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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wise, Entertaining, Beautifully Written
I have loved this book for the better part of thirty years - - and not simply because it is the autobiography of one of my favorite authors. I would revere this book if it was the only work by C. S. Lewis that had ever been published.
Lewis himself said that the best part of many long novels, such as Dickens's, is the beginning - - the childhood years. As an...
Published on 13 Oct 2000 by Extollager

versus
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good autobiography, but little about conversion
I was informed, by reviews of the book, that this would chart his conversion from atheism to Christianity. I was, instead, surprised to read a good autobiography about him, with a great deal of reference to what Lewis calls 'stabs of Joy'. The the last few pages chronicled in lightning speed how he went from atheism, to theism, and then to believing that Christ was the...
Published on 9 Feb 2008 by R.J.W89


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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wise, Entertaining, Beautifully Written, 13 Oct 2000
By 
Extollager (Mayville, ND United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Surprised by Joy (Paperback)
I have loved this book for the better part of thirty years - - and not simply because it is the autobiography of one of my favorite authors. I would revere this book if it was the only work by C. S. Lewis that had ever been published.
Lewis himself said that the best part of many long novels, such as Dickens's, is the beginning - - the childhood years. As an autobiographer Lewis excels here, too, with his account of his imaginative formation in a big old Belfast house and as a junior member of a family that included some eccentrics indeed. We read on to an account of his school-days miseries that rivals George Orwell's notorious essay "'Such, Such Were the Joys'." (One of Lewis's masters was institutionalized as insane within a year or so of Lewis's leaving the school.) Later, we read of his wartime experiences. (He did not have to serve in World War I, by the way, as Irish-born.)
Are you a Tolkien fan? You'll enjoy Lewis's account of his wary meeting with a "Papist" philologist.
The account of his conversion is, of course, a classic, one that people may, I believe, be reading for decades, even centuries, to come; many people have found it useful in understanding their own spiritual experiences.
The book is generous, poetic, and fresh.
Dale Nelson English Department Mayville State University, USA
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised by Joy - a thoroughly enjoyable autobiography., 21 July 2001
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This review is from: Surprised by Joy (Paperback)
I have already read most of C.S.Lewis' works, but I'd intentionally put-off reading 'Surprised by Joy'. I'd felt it more interesting to learn Christian Wisdom from what he wrote after his conversion, than to concern myself with how he became converted. However, I finally gave in; and it is a thoroughly good read, unusually humorous in some places: his memories of his eccentric father and also of a wartime troop-train had me laughing out- loud. Another C.S.Lewis triumph.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny Story and Review..., 26 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Surprised by Joy (Paperback)
Before I saw this book on a shelf in a library, I knew that C.S. Lewis married a woman named Joy. When I saw the title, I thought the book must have been about how he and Joy met each other and that since he was an older man when he married, he was "surprised by Joy." Funny thought, but not the case. This is C.S. Lewis' spiritual autobiography. He describes his early years, his internal yearnings, his hunger for he-knew-not-what. A more honest book, you would be hard pressed to find. I give it the highest rating possible and recommend it to all. Also recommended: Castle of Wisdom by Rhett Ellis-- a Christian book that is... well, different.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good autobiography, but little about conversion, 9 Feb 2008
This review is from: Surprised by Joy (Paperback)
I was informed, by reviews of the book, that this would chart his conversion from atheism to Christianity. I was, instead, surprised to read a good autobiography about him, with a great deal of reference to what Lewis calls 'stabs of Joy'. The the last few pages chronicled in lightning speed how he went from atheism, to theism, and then to believing that Christ was the son of God. I'd have liked to read more about his philosophical musings on why Christianity is a valid, and true religion. But nevertheless, it was an entertaining read, and provided a good sight into Lewis' character.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true philosopher, 10 Aug 2009
This review is from: Surprised by Joy (Paperback)
I read this book before any of Lewis' other non-fiction works (with the execption of 'Screwtape letters') to find out something about the man.
It was interesting, to say the least, but is not an 'autobiography' in the sense that some may understand.

Surprised by Joy is more a chronicle of Lewis' life journey, the influnences of his parents and events in childhood, and his schooling on his personality and perspective. Lewis is deep, philosophical and analytical throughout, because of this the book can be rather tedious and difficult. If you are not familiar with Classical Mythology, or Dialetic much of it will go over your head, as it did for me.

