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The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis Paperback – 5 Apr 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (5 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047067279X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470672792
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 1.6 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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“I have read many of Lewis′s works repeatedly over the years and have read much of the secondary literature on him. The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewisdoes a good job in placing him in the intellectual context of his time.”  ( Modern–day Pilgrim , 8 April 2014) “There are acute and stimulating observations on Surprised by Joy as autobiography cast in a Christian mould, and its reliability as a source for historians. There are two particularly fine chapters showing the long–range influence on Lewis of the tradition of classical, medieval and early modern literature.”  ( Peter Webster′s Blog , 22 January 2014) “Summing Up:  Highly recommended.  Lower–level undergraduates through researchers/faculty.”  ( Choice , 1 December 2013) “Many will also be grateful for these two books by Alister McGrath. Both reflect his thorough research, careful weighing of evidence, wide reading, and clarity of expression. . .  The book contains useful studies on different aspects of Lewis as a Christian thinker; and I particularly enjoyed the slightly mischievous chapter in which McGrath argues that Lewis should be seen as a “real” theologian, not just the amateur one that he himself claimed to be.”  ( Church Times , 22 November 2013) “There is more to be said about Lewis as apologist and theologian but McGrath has written what will long be regarded as the essential guide.”  ( The Church of England Newspaper , 23 June 2013) “McGrath is ingenious and persuasive in searching Lewis’s writings for clues to his private life … [A] devoted and meticulous biography.”   ( The Times Literary Supplement , 21 June 2013) “Alister McGrath′s biography of C.S. Lewis was an incredible exploration of one of the greatest minds in the history of Christian thought. I′ve always enjoyed reading Lewis because of the way he explains concepts in a way that is refreshing and inspiring. I found McGrath to have that kind of way with words in his exploration of Lewis′ life. He takes the exploration a step further in a new companion book to the Lewis biography, THE INTELLECTUAL WORLD OF C.S. LEWIS.”  ( Tom Farr Reviews , 1 June 2013)


"Thoughtful and thought–provoking, these essays expertly help to situate the intellectual world of C.S. Lewis in its broader context. McGrath knows Lewis′ corpus in detail and casts a friendly though not unquestioning eye over areas of his work which have hitherto received surprisingly little attention. He connects Lewis to currents and schools of thought that have a refreshing and enlarging effect upon our understanding of the man. The figure who emerges from this examination is a more interesting and important theological thinker that captured in any previous comparable study."— Michael Ward, Oxford University “Alister McGrath’s The Intellectual World of C.S. Lewis is a very welcome addition to the growing number of scholarly studies of Lewis. Well–researched and written, this book offers fresh insights into several areas of Lewis’s literary corpus, including his autobiography, Surprised by Joy , his intellectual development as an Oxford student, and his ideas on myth and metaphor. McGrath also offers penetrating discussions of Lewis’s argument from desire, the role of reason and imagination in his apologetics, his religious identity as an Anglican, and his status as a ‘theologian’. I highly recommend The Intellectual World of C.S. Lewis as well as McGrath’s biography of Lewis, C.S. Lewis: A Life. ”— Don King, Montreat College “In the mass of recent writing about CS Lewis, this volume stands out as essential, and should be on everyone’s reading list, whether that of the research scholar or general reader. The author has the same feeling for the ‘great tradition’ of western literature and theology as Lewis himself did, and has similar skills in exploring it, so that Lewis is for the first time properly set in his intellectual context. It is appropriate to deploy the metaphors of light and vision that the author detects in Lewis, to affirm that this is a series of brilliant essays, brightly illuminating the intellectual resources on which Lewis draws, enabling us better to see the ‘big picture’ which connects myth, metaphor, memory, realism, religious desire, the Anglican mind, and the dynamics of academic power. In reviewing these themes, this exceptional study combines reason and imagination as Lewis did himself. Like Lewis’ own work, it is both deeply learned and accessible to a wide range of readers.”— Paul Fiddes, Oxford University "This important new study of Lewis sets the man and his ideas in the intellectual world of his day, and so helps us to appreciate all the more fully his distinctive contribution as a scholar, an artist and an apologist. Through a series of finely researched and characteristically well–written essays, Alister McGrath both reveals the extent to which Lewis was a product of his own age, and reminds us why he remains every bit as relevant for ours. A penetrating engagement with one of the most important Christian voices of the twentieth century."— Trevor Hart, University of St Andrews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Judith on 26 Jun 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a wonderfully balanced biography with fresh detail of Lewis's life - very insightful and with a touch of Narnia!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Spin-Off to McGrath's Biography of Lewis 6 Jun 2013
By Greg Bassham - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a very different book from McGrath's recent biography of Lewis (C. S. Lewis: A Life). It is a collection of scholarly essays on various aspects of Lewis's thought and life. Among the topics addressed are Lewis's views on myth, his so-called argument from desire, his apologetical method, his intellectual outlook in the 1920s (prior to his conversion), his Anglicanism, and whether he is properly regarded as a "theologian." Despite its somewhat misleading title, it is not a systematic attempt to reveal "the intellectual world" of Lewis. It is a loose and not-very-unified collection of "takes" on various aspects of Lewis's personality and thought that spun off from McGrath's research on Lewis's life, and is intended mostly for Lewis scholars and aficionados.

