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C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller (Christian Heroes: Then & Now) - How He Used His Imagination and Faith to Inspire Millions



C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller (Christian Heroes: Then)




C.S. Lewis was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a scholar, novelist, poet, essayist, broadcaster, and Christian apologist who wrote more than 40 books on various topics, including theology, philosophy, ethics, literature, history, and fantasy. His works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. His most famous works include The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven children's books that have become classics of fantasy literature; The Screwtape Letters, a satirical novel that exposes the devil's tactics; Mere Christianity, a collection of radio talks that defends the core beliefs of Christianity; The Space Trilogy, a science fiction series that explores the cosmic implications of faith; and Till We Have Faces, a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche from a Christian perspective.




C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller (Christian Heroes: Then


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But who was C.S. Lewis behind his writings? How did he become such a master storyteller and Christian hero? What were his sources of inspiration and influence? And what legacy did he leave for future generations? In this article, we will explore these questions by looking at his life, faith, career, and impact. We will see how C.S. Lewis used his imagination, reason, and creativity to communicate the truth and beauty of Christianity to a wide audience.


Early life and education




C.S. Lewis was born on November 29, 1898 in Belfast, Ireland (now Northern Ireland). His full name was Clive Staples Lewis, but he preferred to be called Jack by his family and friends. He was the second son of Albert Lewis, a solicitor whose father had come to Ireland from Wales during the mid-19th century; and Florence Hamilton Lewis née Hamilton, a graduate of the Royal University of Ireland at a time when it was not common for women to earn degrees. She was also the daughter of a Church of Ireland priest and the great-granddaughter of two bishops.


Lewis had a happy childhood with his older brother Warren (\"Warnie\") in their family home called Little Lea. They were both avid readers who enjoyed stories of animals, fairy tales, myths, legends, and adventure. Lewis also began writing stories at a young age about a fantasy land populated by \"dressed animals\", influenced by the stories of Beatrix Potter. Some of these stories were later collected and published as Boxen: The Imaginary World of the Young C.S. Lewis.


Lewis's education was interrupted by the death of his mother from cancer in 1908, when he was only nine years old. He and his brother were sent to various boarding schools in England, where he experienced loneliness, bullying, and poor teaching. He also lost his faith in Christianity, which he had been baptized into as a child, and became an atheist. He found some solace in his studies of literature, especially the works of ancient and medieval authors, such as Homer, Virgil, Ovid, and Dante. He also developed a talent for languages, learning Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, and later Hebrew and Old English.


Lewis excelled academically and won a scholarship to study at University College, Oxford in 1916. However, his studies were delayed by his service in the British Army during World War I. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Somerset Light Infantry and fought in the trenches of France. He was wounded by a shell fragment in 1918 and returned to England to recover. He resumed his studies at Oxford in 1919 and graduated with first-class honors in classical moderations (Greek and Latin literature) in 1920, greats (philosophy and ancient history) in 1922, and English language and literature in 1923. He also won the Chancellor's Prize for English verse for his poem \"Death in Battle\".


Conversion and faith




During his time at Oxford, Lewis underwent a gradual and reluctant conversion to Christianity. He was influenced by several factors, including his reading of Christian authors such as G.K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, and John Milton; his friendship with fellow students and scholars who were Christians, such as Owen Barfield, Nevill Coghill, Hugo Dyson, and J.R.R. Tolkien; his observation of the moral law that governed his conscience; and his experience of joy or longing for something beyond this world.


In 1929, Lewis admitted that God existed and knelt to pray for the first time in many years. He later described this moment as \"the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England\". In 1931, after a long night of conversation with Tolkien and Dyson about myth and Christianity, Lewis came to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God who died and rose again for the salvation of humanity. He later described this moment as \"when I passed on from believing that God was God to believing that God was Christ\". He joined the Church of England as an \"ordinary layman\" and became a regular communicant.


Lewis's faith profoundly affected his worldview and writings. He saw Christianity as the true myth that fulfilled all the other myths he loved. He also saw it as the most reasonable explanation for the existence of God, the origin of evil, the meaning of life, and the destiny of humanity. He became a prolific writer and speaker on Christian apologetics, using logic, imagination, humor, and common sense to defend the core beliefs of Christianity against various objections and challenges. Some of his most famous works in this genre include The Problem of Pain (1940), which addresses the issue of suffering; The Screwtape Letters (1942), which exposes the devil's tactics; Mere Christianity (1952), which summarizes the essential doctrines of Christianity; Miracles (1947), which argues for the possibility and necessity of supernatural events; The Abolition of Man (1943), which critiques the moral relativism of modern education; The Four Loves (1960), which analyzes the different types of human love; A Grief Observed (1961), which reflects on his own loss and grief after the death of his wife; and Surprised by Joy (1955), which recounts his own conversion story.


Literary career and legacy




In addition to his apologetic works, Lewis was also a renowned writer of fiction and literary criticism. He wrote in various genres and styles, ranging from science fiction to fantasy to allegory to satire to romance to historical fiction. He used his fiction as a way of expressing his imagination, exploring his ideas, entertaining his readers, and conveying his messages indirectly through stories rather than arguments.


