Before we dig in deeper let’s say a little about this iconic and legendary writer; Clive Staples Lewis. He was born in 1898 and died in 1963. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University and Cambridge University.
Beloved by children and adults worldwide, the writings of C. S. Lewis has a broad and enduring appeal. Although best known for the iconic Chronicles of Narnia series, C. S. Lewis was a man of many literary parts. Already well known as a scholar in the 1930s, he became a famous broadcaster during World War II and wrote in many genres: satire (The Screwtape Letters), science fiction (Perelandra), novels, poetry, and books on Christian belief. C. S. Lewis: A Very Short Introduction delves into the vast corpus of his work, discussing its core themes and lasting appeal. Moving chronologically through Lewis’s life, it provides a picture of the whole man, his work, and his enduring legacy.
Join us on this wondrous journey of discovering the work of a legend. Here are some of his works in chronological order according to their date of publications.
At Number 12, we have, The Screwtape Letters, first published in 1942. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a classic masterpiece of religious satire that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.
At Number 11, we have The Abolition of Man, was first published in 1943. The Abolition of Man deals with the subject of education, and lists the importance of not doing away with or forgetting its natural value, along with the unpleasant consequences lest that occurs. Under the title, you will find the words “Reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools”. The book was read for the very first time as a three-part lecture at King’s College, Newcastle.
Number 10, is The Great Divorce, first published in 1945. C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is a classic Christian allegorical tale about a bus ride from hell to heaven. An extraordinary meditation upon good and evil, grace and judgment, Lewis’s revolutionary idea in the The Great Divorce is that the gates of Hell are locked from the inside. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis’ The Great Divorce will change the way we think about good and evil.
At Number 9, we have The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia), which was published in the year 1950. There are a thousand stories in the land of Narnia, and the first is about to be told in an extraordinary motion picture, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, from Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. In the never-ending war between good and evil, The Chronicles of Narnia set the stage for battles of epic proportions. Some take place in vast fields, where the forces of light and darkness clash. But other battles occur within the small chambers of the heart and are equally decisive. Journeys to the ends of the world, fantastic creatures, betrayals, heroic deeds and friendships won and lost — all come together in an unforgettable world of magic. So join the battle to end all battles.
Number 8, will be Mere Christianity, first published in the year 1952. Mere Christianity is C.S. Lewis’s forceful and accessible doctrine of Christian belief. First heard as informal radio broadcasts and then published as three separate books – The Case for Christianity, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality – Mere Christianity brings together what Lewis saw as the fundamental truths of the religion. Rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity’s many denominations, C.S. Lewis finds a common ground on which all those who have Christian faith can stand together, proving that “at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks the same voice.”
At Number 7, we have Till We Have Faces, which was first published in the year 1956. In this timeless tale of two mortal princesses- one beautiful and one unattractive- C.S. Lewis reworks the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche into an enduring piece of contemporary fiction. This is the story of Orual, Psyche’s embittered and ugly older sister, who possessively and harmfully loves Psyche. Much to Orual’s frustration, Psyche is loved by Cupid, the god of love himself, setting the troubled Orual on a path of moral development. Set against the backdrop of Glome, a barbaric, pre-Christian world, the struggles between sacred and profane love are illuminated as Orual learns that we cannot understand the intent of the gods “till we have faces” and sincerity in our souls and selves.
Our Number 6, is Reflections on the Psalms, first published in 1958. Lewis writes here about the difficulties he has met or the joys he has gained in reading the Psalms. He points out that the Psalms are poems, intended to be sung, not doctrinal treatises or sermons. Proceeding with his characteristic grace, he guides readers through both the form and the meaning of these beloved passages in the Bible.
Number 5, is The Four Loves, first published in the year 1960. This book explores the concept of love and its true nature from a Christian point of view. Lewis says that there are three types of love: need love, gift love, and appreciative love. He also focuses on the four aspects of love, which are friendship, affection, unconditional love, and romance. The book was based on a 1958 radio talk show that was quite open about the issue of sex, being a little ahead of its time.
At Number 4, we have An Experiment in Criticism, published in the year 1961. Why do we read literature and how do we judge it? C.S. Lewis’s classic analysis springs from the conviction that literature exists for the joy of the reader and that books should be judged by the kind of reading they invite. Crucial to his notion of judging literature is a commitment to laying aside expectations and values extraneous to the work, in order to approach it with an open mind.
Number 3, is Letters to Malcolm, first published in 1964.
“We want to know not how we should pray if we were perfect but how we should pray being as we now are.”
What are we doing when we pray? What is at the heart of this most intimate conversation, the dialogue between a person and God? How does prayer—its form, its regularity, its content, its insistence—shape who we are and how we believe? In this collection of letters from C. S. Lewis to a close friend, Malcolm, we see an intimate side of Lewis as he considers all aspects of prayer and how this singular ritual impacts the lives and souls of the faithful. With depth, wit, and intelligence, as well as his sincere sense of a continued spiritual journey, Lewis brings us closer to understanding the role of prayer in our lives and the ways in which we might better imagine our relationship with God.
“A beautifully executed and deeply moving little book.” —Saturday Review
Number 2, is Of Other Worlds, originally published in 1966. This book is divided into two parts: essays and stories. The essay section consists of those written on science fiction, fairies, criticism, and some more. The story section contains short stories that have been written by Lewis.
At Number 1, we have, God in the Dock, first published in 1971. “Lewis struck me as the most thoroughly converted man I ever met,” observes Walter Hooper in the preface to this collection of essays by C. S. Lewis. “His whole vision of life was such that the natural and the supernatural seemed inseparably combined.”It is precisely this pervasive Christianity which is demonstrated in the forty-eight essays comprising God in the Dock. Here Lewis addresses himself both to theological questions and to those which Hooper terms “semi-theological,” or ethical. But whether he is discussing “Evil and God,” “Miracles,” “The Decline of Religion,” or “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,” his insight and observations are thoroughly and profoundly Christian.Drawn from a variety of sources, the essays were designed to meet a variety of needs, and among other accomplishments they serve to illustrate the many different angles from which we are able to view the Christian religion. They range from relatively popular pieces written for newspapers to more learned defenses of the faith which first appeared in The Socratic Digest. Characterized by Lewis’s honesty and realism, his insight and conviction, and above all his thoroughgoing commitments to Christianity, these essays make God in the Dock very much a book for our time.September 29, 2019