It is, nevertheless, interesting and significant. It is also bound to be controversial. McGrath argues, for example, that Lewis never intended the so-called "argument from desire" (roughly: all innate desires have a possible fulfillment; our desire for perfect and unending happiness is innate, so there must be a heaven where such a desire can be fulfilled) to be construed as an "argument" at all. To the extent that it is an argument it is an "abductive," suppositional argument of the form: We have desires that can't be satisfied in this world; if Christianity is true, we would expect to have such desires; so, there is some reason to think that Christianity is true. Such a reading is attractive to those (like McGrath) who think that Lewis's "argument," if construed as a deductive "proof," is clearly faulty. It is thus a charitable way of reading Lewis. Whether it is an accurate reading is another matter.

Another controversial view defended by McGrath is that Lewis wasn't a "rational" apologist, as most Lewis fans think. Rather, Lewis anticipated a recent approach in Christian apologetics that focuses on appealing to desires, rather than "proofs" or intellectual reasons, and seeks to show how the "big picture" of Christianity makes sense because it explains better than any alternative worldview the totality of human experience. Again, readers will have to make up their own minds whether McGrath is correct in this reading of Lewis. Some may think it reflects McGrath's preferred apologetical approach more than it does Lewis's.

As McGrath's endnotes make clear, this book is the fruit of wide reading and deep scholarship. He does nod in places. For instance, there is no discussion of the "Great War" between Lewis and Barfield in his chapter on Lewis's philosophical views in the 1920s. He gives no evidence of having read Lewis's lengthy unpublished "Summa," where Lewis defends a kind of Bradleyan objective idealism and an idealist/Kantian ethic at great length against Barfield's anthroposophy. (McGrath mistakenly describes Barfield as a "theosophist" (152)). For a fuller and more accurate account of Lewis's philosophical development in the 1920s, readers should consult Adam Barkman's fine book, C. S. Lewis and Philosophy As a Way of Life.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Deeper Look into the Thought of C.S. Lewis 18 Jun 2013
By Tom Farr - Published on
Format: Paperback
Alister McGrath's biography of C.S. Lewis was an incredible exploration of one of the greatest minds in the history of Christian thought. I've always enjoyed reading Lewis because of the way he explains concepts in a way that is refreshing and inspiring. I found McGrath to have that kind of way with words in his exploration of Lewis' life. He takes the exploration a step further in a new companion book to the Lewis biography, THE INTELLECTUAL WORLD OF C.S. LEWIS.

THE INTELLECTUAL WORLD OF C.S. LEWIS is a collection of essays that take a deeper look into some of the ideas in Lewis' writings and the intellectual landscape that influenced much of his thinking. McGrath looks at Lewis' own autobiography and convincingly shows that Lewis' own chronology of his conversion was incorrectly remembered. He looks at the philosophical landscape at Oxford and its impact on Lewis. We're shown the role of the concept of myth in Lewis' acceptance of Christianity. McGrath looks also at Lewis' apoligetic method, his argument from desire, and his role as a theologian.

While McGrath's biography of Lewis was an illuminating exploration of what shaped the man who would become one of the most quoted men of all time, THE INTELLECTUAL WORLD OF C.S. LEWIS takes us on an even deeper journey into the development of Lewis' thought over time. It's clear that McGrath drew from a vast amount of research, and this book takes the reader into some territory that will undoubtedly leave them better equipped to engage in intellectual discussion concerning the things that captured Lewis' above all else.

Review copy provided by Wiley-Blackwell
The Non-Academic Theologian 9 July 2014
By Lok Fung - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Alister McGrath gives us an incisive précis of the mind of C.S. Lewis. It gives us an understanding of the reasons why Lewis continues to inform and inspire the current generation of Christians, often in measures more than the academic theologians. He opens to us the glory of God, rather than describes it.
Excellent 21 April 2014
By Jim - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I'd recommend this to anyone studying Lewis or for the Lewis fan who wants to move beyond a basic appreciation of his work to a more complete understanding of him. Great stuff
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A new favorite writer 10 July 2013
By Steven M. Lloyd - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have collected several books by Alister McGrath simply due to the subject matter. This book, along with his biography of C.S. Lewis, are absorbing reads. I cannot tell whether I enjoyed these books so much because of the subject matter or because of the writing style, or both. Alister McGrath demonstrates an amazing grasp of his subject, and a great deal more that he is able to bring to his writing. I plan to read these two works again and other works of his already in my library. He is a gold mine.
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