Item description for The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Books, Broadcasts, and the War, 1931-1949 by C. S. Lewis & Walter Hooper...
Overview Contains the personal correspondence of English author C. S. Lewis, includes letters penned during his childhood, World War I army days, education at Oxford, atheist period, early friendship with J. R. R. Tolkien, and during World War II.
C. S. Lewis was a prolific letter writer, and his personal correspondence reveals much of his private life, reflections, friendships, and the progress of his thought. This second of a three-volume collection contains the letters Lewis wrote after his conversion to Christianity, as he began a lifetime of serious writing. Lewis corresponded with many of the twentieth century's major literary figures, including J. R. R. Tolkien and Dorothy Sayers. Here we encounter a surge of letters in response to a new audience of laypeople who wrote to him after the great success of his BBC radio broadcasts during World War II -- talks that would ultimately become his masterwork, Mere Christianity.
Volume II begins with C. S. Lewis writing his first major work of literary history, The Allegory of Love, which established him as a scholar with imaginative power. These letters trace his creative journey and recount his new circle of friends, "The Inklings," who meet regularly to share their writing. Tolkien reads aloud chapters of his unfinished The Lord of the Rings, while Lewis shares portions of his first novel, Out of the Silent Planet. Lewis's weekly letters to his brother, Warnie, away serving in the army during World War II, lead him to begin writing his first spiritual work, The Problem of Pain.
After the serialization of The Screwtape Letters, the director of religious broadcasting at the BBC approached Lewis and the "Mere Christianity" talks were born. With his new broadcasting career, Lewis was inundated with letters from all over the world. His faithful, thoughtful responses to numerous questions reveal the clarity and wisdom of his theological and intellectual beliefs.
Volume II includes Lewis's correspondence with great writers such as Owen Barfield, Arthur C. Clarke, Sheldon Vanauken, and Dom Bede Griffiths. The letters address many of Lewis's interests -- theology, literary criticism, poetry, fantasy, and children's stories -- as well as reveal his relation ships with close friends and family. But what is apparent throughout this volume is how this quiet bachelor professor in England touched the lives of many through an amazing discipline of personal correspondence. Walter Hooper's insightful notes and compre hensive biographical appendix of the correspon dents make this an irreplaceable reference for those curious about the life and work of one of the most creative minds of the modern era.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Books, Broadcasts, and the War, 1931-1949 by C. S. Lewis & Walter Hooper has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Books & Culture - 09/01/2004 page 8
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C.S. Lewis was a professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities who wrote more than thirty books in his lifetime, including The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Mere Christianity. He died in 1963.
C. S. Lewis was born in 1898 and died in 1963.
C. S. Lewis has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Collected Letters Of C S Lewis V2?
deep, fun, wise Feb 13, 2008
This is the most fascinating collection of letters I've ever read: Lewis was not only a genius, but a wise and compassionate man as well. The other reviewers here go into more detail, but I did want to mention this: what struck me most was how creatively and wisely Lewis dealt with his own difficulties in life, his own sadness, his suffering. His deep and active faith helped him to see beyond himself; his kindness kept him caring for others; his lack of self-pity is a wonderful example. He enjoys life both in the many good times, and in the midst of hard times. These letters are not only fun and informative: they are inspiring as well.
Essential for devoted Lewis fans May 9, 2006
This is a review of The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II: Books, Broadcasts, and the War, 1931 - 1939. ISBN 0060727640; HarperCollins, 2004.
Walter Hooper, in the preface to this volume, mentions that Owen Barfield divided Lewis into three different men: the popular theologian, the literary critic, and the writer of popular fiction. Being a fan of Lewis the literary critic doesn't mean you know Lewis the popular theologian exists, and being a fan of Lewis the writer of popular fiction doesn't necessarily mean you like Lewis the literary critic. But fans of all three Lewises owe Walter Hooper a great debt of thanks for editing three thousand-page volumes of the man's letters.
In the first volume, Lewis's correspondence was divided between his father, his brother, and his "First Friend" Arthur Greeves; with a few letters to people such as Cecil Harwood, Owen Barfield, and Leo Baker thrown in for good measure. Here, he writes to many, many people, and is much more interesting: former pupils (Dom Bede Griffiths, Mary Neylan), Sister Penelope, Dorothy Sayers, Americans . . . The years covered by this volume (1931 - 1949) cover some of Lewis's best work: The Screwtape Letters, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strenght, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, and his talks for the BBC that eventually became Mere Christianity. (This period also included more scholarly work such as his Preface to Paradise Lost and The Abolition of Man; also his editing of the Essays Presented to Charles Williams.) He talks about the etymology of Old Solar, the proper pronunciation of double vowels in Old English (palely v. paley), and how to properly read Milton, among other things.
