C. S. Lewis is widely recognized as one of the most popular Christian apologists of the twentieth century, but he has also been valued as an immensely talented writer, not only of nonfiction but of fiction as well. Best known for the acclaimed Chronicles of Narnia series, Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The Narnia books have been the subject of numerous stage, TV, radio, and cinema adaptations. This volume explores Lewis’ writings from numerous critical and historical perspectives and focuses especially on assessing the literary skills that made Lewis such an effective author.
This volume, like all others in the Critical Insights series, is divided into several sections. It begins with an introductory “About This Volume:” essay by volume editor Robert C. Evans, followed by another work titled “What’s a Reader to Do? Thoughts on C.S. Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism,” by Steven D. Ealy. This is followed by a Biography of C.S. Lewis written by Robert C. Evans.
A collection of four critical contexts essays are intended to treat the novel
- From a historical vantage point
- In terms of its critical reception
- Using a specific critical lens
- And by comparing and contrasting it with another important work.
This section opens with an essay by Kris Swank titled, “‘The Queen o Fairies keppit me’”: The Silver Chair as Fairy-story”, followed by a piece by Joyce Ahn, “The Mind and Heart of C.S. Lewis: An Overview,” This essay discusses the volume The Christian Mind of C.S. Lewis: Essays in Honor of Michael Travers, edited by Andrew J. Spencer and how each of the thirteen essays written by scholars of diverse backgrounds take various approaches to highlight and explain Lewis’s works, ranging from the topic of Christianity to his views on love and wisdom, and much more. The following two articles are written by Steven A. Beebe and Christopher Baker. The first, “C.S. Lewis and the Tao of Communication” examines Lewis’s interest in the power of language to shed light on core principles and truths of ethical human behavior, as well as Lewis’s belief in the existence of “Tao” communication (the idea that most humans have always shared basic and constant values and ideals) to which Beebe identifies five communication principles that have application to a variety of cultural settings. In the final essay, “C.S. Lewis in Love: Shadowlands on Film,” by Baker looks to examine the autobiographical origins and impact of the film Shadowlands which focuses on C.S. Lewis’s love and subsequent marriage with poet Joy Davidson.
Following these four Critical Context essays is the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays:
- The Ordered Cosmos: The Medieval Model and the Medieval Poet in C.S. Lewis’s The Discarded Image, by Brandon Schneeberger
- Intellectual Hospitality Reflected in Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism and The Personal Hersey, by Linda Kern
- S. Lewis and the Science Fiction Canon, by Darren Harris-Fain
- Erik Erikson and C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces, by Christopher Baker
- “Often I wish I had not eaten my wife”: “The Dragon Speakers,” by C.S. Lewis, by Robert C. Evans
- “Iron Will Eat the World’s Old Beauty Up”: C.S. Lewis’s Environmental Poems, by Robert C. Evans
- “Impudent Falsehood”: C.S. Lewis’s Skeptical Poetic Responses to Modernity, by Robert C. Evans
- “A target to both gangs”: Some Political Poems by C.S. Lewis, by Robert C. Evans
- S. Lewis and Deathly Repetition (Including a Way Out for Screwtape), by Grace Tiffany
- Imagining The Kilns, by Don W. King
Each essay in Critical Insights: C.S. Lewis includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. In the final section, Resources, easy-to-follow lists are provided to help guide the reader through important dates and moments in the author’s life, beginning with a Chronology of C.S. Lewis’s Life. This is followed by a list of Works by C.S. Lewis and a Bibliography. Finally, this section closes with an About the Editor section, Contributors, and a detailed Index.The Critical Insights Series distills the best of both classic and current literary criticism of the world’s most studies literature. Edited and written by some of academia’s most distinguished literary scholars, Critical Insights: C.S. Lewis provides authoritative, in-depth scholarship that students and researchers will rely on for years. This volume is destined to become a valuable purchase for all.