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The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950 - 1963

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This collection, carefully chosen and arranged by Walter Hooper, is the most extensive ever published. Included here are the letters Lewis wrote to such luminaries as J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Arthur C. Clarke, Sheldon Vanauken, and Dom Bede Griffiths. To some particular friends, such as Dorothy L. Sayers, Lewis wrote fifty letters alone. The letters deal with all of This collection, carefully chosen and arranged by Walter Hooper, is the most extensive ever published. Included here are the letters Lewis wrote to such luminaries as J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Arthur C. Clarke, Sheldon Vanauken, and Dom Bede Griffiths. To some particular friends, such as Dorothy L. Sayers, Lewis wrote fifty letters alone. The letters deal with all of Lewis's interests—theology, literary criticism, poetry, fantasy, children's stories—as well as his relationships with family members and friends. The third and final volume begins with Lewis, already a household name from his BBC radio broadcasts and popular spiritual books, on the cusp of publishing his most famous and enduring book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which would ensure his immortality in the literary world. It covers his relationship with and marriage to Joy Davidman Gresham, subject of the film Shadowlands, and includes letters right up to his death on November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. This volume also includes both a special section of newly found letters from earlier time periods covered in volumes one and two and mini-biographies of Lewis's regular correspondents.


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This collection, carefully chosen and arranged by Walter Hooper, is the most extensive ever published. Included here are the letters Lewis wrote to such luminaries as J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Arthur C. Clarke, Sheldon Vanauken, and Dom Bede Griffiths. To some particular friends, such as Dorothy L. Sayers, Lewis wrote fifty letters alone. The letters deal with all of This collection, carefully chosen and arranged by Walter Hooper, is the most extensive ever published. Included here are the letters Lewis wrote to such luminaries as J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Arthur C. Clarke, Sheldon Vanauken, and Dom Bede Griffiths. To some particular friends, such as Dorothy L. Sayers, Lewis wrote fifty letters alone. The letters deal with all of Lewis's interests—theology, literary criticism, poetry, fantasy, children's stories—as well as his relationships with family members and friends. The third and final volume begins with Lewis, already a household name from his BBC radio broadcasts and popular spiritual books, on the cusp of publishing his most famous and enduring book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which would ensure his immortality in the literary world. It covers his relationship with and marriage to Joy Davidman Gresham, subject of the film Shadowlands, and includes letters right up to his death on November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. This volume also includes both a special section of newly found letters from earlier time periods covered in volumes one and two and mini-biographies of Lewis's regular correspondents.

