Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis

Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis

by Terry Lindvall
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Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis by Terry Lindvall

For C. S. Lewis, merriment was serious business, and like no book before it, Surprised by Laughter explains why. Author Terry Lindvall takes readers on a highly amusing and deeply meaningful journey through the life and letters of one of the most beloved Christian thinkers and writers. As Lindvall shows, the unique magic of Lewis's approach was his belief that explosive and infectious joy dwells deep in the heart of Christian faith. Readers can never fully understand Lewis, his life or his legacy until they learn to laugh with him.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781595554789
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 01/17/2012
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Terry Lindvall (PhD University of Southern California) occupies the C. S. Lewis Chair of Communication and Christian Thought at Virginia Wesleyan College. He is the author of six books, including Celluloid Sermons, Sanctuary Cinema, and The Mother of All Laughter: Sarah and the Genesis of Comedy. An ordained Congregational minister, he has taught at Duke University School of Divinity, College of William and Mary, Fuller Seminary, and other universities.

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Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
KristyC More than 1 year ago
I was a little surprised when I received this book; how on earth could someone discuss Lewis's comedy for 450 pages? The answer lies in the depth delved by Dr. Lindvall into this topic. For every humorous character, witty poem, and amusing opinion Lewis offered, Lindvall gave a history, related writings by other authors, and an expansion all his own. Sounds dry, doesn't it? Yet it's really not. Don't get me wrong; it's not the kind of book that you can casually read through in an evening. I've been coming back to this book repeatedly over the past few months, reading a chapter or two at a time, enjoying the insight into both the life of Lewis and the research it must have taken to pen this work of nonfiction. More than anything, I enjoyed the humor uncovered not just in the readings of Lewis, but the essential joy and laughter to be found in the faith of a Christian.
Emma_Falcone More than 1 year ago
Review of Surprised by Laughter : The Comic World  of CS Lewis by Terry Lindvall  Rating : 4/5 stars I love CS Lewis, so quite naturally when I saw this on the Booksneeze website, I ordered it immediately. It's taken me over four months to read through this book, it's gigantic, but it's quite worth the read. It's a sometimes funny always informative biography of CS Lewis, I highly recommend it, for anyone whose interested in CS Lewis or just looking for a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terry Lindvall PhD, in his book “Surprised by Laughter - The Comic World of C. S. Lewis” gives an in-depth look at Lewis’ writings, dividing his “dissertation” into six sections which are: 1) The Idea and the Legacy, 2) Joy, 3) Fun, 4) The Joke Proper, 5) Satire and Flippancy, 6) Conclusion: the Laughter of Love. Apart from introducing the readers to authors like Chesterton, Milton, and Tolkien, among others Lindvall reveals C.S. Lewis’s ability to find joy and laughter in his surroundings through books, letters, conversations, and shorter works of his. This book failed to live up to my expectations as I had hoped it to be a humourous one. “Surprised by Laughter” turned out to be more of a biography on C.S. Lewis. Reading through this one was quite a laborious task.
BeautifulExcellentBooks More than 1 year ago
As a fan of C.S. Lewis, I planned to laugh heartily and smile often as I read this book (and I did!). However, my first surprise came with the arrival of the book. It was heavy. When Thomas Nelson announced the availability of this book, I was so excited to get a copy that I didn't look at any of the details. When I opened it, I found that it was 454 pages, not including the notes, bibliography and index. The next surprise was realizing that this was something of an academic book. Was the author really going to dissect the meaning, purpose and various forms of humor? For 454 pages? What was my commitment to Thomas Nelson--did I have to read this? Nevertheless, the introduction encouraged me to keep turning the pages, as the author clarified his purpose in writing the book, and delighted me with his language. Surprised by Laughter, he said, aims to put the signposts of Lewis’s travels across the landscape of laughter into a map of mirth, left as happy directions for weary travelers. It is not the purpose of the book to argue that Lewis was a comedian, but that this jovial man possessed an angelic mirth that constantly bubbled over out of his jolly reservoir. It is an encyclopedia of the various sources of laughter and wit that irradiated his writings, sources which include his father, Albert Lewis, Geoffrey Chaucer, G.K. Chesterton, Aesop, Beatrix Potter, Disney, Frederick Buechner and Madeleine L’Engle. Who could resist such a cast of characters in the background? This book is a smile-inducing series of anecdotes, and not only is Lewis full of humor, the author himself writes with infectious joy. It didn't take long before I discovered another surprise. I found myself understanding life better as I read. I won't list everything on my four hand-written pages of notes, quotes and page references, but here I share some of my own signposts and laughs on this reading journey. As I read, I appreciated the reminders of what actually makes for a happy life. Lewis believed that one finds joy when one finds one's own place in the hierarchy of the universe and obediently fulfills it. "Any patch of sunlight in a dark and deep wood," the author says, "could well be described as a `patch of Godlight'." He says that when God surprises us with laughter, we do well to remember that the gift is to remind us of the Giver of joy. On the subject of heaven, Terry Lindvall says, “Earthly joys were never meant to satisfy our deepest needs.” Lewis says, “…heaven is [not] a club of good people singing hymns and taking offerings. (That kind of gathering would not appeal to many of us.)