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Surprised By Joy Mass Market Paperback – 1967


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Fontana / Collins; Reprinted edition (1967)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003OCE9I0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,078,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brian G Hedges on Sept. 12 2003
Format: Paperback
This is C. S. Lewis's spiritual autobiography and it is a masterpiece. Lewis was raised in a somewhat nominal Christianity, which he threw off as a school-boy. But as Lewis says, "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There were traps everywhere - 'Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,' as Herbert says, 'fine nets and strategems.' God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous." And this book is Lewis's chronicle of God's strategems and nets and the surprises which eventually converted Lewis back to Christianity. Central to this process was Lewis's experience of joy, which he defines as "an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction." As a boy and as a man, Lewis was stabbed by this desire, yet never able to satisfy it. By a process of elimination, he came to realize that (as he says in another book) "if I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." The desire led him to the Objective Other - the Absolute - Spirit. At first, Lewis viewed this Other as an impersonal and objective absolute. But, God strategically boxed him into a corner (Lewis uses the analogy of check-mate in a game of chess) where he was forced to acknowledge that this Other was God Himself, and beyond that, God enfleshed in Jesus Christ. Woven into the story are the events of Lewis's childhood, education, and intellectual development. Quite a lot of the discussion centers around his reading, from Beatrix Potter as a child, to Keats, Herbert, MacDonald, and Chesterton as a young adult. This is a fascinating book and one cannot quite hope to fully appreciate Lewis without reading it. I highly recommend it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Morris on Feb. 15 2002
Format: Paperback
C.S. Lewis has written a masterpiece on the subject of one man's conversion to Christianity. Not only that, it is a must-read for any fan of Lewis, for it sheds a great deal of light on his early life and biography. It follows Lewis from childhood to his conversion to Christianity as an adult professor, tracing the influences on his philisophical and religious thinking along the way. It is in my mind a modern Augustine's "Confessions". Lewis writes, as usual, with great candor and his usual lucid, easy to follow prose that takes complex issues and makes them understandable to everyone. This style has made him one of the finest Christian authors. His 'Mere Christianity' and 'Screwtape Letters' are other examples of his books that challenge a reader's religious philosophy. Of course, Lewis is more famous in most circles for his 'Narnia' books, which are also great, but it is his philisophical and deeply personal treatment of Christianity that makes him one of the greats.
Highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to see how one man made his journey to belief and/or wants to learn more about C.S. Lewis, the man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cipriano on Aug. 12 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the firsthand account of how C.S. Lewis passed from Atheism through to Theism, and onward to Christianity. Lewis says in the Preface that he knew of no autobiography in which the parts devoted to the earlier years were not by far the most interesting. As such, the entire first half of his own consists of a detailed recollection of childhood and adolescence. The second half is devoted to tracing his adult intellectual interests and particularly to recounting the thought processes which led him in his thirtieth year to a profound conversion experience.
Lewis said "How far the story matters to anyone but myself depends on the degree to which others have experienced what I call 'joy'." By "joy" he was referring to his concept of "sehnsucht" a German word that came closest to the sense of yearning or longing that Lewis felt as early on as six years old. Sehnsucht is an experience difficult to define... it is a longing for an object which is never fully given, coupled with a sense of alienation or displacement from what is desired. Perhaps another way of describing it could be a ceaseless yearning which always points beyond itself. It is this elusive nature of sehnsucht that Lewis had in mind when he (in typical brevity) coined the phrase "our best havings are wantings." At any rate, sehnsucht or "joy" was such a crucial element in the development of Lewis that we find it here in the title of his life story, and the "surprise" for him was in the gradual realization that joy (as such) was not foreign, contrary to, unaddressed by or otherwise OPPOSED to theism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin A Gastel on Nov. 11 2001
Format: Paperback
The Lewis admirer will greatly appreciate this book and its depiction of the early life of this Christian genius. He describes his slow transformation from stanch athiest to devout Christian in the complicated simplicity that only Lewis can achieve. However, be weary of this book if you have never previously read Lewis. The development of the story is rather slow and lethargic and the non-Lewis fan may find it difficult to get through the early chapters. Yet, for the Lewis admirer the lax early chapters are well worth the culminating transformation in the late portion.
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