a salty woman.
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the definitive biography. 14 Feb 2001
By Cipriano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am truly astounded at some of the less than 5-star reviews... have these reviewers read any OTHER biographies of Lewis? This one is definitely the best by far for many reasons, not the least of which is the personal touch that comes from Sayers twenty-nine year friendship with Lewis. It's one thing to know via secondary research that "with his meal Jack liked to drink a couple of glasses of red wine"... but Sayers clinked glasses with him! With Sayers, Lewis spoke frankly about his personal temptations, spiritual difficulties, creative processes, sundry preferences and worries.
This biography can be read with novel-like enthusiasm by even peripheral Lewisites... and those of us already up to our necks will not mind holding our breath as this book rolls over us. Rather than use this forum to berate another popular Lewis biography whose author has the initials A.N.W., I'll just say that this one is a clear note that rings true.
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, reliable portrait of an old friend 3 Nov 2002
By Robert Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As large as C. S. Lewis looms in today's intellectual landscape, and for all the different ways he manages to find a readership, whether as a literary critic, a Christian apologist, or fantasy novelist, it is somewhat surprising that we do not yet have a truly first rate biography. Until that volume comes along, this affectionate biography/memoir by Lewis's student/friend George Sayer is the best that we have.
The great problem in C. S. Lewis scholarship at the moment is that the bulk of the books dealing with his life tend to be overwhelmingly pious and respectful (the St. Jack bios) or intent on tearing holes in that portrait (A. N. Wilson). What we really need is a first rate biography that manages to capture the magic and appeal of Lewis's personality, explains his ongoing intellectual and imaginative appeal, and yet does not willfully overlook the man's flaws. Sayer captures the personality marvelously, gives some hints as to his intellectual appeal, but presents a fairly sanitized version of Lewis's life. No doubt this is out of respect and affection, but Lewis doesn't emerge as a warm flesh and blood human being. For instance, while alluding to his relationship with Mrs. Moore, Sayer assumes a position of agnosticism as to its nature. It is an important if disturbing chapter in Lewis's life, because it potentially reveals a great deal about his personality.
One thing that does emerge in Sayer's biography is the closed reserve that Lewis seems to have carried with him all his life. On the one hand, Lewis seems to have been a very accomodating, kind, and helpful soul, and yet, he is hard to get to know. One gets to know his thoughts, and yet never gets to know the man who thinks them. One can read both SURPRISED BY JOY and A GRIEF OBSERVED, and come away from them not having a strong sense of how Lewis felt about things, about the predomenant emotions in his life. Sayer doesn't completely dispell this emotional reserve that Lewis projects, but he probably gets as close as anyone has.
Still, I don't believe this is the biography we are waiting for. It will do until the definitive one comes along. My recommendation for those wanting to know about Lewis's life is to read this one in conjunction with A. N. Wilson's. In the latter Wilson far too gleefully deconstructs the carefully constructed portrait of Lewis that some of his more somber admirers have constructed. I value the Wilson as a corrective, but one will not get much of a sense of why Lewis was such an attractive individual for so many, both in his books and in real life. For that, you will need to look to this excellent book.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding and loving tribute. . . 29 Aug 2002
By David Zampino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
. . .to one of the top Christian writers of the 20th century.
George Sayer knew CS Lewis from 1934 until Lewis' death in 1963, first as a tutor, later as a friend, and finally as an extremely close friend.
While other biographies have been written by persons with axes to grind or by persons whose own connection to Lewis was minimal, Sayer writes from the perspective of a true insider.
While he minces no words -- the "difficult" aspects of Lewis' life are certainly explored in-depth, he treats the subject with respect and true affection.
Mr. Sayer is, himself, a career academic in the field of English, and thus is able to enlighten the casual reader about aspects about the "literary Lewis" which would otherwise not be recognized. I've been a Lewis fan for 25 years and yet was unaware of his significant contributions in the field of literary criticism. Also enjoyable was the discussion of Lewis' own tastes in reading as well as his major influences.
While the influence Charles Williams had on Lewis (especially in "That Hideous Strength") was addressed, I was disappointed that Tolkien's influence on Lewis was minimized. This was, I believe, an oversight.
All in all, though, I highly recommend this extremely readable volume.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best biography of C. S. Lewis 18 Aug 2004
By Jeffrey A. Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At one time I had read most of the biographies out there on C. S. Lewis. This one is by far the best. Sayer had a long friendship with Lewis and tells what he knows about Lewis and does not theorize about what he does not know. The reader feels the warmth and respect Sayer has for Lewis and also the puzzlement one has with close friends whose strange behaviors in the past are not fully explained.

Sayer addresses the C. S. Lewis's friendship with Tolkien, Dyson and other Inklings. Sayer does a good job of relating Lewis's conversion to Christianity. Sayer explains the arguments and personal struggles that surrounded the conversion. Sayer writes about Joy and Mrs. Moore, which gives a more fuller and more generous picture of both women than some other biographies. Sayer has the background for literary criticism and writes about Lewis's poetry, the Chronicles of Narnia and most of his other writings.

The style of the writing is easy to read and accessible. It is a very enjoyable read.
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