…Though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of such things, except perhaps as a joke.” I think the basis for my thorough enjoyment of this book is that I feel a camaraderie with joy-lovers C.S. Lewis and the author. I was pleasantly surprised to be trained in the godly habit of joy and fun, and encouraged to continue in my tendency to take childlike delight in life. [Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I’ve always been a fan of C. S. Lewis. He was, simply put, a brilliant mind with a thrillingly whimsical side. Combining in his published arsenal both deep theological works as well as fantastic fantasy, C. S. Lewis was truly a great man. However, as much as I had like his works, I never knew much about the man behind the books. I understood his conversion, and some basic knowledge, but really knowing what the man was about? I had no clue. This book lets you understand more of Lewis’ style in writing, his humour, etc. If you are a fan of C. S. Lewis, I would sincerely recommend this book- but you really have to be a devoted fan. This is a lengthy novel and requires a good chunk of time to actually read the thing. However, I found it well worth the read and I give it a good four out of five stars! Just so you all know, just to clarify, I received this book for free from the publisher through the Thomas Nelson booksneeze blogger program. I was not required to give this a positive review, this is one hundred percent my own honest opinion. For sure!
D_Nare More than 1 year ago
Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis by Terry Lindvall is a thesis on the writing style of C.S. Lewis and his wisdom of wits. No reader of humor is stranger to the name of C. S. Lewis; his witticism and view of life makes one to think about things in a cerebral way, ponder the general things of day-to-day life along with drowning in the immaculate humor. In this book, author has tried to capture the essence of his work and presented it in a documented form. Though this book has a dreary start but it improves with every chapter letting the reader engulf in the comical point of view of Lewis. Divided in 6 parts: The Idea and the Legacy, Joy, Fun, The Joke Proper, Satire and Flippancy, and Conclusion; the book is flooded with examples of various types of humor he used in his writing. It won’t be wrong to say this book is just like Lewis would have wanted. Hypothetically considering, if you are unfamiliar with Lewis, it is advisable to read his work before starting this book to gather a profound idea of what you are dealing with. For people like me who find Lewis as an inspiration, this book will help a lot in teaching more about him and how his faith played an important part in his successful life.
sjskogerboe More than 1 year ago
HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! No, just kidding. (Gotcha’. :-) ) Surprised by Laughter is both enjoyable and accurate as a study of the wit and wisdom of C.S. Lewis. Whom I quote frequently. And may or may not have read several books about. And of whom I may be (for my age and amount of study-into-the-subject done) a veritable scholar. *ahem* I liked it. :-) One of the things I liked most about this book is it’s abundance of quotes. In fact, I would estimate that the quotes alone, in 10 pt. font, could fill a small book. They are used by Lindvall, who employs them skillfully to prove point after point. Not only does he quote Lewis: G.K. Chesterton, Rabelais, Chaucer, Søren Kierkgaard- and all as if they were having an conversation with him. And for that content which was written by Lindvall himself. It was good. *cough* No, really. I liked it. It was a wee bit dry, but that was to be expected. (I mean, the guy actually put PH. D on the cover. I sat reading the book with an arched brow, and a dictionary on my knee.) It is very clever writing, if you can keep up with it. And I don’t say that in a mean way, I just mean to say, it’s a bit like reading a history book. Every once in a while I would realize I hadn’t really registered the last couple sentences, and go back and re-read. However, when I did go back, it would usually make me smile. Surprised by Laughter revealed to me three main truths. First, satire is a sword, capable of cutting, fighting, and at times, surgery. What better tool for argument than a sword? (See chapter 31, “The Sword of Satire.”) And C.S. Lewis was a masterful swordsman. Secondly, Flippancy is the bane of man. It can take him to hell with a laugh, and a scoffing wave of the hand. And finally, Laughter is the ultimate medicine, when paired with God. Laughter alone is not enough; as I noted in my journal well reading, “Laughter needs something more; we need laugh with good reason, shared with God. This puts the wind in the wind-chimes, the breath in the trumpet that produces a ringing note.” One last note: I did not read chapters 27-29. I did however, enjoy very much the rest of the book. These three chapters you will have to judge for yourself. _____ 4.8 of 5 stars 14+