From the Library of C. S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey

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Overview

“To truly know Lewis, one must become familiar with the body of literature that marked his life. Jim Bell and Tony Dawson give curious students of Lewis a glimpse of the books and authors that informed his life’s work and kindled his imagination.”
--Jerry Root, coeditor of The Quotable C. S. Lewis and a C. S. Lewis scholar
 
C. S. Lewis was one of the most influential thinkers and writers of the twentieth...

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From the Library of C. S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey (Writers' Palette Book Series)

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Overview

“To truly know Lewis, one must become familiar with the body of literature that marked his life. Jim Bell and Tony Dawson give curious students of Lewis a glimpse of the books and authors that informed his life’s work and kindled his imagination.”
--Jerry Root, coeditor of The Quotable C. S. Lewis and a C. S. Lewis scholar
 
C. S. Lewis was one of the most influential thinkers and writers of the twentieth century. But who influenced C. S. Lewis? What were the sources of his inspiration? Who were his spiritual mentors?     
 
Drawn from Lewis’s personal library, annotations, and references from his writings, this book includes more than 200 selections from literary giants such as Dante, Augustine, and Chaucer, as well as more contemporary writers such as G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, George MacDonald, and J.R.R. Tolkien, providing a vast array of inspiration from those who have shone forth as messengers of light in Lewis’s own thinking, writing, and spiritual growth.
 
In this treasury, you will…
 
·  Glean wisdom on living a devout life from Andrew Murray and Brother Lawrence
·  Tap into fantasy and imagination with William Wordsworth and Geoffrey Chaucer
·  Ponder creation and poetry alongside Sir Walter Scott and Aristotle
·  And much more!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is the perfect entrance to the world C. S. Lewis inhabited, and it arrives just when that world of books is under threat of extinction. Thanks to those who have given us such a gold mine.”
–Walter Hooper, Literary Advisor to the C. S. Lewis Estate, one of the world’s leading authorities on the life and works of C. S. Lewis, and the editor of dozens of Lewis’s works

“This is a knowledgeable and inspired selection from what C. S. Lewis called the ‘old books’ that nurtured his mind, spirit, and imagination. All who love the writings of the master will enjoy these engaging passages from the vast range of Lewis’s reading and relish the light that they cast upon his concerns.”
–Colin Duriez, author of A Field Guide to Narnia, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, and The C. S. Lewis Encyclopedia

“C. S. Lewis, one of the great men of letters of the twentieth century, loved books. To truly know Lewis, one must become familiar with the body of literature that marked his life. Jim Bell and Tony Dawson give curious students of Lewis a glimpse of the books and authors that informed his life’s work and kindled his imagination.”
–Jerry Root, assistant professor of Christian Formation and Ministry at Wheaton College, co-editor of The Quotable C. S. Lewis and C. S. Lewis scholar

“One of the great benefits of reading C. S. Lewis is his singular ability to introduce his own readers to the works of other authors. In this volume, Bell and Dawson have made it easier for us to uncover the literary influences and preferences that characterized Lewis’s own reading. The editors have arranged these excerpts around a variety of appealing subjects such as fantasy and imagination, suffering, prayer and contemplation, and God’s love. This arrangement invites the reader to enter into the selections devotionally–to enjoy and benefit from these literary treasures much as Lewis himself did. This book is an excellent resource for those interested in meeting new authors, as well as a wonderful way to remind ourselves of favorite texts too long neglected.”
–Marjorie Lamp Mead, associate director of The Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College, co-editor of Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis and C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307730824
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 968,840
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

James Stuart Bell wrote his master’s thesis on C. S. Lewis, receiving his M. A. from University College Dublin, in Ireland. The owner of Whitestone Communications, the former executive editor of Moody Press, and director of religious publishing for Doubleday, Bell has authored several books, including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Bible. He is married with four children and lives in West Chicago, Illinois.
 
Anthony Palmer Dawson has served on the Marion E. Wade Center Steering Committee for nearly two decades and provides technical and editorial support for SEVEN: An Anglo-American Literary Review. Dawson is currently the associate director of computing services at Wheaton College. He is married with two children and lives in Oswego, Illinois.
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Read an Excerpt

Foreword
Jim Bell and Tony Dawson have compiled a selection of readings that will nourish the spiritual and intellectual hunger of healthy souls in several ways. First, these readings are in and of themselves a superb tonic to refresh the thirsty soul. Second, these selections reveal much about C. S. Lewis’s inner life. Included here are samplings from the massive collection of authors whose writings shaped one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Finally, these splendid readings serve as an introduction to a large group of writers whose works enriched Lewis’s soul. I would expect many readers to discover for the first time some of the authors who profoundly shaped Professor Lewis’s mind and heart. For people who are unfamiliar with many of the authors included here, this book will be the beginning of a delightful educational journey.
In brief, I have found this book to be at once a unique and rich selection of daily readings. It should have a wide audience and a long life.

