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Publisher's Summary

What can we still learn from C.S. Lewis? Find out in these 12 insightful lectures that cover the author's spiritual autobiography, novels, and his scholarly writings that reflect on pain and grief, love and friendship, prophecy and miracles, and education and mythology.

This is your chance to explore a canon of literary work that speaks volumes about the imaginative, emotional, and spiritual power of literature. As you delve into the depths of enduring works such as the Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, and Till We Have Faces, you'll consider a range of questions central to truly understanding why C.S. Lewis has had such a profound impact on 20th-century readers.

From the magisterial Oxford History of English Literature to children's fantasy series, how did Lewis write with such brilliance and coherence in so many distinct fields? What were the people, events, and influences that shaped his thought, his character, and the spiritual drama at his life's core? What do Lewis's fictional and factual autobiographies reveal about his conversion and his efforts to explain and defend Christianity? How do his writings help readers come to grips with perennial spiritual questions involving miracles, suffering, sin, and salvation?

Join Professor Markos for an eye-opening examination of why Lewis - the Oxbridge don and self-described, "very ordinary layman of the Church of England," touches millions of readers so deeply and is considered the most widely read Christian spokesman of our time.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2000 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2000 The Great Courses

What listeners say about The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis

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Was it recorded in a church???

This lecturer is so focused on preaching I found I couldn't continue to listen, and am returning the book unfinished, no disrespect to C.S. Lewis. I have never been disappointed with a Great Courses Lecture in the past.

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Preachy, but interesting.

This is largely just preaching disguised as a lecture, but it's a fairly good summary of C.S. Lewis' works.

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Profile Image for Ark1836
  • Ark1836
  • 31-08-2015

C.S. Lewis Would Be Proud

This course explores the greatest works of C.S. Lewis. The first half of the course focuses on his non-fiction works and the second half on his fiction works, ending with the famous Chronicles of Narnia. Each lecture gives a short synopsis of the work, but the professor's primary goal is to give the background of the work and explore the messages that Lewis was trying to convey.

Preliminarily, anyone listening to this should be aware that C.S. Lewis was a devout Christian who focused much of his time extolling the virtues of Christianity and persuading others to adopt the faith. Nearly all of his works are either overtly Christian or Christian allegories. The professor begins his presentation by expressing that he shares Lewis's worldview, which is particularly appropriate in this context because it gives the professor a deeper understanding of Lewis's message. While it is possible that some of the professor's lectures may come off as "preachy," the listener should bear in mind that Lewis was typically trying to do just that—i.e., preach the Gospel. Lewis did not hide his faith and no serious review of his work can be done without exploring his beliefs as well as the foundations of Christian thought. The professor handled this both skillfully and respectfully. The professor's knowledge of Lewis's is vast, and the class is both informative and entertaining. I gained a much deeper appreciation of Lewis as a person and Lewis as an author.

47 people found this helpful

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  • Richard
  • 20-11-2013

Basically a collection of sermons

I hoped that this would be a series of lectures that talked about C.S. Lewis' life and the major themes in his writing. I already knew that most of what Lewis wrote is either an allegory of Christianity or directly apologetic of Christianity. I'm fine with that, and I expected that it would be a major recurring theme in this course. Unfortunately, this isn't a series of lectures, it's a series of sermons. Essentially, every lecture boils down to "here is one of the Truths of Christianity" (notice the capital "T") and a few quotes from one or two of C.S. Lewis' works on that theme. I'm a practicing Christian, and the problem wasn't that I was offended by the professor's sharing of his faith (he and I are probably 80% faith-compatible, if that's even a thing). The problem was that I wanted a literature review mixed with some biography, but I got twelve sermons with passing references to C.S. Lewis. If you want twelve sermons with references to C.S. Lewis, then this course is a good choice. Unfortunately, the description implies that it's something very different.