Despite that, it is worth a read, to discover something about Lewis' character, if nothing else, and provide a background to some of this other works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyful, 19 Dec 2009
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Mrs. K. Drain "abby cats" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surprised by Joy (Paperback)
This is a delightful book typical of the man. I think it takes a while to get used to his way of writing but once this is mastered a store of wealth is awaiting.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised by Jack, 10 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Surprised by Joy (Paperback)
"Surprised by Joy" is one of C.S. Lewis' most well-known books. In it, he tells the story of his conversion to Christianity. I found the book both interesting, confusing and somewhat disturbing.

Lewis' mother died young, his father seems to have been quite insane, and his school years at "Wyvern" were marked by extreme pennalism. He describes both the hazing and the institutionalized pederasty with a remarkable restraint - something I frankly find somewhat objectionable.

Lewis' Christianity, despite his claims to strict orthodoxy, always had certain original features. One was the idea that paganism had foreshadowed Christianity, just as much as the Old Testament. Virgil, Plato and Aeschylus were a kind of "pagan Old Testament". It comes as no surprise to learn that Lewis was enamoured of both these and other pagan writings already before converting. Thus, he went through a Wagnerian-Norse period as a child and teenager. Despite his participation in World War I, Lewis comes across as very much an "ivory tower intellectual". Romantic longing, ancient and early modern poetry, classical music and philosophical speculation - these were his main preoccupations, rather than politics or science. (Lewis claim to have been interested in science, as well. If he did, it certainly doesn't show!) Lewis also reveals that he had periodically been interested in Theosophy and the occult. He was seriously shocked when two of his best friends, including Owen Barfield, became Anthroposophists. However, Lewis never broke with Barfield, and even included Charles Williams (a Christian "ex"-occultist) in his circle of friends. I wonder why? Did he nevertheless feel some kind of unwanted fascination with occult teachings? Barfield mentions that Lewis was unable to objectively discuss Anthroposophy, perhaps due to some kind of psychological conflict.

The point of "Surprised by Joy" is to explain why the author converted to Christianity. Ironically, I found those parts of the book somewhat confusing. Lewis talks much about a peculiar longing he calls Joy. At one point he realized that Joy must have an object. Thus, Joy points to God. The book's title makes Joy central. Yet, I also got the impression that his conversion to theism-in-general and later to Christianity wasn't connected to Joy, but rather to intellectual speculations. Lewis even writes that Joy became less important after his conversion. It's almost as if Christianity gave him an intellectual satisfaction so great, that he no longer needed the coveted feeling of Joy. This presumably rather essential turn of events emerges suddenly out of nowhere at the very end of the book, and Lewis never reflects on it at length.

Another interesting aspect is that Lewis was very introverted as a person, yet somehow wanted to become an extrovert. This may also have been connected to his conversion. Barfield once said that Lewis needed to believe in the existence of an objective outside world. Both occultism and Idealism presumably tended to feed Lewis' introverted tendencies. When he reluctantly recognized the existence of a living God "out there", he also became more extroverted. This intriguing psychological conflict makes the conversion more believable than the idea that he simply realized that Idealism is philosophically untenable, and the poetry of the metaphysical poets great. (I still wonder about his exact relationship to Joy, though.)

"Surprised by Joy" feels somewhat disjointed, but it's nevertheless an interesting (and surprising?) look into the mind of C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest Christian apologists of the 20th century.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and though-provoking, 13 Aug 2014
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M. V. Clarke (Durham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surprised by Joy (Kindle Edition)
I found parts of this book deeply thought-provoking. Lewis' grappling with the nature of God, the human mind, desire and fulfilment are beautifully expressed and merit careful consideration. The more conventionally autobiographical elements were, for me, less enjoyable. Overall, though, well worth reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars joyous book, 2 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Surprised by Joy (Paperback)
as a non bookophile i was pleasantly surprised by how much i enjoyed this book..i found some parts warming and amusing as you lived through his early years

it was followed by a feeling of fear on my part if at anytime i would have been put in the position of joining the first world war

i have really enjoyed this book although for me the literary notes, comparisons and bibliography went over this not so formally educated chaps head

cheap on net a really good read for the money.not in my opinion a christian testimony then again it doesn't say it is , does it ?

buy it and don't forget
jesus loves you
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book, 27 May 2014
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I found this book hard going but persevered to the end as I was anxious to get to the point of C.S. Lewis's being 'Surprised by Joy' to see if it bore any resemblance to my experience and I was not disappointed.
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