Paul Leopold sent me the link to a review (by Paul Johnson) of A. McGrath’s latest book, the biography of C. S. Lewis.

See a few excerpts below. The full text HERE.


C.S. Lewis became a celebrity but remains a mysterious figure. Several biographies have been written, not to much avail, and now Alister McGrath, a professor of historical theology, has compiled a painstaking, systematic and ungrudging examination of his life and works. Despite all the trouble he has taken, his book lacks charm and does not make one warm to his subject.

Lewis was an Ulsterman, and prone to the melancholy of his race, though without their bitter prejudices. The principal figures in his life were all unattractive. First was his father, whom Lewis disliked intensely and felt horrible guilt about his lack of love. Second was Mrs Moore, widow of a wartime comrade whom Lewis promised to look after, and did, though she gradually became domineering and selfish and then a demanding burden after dementia set in. Third, late in his life, was a pushy New Yorker, Joy Davidson, who prised her way into his career and married him, before dying.And throughout all this, there was his brother Warnie, a chronic alcoholic who had to be looked after. This is unpromising material.

But the fact is, Lewis was a genius. I was never in any doubt about that. The first grown-up book I read voluntarily, when I was 14, was A Preface to Paradise Lost, in which Lewis tackled the hugely difficult subject of the English epic, and made it enchanting. When I arrived at Magdalen College, Oxford, aged 17, I was overwhelmed to find Lewis there, and friendly. We many times went the famous circuit of Addison’s Walk and Lewis’s obiter dicta remain with me for life. (‘Imagine if Wordsworth and Coleridge had gone to Oxford, not Cambridge: the whole of modern English literature would have been quite different.’)