The C.S. Lewis readers' encyclopedia /
foreword by Christopher Mitchell ; edited by Jeffrey D. Schultz and John G. West, Jr.
Grand Rapids, Mich. : Zondervan, c1998.
464 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
More Details
Grand Rapids, Mich. : Zondervan, c1998.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Christian Book Awards, USA, 1999 : Won
First Chapter
ForewordThirty-five years after his death, C. S. Lewis remains one of the most enduring and often-quoted writers in England and America, and one of the very few writers of his time who has never gone out of print. Lewis was already a best-selling author by 1942 and in 1947 was heralded as “one of the most influential spokesmen for Christianity in the English-speaking world” by Time magazine, which featured his picture on the front cover. In 1963, the year of Lewis’s death, distinguished poet and teacher Chad Walsh measured the impact of Lewis on American religious thinking as something rarely, if ever, “equaled by any other modern writer.” Perhaps even more telling was the whimsical proposal offered by Catholic editor Joseph Fessio to a meeting of leaders from Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant traditions who in 1995 gathered in South Carolina to re-examine the theological differences that separated them: “What if we all agreed to accept,” Fessio proposed, “sacred Scripture, the early creeds, the first four ecumenical councils, and the writings of C. S. Lewis?”But continued interest in Lewis has not been built solely on Lewis’s religious writings. While less pronounced than his influence as a representative of traditional Christianity, Lewis’s writings as a scholar of Medieval and Renaissance literature and his popularity as a writer of fiction evince a similar enduring quality. A striking example of the sustained popularity of Lewis’s fiction is reflected in the sale of over a million copies, in little more than a year, of the HarperCollins 1994 reissue of the Chronicles of Narnia (which had never been out of print). Lewis’s reputation in literary history and criticism is rather more difficult to assess. Yet, even here, his work in these fields continues to garner respect.There are those who are baffled, possibly even dismayed, by the enduring popularity of Lewis’s work. Certainly he has attracted his share of debunkers. There is as well a persistent claim that an enormous amount of hagiography has grown up around Lewis, especially with regard to his person. While an over-idealized Lewis may be found at times in the vast corpus of writing on him, the great majority of it simply cannot be characterized as hagiography. In fact, it may well be that in recent years there is a growing tendency to over-exaggerate Lewis’s character flaws in an attempt to “humanize” him.On balance, it is not Lewis the man, however, but rather Lewis the theological and philosophical writer, the literary scholar and teller of stories that accounts for his longevity. Writing to Lewis in 1941 in response to her reading of Out of the Silent Planet and The Problem of Pain, Evelyn Underhill described Lewis’s “remarkable” ability for making ideas come alive as his “capacity for giving imaginative body to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.” Lewis had a gift for illuminating a subject, and in an age of often fuzzy thinking, his ability to bring clarity to ideas and to touch both mind and heart with the force of those ideas continues to be compelling for many.While books by C. S. Lewis continue to sell briskly, books about Lewis (and there are many) sell comparatively sluggishly. The public is far more interested in reading Lewis than in reading books about Lewis. So what commends this present volume in light of the flurry of new books about him marking the one hundredth anniversary of his birth? To begin with, the C. S. Lewis Readers’ Encyclopedia (CSLRE) is designed chiefly to help the reader get more out of his reading of Lewis — to gain a deeper and richer understanding of Lewis’s own work and thinking. Further, the serious reader of Lewis is often drawn into the larger world of people and ideas that fill the pages of his books, essays, and letters, and often sent off to explore any number of other literary, theological and philosophical points addressed by him. I have met numerous people who have received a first-rate education by reading the seemingly endless number of books referred to in the Lewis corpus. The CSLRE helps facilitate this wider investigation by offering entries on hundreds of related and interconnecting facets of Lewis’s intellectual and literary interests along with bibliographies directed toward further study. There is, understandably, a certain amount of overlap between this reference work and previous ones, such as Paul F. Ford’s Companion to Narnia, Colin Duriez’s The C. S. Lewis Handbook, and the more recent C. S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide by Walter Hooper. The CSLRE, however, offers a more comprehensive approach than others with its more than 800 entries alphabetically arranged, many which are not found in previous works. For example, there are entries describing the sixty-three letters to editors Lewis wrote during his lifetime, the vast majority of which have never been collected and published elsewhere. Likewise, there are entries for the many poems Lewis wrote that are not available in any of the collections yet printed. Another distinctive and strength of this reference work is the diversity brought to the project by its forty-three contributors who, when possible, wrote in the areas of their expertise. Like all reference works of this nature, a certain amount of unevenness with respect to particular entries is unavoidable and to be expected. Yet, as an encyclopedia, the wider range of opinion represented by the contributors is one of the strengths of the book.I would like to commend Jeffrey D. Schultz for bringing this monumental project together. It is my hope that those who use this volume will not only enrich their reading of Lewis but allow themselves to be drawn into the larger world of ideas it offers.Christopher W. MitchellThe Marion E. Wade CenterWheaton College

Excerpted from The C. S. Lewis Reader's Encyclopedia by Jeffrey D. Schultz, John G. West
