The C. S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia

The C. S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia

by Jeffrey D. Schultz, John G. West, John G. West

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Thirty-five years after his death, Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) only continues to grow in popularity among Christian and secular readers alike. Numerous books about Lewis and his writing have been published. Until now, however, none has offered an exhaustive treatment of his works. In one definitive volume, The C. S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia addresses all of


Thirty-five years after his death, Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) only continues to grow in popularity among Christian and secular readers alike. Numerous books about Lewis and his writing have been published. Until now, however, none has offered an exhaustive treatment of his works. In one definitive volume, The C. S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia addresses all of Lewis's writings as well as the major themes of his work and life. This masterful book, with more than 50 photographs, gives you a thorough grasp of C. S. Lewis—the man, the thinker, and the wrier. Here at last, for fan, scholar, and critic alike, is a complete guide to Lewis's 52 published books, 153 essays, and numerous miscellaneous writings, including prefaces, letters, book reviews, and poems. The C. S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia contains - a biography that examines Lewis as a man of his time and his development as a thinker - a discussion of each of his works - discussions of the topics Lewis dealt with — people, places, and ideas, scores of which have never before been addressed - a timeline of Lewis's life and writings - extensive cross-referencing throughout - a resource guide.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The centennial of C.S. Lewis's birth is upon us, and it is not surprising that a slew of publications mark this milestone, as his popularity continues unabated. In fact, more than 1.5 million copies of his works are sold annually. Lewis (1898-1963) was a professor of English at Oxford and Cambridge, and he made significant contributions in that subject. A Christian apologist who used popular essays and literature to justify belief in Christianity and clarify the elements of belief, he is best known for his children's books (especially the Chronicles of Narnia, begun in 1950 with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and his space trilogy, as well as from the recent movie Shadowlands, which portrays his relationship with Joy Davidman, whom he married and soon lost to cancer. The C.S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia contains more information about Lewis--than most of us would want to know--good news in the case of all cult figures, for there are those who want to know everything. Major entries on Lewis's chief works, relatives, and acquaintances and lesser entries on almost everything else associated with Lewis--every letter to the editor, every poem, receives its own entry--are arranged alphabetically. All but the briefest articles include a bibliography. Also included are a brief biography; an appendix listing Lewis resources, including web pages, bookstores, centers, and the like; and a chronology of his life. With a perspective influenced by their experience in political science, editors Schultz (coeditor of The Encyclopedia of the Republican Party/The Encyclopedia of the Democratic Party, LJ 11/1/96) and West (The Politics of Revelation and Reason, Univ. Pr. of Kansas, 1996) present articles on those who influenced Lewis (e.g., Aristotle and Aquinas) and on his ideas (e.g., "Friendship," "Prayer," and "Natural Law"). This welcome approach helps to elucidate his thought. This is sure to become an essential reference for students of Lewis's works. The Pilgrim's Guide, concerned specifically with Lewis's Christian beliefs, collects 17 articles by authors who are all committed Christians of a conservative bent. They make no bones about their faith and for the most part agree with Lewis on certain moral issues such as abortion and homosexuality. Some of the essays examine the origins of his thought, others look at his method of apologetics, and still others consider his critique of contemporary Christianity. While this book discusses his children's literature and his space trilogy, it does so in terms of the theology behind them. A fine bibliographical essay by Diana Pavlac Glyer on books and other resources, as well as a Lewis time line, complement the essays. Those who agree with Lewis, and serious students, will find much to like in this collection. In C.S. Lewis: Memories and Reflections, Lawlor (English, emeritus, Univ. of Keele, Great Britain) offers insights into Lewis's personality and little-known details about already-known incidents through this memoir of his friendship with Lewis. (He was Lewis's student, friend, and professional colleague.) Enhanced by the inclusion of previously unpublished correspondence and a previously unpublished photo of Lewis just returned from World War II, this work provides a weighty assessment of Lewis's scholarship and, like the others, defends Lewis from his critics--in this case the literary critics. This makes a welcome addition to Lewis biography. Also for the serious reader, Branches to Heaven looks at Lewis's work for the purpose of examining the inner man and finds an unsettled convert. Como (editor of C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences, Harvest: Harcourt, 1992) quotes extensively from the few sermons extant. Like Lawlor, he adds interesting tidbits to the Lewis biography and defends him from his critics. Como generally reexamines Lewis's writing and his life from the perspective of rhetoric and in doing so adds some good insights into Lewis the man.--Augustine J. Curley, O.S.B., Newark Abbey, NJ
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-This reader's companion offers critique of and explanations for Lewis's books, essays, poems, and even the book reviews he penned. Also included are entries for themes and ideas that appear in his works, as well as biographical entries for his family, friends, and colleagues. The content is wide-ranging, but the topic coverage is often uneven, with pages devoted to some, while others receive a few sentences. Thus, readers looking for a critique of a particular poem might be disappointed. A short biography at the front of the book draws from Lewis's own diaries and letters but is cursory in its comments on his personal feelings. Students may find some of the articles on different themes in Lewis's work useful. However, when so many other critical texts are available, such as Evan Gibson's C. S. Lewis, Spinner of Tales (Christian University Press, 1980) and Walter Hooper's C. S. Lewis-Companion & Guide (Harper, 1996), this book is an additional purchase rather than a substitution for them.-Carol Fazioli, The Brearley School, New York City, NY
More than 800 alphabetically arranged, cross-referenced entries from 43 contributors address all of Lewis's writings and characters as well as the major themes of his work and life. Also included are summaries of letters, prefaces, and book reviews, and a brief biography. No index. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

