Clive Staples Lewis

November 29, 2012 by bet

Today in 1898, one of my all-time favourite authors was born: C. S. Lewis — a poet, scholar, story teller, reader, theologian, thinker and lover of tea. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t love Lewis. First there was Narnia, then his nonfiction writings became just as beloved (even though I’m not usually a big nonfiction fan).

I love how succinct C. S. Lewis writes. You see a stack of his books and they’re all less than 300 pages (mostly less than 200). But in that brevity, each word carries weight, each phrase has been crafted to relay his exact meaning. He is quoted so often and yet every time I hear a quote again, it’s still just as true, just as striking.

Tallinn, Estonia 2012

I love his balance of humour and gravity; particularly in his nonfiction books when he’s academically laying out a point and throws in a line like, “You do not really think that when a stone is let go, it suddenly remembers that it is under orders to fall to the ground” (Mere Christianity, p. 28).

I love that with all his academic clout and scholarly writing ability, Lewis also chose to use his creative intelligence to write a children’s fantasy series that stands up to adult fiction any day. I love that when he received letters, he wrote back. (Oh, how I wish I could’ve been such a recipient!)

I love that Lewis and Tolkien were friends. (Can you imagine drinking a pint with the two of them? I don’t think I would be able to speak, but I know I wouldn’t stop smiling.) I recall hearing once that when Tolkien was coming up with Treebeard’s speech patterns (in the Lord of the Rings trilogy), that he based it on the muffled booming sounds of C. S. Lewis lecturing in another room.

And yes, I named my [female] cat CliveJane in honour of C. S. Lewis (C. stands for Clive) and Jane Austen.

»Westminster Abbey will honour C. S. Lewis in 2013 by adding a memorial stone for him in Poets’ Corner, joining the likes of T. S. Eliot and William Blake (both highlighted this week on Gimme Some Reads!).

»More Lewis quotes.

what is your favourite C. S. Lewis book?

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About bet

Bet Mercer is a poet-photographer who writes at Gimme Some Reads and Everyday Poetry. She loves quotes, reading her favourite books over again, great conversation, laughter, trees, films, and travelling the world. Follow along with Bet on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Etsy and Google+.

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0 thoughts on “Clive Staples Lewis

  1. Oh Bet. I can SO imagine you sitting in a pub with Lewis and Tolkein with a huge Bet smile on your face. :)

    My favorite Lewis book (and one of my top two Favorite Books of All Time) is A Grief Observed. Life-changing. And, though I spent a semester studying Lewis, I still haven’t read Mere Christianity… >.<

    - sara

  2. Ok. That anecdote about Tolkien based Treebeard’s speech on Lewis’ lecturing is brilliant. Love it.

    - DavidH

  3. Mere Christianity, hands down. One of the few non books I’ve ever read repeatedly. And like you said, it’s quotable quotes are rampant and powerful every time.

    - maux

    • Seriously. I’ve taken that book on most of my travels. I love seeing in the margins where I’ve noted a date & location (like, Trafalgar Square 2001); especially when I’ve marked multiple dates by the same passage. :)

      - bet

  4. Way too many CS Lewis books for me to choose just one favorite. But the Narnia series will forever hold a place in my heart!

    - Stephanie

  5. Aw, I love that picture of Clive Jane! I love Narnia, but have also reread Screwtape a handful of times.

    - Ali | Gimme Some Oven

    • When I was trying to take pictures of her yesterday, I thought of our conversation about the difference between photographing dogs & cats. I had to set up different spots where I hoped eventually she would choose to sit. There was no “come here, sit there” just lots of patience and hoping. :)

      And yes, the first time I read Screwtape, I could barely wrap my mind around its brilliance.

      - bet

  6. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite…but if I had to, I’d have to go with Narnia, especially the last part of the last book.

    - Sarah M.

    • ooh. now I want to go reread the last part of the last book. too bad someone’s borrowing it. are you referring to the “further in and further up” bit?

      - bet

      • Yes! Further up and further in!

        I’m kinda weird; I’ve always thought of Lewis as my grandpa. See, my mothers father was an avid Lewis-reader, and passed his love of Lewis to my mother who then passed it to me. My own grandfather also passed away before I was born, so all I knew of him got all child-brain-mashed-up to suddenly equating my grandpa with Lewis. Hence, my somewhat overblown love for Lewis.
        All that to say; choosing a favorite would be somewhat perverse to my mind. Narnia of course will forever be the fantasy-land of mine. Heaven better be a little bit like Aslan’s country. Mere Christianity is the best apologetic book of the twentieth century. I always think of his aliens when I think of any extraterrestrials. Greek mythology has never been more accessible. And somehow hearing him speak of grief is like hearing my grandpa tell me how to mourn his daughter.
        What I wouldn’t give for a pint or two with him at the Eagle and Child in Oxford.

        - Melody Harris

        • yes. yes. yes. what a beautiful childmashup to have. you have a lovely brain. :) // i hear you on the oddness of picking a favourite lewis; with tolkien i don’t feel bad saying my favourites are the lord of the rings trilogy, even though i love his other works as well. bizarre how some authors’ works don’t allow for one to rise above the rest.

          - bet