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The family home, called Little Lea, was a large, gabled house with dark, narrow passages and an overgrown garden, which Warnie and Jack played in and explored together. This somewhat idyllic boyhood came to an end for Lewis when his mother became ill and died of cancer in Barely a month after her death the two boys were sent away from home to go to boarding school in England. Lewis hated the school, with its strict rules and hard, unsympathetic headmaster, and he missed Belfast terribly. Fortunately for him, the school closed in , and he was able to return to Ireland.

After a year, however, he was sent back to England to study. This time, the experience proved to be mostly positive. As a teenager, Lewis learned to love poetry, especially the works of Virgil and Homer. He also developed an interest in modern languages, mastering French, German, and Italian. In Lewis was accepted at University College, the oldest college founded at Oxford University. Oxford, along with Cambridge University, had been a leading center of learning since the Middle Ages.

Soon after he entered the University, however, Lewis chose to volunteer for active duty in World War I, to serve in the British Army then fighting in the muddy trenches of northern France. Following the end of the war in , Lewis returned to Oxford, where he took up his studies again with great enthusiasm.

He remained at Oxford for 29 years before becoming a professor of medieval and renaissance literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge, in Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help.

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Thank you! Your submission has been received! Start your mornings with the good, the beautiful, the true Subscribe to Aleteia's free newsletter! Let's stay connected! Gresham's cancer soon went into remission, and the couple lived together as a family with Warren Lewis until , when her cancer recurred and she died on 13 July. Earlier that year, the couple took a brief holiday in Greece and the Aegean ; Lewis was fond of walking but not of travel, and this marked his only crossing of the English Channel after Lewis's book A Grief Observed describes his experience of bereavement in such a raw and personal fashion that he originally released it under the pseudonym N.

Clerk to keep readers from associating the book with him. Ironically, many friends recommended the book to Lewis as a method for dealing with his own grief. After Lewis's death, his authorship was made public by Faber's, with the permission of the executors. Lewis continued to raise Gresham's two sons after her death. Douglas Gresham is a Christian like Lewis and his mother, [64] while David Gresham turned to his mother's ancestral faith, becoming Orthodox Jewish in his beliefs.

His mother's writings had featured the Jews in an unsympathetic manner, particularly one " shohet " ritual slaughterer. David informed Lewis that he was going to become a ritual slaughterer to present this type of Jewish religious functionary to the world in a more favourable light. In a interview, Douglas Gresham acknowledged that he and his brother were not close, but he did say that they are in email contact. In early June , Lewis began suffering from nephritis , which resulted in blood poisoning.

His illness caused him to miss the autumn term at Cambridge, though his health gradually began improving in and he returned that April. His health continued to improve and, according to his friend George Sayer, Lewis was fully himself by early After he was discharged from the hospital, Lewis returned to the Kilns, though he was too ill to return to work.

As a result, he resigned from his post at Cambridge in August. Lewis's condition continued to decline, and he was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure in mid-November. Media coverage of Lewis's death was almost completely overshadowed by news of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy , which occurred on the same day approximately 55 minutes following Lewis's collapse , as did the death of English writer Aldous Huxley , author of Brave New World.

Kennedy, C.

C. S. Lewis: The Creator of Narnia - Biography

Lewis began his academic career as an undergraduate student at Oxford University , where he won a triple first, the highest honours in three areas of study. His The Allegory of Love helped reinvigorate the serious study of late medieval narratives such as the Roman de la Rose.

Lewis was commissioned to write the volume English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama for the Oxford History of English Literature, [74] as well as several prefaces to works of literature and poetry, such as Layamon's Brut. His last academic work , The Discarded Image : An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature , is a summary of the medieval world view, a reference to the "discarded image" of the cosmos.

Lewis was a prolific writer, and his circle of literary friends became an informal discussion society known as the " Inklings ", including J. Glyer points to December as the Inklings' beginning date.


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Curiously, the religious and conservative Betjeman detested Lewis, whereas the anti-establishment Tynan retained a lifelong admiration for him. Of Tolkien, Lewis writes in Surprised by Joy :.

When I began teaching for the English Faculty, I made two other friends, both Christians these queer people seemed now to pop up on every side who were later to give me much help in getting over the last stile. They were HVV Dyson Friendship with the latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices. At my first coming into the world I had been implicitly warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty explicitly never to trust a philologist.

Tolkien was both. In addition to his scholarly work, Lewis wrote several popular novels, including the science fiction Space Trilogy for adults and the Narnia fantasies for children. Most deal implicitly with Christian themes such as sin, humanity's fall from grace , and redemption. The book was poorly received by critics at the time, [23] although David Martyn Lloyd-Jones , one of Lewis's contemporaries at Oxford, gave him much-valued encouragement.