30 review for The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950 - 1963

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Paterson

    Extremely long and at times very mundane. However, hidden treasure is to be found, whether it be whole letters, a paragraph, or a fun sentence. And, over time, even the mundane parts helped to shape an idea of Lewis from his own words and personality. I have collected the quotes below here as well. "We cd. read the whole Aeneid together." "But fan mail from children is delightful. They don’t gas. They want to know whether Aslan repaired Tumnus’s furniture for him. They take no interest in oneself Extremely long and at times very mundane. However, hidden treasure is to be found, whether it be whole letters, a paragraph, or a fun sentence. And, over time, even the mundane parts helped to shape an idea of Lewis from his own words and personality. I have collected the quotes below here as well. "We cd. read the whole Aeneid together." "But fan mail from children is delightful. They don’t gas. They want to know whether Aslan repaired Tumnus’s furniture for him. They take no interest in oneself and all in the story. Lovely." "Unredeemably savage religion goes on in the village: the Hermit philosophises in the forest: and neither really interferes with the other. It is only Xtianity wh. compels a high brow like me to partake in a ritual blood feast, and also compels a central African convert to attempt an enlightened universal code of ethics." "...though California must be a very attractive state, I confess I prefer New England. It is more my sort of country." "...finally someone has said ‘None are so unholy as those whose hands are cauterised with holy things’: sacred things may become profane by becoming matters of the job. You now want truth for her own sake: how will it be when the same truth is also needed for an effective footnote in your thesis? In fact, the change might do good or harm. I’ve always been glad myself that Theology is not the thing I earn my living by. On the whole, I’d advise you to get on with your tent-making. The performance of a duty will probably teach you quite as much about God as academic Theology wd. do." "A book of reference tells me that John Flavel came from Dartmouth and kept a private school. I have never heard of him before nor seen his books. But I have no difficulty in believing that he may be excellent. The past is full of good authors whom the general literary tradition has ignored and whom one only finds by chance. There is a great element of chance in fame." "I think love for one’s country means chiefly love for people who have a good deal in common with oneself (language, clothes, institutions) and is in that way like love of one’s family or school: or like love (in a strange place) for anyone who once lived in one’s home town. The familiar is in itself a ground for affection. And it is good: because any natural help towards our spiritual duty of loving is good and God seems to build our higher loves round our merely natural impulses–sex, maternity, kinship, old acquaintance, etc. And in a less degree there are similar grounds for loving other nations–historical links & debts for literature etc (hence we all reverence the ancient Greeks)." "Indeed (I do not know whether to be more ashamed or joyful at confessing this) I realise that until about a month ago I never really believed (tho’ I thought I did) in God’s forgiveness. What an ass I have been both for not knowing and for thinking I knew. I now feel that one must never say one believes or understands anything: any morning a doctrine I thought I already possessed may blossom into this new reality. Selah!" "P.S. Of course God does not consider you hopeless. If He did He would not be moving you to seek Him (and He obviously is). What is going on in you at present is simply the beginning of the treatment. Continue seeking with cheerful seriousness. Unless He wanted you, you would not be wanting Him." "I somehow can’t quite believe in myself going to Wyoming..." "Dear Acworth– I have read nearly the whole of Evolution and am glad you sent it. I must confess it has shaken me: not in my belief in evolution, which was of the vaguest and most intermittent kind, but in my belief that the question was wholly unimportant. I wish I was younger..." "Texas certainly does’nt sound attractive, but you seem to have got some enjoyment out of it; my brother says he has an idea that this is the one which calls itself the Lone Star State, and that its inhabitants–like the Scots and the Jews–are always making up good stories against themselves. e.g. that when America entered the war, Texas wired the President ‘Texas joins with U.S.A. in fight for freedom.’" "For the Pagans knew more than the modern Ph.D’s." "Dear Mrs. Van Deusen The new photos raise extreme Sehnsucht: each a landscape as fulfils my dreams. That is the America I wd. like to see, not the great cities, which, except superficially, are really much the same all over the earth." "Meanwhile our only security is that The Day may find us working each one in his own station and especially (giving up dissensions) fulfilling that supreme command that we love one another." "In Ireland I stayed at a lonely bungalow last summer which the peasants avoided not because a ghost had been seen near it (they didn’t mind ghosts) but because the Good People, the Faerie, frequented that bit of coast. So apparently ghosts are the least alarming kind of spirit." "Obviously, where one is ‘more sure that God wants one to be’ is the place one must go: and even if the surety shd. in fact be mistaken I expect we may rely on God to bring it about that good will come of it." "What you say about the present state of mankind is true: indeed, it is even worse than you say. For they neglect not only the law of Christ but even the Law of Nature as known by the Pagans. For now they do not blush at adultery, treachery, perjury, theft and the other crimes which I will not say Christian Doctors, but the Pagans and the Barbarians have themselves denounced. They err who say ‘the world is turning pagan again’. Would that it were! The truth is that we are falling into a much worse state. ‘Post-Christian man’ is not the same as ‘pre-Christian man’. He is as far removed as virgin is from widow: there is nothing in common except want of a spouse: but there is a great difference between a spouse-to-come and a spouse lost." "My feeling about people in whose conversion I have been