Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

C.S. Lewis: the Man behind Narnia

C.S. Lewis: the Man behind Narnia

Beatrice Gormley
For ages 14 and up
Eerdmans, 2005   ISBN: 978-0802853011

When he was about four years old Clive Staples Lewis decided that he would take a new first name - from now on his friends and family would call him Jack. This determined and even stubborn approach to things was typical of Jack. For example, later in life when his friend Paddy Moore was killed in action in WWI, Jack took on the responsibility of taking care of Paddy’s mother and sister. Even when the task was trying, Jack refused to renege on the promise he had made Paddy. Jack also decided early on that faith was illogical and that Christianity was based on little more than mythology. He staunchly would not be moved from this opinion until finally, in his thirties, “he let God in.”

Getting to this point was an enormous struggle for Jack because, in part, he had a hard time talking and thinking about emotions. This was mostly because of the difficult relationship that he had with his father. The two were so unalike that they had trouble connecting. So Jack turned to others for comfort, including his brother Warren, Mrs. Moore, and a group of Oxford scholars like himself who called themselves the Inklings. Every week the Inklings would get together in Jack’s rooms at Magdalene College and they would talk, read their writings out loud, and critique each other’s work. One of these men, J.R. Tolkien would become a famous writer, and he was always grateful for the support and encouragement that Jack gave him.

Jack always thought that he would be a poet, but he found himself becoming a writer of fiction and nonfiction instead. For many years he wrote immensely successful science fiction and theological titles for adults. Then he brought together some ideas and images that he had been thinking about for some time to write a book about four children who go to a magical land called Narnia.

Today it is hard to think about C.S. Lewis and not to think at once of Aslan the Lion, Puddleglum the Marshwiggle, and Mr. Tumnus the faun. The Chronicles of Narnia are now classics that generations of children have loved, and they have influenced hundreds of people to think about the world in a different way. This wonderful biography will help Narnia fans understand the man who created Narnia, and appreciate what a generous and special man C.S. Lewis was. Carefully researched, full of quotations, and liberally sprinkled with period photographs, this book is a fascinating read.