65 people found this helpful

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  • Tom Osimitz
  • 13-01-2020

Part Course/Part Sermon

Let me start by saying that I am Christian (not in the Evangelical sense) and believe in God and my limited understanding of the Bible. I was disappointed in this course. While some good and informative content is to be found, It was often overshadowed by the personal interpretation, judgment, and emotional expression of the professor's beliefs, clearly strongly held. That has its place and I respect the professor's opinions, but I do not seek that in a Great Course.

5 people found this helpful

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  • T Lauer
  • 03-01-2018

Enlightening work, passionate presentation

Professor Markos covers Lewis's work and life in a thorough, thought-provoking and well organized presentation. The combination of summarizing C.S. Lewis's works with the Professor's analysis (including how Lewis's life experiences and literary influences are reflected in his writings) kept my full attention throughout the course. I found myself stopping at several points to re-listen and reflect on the material. The lectures are highly energetic, reflecting the Professor's passion for the topics.

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  • JULIE F. MIS
  • 16-08-2020

No Educational Value

Be aware that this course is not about the life and writings of C.S. Lewis; it is a full-throated defense of his moral and religious views, with the occasional aside slamming the Enlightenment, the scientific method, atheists, liberals, and, of course, modern college students. I was looking for a biography of this influential writer, an overview of his work in its historical context, and maybe a discussion of his lasting impact; being an avid Great Course listener, this is what I've come to expect from their titles on the lives and work of great artists/authors/thinkers. This particular title was a shocking letdown on all counts. First, there is nothing about Lewis' life after a rapid sketch in the latter half of the first lecture. As he moves on to discuss Lewis' writing, the professor does not even stop to inform his listeners when each work was written or published, so there is no way to trace the development of Lewis' ideas throughout his career, or in relation to the world around him, or in reaction to other thinkers writing on similar subjects. Second, there is no analysis of Lewis' writing - not as a body, or as individual works. I understand that professor agrees almost entirely with the content of Lewis' arguments and admires his presentation of them (he is very open about that at the beginning of the course), but in an academic lecture, I think he still has an obligation to examine and explicate his material. Instead, he is so eager to share the overwhelming, awe-inspiring, rightness (in his opinion) of Lewis' conclusions that he fails to teach his audience much about them. Finally, Lewis' opinions, after having been stripped out of the context of their author's life and presented as unassailable truth, are treated as if they exist in a kind of temporal vacuum; we hear nothing about their reception, at the time of publication, or over the years since, and very little about their influence on literature or religious thought. I have enjoyed many Great Courses that dealt with religious and philosophical beliefs that do not resemble my own. I find it rewarding to learn what other people think (or have thought in the past) and why, even if I do not agree with the beliefs under discussion and/or the presenting professor's analysis of them. This course is unique in my experience not because I disagree with C.S. Lewis' religious beliefs (although I do), or Professor Markos' opinions on them (although I really, really, do), but because it completely fails in its advertised promise: as to the life and writings of C.S. Lewis, it has no educational value. I learned nothing about C.S. Lewis the man, the author, the professor, or even the Christian apologist amongst other Christian apologists (I sincerely doubt that Lewis' thoughts on Christian morality sprang fully formed out of nowhere, or have not been built on since his death, but nothing in Professor Markos' lecture suggests otherwise). In summary, this professor is a clear and engaging speaker, enthusiastic and knowledgable about his topic, but he glosses over Lewis' life quickly and deals with his writing only as the record of his opinions, which he spends 12 lectures proselytizing. A disappointing product.

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  • Mary W. Spring
  • 08-05-2015

Whirlwind tour of Lewis

Loved this and gave it five stars! Will relisten to all except the parts on the sci-fiction summaries. I have read them and not even the professor's explanations help Perelandra.

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  • Emily Romrell
  • 06-07-2016

Meh

I was already a big fan of C. S. Lewis when I downloaded this lecture series. While I did appreciate some of the points Professor Markos makes, I felt as if I was being preached at rather than being presented with information so I could form my own opinions.