–‑Lyle W. Dorsett, professor of Christian Formation and Ministries, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

Special Thanks
Special thanks go to Professor Jerry Root, Lewis scholar at Wheaton College, for his keen insights into Lewis. We would also like to express our gratitude to Corey Thomas, Marjorie Lamp Mead, and the staff of the Marion E. Wade Center for their kind and invaluable assistance as we consulted books from C. S. Lewis’s library. We also want to thank Anna Thiel for proofreading the manuscript; her careful attention to detail and insightful comments proved most helpful.

Note to Reader
Scholars tend to make subjective value judgments about the degree to which various authors influenced Lewis. It is not our purpose to quantify or rank the influence of any of these writers.
At times Lewis in his own writings clearly states that an author had a favorable impression on him. At other times he quotes an author with approval or to support a point. These writers have (to the best of our knowledge) been included in this volume.
In Lewis’s professional capacity as literary critic, he dealt with authors who made a positive contribution to the field. Other authors he may have simply enjoyed for his own reading pleasure. With this in mind, we have included writers who are consistent with Lewis’s own viewpoint and whose works are found in his personal library, housed at the Marion E. Wade Center in Wheaton, Illinois. Many of these volumes have been annotated and the marginalia betray a positive bias.
We have included some works that played a role in the evolution of his thought that he may, in turn, have left behind. We have not included writers he was familiar with but was either neutral or hostile toward throughout his life. Finally, we have attempted to please those who are aficionados of the complete range of “Lewisiana” as well as those who are familiar only with his popular works.
Please note that we have assigned categories to the selections to help identify some of the themes that would attract Lewis in his reading and research. They are somewhat arbitrary and subjective but will help avoid a random approach and allow readers to gravitate to their initial areas of interest.

Introduction
When I wrote my master’s thesis on C. S. Lewis twenty-five years ago at University College Dublin, I thought there had already been an exhaustive study of possible spiritual and literary influences on this towering twentieth-century shaper of Christian thought. Yet still today, readers and scholars pour out a perpetual torrent of books, articles, and graduate theses, continuing to speculate on these same influences. This proves there is still much to be learned about the origins of Lewis’s intellectual and spiritual backgrounds. Yet, except for the scholars doing the research, most of us are probably not familiar with these sources of his inspiration.
The “Hound of heaven” pursued the self-described “most reluctant convert in England” using the arguments of friends and other factors to draw him, but it was primarily the Christian wisdom of the ages that brought Lewis to his knees and caused him to grow spiritually. Lewis would agree with the statement that great thinkers stand on the shoulders of giants. His conversion to Christianity began by acknowledging respect for those writers he considered truly great (people like George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton, Samuel Johnson, Edmund Spenser, and John Milton) in spite of the fact that they were Christians.
Lewis would later admit that without these and other profound spiritual influences he could not be the kind of Christian he was, nor could he have the impact on the world with his own writings that he did. If that is so, these writings should have intrinsic value for all of us, as well as help us better understand the spiritual formation of C. S. Lewis himself.
To truly understand Lewis and his works we need to get behind his role as Christian apologist to his interest in philosophy and literature, in reason and romanticism. Lewis was not a one-dimensional reader. His eclectic tastes ranged over a wide variety of genres and time periods. He was a fan of science fiction and fantasy writers as well as Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Augustine. In Lewis’s world, myth and allegory mix with precise logic in philosophical debate. Scholars continue to explore how these influences fit together, but there is no magic formula; Lewis was a complex figure who didn’t quite fit the trends of his own generation and is able to speak to the needs of each succeeding one.
This volume doesn’t attempt to “figure out” C. S. Lewis but to provide a smorgasbord of the content and style of those who have shone forth as messengers of light in his life. In meditating upon these passages we get short impressions of what Lewis valued; these works in many cases affected his thinking, writing, and behavior. They give us a glimpse of the inner world that provided the fuel for his stunning works of theology, poetry, science fiction, fantasy, literary criticism, letters, and children’s literature.
Lewis called himself a “dinosaur” who was a repository of the old Western values, one who upheld the legacy of classic Western civilization. In today’s postmodern environment this vanishing world is dismissed or vilified. Yet as Lewis knew, the flowering of the best of Christian culture took place prior to the Enlightenment. These writers were in turn influenced by the Greek and Roman cultures that preceded them.
So I believe that from these readings we can obtain clearer insight into C. S. Lewis as well as feed our imaginations and intellects upon those whose talents produced works of theology and literature that contain timeless stand-ards. Many will discover a world they never knew existed and would never enter save for the high recommendation of their trusted friend Lewis. So come along with me and walk the same pilgrim path as our great spiritual mentor and drink from the fountain that blessed those who have gone before us, giving them strength and refreshment for the journey.
–James Stuart Bell