allowed to play a part is always mixed with awe and even fear: such as a boy might feel on first being allowed to fire a rifle. The disproportion between his puny finger on the trigger and the thunder & lightning wh. follow is alarming. And the seriousness with which the other party takes my words always raises the doubt whether I have taken them seriously enough myself. By writing the things I write, you see, one especially qualifies for being hereafter ‘condemned out of one’s mouth’. Think of me as a fellow-patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, cd. give some advice." "As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don’t you really know His name in this world. Think it over and let me know your answer!" "You and I who still enjoy fairy tales have less reason to wish actual childhood back. We have kept its pleasures and added some grown-up ones as well. One hasn’t kept the senses, though. What a comparatively tasteless thing an egg or a strawberry is now! Yes: I think the palate is the only part of me that need regret the early years..." "You know, over here people did not get that fairy-tale feeling about the coronation. What impressed most who saw it was the fact that the Queen herself appeared to be quite overwhelmed by the sacramental side of it. Hence, in the spectators, a feeling of (one hardly knows how to describe it)–awe–pity–pathos–mystery. The pressing of that huge, heavy crown on that small, young head becomes a sort of symbol of the situation of humanity itself: humanity called by God to be His vice-regent and high priest on earth, yet feeling so inadequate. As if He said ‘In my inexorable love I shall lay upon the dust that you are glories and dangers and responsibilities beyond your understanding.’ Do you see what I mean? One has missed the whole point unless one feels that we have all been crowned and that coronation is somehow, if splendid, a tragic splendour." "How thankful I am that when God became Man He did not choose to become a man of iron nerves: that wd. not have helped weaklings like you and me nearly so much." "...the difference between a pagan and an apostate is the difference between an unmarried woman and an adulteress. For faith perfects nature but faith lost corrupts nature. Therefore many men of our time have lost not only the supernatural light but also the natural light which pagans possessed." "How wrong you are when you think that streamlined planes and trains wd. attract me to America. What I want to see there is yourself and 3 or 4 other good friends, after New England, the Rip Van Winkle Mts., Nantucket, the Huckleberry Finn country, the Rockies, Yellowstone Park, and a sub-Artic winter. And I shd. never come if I couldn’t manage to come by sea instead of air: preferably on a cargo boat that took weeks on the voyage. I’m a rustic animal and a maritime animal: no good at great cities, big hotels, or all that. But this is becoming egotistical." "I’d love to see a bear, a snow-shoe, and a real forest..." "I have now perceived (what I always suspected from memories of our childhood) that the way to a child’s heart is quite simple: treat them with seriousness & ordinary civility–they ask no more. What they can’t stand (quite rightly) is the common adult assumption that everything they say shd. be twisted into a kind of jocularity." "I have done lots of dish-washing in my time and I have often been read to, but I never thought of your very sensible idea of doing both together. How many plates do you smash in a month?" "I suspect we–and especially, my sex–don’t cry enough nowadays. Aeneas & Hector & Beowulf & Roland & Lancelot blubbered like school-girls, so why shouldn’t we?)." "You ask ‘for what’ God wants you. Isn’t the primary answer that He wants you. We’re not told that the lost sheep was sought out for anything except itself. Of course, He may have a special job for you: and the certain job is that of becoming more and more His." "I am sure you understand that Aslan is a divine figure, and anything remotely approaching the comic (above all anything in the Disney line) would be to me simple blasphemy." "I am certainly unfit to advise anyone else on the devotional life. My own rules are (1.) To make sure that, wherever else they may be placed, the main prayers should not be put ‘last thing at night’. (2.) To avoid introspection in prayer–I mean not to watch one’s own mind to see if it is in the right frame, but always to turn the attention outward to God. (3.) Never, never to try to generate an emotion by will power. (4.) To pray without words when I am able, but to fall back on words when tired or otherwise below par. With renewed thanks. Perhaps you will sometimes pray for me?" "When Our Lord made a wheel in the carpenter shop, depend upon it it was first and foremost a GOOD WHEEL. Don’t try to ‘bring in’ specifically Christian bits: if God wants you to serve him in that way (He may not: there are different vocations) you will find it coming in of its own accord. If not, well–a good story which will give innocent pleasure is a good thing, just like cooking a good nourishing meal. (You don’t put little texts in your family soup, I’ll be bound.)" "But the great thing is to cultivate one’s own garden, to do well the job which one’s own natural capacities point out (after first doing well whatever the ‘duties of one’s station’ impose). Any honest workmanship (whether making stories, shoes, or rabbit hutches) can be done to the glory of God." "(I had been in Ireland, Donegal, which is lovely. All the mountains look like mountains in a story, and there are wooded valleys, & golden sands, & the smell of peat from every cottage)." "About the word ‘hiking’ my own objection wd. lie only against its abuse for something so simple as taking an ordinary ‘walk’: i.e. to the passion for making specialised & self-conscious stunts out of activities which have hitherto been as ordinary as shaving or playing with the kitten." "It is right and inevitable that we shd. be much concerned about the salvation of those we love. But we must be careful not to expect or demand that their salvation shd. conform to some ready-made pattern of our own... God has His own unique way with each soul." "I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely, in reality, the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr Johnson said, ‘To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour’... We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist." "We were talking