Prior to reading this book I knew very little about Sigmund Freud, and already quite a bit about C.S. Lewis. To be honest, my initial interest in purchasing and reading the book was based on my shameless/addictive quest to own and read everything I possibly can, about LEWIS.
Having said that though, I am glad to have learned so much about Freud in the process. I think that the author does a good job of presenting the viewpoints of each man, with respect to their opinions on such topics as Creation, Conscience, Religious Conversion, Happiness, Sex, Love, Pain, and Death.
Big issues. Worthy of big, deeply felt convictions. And each man had them.
So many reviewers here have speculated that the author does not write this book from a disinterested stance, that he in fact, favors Lewis, and presents him as being a more consistent and (for lack of a better word) healthy individual. I agree that Lewis does come off as being such. But what is most important to me (as a reader of the information) is... is it TRUE? Is this slant toward Lewis as a more self-actualized person fair? Or is it fabricated? Is it manufactured? Is Lewis deliberately favored?
Dr. Nicholi has studied the philosophical writings of both men for over twenty-five years, and teaches a course at Harvard based on an examination of these two worldviews. Somehow, I do not imagine this present book as some latent "hate-on" for Freud finally making itself known in printed form. It did not appear that way for me, although yes, Lewis does come across as being someone who lived a more personally fulfilled, whole life.
I believe that the quotation marks speak for themselves. This is a well-researched book, I do not feel that Dr. Nicholi is really putting words or ideas INTO the mouth and mind of either figure. Over thirty-five pages of endnotes! In my opinion, this is one of those "let the chips fall where they may" type things!
As is stated in the Prologue, the philosophical speculations (the worldviews, if you will) of these two men are not at all ambiguous. "One of them begins with the basic premise that God does not exist, the other with the premise that He does. They are, therefore, mutually exclusive - if one is right, the other must be wrong. Does it really make any difference to know which one is which? Both Freud and Lewis thought so. They spent a good portion of their lives exploring these issues, repeatedly asking the the question 'Is it true?'"
Both men are presented as having troubled childhoods... both being touched with profound losses, alienations, disillusionments, etc. One of the main things that becomes clear in this book is that one of these men discovered the possibility of transcending this pain and disconnectedness experienced in childhood, and the other, quite frankly, did not.
Neither of them were ever perfect, and neither of them were ever perfect[ed]. Both men made great contributions to the fields for which they were formally trained (English Literature / Psychology)... yet both dabbled in these philosophical areas where they each OUGHT to have been out of their depth. This is what makes them so interesting to us.
My one criticism of TQOG is that there is a bit too much repetition of previously mentioned actual stories and/or quotes. But overall, I was impressed with the wealth of information and the dovetailing of ideas. It really IS as though these dudes are debating. I agree with Peter Kreeft, who said "It is as exciting as a novel, and we must supply the ending."