Alistair McGrath’s New Biography of C. S. Lewis

Last month, Alister McGrath’s new biography of C. S. Lewis hit the shelves. If you missed the release, join the club. I did too. The book is titled C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet, and it is apparently being very well-received. Yesterday, another Lewis biographer—A. N. Wilson—reviewed the new work for The Daily Beast, and it looks like McGrath’s book may become the definitive biography on Lewis. Wilson writes,

There have been plenty of biographies of Lewis—I once wrote one myself—but I do not think there has been a better one than Alister McGrath’s. He is a punctilious and enthusiastic reader of all Lewis’s work—the children’s stories, the science fiction, the Christian apologetics, and the excellent literary criticism and literary history. He is from Northern Ireland, as Lewis was himself, and he is especially astute about drawing out the essentially Northern Irish qualities of this very odd man. And he is sympathetic to the real oddness of his story.

And this bit about Lewis’s falling-out with Tolkien:

The only new bit in McGrath’s book that made me cry was a letter he has unearthed in which Lewis proposed Tolkien for the Nobel Prize for Literature. By then the friends were more or less estranged. Tolkien disliked Lewis’s Narnia books intensely and he resented his friend’s marriage to Mrs. Davidson. Yet Lewis never returned Tolkien’s rancor. The cooling of friendship is as sad as the death of other kinds of love, and McGrath conveys this beautifully. His book evokes with aching honesty that vanished male world of heavy-smoking, heavy-drinking Oxford, the world in which emotions are not investigated, not understood, and left at home with the usually unhappy womenfolk. What makes Lewis such a surprising figure is that he who understood so little about the emotional life can still, 50 years after his life, speak so eloquently to millions upon millions of human souls, not one of whom would have found him a soulmate if they had actually known him.

You can read the rest of Wilson’s review here. You can order McGrath’s book here.

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