Theologian, intellectual historian, and apologist
Alister McGrath

Reviews of C. S. Lewis: A Life. Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet.


BOOKLIST - starred review

“Medievalist, Christian apologist, and fantasist C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) has had exponentially more readers since his death than he enjoyed in his lifetime. Biographies and studies of his work are legion. Despite that copious documentation, Oxford theologian McGrath discovered a major inaccuracy in all previous accounts of Lewis, including his glowing spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy (1955). Diligent combing of Lewis’ correspondence disclosed that his conversion to Christianity—the catalyst for virtually all his creative work—occurred in 1930, not 1929. Well, Lewis admitted he wasn’t good with dates, and a plethora of anxiety-inducing deadlines involved in the major developments in his life rather justify his confusion. McGrath doesn’t speculate about how Lewis’ chronic achronology may have affected his work. Instead, he limns Lewis’ major experiences—early loss of his mother, horrifying schooling, WWI service (about which he never spoke), long Oxford fellowship, BBC-fostered celebrity in the 1940s, creation of Narnia, late-career move to Cambridge, and brief marriage to Joy Davidman (1915–60)—his great friendships (especially with J. R. R. Tolkien), and his books. 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.”


PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY - starred review

“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.”


“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.” -- N. T. Wright


“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. Lewis's impact on me was profound and lasting, and Dr McGrath clearly explains why so many believers and Christians leaders today would say the same thing.' -- Timothy Keller


“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!” -- Michael Ward, author of Planet Narnia


“Alister McGrath sheds new light on the incomparable C. S. Lewis. This is an important book.” -- Eric Metaxas, author of Bonhoeffer


For reviews on blogs, see here, here, and here.


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