about Cats & Dogs the other day & decided that both have consciences but the dog, being an honest, humble person, always has a bad one, but the Cat is a Pharisee and always has a good one. When he sits and stares you out of countenance he is thanking God that he is not as these dogs, or these humans, or even as these other Cats!" "I’m all for a planet without aches or pains or financial worries but I doubt if I’d care for one of pure intelligence. No senses (no relish of smells & tastes?), no affection, no Nonsense! I must have a little fooling. I want to tickle a cat’s ears and sometimes have a slanging match with an impertinent squirrel. By the way, I hope the reference to aches, pains, and financial worries does not mean you are suffering from all three (or both, for there are only two here)." "You have no idea how many instances of domestic nastiness come before me in my mail: how deceptive the smooth surface of life is! The only ‘ordinary’ homes seem to be the ones we don’t know much about, just as the only blue mountains are those 10 miles away." "I envy your friends their 12 acre tract of woodland but shd. loathe a house that is nearly all glass. Not (I think) because I’m v. fond of throwing stones, but I like to feel in-doors when I’m in. The main charm of the view from a room is the fact that it is framed in, and unified by, the window. And I hate indoor sunlight. It makes shadows across the page of your book and turns the print green. All really open-air people (sailors, & farm labourers) like thick walls, small windows, and those shut!" "I never knew a guinea-pig that took any notice of humans (they take plenty of one another). Of those small animals I think Hamsters are the most amusing–and, to tell you the truth, I’m still fond of mice. But the guinea pigs go well with your learning German. If they talked, I’m sure that is the language they’d speak." "My other great favourite is XIX.29 First, the mere glory of nature (between the Psalms and Wordsworth–a long gap in history–you get nothing equal to either on this theme). Then the disinfectant, inexorable sun beating down on the desert and ‘nothing hid from the heat thereof’.30 Then–implied, not stated–the imaginative identification of that heat and light with the ‘undefiled’ law, the ‘clean’ fear of the Lord, searching every cranny. Then the characteristically Jewish feeling that the Law is not only obligatory but beautiful, ravishing: delighting the heart, better than gold, sweeter than honey. Only after that, the (more Christian like) self examination and humble petition. Nearly all that could be said before the Incarnation is said in this Psalm. It is so much better Paganism than the real Pagans ever did! And in one way more glorious, more soaring and triumphant, than Christian poetry. For as God humbled Himself to become Man, so religion humbled itself to become Christianity." "I will never laugh at anyone for grieving over a loved beast. I think God wants us to love Him more, not to love creatures (even animals) less. We love everything in one way too much (i.e. at the expense of our love for Him) but in another way we love everything too little. No person, animal, flower, or even pebble, has ever been loved too much–i.e. more than every one of God’s works deserves. But you need not feel ‘like a murderer’. Rather rejoice that God’s law allows you to extend to Fanda that last mercy which (no doubt, quite rightly) we are forbidden to extend to suffering humans. You’ll get over this. I will rejoice in the job." "Lor’ bless you, I’m no pacifist. A really modern weapon, a machine which a skill-less man can work by pressing a button, to the destruction of thousands, himself in safety, is disgusting. But a bow or pistol or sword, a thing used face to face–that is a different matter. Indeed I have a respect not unmixed with envy for people who can hit anything. (The only man I ever had a pot shot [at] in the first war didn’t appear to know he was being fired on at all)..." "About past, long past, sins: I had been a Christian for many years before I really believed in the forgiveness of sins, or more strictly, before my theoretical belief became a reality to me. I fancy this may not be so uncommon." "Lords coëval with creation, Seraph, Cherub, Throne and Power, Princedom, Virtue, Domination, Hail the long-awaited hour! Bruised in head, with broken pinion, Trembling for his old dominion, See the ancient dragon cower! For the Prince of Heaven has risen, Victor, from his shattered prison. Loudly roaring from the regions Where no sunbeam e’er was shed, Rise and dance, ye ransomed legions Of the cold and countless dead! Gates of adamant are broken, Words of conquering power are spoken Through the God who died and bled: Hell lies vacant, spoiled and cheated, By the Lord of life defeated. Bear, behemoth, bustard, camel, Warthog, wombat, kangaroo, Insect, reptile, fish and mammal, Tree, flower, grass, and lichen too, Rise and romp and ramp, awaking, For the age-old curse is breaking. All things shall be made anew; Nature’s rich rejuvenation Follows on Man’s liberation. Eve’s and Adam’s son and daughter, Sinful, weary, twisted, mired, Pale with terror, thinned with slaughter, Robbed of all your hearts desired, Look! Rejoice! One born of woman, Flesh and blood and bones all human, One who wept and could be tired, Risen from vilest death, has given All who will the hope of Heaven." "What you say about books turning up at what seems to be just the right moment is well supported from my own experience. So much so that now, if I lose or forget something I’ve read that seems important, I do not much bother, for I feel a confidence that if I really need it it will be given to me again, and just in time–in a book on some quite different subject I shall find it quoted or a man I didn’t much want to talk to will mention it in conversation." "In both countries an essential part of the ordination exam ought to be a passage from some recognized theological work set for translation into vulgar English–just like doing Latin prose. Failure on this exam should mean failure on the whole exam. It is absolutely disgraceful that we expect missionaries to the Bantus to learn Bantu but never ask whether our missionaries to the Americans or English can speak American or English. Any fool can write learned language. The vernacular is the real test. If you can’t turn your faith into it, then either you don’t understand it or you don’t believe it." More quotes in the comments section...

