Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Professor McGrath's Professor Lewis, 14 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: C. S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet (Hardcover)
There are already three canonical full length biographies of C. S. Lewis, as well as many shorter accounts of the famous writer's life. This absorbing new book by the academic theologian the Reverend Alister McGrath wisely seeks to do something more ambitious than merely echoing the work of his predecessors.

Firstly, Alister uses the new resources now available to Lewis scholars - not least Father Walter Hooper's mammoth compendium of CSL's letters - to correct some misapprehensions in previous books, and also to bring some particular aspects of CSL into unprecedentedly sharp focus. Thus we learn that CSL came to his faith a year later than he himself reported in his memoir - CSL was never very good with numbers! - and we get an appreciably clearer picture of his military service, of the hostility that he elicited from some of his peers at Oxford University and of just how determinedly he was courted by the redoubtable Joy Davidman. (Joy emerges from these pages as a character very different from that played by Debra Winger in the biopic movie Shadowlands.)

Secondly, Alister avoids needlessly plodding along well-trodden biographical high roads in order to leave room for a meticulously detailed analysis of CSL's thought and influence. Narnia, for example, is discussed in considerable depth, and Alister tells us much about the ups and downs and ups of CSL's reputation in Christian circles in the United States. I can perhaps illustrate Alister's distinctive approach by observing that he devotes a mere nine lines to CSL's nursing of his dying father, but a page and three quarters to Michael Ward's thesis that the structure of the Narnian series was partly shaped by mediaeval astrology.

Hodder and Stoughton have brought Alister's work to us as a stout hardback which is reasonably handsome, although not, I think, what a bibliophile would call unequivocally beautiful. A modest four page index is accompanied by an eleven page bibliography and twenty-five pages of suitably professorial notes. Forty-two black and white illustrations supplement images that CSL lovers will remember from earlier biographies with many that'll be less familiar: a few are disfigured by moire patterning - Pauline Baynes's gorgeous map of Narnia not least - but most are reproduced satisfactorily. (I hope I'm not being pernickety, but then I am a printer's grandson!)

To sum up, someone curious about what kind of fellow CSL was should not, in my opinion, put this book right at the top of his shopping list. There are, I feel, more detailed, more colourful, more rounded, more stylish portraits of CSL in George Sayer's Jack A Life Of C S Lewis, Roger Lancelyn Green's and Walter Hooper's C. S. Lewis: A Biography and, especially, A. N. Wilson's witty C.S.Lewis: A Biography. But a Lewis enthusiast who already knows one or all of these books would profit greatly from adding Alister's book to his collection. Lucid, scrupulous, perceptive and fair, Alister's tome has made a substantial contribution to Lewisian scholarship. I'm glad that I didn't miss it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.6 out of 5 stars (33 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (23)
4 star:
 (9)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
Used & New from: 16.58
Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Lincolnshire, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,618