One of my all-time favorite writers is Clive Staples Lewis.
I well remember November 22, 1963. I was riding in the car on my way home from an after-school party that had been unexpectedly cancelled due to the Kennedy assassination. Of course, the radio was on; the aftermath of Kennedy’s death demanded our unceasing attention.
During a break from the minute-by-minute coverage, I remember hearing a radio reporter announce, in an almost casual aside, the death of C. S. Lewis. (Writer Aldous Huxley also died that day.)
Just weeks shy of my 15th birthday, I mourned more for Lewis than for JFK or Huxley. As best I can recall from that time, I’d only read one of Lewis’ books, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Though I could not have predicted the impact his oeuvre would exert in my adult life, that day I knew in my heart of hearts the world had lost someone very special.
Fast forward fifty years … the works of C. S. Lewis remain, continuing to offer us incisive commentary and observations about the here-and-now shadowland we inhabit. Whether fiction, non-fiction or sermons, his works are prescient reminders of eternal verities.
(While I accurately describe myself as a C.S. Lewis devotee, my devotion shouldn’t be mistaken as expertise. I leave that to people who knew the man as well as the academics who’ve seriously studied and taught from his writings. It is prudent to view my posts as the devoted musings of an admirer.)
A Google search garners almost 27 million results for C. S. Lewis, most of which I have yet to investigate. Imagine then, my delight to come across a series by Professor Lou Markos from Houston Baptist University (HBU). Entitled A to Z with C.S. Lewis, Prof. Markos explored the legacy of C.S. Lewis in classes at HBU for the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters. (May I say I’m jealous of his students?!)
The insights Markos offered in this 26-part series led me to purchase two of his books … and then a third, as if my night table isn’t already stacked with books! I had high expectations for the first book, Restoring Beauty: The Good, the True, and the Beautiful in the Writings of C.S. Lewis, and this volume exceeded those expectations by a mile!
Markos drew me in with his proposition for restoring beauty. He observes (in the Preface) that today’s “world of art … embraces an aesthetic that privileges ugliness over beauty, nihilism over form, and radical self-expression over the pursuit of higher truth.” (To borrow a phrase from Jerry McGuire, “You had me at hello!“) Each chapter highlights characters, scenes and insights from Lewis’ work in stark contrast to today’s cultural pallor. Now that I’ve read the book once, I intend to return, pausing at the end of each chapter to re-read the specific Lewis book (or books) from which Markos has drawn.
I started on another Markos book, On the Shoulders of Hobbits, but found another smaller volume I thought could be easily devoured first. Literature, A Student’s Guide runs 143 pages − once through for a quick read, right? I thought to myself, how difficult could that be? While not a difficult volume, Markos’ presentation of familiar topics (including the Resources for Further Study) brings me to frequent reflection and further study. Hence, I have two Markos books partially read, still on my night table.
All this talk of literature … forgive me if I’ve lost anyone in the weeds! Don’t let this (or any) talk of literature dampen your interest in reading books written by C.S. Lewis. As a masterful story-teller, he has few peers. Enjoy!