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The Essential C. S. Lewis

par C. S. Lewis, Lyle W. Dorsett (Directeur de publication)

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A selection of Lewis' work, including essays, letters, poems, and texts of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," "Perelandra" and "Abolition of Man."
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This book is part of my C.S. Lewis collection. I went through a huge phase where I was just obsessed with anything and everything by him. While I don't agree with all of his theology, I do love his writing style and the things he has to say about faith. He was a good one. ( )
  justagirlwithabook | Jul 31, 2018 |
This was the parting gift of a friend and coworker. We had sparred constantly: he the devout Catholic, me the "stone cold atheist." I shook my head when I saw the title. "You don't give up, do you?" He replied in a Darth Vader voice, "Ah, but if you could be turned!" I took it as a compliment and didn't have the heart to tell him I had already encountered C.S. Lewis, the famous Christian apologist, and found his arguments unconvincing and his philosophy uncongenial.

A lot of the selections in this anthology I'd read before. I had read the Narnia books, the Space Trilogy, The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity and as much of Abolition of Man as I could stomach. I was reminded again of why I keep reading Lewis though when I turned to the first selection included, an excerpt from his spiritual biography Surprised by Joy. I soon found myself smiling. At his best there's something very beguiling about C.S. Lewis: you feel as if he's directly addressing you. A trusted friend, one who respects your intelligence, even your good intentions. And if I do consider a lot of his arguments straw men, better straw men than smoke. His arguments are logical and lucid. He has the gift for making very sophisticated ideas plain and comprehensible. His worst? Well, I had found the Space Trilogy unbearably sexist, anti-republican and it, and Abolition of Man, exasperated me with its anti-science, anti-reason, anti-exploration and anti-technology rhetoric. I encountered this line in this book from Reflections on the Psalms: "Later we learn (which God forbid) to travel in space and distribute upon new worlds the vomit of our own corruption." That line embodies a lot of what I find most repugnant in Lewis. The idea of man as this cringing, unworthy thing and the achievement, the wonder I love in space exploration is denigrated as vile, the entire idea of improving life, society on this earth as unworthy.

Beyond my objections to the material, I did find some choices of the editor dubious. Dorsett admits Lewis thought Till We Have Faces his best work. And I'd agree. I assumed it wasn't included for reasons of length, then I found this comment by Dorsett introducing the (complete!) text of Lewis' novel Perelandra. "Because this later novel [Till We Have Faces], a retelling of the myth of Psyche and Cupid is often difficult for the beginning reader to understand the unabridged Perelandra is reprinted here." Huh???? Till We Have Faces is my favorite Lewis work--it was also my first. I didn't find it difficult; I also didn't find it heavy handed in the way I'd later find some of Narnia and pretty much all of the Space Trilogy (of which Perelandra is the middle work. If you're going to include the complete text of one of them, why not Out of the Silent Planet, the first book of the three?) Due for a reread, but not only do I remember Till We Have Faces as lovely and moving, but it featured a female protagonist who is absolutely convincing (which is more than could be said for Perelandra.) Lewis' relationship late in life with his wife Joy Davidson might have helped a lot--Lewis himself gave her a lot of credit. And for that matter I regret the entire omission of A Grief Observed dealing with his reactions to her death, which is Lewis at his most moving and universal. I don't know that I'd recommend The Essential C. S. Lewis as an introduction to Lewis (one reason I'm not rating this highly)--although I was happy to sample works from him I hadn't encountered before, especially his literary criticism. ( )
2 voter LisaMaria_C | Oct 9, 2012 |
Too choppy, not enough complete works. ( )
  readermom | Jan 24, 2009 |
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Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
C. S. Lewisauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionscalculé
Dorsett, Lyle W.Directeur de publicationauteur principaltoutes les éditionsconfirmé
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A selection of Lewis' work, including essays, letters, poems, and texts of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," "Perelandra" and "Abolition of Man."

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