Today, November 22nd, is the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death. I thought it an appropriate time to discuss our favorite works of Lewis and perhaps share what influence, if any, he has had on us. Plus, that all adds up to a perfect chance for another giveaway too!
The winner will receive a copy of On Stories, The Screwtape Letters, and Till We Have Faces. So, there’s a lot to be gained by entering the giveaway! To do so, leave a comment here telling us about your favorite work by C.S. Lewis and/or telling us what influence, if any, he has had on your life. The giveaway will run through November 29th.
I’ll start. A warning, though. I’m not going to shy away from spiritual and religious themes in this topic. While some of what Lewis wrote can be enjoyed solely apart from any specific religious and in particular Christian content, let’s face it, Lewis was a Christian and a Christian apologist. To come to grips with him, you have to come to grips with that. You do not have to have been influenced by him in any particular spiritual way in order to comment, though. He could’ve influenced you in regard to literary criticism, for example, or in some other way.
How to describe Lewis’ influence on me? I’d say it was gradual. To begin with, being introduced to the Chronicles of Narnia around the time of fifth grade helped foster my already burgeoning interest in fantastic literature. This was also the same time I discovered Tolkien’s works. I would say that both the Chronicles and The Lord of the Rings helped anchor me in what sort of fantasy stories I considered to be the best. That sense of adventure and noble virtues and the hopeful ending that comes in spite, even in defiance, of the darkness and fading of the world.
I don’t think at the time the Narnia books directly impacted my spiritual life except in the sense of always pointing to something bigger and better, that feeling of joy or desire that Lewis always talked about. They are and remain good stories on their own. It was only later when I returned to the Christian faith that the books resonated with me more strongly in that regard.
In college I was acquainted with a few more of Lewis’ works. Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Problem of Pain, The Abolition of Man, The Great Divorce, etc. But I didn’t read them all that often, certainly not as often as the Chronicles.
It was in seminary that I started to read Lewis more. Not because he was on the required list of reading but simply because of what he had to say on so many subjects especially those regarding the faith and apologetics. I did take one class on his works, which I think was called “C.S. Lewis and the Gospel.” It was in this class that I first read his Space Trilogy and perhaps most significantly Till We Have Faces.
I continue to read Lewis’ works, my old favorites as well as adding new works into the mix. I’m still not as well versed in his academic works, but I have most of them bought. That is to say, I have pretty much most books by Lewis, either in paperback or ebook.
And now for my favorite Lewis book. I’m tempted to say, “Whatever book of his I’m reading at the time.” It’s quite close to the truth. I have my perennial favorites, like the various Chronicles of Narnia books, The Great Divorce, Letters to Malcolm, The Abolition of Man, but my favorite book is Till We Have Faces.
Lewis wrote it in 1956 and he considered it the most mature of his works. I would also say the best in that it really captures the fullness of Lewis in his literary ability and his apologetics. It’s not an easy story, but one that is deeply beautiful and redemptive. I can’t read the last half of the book without weeping in places. I find it that moving and piercing to my soul.
Till We Have Faces is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. Lewis was haunted by this story and in reworking it, with great help by his wife Joy Davidman, he gives us perhaps his most fully realized character. I can’t recommend this book enough, and if you read it and don’t like it, please don’t tell me! 🙂
So, now is your chance. Tell us your favorite work by Lewis and any influence he has had upon you, and you’ll be entered in the giveaway for three of his books!