  2. 4 out of 5

    RE de Leon

    CS Lewis' Letters 1950-1963 serves as an excellent record of Lewis' day to day life during the time the Narnia books were being published, during the time of his romance with Joy Gresham, and through some of the most prolific years of his career, until at last illness got the better of him and he died on November 22, 1963. It will interest the reader to know that the absolute last letter in the collection, taken from the collection of Oxford's Bodleian Library, and written to young Philip Tompson CS Lewis' Letters 1950-1963 serves as an excellent record of Lewis' day to day life during the time the Narnia books were being published, during the time of his romance with Joy Gresham, and through some of the most prolific years of his career, until at last illness got the better of him and he died on November 22, 1963. It will interest the reader to know that the absolute last letter in the collection, taken from the collection of Oxford's Bodleian Library, and written to young Philip Tompson, was written just the day before Lewis died, on November the 21st. Obviously, this volume is not for the casual Lewis reader, and it is good to have a Lewis biography or two handy whenever reading a letter. Nor is it a book one would read from cover to cover unless for some special project. But if you're big on CS Lewis quotes and want to see the full context for some of them, or perhaps you'd like the occasional insight into CS Lewis' day to day activities, or you simply can't get enough of Lewis' unique writing style, you can't beat this definitive volume. One note on "definitive", though. The picture of Lewis that we get from reading his letters and diaries is not complete. For one thing, there's always the possibility of a new letter turning up in someone's attic with a new detail, a new insight, into Lewis. For another, there is the fact that quite a number of Lewis' letters were destroyed before he died, probably in an effort to preserve the privacy both of Lewis and those close to him who might have disclosed sensitive personal information to him. That, and two more things: first, a written record of one's life is not necessarily a definitive record of what actually happened, as the task of writing definitively skews one's perspective; and second, this is only one half of the record - letters FROM Lewis, not TO him. In spite of all those caveats, I suppose these volumes are necessary parts of any collector's library. If only for bragging rights. Although I'm quite certain Lewis would have adamantly objected to that idea. ,b>RE de Leon 8:55 PM January 1, 2011 Agoo, La Union

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeannine

    I've never read a complete book of someone's letters but I'm glad I plugged away at this one - it was fascinating to witness this man's life and the intricacies of his work and relationships through his correspondence. That said, there were many letters I completely skipped over, mostly having to do with his work at Oxford, then Cambridge, detailed letters about medeival literature, mythology, and epic poetry. The letters that most intrigued me are available in other, more focused collections (L I've never read a complete book of someone's letters but I'm glad I plugged away at this one - it was fascinating to witness this man's life and the intricacies of his work and relationships through his correspondence. That said, there were many letters I completely skipped over, mostly having to do with his work at Oxford, then Cambridge, detailed letters about medeival literature, mythology, and epic poetry. The letters that most intrigued me are available in other, more focused collections (Letters to Children, etc). Professor Lewis viewed his letter writing as a duty tied in with his faith, but it was a burden to him (he gets particularly grumbly about it during Christmas). Still he plugged away at it, responding to each one, writing with a dip pen and ink (he eschewed even fountain pens). I'm glad I hung in here with this. As an admirer of Mr. Lewis since I was a small girl, reading these letters only validated that my admiration of this learned, thoughful man is well well placed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bron

    This brings out the brilliant, witty, dry-humoured, and to use the term 'gifted' is so trite, but for lack of a better word I *will* use it...GIFTED...mind of Jack Lewis--through his letters to many people who were first his fans (many of them) and then became his friends. The process of letterwriting certainly has many advantages over email and phone calls, and this collection of letters pinpoints said advantages. Highly, highly recommended for even the most casual reader of The Chronicles of N This brings out the brilliant, witty, dry-humoured, and to use the term 'gifted' is so trite, but for lack of a better word I *will* use it...GIFTED...mind of Jack Lewis--through his letters to many people who were first his fans (many of them) and then became his friends. The process of letterwriting certainly has many advantages over email and phone calls, and this collection of letters pinpoints said advantages. Highly, highly recommended for even the most casual reader of The Chronicles of Narnia--to look into the mind of the one who imagined Narnia into being is totally fascinating and overwhelmingly exciting, not to mention extremely moving and touching. This book is truly a tome, running 1700 pages plus in its entirety, but what a tome! More than ever, upon reading these Letters of his, I eagerly look forward to meeting Jack and talking with him in Heaven.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Hurd

    This collection takes time to read and study but, ah, is it worth it. This is my second time reading/annotating this collection. SO GOOD!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    John Winterson

