Monday, March 14, 2016

Bedeviled: Lewis, Tolkien, and the Shadow of Evil (InterVarsity Press)

Colin Duriez is a well-renowned expert on the writings of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their friendship. Therefore, when I saw he had a recent book out (Bedeviled: Lewis, Tolkien, and the Shadow of Evil) about the two of them and their writing, I knew I had to make time to read this book. The book begins by discussing World War I and World War II; how it affected C.S. Lewis, his family, and his friends. We learn about his time in service, the injuries he suffered, and the people close to him that died in war. This leads us to Chapter Two, which focuses solely on The Screwtape Letters. This work of Lewis was obviously the one that tackled the problem of devils most directly. It was also the book that troubled him the most when he was writing it. If you have ever read it, this is understandable, because he had to think like a demon which has to be one of the most unpleasant experiences ever.

Chapter Three of this book shifts the focus away from just C.S. Lewis to all of the Inklings. It begins with a list of all the publications and broadcasts of Inklings members who attended meetings during World War II. This list shows us how preoccupied they were with the war and the problem of evil. An interesting tidbit one reads in this chapter is that it actual refers to this time as the "golden age" for the Inklings. The reason for this was two-fold - Charles Williams joined the group and the war provided a type of "magic" that inspired their literary genius. Chapter Four speaks mainly about The Lord of the Rings, but it also touches briefly on horcruxes in the Harry Potter series. The rest of the book focuses primarily on C.S. Lewis works, with a brief reference to Tolkien's Leaf by Niggle. We see The Problem of Pain, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Cosmic Trilogy.

This was an interesting book for me, because it dealt with two of my favorite authors. I was hoping for a more even distribution between the two authors, but the book favors Lewis at a ratio of about 4:1. That complaint aside, it was a good read because it gave background and perspective on the two authors and and many of their works. Reading through this book, you can also tell that the author not only has a great knowledge of the two authors, but a great love for them as well. If you are a fan of either or both of these authors, this is a book that would be worth checking out.

This book was provided to me for free by InterVarsity Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!