Books: Jack is Back
The search for the historical Lewis.
February 3, 1997
C. S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide,
by Walter Hooper (Harper San Francisco, 940 pp.; $40, hardcover);
Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C. S. Lewis,
by Terry Lindvall (Thomas Nelson, 422 pp.; $22.99, hardcover);
The Man Who Created Narnia: The Story of C. S. Lewis,by Michael Coren (Eerdmans, 140 pp.; $20, hardcver);
Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C. S. Lewis,by Terry W. Glaspey (Highland Books, 243 pp.; $12.95, hardcover);
C. S. Lewis Index: Rumours from the Sculptor's Shop,compiled and edited by Janine Goffar
(La Sierra University Press, 678 pp.; $34.95, hardcover). Reviewed by David C. Downing, who teaches English at Messiah College and Elizabethtown College. He is the author of Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C. S. Lewis's Ransom Trilogy (University of Massachusetts Press).
It has ceased to be remarkable how many people read books by C. S. Lewis. What has become remarkable is how many people write books about C. S. Lewis. Commentators in the eighties used to quip about the burgeoning of Lewis studies into a "cottage industry." In the nineties, the industry has outgrown the cottage. By 1998, the centennial of Lewis's birth, the number of books and dissertations on Lewis will have already surpassed one hundred.
Lewis penned (literally—he never learned to type) nearly 40 books in his lifetime, and another 15 collections of his essays, letters, and poems have appeared since his death in 1963. By 1990 there were three major biographies of Lewis, five collections of reminiscences, six surveys of his fiction, with another half-dozen books devoted specifically to the Chronicles of Narnia. Added to this were at least 15 general introductions to his life and thought, plus another 15 books on specialized ...