    Best known today for his ‘Narnia’ novels, Professor C S Lewis was also, in his ‘day job,’ one of the greatest scholars of his generation and a man of extraordinarily wide intellectual interests. A teacher, preacher, philosopher, theologian, Classicist, and literary historian of the first rank, he was well-read and well-educated to a level that seems astonishing today. He was deliberately and self-consciously a Renaissance man – in more ways than one, because he was the acknowledged expert on Ren Best known today for his ‘Narnia’ novels, Professor C S Lewis was also, in his ‘day job,’ one of the greatest scholars of his generation and a man of extraordinarily wide intellectual interests. A teacher, preacher, philosopher, theologian, Classicist, and literary historian of the first rank, he was well-read and well-educated to a level that seems astonishing today. He was deliberately and self-consciously a Renaissance man – in more ways than one, because he was the acknowledged expert on Renaissance English Literature of the period covered by these letters, despite the fact that he was suspicious of the whole concept of the Renaissance. This third and last volume of his collected correspondence begins with his reputation, and a degree of literary celebrity, established by the success of his Christian apologetics. It goes on to illuminate his writing of the later ‘Narnia’ novels and his more mature, philosophical Christian works. It is also the time of his famous love affair, and later marriage, with Joy Davidman Gresham, portrayed with variable accuracy in the film ‘Shadowlands.’ Like his other famous friendship, with J R R Tolkien, his relationship with Joy did not get of to the most promising of starts: just as a letter in an earlier volume describes how his future best friend made a very poor first impression on Lewis, here a letter tells how his future wife never stopped talking when she was first his house-guest. On top of everything else, Lewis was an indefatigable correspondent. This huge pile of his surviving letters hints at many more that have been lost. Lewis notes ruefully that many of his female correspondents stopped writing to him when they heard that he had married. It is clear why people wrote to him. His exalted idea of friendship made him the perfect confidant, and this, combined with the nature of his Christian writings, prompted many to write to him seeking advice. This embarrassed and overburdened him, but he felt obliged to respond, and his advice letters are the most interesting aspect of this correspondence. There is no mysticism about Lewis’ Christianity. His approach to his faith was the same as his approach to everything else, and can be summed up by the words ‘common sense.’ There is something resolutely English about this, despite the fact Lewis was born and raised in Northern Ireland of Welsh stock. It is therefore no surprise that his private political opinions were increasingly ‘common sense’ conservative, but he was discreet about them – even refusing an honour from Churchill – because he did not want to be associated with any cause but Christianity in the public mind. His letters do, however, illuminate aspects of the Attlee years that are airbrushed from history. Yet, like many ‘common sense’ conservatives, he had an independent, even liberal streak. Some of his closest friends were homosexual and, although his opinions on homosexuality were those of an orthodox Christian, he felt criminalisation served no useful purpose and therefore favoured decriminalisation years before it was passed. Equally, although his views on marriage were also strict, he is non-judgmental towards correspondents going through divorces, offering only sympathy, not opinions. Indeed, he comes across in his letters as tolerant, generous, easy-going, wise, kind, thoughtful, sensible, and practical, at least in his later years, the period of this last volume. One is left wishing one could have written to him. That no longer being an option, these letters – collected and edited by his friend Walter Hopper with a scholarship that would have pleased Lewis immensely – remain as a source of good counsel and good cheer.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Wow. That was a long read and, inevitably, filled with a lot of fat; this isn't the book for a layman wanting to know the real Lewis; it's just too long. It could have been the best of the bunch since it's Lewis talking about the most interesting period of his life--Narnia and his marriage are both prominent. I would recommend his Letters to Children or (even better) his Letters to an American Lady to get to know Lewis. Those letters, I think, show Lewis to have been a saint and just the sort of Wow. That was a long read and, inevitably, filled with a lot of fat; this isn't the book for a layman wanting to know the real Lewis; it's just too long. It could have been the best of the bunch since it's Lewis talking about the most interesting period of his life--Narnia and his marriage are both prominent. I would recommend his Letters to Children or (even better) his Letters to an American Lady to get to know Lewis. Those letters, I think, show Lewis to have been a saint and just the sort of saint we need to imitate (Richard Beck's The Slavery of Death has a really good section on this--go read that book by the way). Anyway, this book merits my praise simply because it is so complete. I didn't have fun oftentimes going through the long sloughs, but if I want to know what Lewis thought of a particular author or of a particular issue, I have so many more options. Nonetheless, I think reading them was good for the soul.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This book is fantastic! It covers Lewis' richest years as professor, author, believer, husband, and theologian. I enjoyed reading it in the evenings as the letters are charming, whimsical, thoughtful, and occasionally silly. The relative shortness of letters makes it easy to just read a few and then be ready for slumber, though I kept bothering my husband to read him bits I found especially well-written or just fun. I highly recommend this collection and am so glad I bought it! This book is fantastic! It covers Lewis' richest years as professor, author, believer, husband, and theologian. I enjoyed reading it in the evenings as the letters are charming, whimsical, thoughtful, and occasionally silly. The relative shortness of letters makes it easy to just read a few and then be ready for slumber, though I kept bothering my husband to read him bits I found especially well-written or just fun. I highly recommend this collection and am so glad I bought it!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    This took me over a year to work through. One of the richest things I've ever read. As a huge Lewis fan, this was, and will be totally indispensable. Longer review probably on the way. This took me over a year to work through. One of the richest things I've ever read. As a huge Lewis fan, this was, and will be totally indispensable. Longer review probably on the way.

