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The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis

The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis

by Alister E. McGrath

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The 50th anniversary of Lewis’ death sees the work of this exceptional author as relevant today as ever, and his theological writings, which continue to have a wide and devoted following, remain immensely influential. Although not a professional theologian, Lewis’ work is widely accepted as having developed significant theological themes. The


The 50th anniversary of Lewis’ death sees the work of this exceptional author as relevant today as ever, and his theological writings, which continue to have a wide and devoted following, remain immensely influential. Although not a professional theologian, Lewis’ work is widely accepted as having developed significant theological themes. The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis, written by leading Christian thinker and bestselling author Alister McGrath, explores eight key aspects of Lewis’ intellectual development and importance. Based on new research, this fascinating volume uncovers some original and important insights relating to the major themes of his work.

With a single authorial voice throughout, these essays bear the hallmark of McGrath’s widely respected scholarly, and yet accessible style. McGrath throws fresh light on each subject, and offers new connections as he addresses key themes at the centre of C. S. Lewis’ work, including his intellectual development, the uses of images in literature and theology, the place of myth in modern thought, the role of the imagination in making sense of the world, the celebrated ‘argument from desire’, and Lewis’ place as an Anglican thinker and a Christian theologian.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“I have read many of Lewis's works repeatedly over the years and have read much of the secondary literature on him. The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewisdoes a good job in placing him in the intellectual context of his time.” (Modern-day Pilgrim, 8 April 2014)

“McGrath’s volume is useful to both Lewis scholars and lay readers interested in Lewis or the themes with which he engaged.” (The Way, 1 April 2014)

“There are acute and stimulating observations on Surprised by Joy as autobiography cast in a Christian mould, and its reliability as a source for historians. There are two particularly fine chapters showing the long-range influence on Lewis of the tradition of classical, medieval and early modern literature.” (Peter Webster's Blog, 22 January 2014)

“Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty.” (Choice, 1 December 2013)

“Many will also be grateful for these two books by Alister McGrath. Both reflect his thorough research, careful weighing of evidence, wide reading, and clarity of expression. . . The book contains useful studies on different aspects of Lewis as a Christian thinker; and I particularly enjoyed the slightly mischievous chapter in which McGrath argues that Lewis should be seen as a “real” theologian, not just the amateur one that he himself claimed to be.” (Church Times, 22 November 2013)

“There is more to be said about Lewis as apologist and theologian but McGrath has written what will long be regarded as the essential guide.” (The Church of England Newspaper, 23 June 2013)

“McGrath is ingenious and persuasive in searching Lewis’s writings for clues to his private life … [A] devoted and meticulous biography.” (The Times Literary Supplement, 21 June 2013)

“Alister McGrath's biography of C.S. Lewis was an incredible exploration of one of the greatest minds in the history of Christian thought. I've always enjoyed reading Lewis because of the way he explains concepts in a way that is refreshing and inspiring. I found McGrath to have that kind of way with words in his exploration of Lewis' life. He takes the exploration a step further in a new companion book to the Lewis biography, THE INTELLECTUAL WORLD OF C.S. LEWIS.” (Tom Farr Reviews, 1 June 2013)

"Lewis will go on being read nevertheless, because he is capable of great writing, but precisely which works and what the reception will be is also an open question. There are, however, many useful insights in this collection of essays, especially as regards the approach to Lewis’s modes of thought, with much unspoken about Lewis’s verbal practices." (Oxford Journals 2016)

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Thoughtful and thought-provoking, these essays expertly help to situate the intellectual world of C.S. Lewis in its broader context. McGrath knows Lewis' corpus in detail and casts a friendly though not unquestioning eye over areas of his work which have hitherto received surprisingly little attention. He connects Lewis to currents and schools of thought that have a refreshing and enlarging effect upon our understanding of the man. The figure who emerges from this examination is a more interesting and important theological thinker that captured in any previous comparable study."—Michael Ward, Oxford University

“Alister McGrath’s The Intellectual World of C.S. Lewis is a very welcome addition to the growing number of scholarly studies of Lewis. Well-researched and written, this book offers fresh insights into several areas of Lewis’s literary corpus, including his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, his intellectual development as an Oxford student, and his ideas on myth and metaphor. McGrath also offers penetrating discussions of Lewis’s argument from desire, the role of reason and imagination in his apologetics, his religious identity as an Anglican, and his status as a ‘theologian’. I highly recommend The Intellectual World of C.S. Lewis as well as McGrath’s biography of Lewis, C.S. Lewis: A Life.”—Don King, Montreat College

“In the mass of recent writing about CS Lewis, this volume stands out as essential, and should be on everyone’s reading list, whether that of the research scholar or general reader. The author has the same feeling for the ‘great tradition’ of western literature and theology as Lewis himself did, and has similar skills in exploring it, so that Lewis is for the first time properly set in his intellectual context. It is appropriate to deploy the metaphors of light and vision that the author detects in Lewis, to affirm that this is a series of brilliant essays, brightly illuminating the intellectual resources on which Lewis draws, enabling us better to see the ‘big picture’ which connects myth, metaphor, memory, realism, religious desire, the Anglican mind, and the dynamics of academic power. In reviewing these themes, this exceptional study combines reason and imagination as Lewis did himself. Like Lewis’ own work, it is both deeply learned and accessible to a wide range of readers.”—Paul Fiddes, Oxford University

"This important new study of Lewis sets the man and his ideas in the intellectual world of his day, and so helps us to appreciate all the more fully his distinctive contribution as a scholar, an artist and an apologist. Through a series of finely researched and characteristically well-written essays, Alister McGrath both reveals the extent to which Lewis was a product of his own age, and reminds us why he remains every bit as relevant for ours. A penetrating engagement with one of the most important Christian voices of the twentieth century."—Trevor Hart, University of St Andrews

Meet the Author

Alister E. McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education, and the Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion & Culture at King’s College London, having previously been Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University, UK. He is one of the world’s leading theologians, and is in constant demand as a speaker at conferences throughout the world. McGrath is the author of some of the most widely used theology textbooks, including the bestselling Christian Theology: An Introduction, 5th edition (2010, Wiley-Blackwell), and author of books including Mere Theology: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind (2010), and C. S. Lewis: A Life (2013).

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