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Thirty-five years after his death, C. S. Lewis remains one of the most enduring and often-quoted writers in England and America, and one of the very few writers of his time who has never gone out of print. Lewis was already a best-selling author by 1942 and in 1947 was heralded as "one of the most influential spokesmen for Christianity in the English-speaking world" by Time magazine, which featured his picture on the front cover. In 1963, the year of Lewis's death, distinguished poet and teacher Chad Walsh measured the impact of Lewis on American religious thinking as something rarely, if ever, "equaled by any other modern writer." Perhaps even more telling was the whimsical proposal offered by Catholic editor Joseph Fessio to a meeting of leaders from Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant traditions who in 1995 gathered in South Carolina to re-examine the theological differences that separated them: "What if we all agreed to accept," Fessio proposed, "sacred Scripture, the early creeds, the first four ecumenical councils, and the writings of C. S. Lewis?"

But continued interest in Lewis has not been built solely on Lewis's religious writings. While less pronounced than his influence as a representative of traditional Christianity, Lewis's writings as a scholar of Medieval and Renaissance literature and his popularity as a writer of fiction evince a similar enduring quality. A striking example of the sustained popularity of Lewis's fiction is reflected in the sale of over a million copies, in little more than a year, of the HarperCollins 1994 reissue of the Chronicles of Narnia (which had never been out of print). Lewis's reputation in literary history and criticism is rather more difficult to assess. Yet, even here, his work in these fields continues to garner respect.

There are those who are baffled, possibly even dismayed, by the enduring popularity of Lewis's work. Certainly he has attracted his share of debunkers. There is as well a persistent claim that an enormous amount of hagiography has grown up around Lewis, especially with regard to his person. While an over-idealized Lewis may be found at times in the vast corpus of writing on him, the great majority of it simply cannot be characterized as hagiography. In fact, it may well be that in recent years there is a growing tendency to over-exaggerate Lewis's character flaws in an attempt to "humanize" him.

On balance, it is not Lewis the man, however, but rather Lewis the theological and philosophical writer, the literary scholar and teller of stories that accounts for his longevity. Writing to Lewis in 1941 in response to her reading of Out of the Silent Planet and The Problem of Pain, Evelyn Underhill described Lewis's "remarkable" ability for making ideas come alive as his "capacity for giving imaginative body to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity." Lewis had a gift for illuminating a subject, and in an age of often fuzzy thinking, his ability to bring clarity to ideas and to touch both mind and heart with the force of those ideas continues to be compelling for many.

While books by C. S. Lewis continue to sell briskly, books about Lewis (and there are many) sell comparatively sluggishly. The public is far more interested in reading Lewis than in reading books about Lewis. So what commends this present volume in light of the flurry of new books about him marking the one hundredth anniversary of his birth? To begin with, the C. S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia (CSLRE) is designed chiefly to help the reader get more out of his reading of Lewis -- to gain a deeper and richer understanding of Lewis's own work and thinking. Further, the serious reader of Lewis is often drawn into the larger world of people and ideas that fill the pages of his books, essays, and letters, and often sent off to explore any number of other literary, theological and philosophical points addressed by him. I have met numerous people who have received a first-rate education by reading the seemingly endless number of books referred to in the Lewis corpus. The CSLRE helps facilitate this wider investigation by offering entries on hundreds of related and interconnecting facets of Lewis's intellectual and literary interests along with bibliographies directed toward further study.

There is, understandably, a certain amount of overlap between this reference work and previous ones, such as Paul F. Ford's Companion to Narnia, Colin Duriez's The C. S. Lewis Handbook, and the more recent C. S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide by Walter Hooper. The CSLRE, however, offers a more comprehensive approach than others with its more than 800 entries alphabetically arranged, many which are not found in previous works. For example, there are entries describing the sixty-three letters to editors Lewis wrote during his lifetime, the vast majority of which have never been collected and published elsewhere. Likewise, there are entries for the many poems Lewis wrote that are not available in any of the collections yet printed. Another distinctive and strength of this reference work is the diversity brought to the project by its forty-three contributors who, when possible, wrote in the areas of their expertise. Like all reference works of this nature, a certain amount of unevenness with respect to particular entries is unavoidable and to be expected. Yet, as an encyclopedia, the wider range of opinion represented by the contributors is one of the strengths of the book.

I would like to commend Jeffrey D. Schultz for bringing this monumental project together. It is my hope that those who use this volume will not only enrich their reading of Lewis but allow themselves to be drawn into the larger world of ideas it offers.

Christopher W. Mitchell

The Marion E. Wade Center

Wheaton College

Meet the Author

Jeffrey D. Schultz is a freelance publications manager and reference editor. He has been a student of C. S. Lewis's work for many years, focusing especially on questions of morality and modernity. He lives with his wife and son in Rocky River, OH.

John G. West, Jr. is an assistant professor of political science at Seattle Pacific University and a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, where he directs the program on religion, liberty, and civic life.

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