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.
On the 50th anniversary of his death, this new C. S. Lewis biography succeeds in deepening the appeal of his works The most abiding gift of C. S. Lewis: A Life is its fierce curiosity about the novels, letters, and books of popular philosophy that are Lewis’ most substantial legacy. McGrath’s biography promises to introduce new readers to those works—and inspire veteran C. S. Lewis fans to visit them again.
If you’re looking for a lively, general introduction to this multitalented thinker and writer, Alister McGrath’s new biography is a good place to start.
Alister McGrath’s C. S. Lewis: A Life now supplies a welcome balance, along with some significant discoveries. Mr. McGrath is well placed, culturally speaking, to understand and sympathize with Lewis. . . . One comes away with a renewed sympathy for a provocative, perceptive, contrarian and somewhat tormented soul
McGrath is not intimidated by Lewis nor overly reverential of him; but he shows him a professional respect that ought to silence those who dismiss Lewis as a theological amateur. He points out that under its clothing of reasoned argument, Lewis’ theology is always founded on a profoundly aesthetic effort: to draw us a picture of the Christian universe and our place in it that moves, attracts and persuades us, so that we say: yes, this is what life is really like, and how much more real it is than we ever imagined. A powerful achievement.
While readers of C. S. Lewis might assume a biography would cover his literature, this account comes from an eminent theologian and focuses on Lewis’ spiritual life and conversion—and therefore is a definitive survey of Lewis’ conversion and faith, recommended for spirituality holdings above all else. Dr. McGrath is the only scholar to analyze the entire collection of Lewis’ letters and archives: his survey is a powerful biography combining elements of spiritual and literary analysis, and is a special pick for any Christian collection.
An excellent scholarly read encompassing new ideas for Lewis devotees or those interested in religious argument.
To the question of whether the world really needs another biography of C.S. Lewis, McGrath’s lucid and unsentimental portrait of the Christian champion responds with a resounding “yes.” The year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Lewis’s death, and times have changed and evangelical sentiments have matured. McGrath offers a new and at times shocking look into the complicated life of this complex figure, in a deeply researched biography. The author takes us headlong into the heart of a Lewis we’ve known little about: his unconventional affair with Mrs. Jane Moore; his hostile and deceptive relationship with his father; his curiosity about the sensuality of cruelty. McGrath navigates the reader through these messy themes, ultimately landing us onto the solid ground of Lewis’s postconversion legacy. He shows with skill, sympathy, dispassion, and engaging prose that Lewis, like the rest of us, did the best he could with the hand he was dealt. But he got over it, as must all those who would prefer a Lewis without shadows.
McGrath does this so limpidly, so intelligently, and so sympathetically that this biography is the one Lewis’ admirers—especially those who, like him, believe that books are to be read and enjoyed—should prefer to all others.
A thoroughly researched yet very readable, chronological account of C.S. Lewis’ life, his literature, and his journey from atheism to Christianity. Fifty years after his death, the words of Lewis continue to inspire many, and McGrath’s biography may help to unravel some of the mystery behind his eccentric mind. Staff Pick
Rather than canonizing Lewis, McGrath’s meticulously detailed book succeeds in humanizing him.
Alister McGrath sheds new light on the life of the incomparable C. S. Lewis. This is an important book.
Alister McGrath’s new biography of C. S. Lewis is excellent. It’s filled with information based on extensive scholarship but is nonetheless extremely readable. It not only devotes great attention to the formation and character of Lewis the man, it offers incisive and balanced analyses of all his main literary works. I was one of those newly converted American evangelicals who hungrily devoured Lewis’s works in the late 1960s and early ’70s. His impact on me was profound and lasting, and Dr. McGrath clearly explains why so many believers and Christian leaders today can say the same thing.
Many of us thought we knew most of what there was to know about C. S. Lewis. Alister McGrath’s new biography makes use of archives and other material that clarify, deepen, and further explain the many sides of one of Christianity’s most remarkable apologists. This is a penetrating and illuminating study.
Alister McGrath has written a meticulously researched, insightful, fair-minded, and honest account of a fascinating man’s life. His book is especially distinctive in its placing of Lewis in his vocational and social contexts, but it also provides a compelling account of the development of Lewis’s Christian mind. This will be an indispensable resource for fans and scholars of Lewis.
For people who might wonder if we need another biography of C. S. Lewis, McGrath’s crisp, insightful, and at times quite original portrait of the celebrated Oxford Christian will change their minds.
A welcome addition to the biographical literature on C. S. Lewis, which includes several valuable new perspectives. McGrath’s book will gain a permanent position in Lewis scholarship for his brilliant and, to my mind, undeniable re-dating of Lewis’s conversion to Theism. How we all missed this for so long is astonishing!