What I found interesting (and rather disappointing) is that Lewis doesn't talk very much about some of his books in his letters. For instance, there's more about the Screwtape Letters in his preface than in his letters. I have to occasionally remind myself that the Lewis writing letters in 1945 was the Lewis who was writing That Hideous Strength at the same time. But there's nothing better than reading a brilliant man talk about books you've both read; and so I enjoyed Lewis's offhand comments on Macdonald, Trollope, and others. Lewis on Cervantes: "I tried to read Don Quixote and failed: it seems to me a wretched affair. I suppose I must be wrong" (page 250).
Though it's true that Volume II is more interesting than Volume I, readers of the first volume already know what a Pigiebotie is, the significance of a P'daytism, and who the Witch of Endor was. I wasn't sorry I read the first volume before the second.
Those who want an introduction to Lewis should try Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, or even the Narnia books; the Letters would probably be too much. But those who already know and love Lewis should buy Volumes I and II of the Letters now, and Volume III when it comes out in October.
A look into the life of a giant of the faith Jul 7, 2005
This second volume of C.S. Lewis' letters was, I though, much better than the first. It is amazing to be able to read what c.S. Lewis was doing and what he was thinking. Reading these books of letters has gives me an entirely new perspective of C.S. Lewis. One thing that constantly amazed me was all of the books he read. It seemed that in every letter he was describing which books he had read since the last letter, and it inspired me to begin reading more regularly.
Also, and more importantly, in the latter part of this book C.S. Lewis begins answering fan mail, and in these he talks a lot about theology. These letters are especially interesting and worthwhile to read. In this volume one can also find a letter in which Lewis clearly states his inclusivistic beliefs (I don't remember which one off hand, but it was towards the beginning somwhere).
If you enjoy reading C.S. Lewis material, or if you want to see into the life of a giant of the Christian faith, this is an amazing opportunity for you.
A rich mine of assorted treasures. Jan 16, 2005
The second volume of letters from C.S. Lewis is more varied and consistently interesting than the first, I think. For one thing, Lewis is writing to a wider group of people. While in the first volume most letters are addressed to father, brother, or friend Arthur Reeves, now he is ensconced in Oxford, mildly famous and cursed with more correspondents than he wishes (though he is always polite, and usually thoughtful). His father has passed away, his brother does some ghost-lettering, and Arthur still gets a few epistles. But this volume also contains leaves to Dorothy Sayers (an excellent match), Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, John Betjeman, poet and painter Ruth Ritter, the Catholic student of Hinduism, Dom Bede Griffiths (whom he warns, "I now believe that refined, philosophical eastern Pantheism is far further from the true Faith than the semi barbarous pagan religions"), and a few short letters to T. S. Elliot, interesting for their terseness and studied politeness. (Besides not liking his poetry, Lewis was mad at Elliot for not contributing to a book for the widow of Charles Williams.) Possibly the most common topic of discussion is literature, much of it by one or the other correspondant. But lots more gets touched on.
Some letters are also written to help people with spiritual questions, "plot good" of some sort, or pray with people like his Italian priest friend, with whom he corresponded in Latin. (Given here in English and Latin.) You can also find many interesting observations on a variety of topics sprinkled about. ("Poetry I take to be the continual effort to bring language back to the actual.")
But the adjective that may best describe Lewis in many of these letters is "fun-loving." To Barfield: "Did I ever mention that Weston, Divine, Frost, Wither, Curry and Miss Hardcastle" (the villains in That Hideous Strength) were all portraits of you?" To Sayers: "Mr. Bultitude (the lazy bear in the same book)is described by Tolkien as a portrait of the author, but I feel that is too high a compliment." I especially enjoyed the faux quarrel between Lewis, pretending to be the middleman for a medieval prince who seduced his king's wife (one letter goes out in Old English), and Barfield, representing himself as agent of the king, demanding reparation. Lewis understood that a person makes a bad bargain in growing up if he forgets along the way how to play.
Lewis' letters to Laurence Harwood, his godson, mark a change of style: now he writes with Narnian simplicity, not "talking down" to children but talking about things both still find interesting. (And I did, too.) "Yesterday the man who lives next door to us came into our garden when we weren't looking and cut down one of our trees . . . He is an old man with a white beard who eats nothing but raw vegetables. He keeps goats who also have white beards and eat nothing but raw vegetables. If I knew magic I should like to turn him into a goat himself; it wouldn't be so very wicked because he is so like a goat already!"
Much less interesting are the many "thank you" notes Lewis sends to Americans for "CARE" packages. Some of these are repetitious; Lewis seems uncomfortable, experimenting with new ways of saying "thank you." Later some of these correspondences develop into something more interesting. But since Hooper or Harper cut some, this would have been a good place to chop more more deeply. The best stuff needs to be quarried a bit. But like gemstones in a bedrock of fine granite, most of the other material is moderately interesting, though some is merely utilitarian.
Walter Hooper has done a phenomenal job with this series and this book in particular. His notes are useful and often enlightening -- especially when he explains what Lewis' correspondent said, as he often does. At the end of the book he gives graceful biographical sketches of about three dozen people who corresponded with Lewis. (Very interesting people.) He has done a first-rate job with these first two volumes, and I'm looking forward to seeing the third.