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1999-02:
To honor the 100th anniversary of Lewis's birth, Zondervan's encyclopedia considers the man and his work. A 55-page biography by John Brener probes Lewis's unique mixture of reason and passion and treats the controversial issues of his sexual practices and relationships with refreshing balance. Entries include all Lewis's written work (even letters to the editor), individuals and books that influenced him, and key concepts and themes in his thought. Appendixes include resources (libraries, organizations, journals, Internet sites, and individuals), a time line, a guide to entries, and biographies of the contributors. There is no index. The quality of the entries varies with the extent to which the 43 writers refer to Lewis's work rather than their own interpretations of his ideas (some of the entries are almost evangelical). Walter Hooper, who edited many Lewis imprints and receives a fair amount of criticism in this encyclopedia, is not one of the contributors, perhaps because he is author of a rival work (C.S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide, 1996) that has fewer entries but gives more copious renderings of Lewis's writings. Lewis's towering intellect, rich imagination, and deep passions are bound to generate diverse viewpoints; the present work deserves place as a thorough, interesting, and occasionally provocative addition to ongoing discussions. All levels. M. R. Pukkila; Colby College
Appeared in Library Journal on 1998-09-01:
The centennial of C.S. Lewis's birth is upon us, and it is not surprising that a slew of publications mark this milestone, as his popularity continues unabated. In fact, more than 1.5 million copies of his works are sold annually. Lewis (1898-1963) was a professor of English at Oxford and Cambridge, and he made significant contributions in that subject. A Christian apologist who used popular essays and literature to justify belief in Christianity and clarify the elements of belief, he is best known for his children's books (especially the Chronicles of Narnia, begun in 1950 with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and his space trilogy, as well as from the recent movie Shadowlands, which portrays his relationship with Joy Davidman, whom he married and soon lost to cancer. The C.S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia contains more information about Lewis‘than most of us would want to know‘good news in the case of all cult figures, for there are those who want to know everything. Major entries on Lewis's chief works, relatives, and acquaintances and lesser entries on almost everything else associated with Lewis‘every letter to the editor, every poem, receives its own entry‘are arranged alphabetically. All but the briefest articles include a bibliography. Also included are a brief biography; an appendix listing Lewis resources, including web pages, bookstores, centers, and the like; and a chronology of his life. With a perspective influenced by their experience in political science, editors Schultz (coeditor of The Encyclopedia of the Republican Party/The Encyclopedia of the Democratic Party, LJ 11/1/96) and West (The Politics of Revelation and Reason, Univ. Pr. of Kansas, 1996) present articles on those who influenced Lewis (e.g., Aristotle and Aquinas) and on his ideas (e.g., "Friendship," "Prayer," and "Natural Law"). This welcome approach helps to elucidate his thought. This is sure to become an essential reference for students of Lewis's works. The Pilgrim's Guide, concerned specifically with Lewis's Christian beliefs, collects 17 articles by authors who are all committed Christians of a conservative bent. They make no bones about their faith and for the most part agree with Lewis on certain moral issues such as abortion and homosexuality. Some of the essays examine the origins of his thought, others look at his method of apologetics, and still others consider his critique of contemporary Christianity. While this book discusses his children's literature and his space trilogy, it does so in terms of the theology behind them. A fine bibliographical essay by Diana Pavlac Glyer on books and other resources, as well as a Lewis time line, complement the essays. Those who agree with Lewis, and serious students, will find much to like in this collection. In C.S. Lewis: Memories and Reflections, Lawlor (English, emeritus, Univ. of Keele, Great Britain) offers insights into Lewis's personality and little-known details about already-known incidents through this memoir of his friendship with Lewis. (He was Lewis's student, friend, and professional colleague.) Enhanced by the inclusion of previously unpublished correspondence and a previously unpublished photo of Lewis just returned from World War II, this work provides a weighty assessment of Lewis's scholarship and, like the others, defends Lewis from his critics‘in this case the literary critics. This makes a welcome addition to Lewis biography. Also for the serious reader, Branches to Heaven looks at Lewis's work for the purpose of examining the inner man and finds an unsettled convert. Como (editor of C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences, Harvest: Harcourt, 1992) quotes extensively from the few sermons extant. Like Lawlor, he adds interesting tidbits to the Lewis biography and defends him from his critics. Como generally reexamines Lewis's writing and his life from the perspective of rhetoric and in doing so adds some good insights into Lewis the man.‘Augustine J. Curley, O.S.B., Newark Abbey, NJ
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, September 1998
Reference & Research Book News, November 1998
School Library Journal, November 1998
Choice, February 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Table of Contents
Lewis, 1898 ndash; 1963: A Brief Biography
The C. S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia Appendices: A: C. S. Lewis Resources B: C. S. Lewis
Timeline Entry Guides Biographical Essay
The Works of C.S. Lewis Concepts, Places, People, and Themes Uncollected Published Letters Individual Poems
List of Contributors
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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