1
“Follow After Agape”
God’s Love

Julian of Norwich
Revelations of Divine Love
He showed me a very lofty spiritual delight in my soul, and in it I was completely filled with everlasting certitude, firmly sustained, without any painful dread. This feeling was so glad and so spiritual that I was entirely at peace, at ease and at rest, so that there was nothing on earth that could have disturbed me.
This lasted only for a while. Then I was transformed and left to myself in depression, weary of my life and irked with myself, so that I kept the patience to go on living only with difficulty. There was no comfort and no ease for me, except faith, hope, and charity, and these I had in reality, though I had very little feeling of them.
And immediately after this our Lord again gave me comfort and rest of soul in delight and certitude, so blessed and so mighty that no dread, no sorrow, no bodily or spiritual pain that could be suffered should have caused me distress.
And then the pain returned to my feelings, again followed by the joy and delight–first the one and then the other, at, I suppose, about twenty different times. In the time of joy I could have said with Saint Paul, “Nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ.” And in the pain I could have said, “Lord, save me! I perish!”
This vision was showed to me to teach my understanding that it is profitable for some souls to experience these alterations of mood–sometimes to be comforted and sometimes to fail and to be left to themselves. God wills that we know that he keeps us ever equally safe, in woe as in well-being.

Julian of Norwich (1342—?)–An English Benedictine nun, Julian of Norwich was very ill on May 8—9, 1373, and was visited with sixteen visions of God’s love. She became a recluse and spent twenty years meditating on these visions, after which she wrote the Revelations.
George MacDonald
Unspoken Sermons
Love is one, and love is changeless.
For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more; it strives for perfection, even that itself may be perfected–not in itself, but in the object. As it was love that first created humanity, so even human love, in proportion to its divinity, will go on creating the beautiful for its own outpouring. There is nothing eternal but that which loves and can be loved, and love is ever climbing towards the consummation when such shall be the universe, imperishable, divine.
Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind, must be destroyed.
And our God is a consuming fire.

George MacDonald (1824—1905)–Scottish Congregationalist pastor, novelist, myth maker, and poet, MacDonald had a profound influence on C. S. Lewis. Lewis said that MacDonald’s Phantastes “baptized my imagination.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Food for thought. Snacks for the soul. C.S. Lewis didn’t

    Food for thought. Snacks for the soul.

    C.S. Lewis didn’t become famous and influential in isolation. His writing was fuelled not just by his thoughts, but also by his reading and the thoughts of others. James Stuart Bell’s compilation gives readers access to those volumes and authors beloved and well-read by Lewis. It’s an interesting collection covering centuries of writing and a fascinating breadth of philosophies and belief.

    The excerpts are all short, few covering more than a page, and each is tagged with the name of the writer and why or how they influenced Lewis. Mystics, saints, Catholics, Protestants, poets, politicians and more, they date from Greece’s Aristotle to Europe’s present day. From Wordsworth’s “lonely as a cloud” to Coleridge’s “In Zanadu di Kubla Khan,” from Chaucer to Donne, from Augustine of Hippo to Calvin, the excerpts are endlessly fascinating, each page offering something new.

    Not a book to be read in one sitting, this volume’s perfect for reference and sampling, nicely organized into sections as diverse as Fantasy and Imagination, or Living a Devout Life. I started dog-earing pages with favorite quotes but had to give up or the whole book would fall apart. Each piece has something to commend it, and the whole is like standing in a garden of flowers, hesitating in that moment before choosing which bud to inspect.

    Of particular interest to me is seeing how little our Christian beliefs have really changed over the centuries, and I loved the excerpts from church fathers such as Athanaseus (296-373 AD), mystics like Julian of Norwich (1342-?), and early academics from various traditions. A comprehensive bibliography lists all the volumes excerpted, and a wonderful index allows readers to find pieces by author instead of by topic.

