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C. S. Lewis
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C. S. Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis (November 29, 1898 - November 22, 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis, was an author and scholar. He was born in Belfast, Ireland. He adopted the name "Jack," which is how he was known to his friends and acquaintances. He is known for his work on medieval literature and for his Christian apologetics and fiction, especially The Chronicles of Narnia.

He taught as a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford for nearly thirty years, and later was the first Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University and a fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. In spite of this position, he claimed that there was no such thing as an English renaissance. Much of his scholarly work concentrated on the later Middle Ages, especially its use of allegory. His The Allegory of Love (1936) helped reinvigorate the serious study of late medieval narratives like the Roman de la Rose. Lewis wrote a preface to John Milton's poem Paradise Lost which is still one of the more important critical responses to that work. His last academic publication, The Discarded Image, an Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (1964), is an excellent summary of the medieval world view, the "discarded image" of the cosmos in his title.

He was a prolific writer and a member of the literary discussion society The Inklings with his close friends J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield.

In addition to his scholarly work he wrote a number of popular novels, including a popular series of fantasy novels for children entitled The Chronicles of Narnia; a trilogy of science fiction books: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra (also known by the pulpish title Voyage to Venus), and That Hideous Strength; and a novel based on Greek mythology Till We Have Faces. Lewis also wrote The Great Divorce, a short novel about imagined conversations in Heaven between the saved and the damned. Prior to his conversion to Christianity, he also wrote two books, Spirits in Bondage and Dymer, under the pen name of Clive Hamilton.

He is a winner of the Carnegie Medal in literature.

The Chronicles of Narnia are by far the most popular of his works, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which was the first published and the most popular book of the series, has been adapted for both stage and screen. The Chronicles of Narnia borrow from Greek and Roman mythology, and traditional English and Irish fairy tales: Lewis cites George MacDonald as an influence (in The Great Divorce, the narrator is chaperoned in Heaven by MacDonald). However, the overall theme of each Narnia book is a Christian one. Likewise, Lewis's Space trilogy blends traditional science fiction elements with the exploration of the Christian themes of sin, fall, and redemption.

Lewis's last novel was Till We Have Faces, and many claim that it is his most mature and masterful work of fiction. It is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche from the unusual perspective of Psyche's sister. Again it touches on religious themes, but the connections with specific Christian beliefs are not as clearly delineated.

In addition to his career as an English Professor, and his novels, Lewis also wrote a number of books about Christianity, such as The Screwtape Letters -- letters of advice from an elderly demon to his nephew -- and perhaps more famously, Mere Christianity. As an adult convert to the Anglican church he was very much interested in presenting a reasonable case for the truth of Christianity. Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and Miracles were all concerned, to one degree or another, with refuting popular objections to Christianity. He wrote an autobiography entitled Surprised by Joy, which describes his conversion (it was written before he met his wife, Joy Gresham). His essays and public speeches on Christian belief, many of which were collected in God in the Dock and The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, remain popular today for their insights into faith.

Recently there has been some interest in biographical material concerning Lewis. This has resulted in several biographies (including books written by close friends of Lewis, among them Roger Lancelyn Green and George Sayer), at least one play about his life, and a 1993 movie, titled Shadowlands, based on an original stage and television play. The movie fictionalizes his relationship with an American writer, Joy Gresham, whom he met and married in London, only to watch her die slowly from bone cancer. Lewis's book A Grief Observed describes his experience of bereavement, and describes it in such a raw and personal fashion that Lewis originally released it under the pseudonym "N. W. Clerk" to keep readers from associating the book with him (ultimately too many friends recommended the book to Lewis as a method for dealing with his own grief, and he made his authorship public).

Lewis died on November 22, 1963, at the Oxford home he shared with his brother, Warnie. He is buried in the Headington Quarry Churchyard, Oxford, England. News of the event was overshadowed by news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which occurred on the same day.

Many books have been inspired by Lewis, including A Severe Mercy by his correspondent Sheldon Vanauken, and numerous Narnia-inspired novels by various hands.

The Chronicles of Narnia
C. S. Lewis
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe | Prince Caspian | The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair | The Horse and His Boy | The Magician's Nephew | The Last Battle
Books Characters Places

Table of contents
1 See also
2 Books about C. S. Lewis
3 Movies about C. S. Lewis
4 External links

See also

Joy Gresham, Douglas Gresham, The Dark Tower

Books about C. S. Lewis

Movies about C. S. Lewis

External links