Asked by Lloyd-Jones when he would write another book, Lewis replied, "When I understand the meaning of prayer. The Space Trilogy also called the Cosmic Trilogy or Ransom Trilogy dealt with what Lewis saw as the dehumanising trends in contemporary science fiction. The first book, Out of the Silent Planet , was apparently written following a conversation with his friend J. Tolkien about these trends. Lewis agreed to write a "space travel" story and Tolkien a "time travel" one, but Tolkien never completed " The Lost Road ", linking his Middle-earth to the modern world.

Lewis's main character Elwin Ransom is based in part on Tolkien, a fact to which Tolkien alludes in his letters. The second novel, Perelandra , depicts a new Garden of Eden on the planet Venus, a new Adam and Eve , and a new "serpent figure" to tempt Eve. The story can be seen as an account of what might have happened if the terrestrial Adam had defeated the serpent and avoided the Fall of Man , with Ransom intervening in the novel to "ransom" the new Adam and Eve from the deceptions of the enemy.

The third novel, That Hideous Strength , develops the theme of nihilistic science threatening traditional human values, embodied in Arthurian legend. Many ideas in the trilogy, particularly opposition to dehumanization as portrayed in the third book, are presented more formally in The Abolition of Man , based on a series of lectures by Lewis at Durham University in Lewis stayed in Durham, where he says he was overwhelmed by the magnificence of the cathedral.

That Hideous Strength is in fact set in the environs of "Edgestow" university, a small English university like Durham, though Lewis disclaims any other resemblance between the two. Walter Hooper , Lewis's literary executor, discovered a fragment of another science-fiction novel apparently written by Lewis called The Dark Tower. Ransom appears in the story but it is not clear whether the book was intended as part of the same series of novels. The manuscript was eventually published in , though Lewis scholar Kathryn Lindskoog doubts its authenticity.

The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children and is considered a classic of children's literature. Written between and and illustrated by Pauline Baynes , the series is Lewis's most popular work, having sold over million copies in 41 languages Kelly Guthmann It has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, stage and cinema.

The books contain Christian ideas intended to be easily accessible to young readers. In addition to Christian themes, Lewis also borrows characters from Greek and Roman mythology , as well as traditional British and Irish fairy tales. Lewis wrote several works on Heaven and Hell.

One of these, The Great Divorce , is a short novella in which a few residents of Hell take a bus ride to Heaven, where they are met by people who dwell there. The proposition is that they can stay if they choose, in which case they can call the place where they had come from " Purgatory ", instead of "Hell", but many find it not to their taste. This work deliberately echoes two other more famous works with a similar theme: the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri , and Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.

Another short work, The Screwtape Letters , consists of letters of advice from senior demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood on the best ways to tempt a particular human and secure his damnation. Lewis's last novel was Till We Have Faces , which he thought of as his most mature and masterly work of fiction but which was never a popular success.

It is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche from the unusual perspective of Psyche's sister. It is deeply concerned with religious ideas, but the setting is entirely pagan , and the connections with specific Christian beliefs are left implicit. Before Lewis's conversion to Christianity, he published two books: Spirits in Bondage , a collection of poems, and Dymer , a single narrative poem. Both were published under the pen name Clive Hamilton.

He also wrote The Four Loves , which rhetorically explains four categories of love: friendship , eros , affection , and charity.

C. S. Lewis: Creator of Narnia

In , a partial draft was discovered of Language and Human Nature , which Lewis had begun co-writing with J. Tolkien, but which was never completed. Lewis is also regarded by many as one of the most influential Christian apologists of his time, in addition to his career as an English professor and an author of fiction. Mere Christianity was voted best book of the 20th century by Christianity Today in Lewis was very interested in presenting an argument from reason against metaphysical naturalism and for the existence of God.

Mere Christianity , The Problem of Pain , and Miracles were all concerned, to one degree or another, with refuting popular objections to Christianity, such as the question, "How could a good God allow pain to exist in the world? According to George Sayer, losing a debate with Elizabeth Anscombe , also a Christian, led Lewis to re-evaluate his role as an apologist, and his future works concentrated on devotional literature and children's books.

Lewis also wrote an autobiography titled Surprised by Joy , which places special emphasis on his own conversion. It was written before he met his wife, Joy Gresham; the title of the book came from the first line of a poem by William Wordsworth. His essays and public speeches on Christian belief, many of which were collected in God in the Dock and The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses , remain popular today.

His most famous works, the Chronicles of Narnia , contain many strong Christian messages and are often considered allegory. Lewis, an expert on the subject of allegory, maintained that the books were not allegory, and preferred to call the Christian aspects of them " suppositional ". As Lewis wrote in a letter to a Mrs. Hook in December If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair [a character in The Pilgrim's Progress ] represents despair, he would be an allegorical figure.

In reality, he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like, if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours? In a much-cited passage from Mere Christianity , Lewis challenged the view that Jesus was a great moral teacher but not God.

He argued that Jesus made several implicit claims to divinity, which would logically exclude that claim:. I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.

You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. Although this argument is sometimes called "Lewis's trilemma", Lewis did not invent it but rather developed and popularized it.