    All in all, a beautiful reference book, a fascinating introduction to a glorious wealth of writers, and a seriously thought-provoking collection of short essays, this is a beautiful book and I’m delighted to have had the chance to review it.



    Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted July 12, 2012

    C. S. Lewis, one of the most influential Christian apologists an

    C. S. Lewis, one of the most influential Christian apologists and philosophers of the twentieth century, and those who inspired him speak into the needs of our own generation, helping us to see beyond our own generational blindspots. In the book From the Library of C.S. Lewis, compiled by James Stuart Bell with Anthony P. Dawson, you will find a rich smorgasbord of food for thought (aka writing ideas).

    This eclectic collection of writings from spiritual mentors includes over 200 excerpts from over 100 literary giants of a variety of genres from a vast range of time periods. Genres vary from poetry, fantasy, and science fiction to journals and theological treatises with authors as old as Aristotle to as recent as G.K. Chesterson. The selections are organized into 18 categories by subject, such as suffering, obedience, writing, humility, death, sin and temptation, grace and redemption, and living a devout life.

    I tried to read this book in order starting from page one, but after reading through the first quarter of it, I found it to be tedious and boring. However, when I changed my approach by reading a page or two a day at random based on my momentary subject of interest, I found it to be a delightful source of ideas, mulling them over and meditating on them. This is a book that I will keep on my nightstand and read repeatedly.

    Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Press in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted July 10, 2012

    A Buffet of Classic Writers

    I am a fan of C.S. Lewis. I'll confess that from the start. It was my motivation behind reading From the Library of C.S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey¿ (compiled by James Stuart Bell and Anthony P. Dawson). The book contains short selections (I don't believe any were over two pages long) of writings that Lewis read on his journey toward accepting Christ.

    The book includes writings from G.K. Chesterton, John Donne, Martin Luther, George MacDonald, William Wordsworth, Julian of Norwich and many others. The snippets of their works provide an overview of what influenced Lewis. They provide the reader with a chance to look into the works and decide which ones they might further want to explore for their own curiosities, but not every selection will be of interest to every reader. The book is more like a nice buffet sampling to let you pick and choose.

    I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Press in exchange for this review. My review was not influenced by the publishers in any way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2012

    Selections from writers who influenced his spiritual journey. T

    Selections from writers who influenced his spiritual journey. This book is authored by James Stuart Bell, who wrote his masters thesis on C S Lewis and his influences. The purpose of the book according to the author "Doesn't attempt to "figure out" Mr. Lewis, but to provide a smorgasbord of the content and style of those who have shone forth as messengers of light in his life." A quite a smorgasbord it is of a variety of material from history. There are selections from Martin Luther, Dante, G.K. Chesterson, Thomas A. Kempis and other well known and not so well known authors.
    Lewis is quoted as saying that George MacDonald's Phantastes "baptizes my imagination."
    There is a well organized Bibliography and Index that makes it easy to find references. The book is also divided into 18 catagories such as "Impressible Sweetness," "Divine Influence" and "A Particular Joy."
    This is a good book to keep for reference and if you find a particular work or author to your liking, to delve into it more.
    I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about what influenced C.S. Lewis in his thinking and conversion to Christianity.

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  • Posted July 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    C.S. Lewis was a masterful writer. Who were the people who influ

    C.S. Lewis was a masterful writer. Who were the people who influenced his life? What books and authors would you find in his library if he were alive today? In his new book, James S. Bell, with Anthony Dawson, answers these questions and more.

    C.S. Lewis was a prolific writer of such classics as the "Chronicles of Narnia" and "The Screwtape Letters." His Christian beliefs ran deep and he used writing as a way to express himself. But, givers must also find resources for their own strength, and C.S. Lewis had many resources. He drew strength and renewal from people like Aristotle, Chaucer, Dorothy Sayers, and J.R.R. Tolkein. Inside the pages of this book are more than 200 wonderful excerpts, giving the reader an insight into not only Lewis, but so many others as well.

    This is a really interesting book. James S. Bell and Anthony Dawson, took a great deal of time to study and select the information here. This book is one I will read again, taking more time to savor the individual passages presented. I recommend this book to all readers, especially C.S. Lewis lovers. It is a great tool in discovering the types of influences we all should have in our lives. I received my free review copy from the Blogging for Books program for an honest review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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