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  • D M BOYCE
  • 06-12-2016

Helpful to any Lewis/Tolkein students.

What made the experience of listening to The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis the most enjoyable?

Good back story and timeline added to CSLs experience. Lectures interesting and easy to follow. Adds well to context for the writings, author and his time.

What other book might you compare The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis to and why?

Lecture connects his works and contributes to the arch of his life

Have you listened to any of Professor Louis Markos’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No but would give it a go

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Pulled pieces of stories and parts together from previous experience. Very helpful to see the larger body of works in context.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dillon Valderemao
  • 20-12-2020

Brilliant and inspirational

This lecture is highly recommended. His passion for C.S. Lewis and his works is obvious and he summarises and fistula his ideas very effectively. I enjoyed it very much.

1 person found this helpful

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  • James
  • 28-07-2020

Well Done

Markos was very respectful of C.S. Lewis when presenting his faith and writings. I was impressed that Markos didn't shy away from the Christian ideology that Lewis wrote about in all of his books and other writings. Jack is one of the writers I have always admired because of how logically and simply he laid out biblical concepts and many other concepts that are still relevant today. C.S. Lewis never dumbed down his words or assumed that adults and children could not grasp his concepts without gross over simplification. Great writers communicate without having to stoop to such levels. I would recommend this course to anyone who appreciates great writers.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Phil
  • 15-12-2020

This guy is Passionate about Lewis

I really enjoyed listening to these lectures. I shall put more of Lewis's works in my library now for sure, not just The Chronicles.

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  • Phoebs Lyle
  • 04-09-2020

ENJOYABLE PERFORMANCE, EVEN IF IT DID SEEM A BIT PREACHY!

I didn’t get this for any spiritual reason, just because _ even as some who is born and living in Northern Ireland _ I wanted to know more about him. Enjoyed the performance, even if I didn’t agree with some views and it did seem preachy at times.

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  • David Ottaway
  • 27-08-2020

Very enjoyable

I had read the Chronicles of Narnia as a child and have a certain fondness for them and had stumbled upon a number of Lewis' other books later in life so I had read the books he is well known for but not much more. I found this a thoroughly enjoyable investment of time in finding out a bit more about Lewis and understanding some of themes that tie through his work. The lecturer is engaged in the topic and is clearly a fan of Lewis and this enthusiasm comes through in the presentation. As with all of the Great Course series - I do find that you need to ease into the style and content and it is not comparable to listening to a novel or audio drama - but is so worthwhile once you get into it.

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  • Tired Mummy
  • 13-08-2020

Too much too fast, nothing like enough on Narnia

This was fascinating and I really enjoyed it. But it went at such a breakneck speed that, on occasions, it gave me a headache and I just had to turn it off for a while. I would LOVE to hear this in more detail over an extra 3 or 4 lectures. I was willing Markos to go deeper into all the Chronicles of Narnia. He definitely left me wanting to know more about CS Lewis but if I had time for research, I wouldn’t be listening to audiobooks!

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  • Clive
  • 30-05-2020

Enthusiastic and very enjoyable presentation of the works of C.S.Lewis

Louis Markos presents in a really enjoyable and palatable way, going through Lewis’s works in a logical order. I too share Markos’s favourite, The Great Divorce. I found the description of the Narnia Chronicles enlightening. Thank you Louis! I would wholeheartedly recommend this course. How about a part 2?

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  • Martin Blackburn
  • 14-05-2020

Insightful and well presented

Great look at the works of Lewis in a logical order. To the point lectures bringing underlying meaning to the surface. A fitting reminder to the genius of C.S. Lewis

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  • TheLastWord
  • 18-01-2020

infectious enthusiasm

Really enjoyed this. The lecturer's enthusiasm for Lewis and his works is infectious and I listened to the whole series in just two days. My only regret is that this series wasn't longer.

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