Monday, March 28, 2016

C.S. Lewis and his Circle (Oxford University Press)

The Oxford University of C. S. Lewis Society is a group founded to discuss the works of C. S. Lewis, including his theology, fiction, and poetry. It is inspired by the Inklings and adopted a lot of their traditions, like retiring to the "Eagle and Child" after most meetings. Members include C. S. Lewis's friends, family, former students, and even his editor/biographer. To make a small sample of this meetings available to the public, Oxford University Press combed through the more than 200 talks given and published a book entitled C. S. Lewis and his Circle.

The book is divided into two parts - Essays and Memoirs. The essays focus on philosophy, theology, and literature with the memoirs focusing on memories of both C. S. Lewis and the Inklings. There are some pretty big name contributors in this book including Owen Barfield; Alister McGrath; Rowan Williams; and a personal hero of mine, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. However, not all the selections were of equal interest to me. Some I had to force myself to get through, but others kept me so engaged that I was sad when they were finished. This is all a matter of personal preference, though. What I find interesting you might find a bore and vice versa.

Anyone who has read my other reviews knows I am a sucker for anything Narnia, so of course I found Chapter Ten: "It All Began with a Picture: The Making of C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia" to be the most fascinating. In this essay, Lewis's biographer Walter Hooper references a Lewis quote which goes, "At every tick of the clock, in every inhabited part of the world, an unimaginable richness and variety of 'history' falls off the world into total oblivion." This is the basis for Hooper's essay in which he talks about how so little of Lewis's work on Narnia survived because Lewis destroyed most of it. Thankfully, some of it did escape the trash bin, and Hooper shares with us how the stories came into being, grew, and evolved into the series we know and love.

Overall, this was a worthwhile read and one that will be of interest to C. S. Lewis fans and to a lesser degree, Inklings fans. I have read many books which offer opinions on Lewis and the Inklings, but few of them had contributions from people who actually knew the man. Therefore, it was refreshing to glean some first hand knowledge of the man. As I said earlier, not everything that captured or even kept my attention, but the essays and memories that did made the book worthwhile to me. If you are a serious fan of C. S. Lewis, like me, then you'll definitely want to check this book out.

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