This month’s author spotlight features Jill’s favorite literary hero, C.S. Lewis. So, of course, we had Kate write the article. (Y’know. Just to mix things up.)
- Full Name: Clive Staples Lewis
- Nickname: Jack
- Born: 29 November 1898 in Belfast, Ireland
- Married: Joy Davidman Gresham on 23 April 1956 (civil ceremony) and 21 March 1957 (Anglican ceremony)
- Died: 22 November 1963 in Oxford, England
- Day Job: Academia, with positions at both Oxford and Cambridge
Lewis was in a literary group with fellow fantasy author and Oxford colleague J.R.R. Tolkien, among others. They called themselves the Inklings.
First Encounter: Kate’s Ignoble Confession
Everyone at my elementary school read C.S. Lewis. My classmates praised him. One teacher chose The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for story time and another The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
And I, would-be iconoclast that I was in those days, avoided him like the plague in favor of less-celebrated fantasy authors.
(What can I say? I was a hipster before hipsterism was cool. Which it never was.)
I was 19 when I finally read some Lewis myself rather than having someone else read or recite it to me. My Chaucer professor assigned us a textbook he wrote: The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature.
This might seem like an odd start into his works, but let me tell you: Lewis is legit on scholarly matters. Dude knew his stuff upside-down and backwards.
I repented of my former unfounded snobbery and acquired/read his Chronicles of Narnia thereafter. He’s been on my radar ever since.
Lewis wrote more than 30 books over his career. These are some of our favorites.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
- Prince Caspian (1951)
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
- The Silver Chair (1953)
- The Horse and His Boy (1954)
- The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
- The Last Battle (1956)
- A Grief Observed (1961)
(from C.S. Lewis’s Letters to Children, in a letter addressed to Joan Lancaster of Florida, June 1956)
“Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.”
Why We Love Him
Lewis has an incredible command of the English language. He studied it inside and out, and could thus distill complex ideas into concise and eloquent explanations.
His Chronicles of Narnia weave allegorical teachings into children’s tales so deftly as to seem effortless. In his Christian apologetic works, he discusses his faith from a perspective of former atheism and skepticism.
There is nothing contrived. He wrote and lived according to his system of beliefs, and the result is an author with a wholly genuine voice.
Do you have a favorite Lewis book or quote? Tell us in the comments!