Lewis's Christian apologetics, and this argument in particular, have been criticised. Philosopher John Beversluis described Lewis's arguments as "textually careless and theologically unreliable", [] and this particular argument as logically unsound and an example of false dilemma.

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Lewis used a similar argument in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , when the old Professor advises the young heroes that their sister's claims of a magical world must logically be taken as either lies, madness, or truth. One of the main theses in Lewis's apologia is that there is a common morality known throughout humanity, which he calls " natural law ". In the first five chapters of Mere Christianity , Lewis discusses the idea that people have a standard of behaviour to which they expect people to adhere.

Lewis claims that people all over the earth know what this law is and when they break it. He goes on to claim that there must be someone or something behind such a universal set of principles. These then are the two points that I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it.

Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it.

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These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in. Lewis also portrays Universal Morality in his works of fiction. In the second chapter of Mere Christianity , Lewis recognises that "many people find it difficult to understand what this Law of Human Nature In responding to the second idea Lewis notes that people often complain that one set of moral ideas is better than another, but that this actually argues for there existing some "Real Morality" to which they are comparing other moralities.

Finally, he notes that sometimes differences in moral codes are exaggerated by people who confuse differences in beliefs about morality with differences in beliefs about facts:. I have met people who exaggerate the differences, because they have not distinguished between differences of morality and differences of belief about facts. For example, one man said to me, "Three hundred years ago people in England were putting witches to death. There is no difference of moral principle here: the difference is simply about matter of fact. It may be a great advance in knowledge not to believe in witches: there is no moral advance in not executing them when you do not think they are there.

You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house. Lewis also had fairly progressive views on the topic of "animal morality", in particular the suffering of animals, as is evidenced by several of his essays: most notably, On Vivisection [] and "On the Pains of Animals".

Lewis continues to attract a wide readership. In , The Times ranked him eleventh on their list of "the 50 greatest British writers since ". His Christian apologetics are read and quoted by members of many Christian denominations. Flowers were laid by Walter Hooper , trustee and literary advisor to the Lewis Estate. An address was delivered by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else. Lewis has been the subject of several biographies, a few of which were written by close friends, such as Roger Lancelyn Green and George Sayer.

This was also staged as a theatre play starring Nigel Hawthorne in and made into the feature film Shadowlands starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

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In , a one-hour television movie entitled C. The Chronicles of Narnia has been particularly influential. Rowling 's Harry Potter Hilliard Pullman is an atheist and so fierce a critic of Lewis's work as to be dubbed "the anti-Lewis".

Lewis a negative influence and has accused Lewis of featuring religious propaganda, misogyny, racism, and emotional sadism [] in his books. Authors of adult fantasy literature such as Tim Powers have also testified to being influenced by Lewis's work. In A Sword Between the Sexes? Lewis and the Gender Debates , Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen finds in Lewis's work "a hierarchical and essentialist view of class and gender" corresponding to an Edwardian upbringing.

Most of Lewis's posthumous work has been edited by his literary executor Walter Hooper. Kathryn Lindskoog , an independent Lewis scholar, argued that Hooper's scholarship is not reliable and that he has made false statements and attributed forged works to Lewis. Lewis's stepson Douglas Gresham denies the forgery claims, saying, "The whole controversy thing was engineered for very personal reasons Her fanciful theories have been pretty thoroughly discredited.

Several C. Lewis Societies exist around the world, including one which was founded in Oxford in to discuss papers on the life and works of Lewis and the other Inklings, and generally appreciate all things Lewisian. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Joy Davidman m. She was my daughter and my mother, my pupil and my teacher, my subject and my sovereign; and always, holding all these in solution, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier. My mistress; but at the same time all that any man friend and I have good ones has ever been to me.

Perhaps more. Main article: Lewis's trilemma. Main article: C. Lewis bibliography. John Beversluis , C. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion. Bresland , The Backward Glance: C. Lewis and Ireland. Ostling , C. Spence James Como , Remembering C. Lewis 3rd edn. Lewis at the Breakfast Table. Lewis and Eschatology. Ignatius Press. Lewis's Ransom Trilogy.


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Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Lewis's Journey to Faith. Downing , Into the Wardrobe: C. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship. Lewis, J. London: Azure. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Broadman and Holman. Bruce L. Edwards ed. Lewis: Life, Works, and Legacy. Praeger Perspectives. Alastair Fowler , "C. Lewis: Supervisor" , Yale Review ; Vol. Biographical memoir, in Proceedings of the British Academy 51 , — Jocelyn Gibb ed. Lewis: Images of His World. The Company They Keep: C. Lewis and J. Tolkien as Writers in Community. Hooper, Walter; Green, Roger Lancelyn []. Lewis: A Biography.

Lewis: The Authentic Voice formerly C. Lewis: A Dramatic Life. University of Alabama Press. Heck , Irrigating Deserts: C. Lewis on Education. Concordia Publishing House. Lewis and Narnia. Adams Media. Lewis Themes and Threads. Kilby , The Christian World of C. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, , King , C. Multnomah Pub. Lewis: A Reference Guide, — Tyndale House Publishers.