  10. 5 out of 5

    The Mole

    What can really be said about this book, about the three-volume collection of CS Lewis's letters? Obviously one feels a bit odd at "rating" anyone's personal correspondence -- heaven knows most of my would rate only one or two stars! But perhaps I can leave a few comments about how reading the entire collection made me feel, and what I was able to gleam from it. In short, I really did come away feeling as if I had watched CS Lewis grow -- mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. It was a What can really be said about this book, about the three-volume collection of CS Lewis's letters? Obviously one feels a bit odd at "rating" anyone's personal correspondence -- heaven knows most of my would rate only one or two stars! But perhaps I can leave a few comments about how reading the entire collection made me feel, and what I was able to gleam from it. In short, I really did come away feeling as if I had watched CS Lewis grow -- mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. It was a wonderful, private look into the life of a great man. I heartily recommend this collection of books to anyone who really wants deep insight into the life, mind, interest, and theology of CS Lewis. Just keep in mind, though, that they ARE letters and not biography. *wink*

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gini

    Sort of sad now that I've gotten this one read too. Been visiting these letters for quite a while and will miss them. A lot. A well read man, a thoughtful man. Circumspect and yet able to voice an opinion that left no doubt as to his beliefs or opinions. A shame letter writing has become nearly extinct. Sort of sad now that I've gotten this one read too. Been visiting these letters for quite a while and will miss them. A lot. A well read man, a thoughtful man. Circumspect and yet able to voice an opinion that left no doubt as to his beliefs or opinions. A shame letter writing has become nearly extinct.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Literally a collection of letters. They are interesting to read and to learn how he thought. A great deal of historical context helps in many ways. I enjoyed learning the personal world of the Lewis family and their home life.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Noah Nevils

    Some fantastic letters in here. There were also a lot of short and purely circumstantial letters about meeting people and so forth that didn't feel necessary in an already weighty volume. Some fantastic letters in here. There were also a lot of short and purely circumstantial letters about meeting people and so forth that didn't feel necessary in an already weighty volume.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike E.

    I began reading these about 1.5 years ago, at times daily, and then I may go weeks without. My second read of a historical figure’s letters: a fascinating way to peer into a remarkable life. Until recently many people spent an hour or more, almost daily, writing letters. To read these gives one an intimate and unique biographical perspective. It is nearly certain that CSL would not have wanted these volumes made—he comments on the intrusiveness of publishing personal documents never intended for I began reading these about 1.5 years ago, at times daily, and then I may go weeks without. My second read of a historical figure’s letters: a fascinating way to peer into a remarkable life. Until recently many people spent an hour or more, almost daily, writing letters. To read these gives one an intimate and unique biographical perspective. It is nearly certain that CSL would not have wanted these volumes made—he comments on the intrusiveness of publishing personal documents never intended for publication—in one of his personal letters published in this volume! Nonetheless, I am thankful for them. It’s difficult to put into words the wisdom and insight I have gained from him. I skipped or skimmed many of the letters—some are letters describing edits to manuscripts, some are invitations to dinner or requests for hotel reservations, etc. Most valuable are the letters of CSL in which he gives spiritual counsel to a fellow Christian in need. His humility, tangible expressions of love (sometimes instructing his accountant to send $), command of Scripture, and adherence to the Bible and the gospel rather than any stream of Christianity (Roman, Orthodox, or Protestant) make his shepherding letters indescribably helpful. I read this on a Kindle so the many passages I have highlighted are now searchable and more easily retrievable that my normal reading practice of a physical book. For those so motivated, I can’t recommend this volume with 5 stars or any such format. It is far above and beyond that sort of rating. The editor has done a fantastic & comprehensive work with copious footnotes and documentation. ============= Magdalen College Oxford April 22, 1953 Dear Mr. Van Auken Think of me as a fellow-patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, cd. give some advice. ===========