Literary career and legacy




In addition to his apologetic works, Lewis was also a renowned writer of fiction and literary criticism. He wrote in various genres and styles, ranging from science fiction to fantasy to allegory to satire to romance to historical fiction. He used his fiction as a way of expressing his imagination, exploring his ideas, entertaining his readers, and conveying his messages indirectly through stories rather than arguments.


Some of his most popular and influential works of fiction include The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-1956), a series of seven children's books that tell the adventures of four siblings who enter a magical world where they encounter talking animals, mythical creatures, evil witches, noble kings, and a lion named Aslan who represents Christ; The Space Trilogy (1938-1945), a science fiction series that follows the interplanetary travels of Dr. Ransom, a philologist who encounters various alien races and cosmic conflicts; The Screwtape Letters (1942), a satirical novel that consists of letters from a senior devil named Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter who tries to corrupt a human soul; Till We Have Faces (1956), a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of Psyche's sister Orual, who struggles with love, jealousy, and faith; and The Great Divorce (1945), an allegorical fantasy that depicts a bus ride from hell to heaven, where the passengers are given a choice to stay or return.


Lewis also wrote several works of literary criticism that reflect his scholarly expertise and personal interests. Some of his most notable works in this genre include The Allegory of Love (1936), a study of medieval tradition and courtly love; A Preface to Paradise Lost (1942), an analysis of John Milton's epic poem; The Discarded Image (1964), an exploration of the medieval worldview and its influence on literature; An Experiment in Criticism (1961), a proposal for a new way of evaluating literature based on how readers approach it; and Studies in Words (1960), an examination of the history and meaning of various words.


Lewis's literary career and legacy are remarkable for several reasons. First, he was able to write with equal skill and authority in both fiction and non-fiction, as well as in different genres and styles. Second, he was able to reach a wide audience across different ages, backgrounds, and interests, both in his own time and beyond. Third, he was able to use his imagination, reason, and creativity to communicate the truth and beauty of Christianity in compelling and engaging ways. Fourth, he was able to inspire and influence many other writers and readers who followed his footsteps or appreciated his works.


Conclusion




In conclusion, C.S. Lewis was a master storyteller and Christian hero who lived an extraordinary life and left an enduring legacy. He was born and raised in Ireland, educated at Oxford, served in World War I, converted to Christianity, taught at Oxford and Cambridge, wrote more than 40 books on various topics, married late in life, suffered loss and grief, died on the same day as John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley, and was honored with a memorial in Westminster Abbey. He was a scholar, novelist, poet, essayist, broadcaster, apologist, critic, mentor, friend, husband, stepfather, and lion-lover. He was a man of faith, reason, imagination, humor, courage, humility, generosity, and joy. He was C.S. Lewis: master storyteller (Christian heroes: then).


FAQs





  • When did C.S. Lewis die and where is he buried?



C.S. Lewis died on November 22, 1963 from kidney failure at the age of 64. He is buried at Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry near Oxford.


  • Was C.S. Lewis married and did he have any children?



C.S. Lewis married American writer Joy Davidman in 1956 after she divorced her first husband. They had no biological children together but Lewis adopted her two sons from her previous marriage: David Gresham and Douglas Gresham. Joy died of cancer in 1960 after four years of marriage.


  • What was his relationship with J.R.R. Tolkien and the Inklings?



C.S. Lewis was a close friend of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings. They met at Oxford in 1926 and shared a common interest in literature, languages, and mythology. They were also both members of the Inklings, an informal literary group that met regularly at Oxford to discuss and critique their works in progress. Lewis was instrumental in encouraging Tolkien to finish and publish his epic fantasy. However, their friendship cooled in later years due to various factors, such as their differences in religious views, literary tastes, and personal lives.


  • How many books did C.S. Lewis write and which one is the best?



C.S. Lewis wrote more than 40 books on various topics, including theology, philosophy, ethics, literature, history, and fantasy. It is hard to say which one is the best, as different readers may have different preferences and opinions. However, some of his most popular and influential books are The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, The Space Trilogy, and Till We Have Faces.


  • What are some of the adaptations of his works in film, TV, radio, and stage?



Many of C.S. Lewis's works have been adapted into various media forms over the years. Some of the most notable adaptations are:


  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1967), a TV series by the BBC



  • The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (1979), an animated film by Bill Melendez



  • The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (1988), a TV series by the BBC



  • Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989), a TV series by the BBC



  • The Silver Chair (1990), a TV series by the BBC



  • Shadowlands (1993), a film by Richard Attenborough starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger



  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), a film by Andrew Adamson starring Tilda Swinton and Liam Neeson



  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008), a film by Andrew Adamson starring Ben Barnes and Peter Dinklage



  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), a film by Michael Apted starring Will Poulter and Simon Pegg



  • The Screwtape Letters (2010), a stage play by Max McLean



  • The Great Divorce (2013), a stage play by Max McLean



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