on 30 March 2012
I have read many of CS Lewis's books and thought I knew the kind of man he was. This fasinating and moving collection of personal letters which date from the time before his conversion to Christianity until the year of his death, provide insights into the events and influences that shaped his writing.He seems to have acted as a kind of spiritual agony aunt taking the trouble to answer, as best he could, the many questions both friends and strangers possed. Many of the questions raised are those I would have liked to have asked him myself and the answers given are as typically wise, humourous and thought provoking as his books.Many of the subjects covered are surprisingly relevant.
As almost all the letters in this collection were written in response to letters Lewis had received from a huge variety of correspondents, the editor incudes a brief description of the questions asked together with any additional information necessary to understand the reply. This format makes the book exremely easy to follow and to scan for any particular subject.
My favourite letters included one written to a mother whose son was afraid that he loved Aslan more than Jesus.His charming reply demonstrated his great love, and understanding, of children. His reply to a Jesuit, who had asked him why he was not a Roman Catholic, demonstrated his wit and ability to put people in their place!
I wonder what he would have said about this review?
on 21 May 2014
I'd greatly prefer it if I could assign five stars to the Lewis part of this book, which I have just received as a gift, but something more like three to the presentation. The Lewis content, much of it long familiar from the old Letters of C.S. Lewis compiled by his brother W.H Lewis and from Letters to an American Lady, is the usual vintage stuff. The quality of transcription, the Greek element and the general copy-editing leaves very much to be desired. I noted particularly a wrong Gospel reference, a jarring pair of slips in the text of the last and justly famous paragraph of ch. 14 in Surprised by Joy [p. 9], and an invented title, Ransom to Venus, created by wrong italicization on p. 89; but there are quite a few places where I am quite certain that we are not reading Lewis's own words but something else.
What I am in no position to determine is whether some or all of this originates with the big three-volume set from which this otherwise attractive book is excerpted, or is more like dust picked up along the way. It is sadly true that literacy of the kind required for doing a faultless job on such material is at a premium today.