Deeper Shallows

Stefan Collini

  • BuyC.S. Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath
    Hodder, 431 pp, £20.00, April 2013, ISBN 978 1 4447 4552 8

It is difficult to write about C.S. Lewis without giving offence. Most authors have their admirers, and literary sectarianism is hardly rare, but Lewis is unusual in being at the heart of more than one cult, having excelled in genres where attachments are warmest and the cool touch of analysis can be most resented, such as popular religious writing and children’s literature. That he was also a noted scholar and academic only makes appraisal of his achievements more perilous, since one group of loyalists will fear that focusing on his celebrity among various kinds of ‘ordinary reader’ signals an undervaluing of his contribution to the study of medieval and Renaissance literature, while those who claim to speak for the legions of passionate admirers will be suspicious of any intellectual perspective liable to be seen as unsympathetic to the elemental readerly needs assuaged by his writing.

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[*] The Intellectual World of C.S. Lewis by Alister McGrath (Wiley, 191 pp., £19.99, April, 978 0 470 67279 2).