The A-Z of C.S. Lewis, An Encyclopedia of His Life, Thought and Writings by Colin Duriez

Friday, March 7, 2014
About the book:  A Complete Guide to His Life, Thoughts and WritingsPublished to coincide with the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis's death, this complete guide covers all of Lewis' works, from his literary criticism to Narnia.C. S. Lewis's work is widely known and regarded, but enthusiasts are often only aware of one part of his work-his children's stories and his popular theology; and yet he wrote so much more, including science fiction and literary criticism. This volume brings together all aspects of C S Lewis's life and thought. Arranged in alphabetical order, it begins with The Abolition of Man-written in 1943 and described as "almost my favorite"-to Wormwood, a character in The Screwtape Letters. This book will delight anyone who is interested in C. S. Lewis and wants to learn more about him, his thought, his works, and his life.Review: Outside of reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my children, my interest in C.S. Lewis was limited to the movie "Shadowlands" and reading several portions from Essays on Theology and Ethics.  This volume has once again piqued my interest to read more of Lewis's works.  From the very preface of the book, the quote on how to enjoy a book by Lewis (p. 9) caught my attention. 

Having grown up in a home filled with old books, and blessed with  an attic which was a childhood hideaway for he and his brother, Warren, to play in for hours, explore writing and drawing, it seems like a happy childhood.  Unfortunately, sorrow engulfed the family's life when Lewis's mother died of cancer when he was nine.  His father was unable to cope with his grief and sent Clive Staples or "Jack" as he wished to be called, to a boarding school in England from their home in Belfast.  He was later moved back to college in Belfast, then to several other schools.  However, he was never happier than when sent in 1914 to a private tutor.  He briefly served in the First World War, until he was injured and subsequently discharged.   During all this time he had been writing poetry intended for publication.
In this volume, you can read of his close relationships with other authors of his time.  Many of them met weekly at a favorite pub to fellowship and intellectually challenge each other as they read portions of their current writings aloud. They were known as "The Inklings".  Lewis was especially close to J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Hugo Dyson.  He credits Tolkien and Dyson with drawing him to Christianity.  Through my overview of this volume, I have been challenged to read The Pilgrim's Regress, written after Lewis's conversion to Christianity and in response to The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.  Reviews of all his works by Duriez, a lifetime student of Lewis,  are very helpful when read prior to the actual writing.
Whether you are looking for specific information on the writings of Lewis, information on his closest earthly relationships, or merely browsing through this alphabetic text, you will find many entries of interest with cross references to lead you, as Aslan said, "higher up and deeper in" to the world of C.S. Lewis.   I recommend this book to lovers of C.S. Lewis and those who desire to get to known and understand his varied and treasured contributions to 20th century literature.  (reviewed by Carly Karns, Teacher at Alamance Christian School)
About the Author: Colin Duriez was for many years a commissioning editor at Inter-Varsity Press UK. He has subsequently appeared as a commentator on DVDs of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, and BBC television's The Worlds of Fantasy. He is also the author of The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship, and Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, and has contributed to definitive reference works relating to Tolkien such as The Tolkien Encyclopedia (Routledge). 
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of The A-Z of C.S. Lewis, An Encyclopedia of His Life, Thought and Writings by Colin Duriez  and Published in 2013 by Lion Hudson in Oxford. was provided byin exchange for this review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was provided for this review.


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