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karen A. Wyle

    This is a particularly subjective rating. I have been very interested in C.S. Lewis for many years -- and that's the principal reason I find this collection of letters so fascinating, satisfying, and delightful. As an introduction to the man, it would probably be less successful. Among my favorite discoveries: --Lewis received many letters from children who loved The Chronicles of Narnia. Several asked him whether he would write more (or, in one case, whether he would write about Susan finding her This is a particularly subjective rating. I have been very interested in C.S. Lewis for many years -- and that's the principal reason I find this collection of letters so fascinating, satisfying, and delightful. As an introduction to the man, it would probably be less successful. Among my favorite discoveries: --Lewis received many letters from children who loved The Chronicles of Narnia. Several asked him whether he would write more (or, in one case, whether he would write about Susan finding her way to Aslan's country). He encouraged at least five of these young readers to write their own Narnia stories -- fan fiction! --In early letters that mention Joy Davidman (aka Joy Gresham), his future wife, Lewis describes her as a somewhat odd and contentious person (my paraphrase) who might talk your ear off, but at least wasn't boring. --Lewis could be incredibly patient in correspondence with people to whom he had taken on some sort of obligation, even if he took very little pleasure in the exchanges. I read the ebook, but I would recommend hunting down a hard copy. I didn't dare click on any of the many end notes that would have explained various tantalizing references, for fear of losing my place.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    This volume was my favorite because it comes after Lewis has escaped the misery of taking care of Mrs. Moore and is living a happy life free to think and write as he pleases. He is also already converted to Christianity, so a lot of his letters were of great spiritual value to me. And he is writing and publishing most of the books I've read, so I learn more about them as he mentions then in letters. There's also his beautiful and bittersweet relationship with Joy Gresham, though we get almost no This volume was my favorite because it comes after Lewis has escaped the misery of taking care of Mrs. Moore and is living a happy life free to think and write as he pleases. He is also already converted to Christianity, so a lot of his letters were of great spiritual value to me. And he is writing and publishing most of the books I've read, so I learn more about them as he mentions then in letters. There's also his beautiful and bittersweet relationship with Joy Gresham, though we get almost no letters between them as they both burned most of them. Lewis hated the idea of someone studying an author's personal life, but I'm glad to know more about him. I read every bit of it except the Great War letters (far too much obtuse philosophical argument) and the biographical appendix.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tommy Grooms

    [I'm reading these three volumes out of order thanks to opportune Kindle deals] Wonderful wisdom from and insight into an extraordinary man. The dedication and care that Lewis took to write his letters (oftentimes to perfect strangers) is an extraordinary and oftentimes emotional experience. Sometimes the subject matter can get a bit heady (Lewis was an educated man corresponding with educated people), but it's well worth it. Also, it's pretty easy to pick up and put down! [I'm reading these three volumes out of order thanks to opportune Kindle deals] Wonderful wisdom from and insight into an extraordinary man. The dedication and care that Lewis took to write his letters (oftentimes to perfect strangers) is an extraordinary and oftentimes emotional experience. Sometimes the subject matter can get a bit heady (Lewis was an educated man corresponding with educated people), but it's well worth it. Also, it's pretty easy to pick up and put down!

  18. 4 out of 5

    bookme4life

    I haven't read this cover-to-cover. Instead I trace lines of correspondence between Lewis and a particular person -- say Arthur Greeves, for instance -- or randomly pick a point and start reading. I love this compilation of letters (and the two preceding volumes) and am sad that in the future, thanks to technology, we probably won't have volumes like this to read. I haven't read this cover-to-cover. Instead I trace lines of correspondence between Lewis and a particular person -- say Arthur Greeves, for instance -- or randomly pick a point and start reading. I love this compilation of letters (and the two preceding volumes) and am sad that in the future, thanks to technology, we probably won't have volumes like this to read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert Collier

    Lewis exponentially If you want to know C. S. Lewis you can read one of his several biographies, or better you can look into the mind of the man himself through his own words. This is a great and fascinating read. If you read volumes one, two, and three you can follow the development of his thoughts on many subjects including Faith. Well worth the time.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    It's probably self evident that only serious Lewis fans would enjoy 1000+ pages of his letters - this volume covers Narnia, the marriage to Joy, the move to Cambridge on through to Lewis' death in 1963. I enjoyed dipping into these over the past 6 months - like a chat by the fireside. It's probably self evident that only serious Lewis fans would enjoy 1000+ pages of his letters - this volume covers Narnia, the marriage to Joy, the move to Cambridge on through to Lewis' death in 1963. I enjoyed dipping into these over the past 6 months - like a chat by the fireside.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John Majors

    Can't get over how amazing this collection of letters was. I found myself weeping, laughing, smiling, and thinking hard all throughout the work. It was hard to turn the page to the last letter and experience the end of his life. What a great, great man. Can't get over how amazing this collection of letters was. I found myself weeping, laughing, smiling, and thinking hard all throughout the work. It was hard to turn the page to the last letter and experience the end of his life. What a great, great man.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leah Colleen

    Loved it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    James Prothero

    Some wonderful stuff in there, but I know and love Walter Hooper, yet there are so many letters included here which are absolutely trivial. I wonder why they were included.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Jefferies

    Some of it was wonderful, some of it was a collection of thank you notes. I don't think I'm cut out to read other people's letters, even when I really admire those people. Some of it was wonderful, some of it was a collection of thank you notes. I don't think I'm cut out to read other people's letters, even when I really admire those people.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Judy Panter

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jala

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jake McAtee

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brad Jensen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lavonne

  30. 5 out of 5

    gail thompson

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