"...I often find myself living at such cross-purposes with the modern world: I have been a converted Pagan living among apostate Puritans."Clive Staples Lewis
— Surprised By Joy
("Jack" to his friends and family) (1898-1963) was a mid-twentieth century Irish author of many sorts of books: scholarship regarding medieval literature, lay Christian theology, Science Fiction
, and Fantasy
He was born and raised in Ulster
. His mother died
when he was young. He was educated in a series of English Boarding Schools
, the first of which was run by a Sadist Teacher
. He fought in the Great War
. He was a member of The Inklings
and a friend of Charles Williams
and J. R. R. Tolkien
, whose influence partially led to his conversion to Christianity (though Lewis being an Anglican and Tolkien a Roman Catholic led to some friction). He published an autobiography of his early life and conversion titled Surprised By Joy
. Afterwards, he met Joy Gresham and married her so she could remain in the UK
. Then, they fell in love
and had an Anglican ceremony after Joy was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. She died four years later. Lewis himself died the same day as Aldous Huxley
and John F. Kennedy
; this led to his passing being almost unpublicized.
Lewis and Gresham's romance was dramatized in the film and stage play Shadowlands
, with Joss Ackland
and Anthony Hopkins
taking the role of Lewis in two different film versions. Also, a biopic
called Tolkien & Lewis
portraying the two authors' friendship is reportedly in development.Trope Namer
for The Four Loves
(from the book The Four Loves
) and Narnia Time
(from the way time works between worlds in The Chronicles of Narnia
C. S. Lewis' fictional works:
Non-fiction with their own pages
For a complete list of Lewis' writings, non-fiction and fiction, see the other wiki
Tropes featured in his work:
- All Just a Dream: The Great Divorce.
- All Take and No Give: Repeatedly. Discussed more than once in The Four Loves. Particularly the pathological Giver variant.
- Author Tract: Much of Lewis's work could qualify note , though there are some exceptions:
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Lewis himself explained that the first book of what is now The Chronicles of Narnia was initially written as a stand alone piece revolving entirely around the image of a faun carrying a pile of packages and an umbrella, in the snowy woods, next to a lamppost. The symbolism of Aslan as Jesus was entirely accidental. He attributed it to his values subconsciously coming out. It wasn't until this similarity was pointed out to him by fans and critics that he started purposely writing that way; he saw writing as way to spread the Gospel. This is why, in a study of the Chronicles in their entirety, this book has some of the weakest symbolism and allegory, much more akin to Tolkien's "applicability" in the Lord of the Rings. (It also explains why Wardrobe was Tolkien's personal favorite of the Narnia books; he found them increasingly insufferable as they became more suppositional.)
- A lot of his nonfiction: While his religious books have always been his most popular, Lewis wrote quite a bit of literary criticism and history too.
- Till We Have Faces: While the Christian themes are there, they're pretty subtle and easy to miss if you're not looking for them. It is a retelling of a pagan myth, after all.
- Then there's that book of cynical, decidedly anti-Christian poetry he wrote before his conversion.
- A Very British Christmas: In a very humorous piece in God In The Dock, Herodotus visits the island of Niatirb and concludes that the resident barbarians observe two entirely separate holidays on 25 December: Exmas (a commercial racket) and Crissmas (a religious festival). Also, Father Christmas shows up in Narnia.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: This Aesop is particularly prominent in The Magician's Nephew and The Great Divorce
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: In Surprised by Joy, Lewis writes that his nightmares during childhood were either about ghosts or insects. Of the two, he found the dreams about insects much more frightening.
- In The Pilgrim's Regress, young John is told that the damned are tortured by scorpions the size of lobsters.
- In Perelandra, Ransom encounters flies and beetles larger than himself in the caverns of Venus. Subverted in this case. Once the Un-man's presence is gone, Ransom ceases to find them frightening, and speculates that they may, in fact, be sentient.
- In The Problem of Pain he discusses the moral problem of the suffering of animals (who after all are not either being punished for something or being trained in how to be good and therefore not subject to some of the possible explanations for human suffering). In fact he does take the question seriously. But when he gets to discussing animals and the afterlife, he imagines someone asking "Where do you put all the mosquitos" and then notes ironically that heaven for mosquitos and hell for humans might be "very conveniently combined."
- Boarding School of Horrors: Lewis had an extremely unpleasant experience at school, compounded by the fact that his first teacher was a literal Sadist Teacher to the level of actual clinical insanity. Not surprisingly, boarding schools in Lewis's works are very unlikely to be positively portrayed.
- Another school he went to had an overweening "aristocracy" of Jerk Jocks supported by teachers which engaged in organized bullying and even rumored pedophilia toward the underclass students (the second of which Lewis actually said was, under the circumstances actually a saving grace because it got their minds off their snobbishness!) Lewis hated that school so much that he almost considered World War One less unpleasant: no one said you had to pretend to like the war.
- In general, C. S. Lewis's father was not good at picking boarding schools.
- Combat by Champion: Prince Caspian features a particularly gut-churning edge-of-your-seat example. All the more so for Peter's quiet dignity.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Lampshaded. In one of the essays from God In the Dock, he gives a Long List of old ecclesiastical terms that have changed meaning.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Was a very close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings books.
- Though they did drift apart afterward, partly due to differing views on theology and the use of Christian themes in their fantasy fiction. Lewis was more heterosexual life partners with Warren his older brother, whom he outright did say was his "dearest and closest friend."
- High Fantasy: He and Tolkien were the Trope Makers, though Lewis' Narnia books skew more toward Fairy Tale than Tolkien's more epic Lord of the Rings. Among other things, they codified many genre staples, such as the Evil Overlord and Medieval European Fantasy (before them, similar fantasy works would have taken place in the actual Middle Ages).
- Hilarious in Hindsight: It wasn't until after Lewis published his autobiography Surprised By Joy that he wound up quite unexpectedly marrying a woman named Joy.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Appears to some extent in practically all his work, but his non-fiction dedicates entire chapters to expounding on how and why humans are bastards, and how the bastardliness can be reduced.
- In one of his essays, he mentions Dark-Gods-of-the-Blood which comes down to how we must always fight off the desire to give into the baser desires we feel as we go through daily life.
- It's All About Me: A theme of many of his theological works, especially The Great Divorce. Lewis views Pride as the cardinal sin, and the source of all other sin.
- Jesus Was Crazy: Famously, Mere Christianity popularized the so-called "trilemma" argument in favor of the deity of Jesus: if Jesus wasn't God, then it's fallacious to say He was "a great moral teacher," since an actual great moral teacher would be humble rather than claiming to be God as Jesus did. So either Jesus was God in Human Form, Jesus was a liar, or Jesus Was Crazy. note
- Literary Allusion Title:
- That Hideous Strength is named after a line in a Sir David Lyndsay poem.
- Surprised By Joy is named after Wordsworth's "Surprised By Joy—Impatient As The Wind".
- The Great Divorce is a response to Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
- The Pilgrim's Regress is a Shout-Out to The Pilgrim's Progress.
- Mythopoeia: Lewis was one of the Trope Codifiers, both in his own works and his analysis of George MacDonald's fairy tales.
- No Such Thing as Space Jesus: Averted in The Space Trilogy, and discussed in several of his theological essays.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Screwtape Letters opines that Hell is run by these.
- Perspective Flip: Till We Have Faces.
- Resigned to the Call: The way Lewis describes his conversion in Surprised By Joy:
You must picture me all alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.
- Sibling Team: Lewis and his brother Warren.
- Tears of Joy: Not quite the theme of Surprised by Joy, but heading that way.
- True Companions: The Inklings.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: His work geared at adults is often peppered with untranslated Latin or French phrases, under the assumption that his readers will know what they mean.
- Likely enough at the time when large numbers of upper and middle class English would have learned those at school.
- What Could Have Been: A scholarly book entitled Language and Human Nature was begun but never completed. The rub: It was to have been coauthored with J. R. R. Tolkien. . Mind you, he fought in a World War, so we should really be thankful we had him at all.
- World War II: Much of Lewis's fiction (The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, five of the seven Narnia books, and the second book in The Space Trilogy, specifically) takes place during the War. It's usually not dealt with extensively, but you can catch plenty of references to the Blitz and the subsequent air raids, blackouts, etc. all the same. This is understandable, as Lewis lived in England and did much of his writing during the '30s and '40s.
- What later became Mere Christianity was originally a series of wartime radio broadcasts given by Lewis, meant to lift the spirits of the British people. These broadcasts were only edited and put into print after the war was over.
- Somewhat ironically, Lewis makes very few references to the World War he actually fought in.
- He may not have wanted to dwell on the experience—War Is Hell after all, that one especially.
- You Keep Using That Word: The subject of his scholarly book Studies In Words, which traces the historical development of the meanings of eight seemingly simple words such as "nature," "free," and "sad."