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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It brings God nearer, or near in a new way."
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...
Published on Aug. 12 2001 by Cipriano

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for the Lewis admirer
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...
Published on Nov. 11 2001 by Benjamin A Gastel


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It brings God nearer, or near in a new way.", Aug. 12 2001
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. In fact, Lewis began to see that the most religious writers (Plato, Aeschylus, Virgil, Spenser, Milton, Sir Thomas Browne, Herbert, Donne, Chesterton, MacDonald) were those in whom he found the most kinship in this respect, while those who did not "suffer from religion" (Shaw, Gibbon, Voltaire, Wells, John Stuart Mill) seemed as nourishing as old dishwater. He concluded that "A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading."
Even though the book is never preachy, I believe that the above conclusion applies to any atheist that reads Surprised By Joy through to the end. As with other writings by Lewis, Christianity emerges as something that actually makes a lot of sense. It's not until the last page that Lewis takes this final step, and his theism becomes "not a god, but God." My title for this review is taken from that last page, where Lewis describes what happens when one accepts the Incarnation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for the Lewis admirer, Nov. 11 2001
By 
Benjamin A Gastel (Brownsburg, IN United States) - See all my reviews
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting info about C S Lewis, Aug. 26 2013
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This review is from: Surprised by Joy (Kindle Edition)
If you wanna know the person, character and life behind the man C S Lewis, this is the book that will do the job. I was personally interested in his idea behind the title "Surprised by Joy". What did he mean by "Joy". After a great deal about his life in the book, he answers that question very clearly in the end, saving the book from it being simply about his life.

His road to Christ is explained through his life, taking root in his quest for the imaginary joy that he longed for. This book is highly recommended for it gives yet another compelling evidence for the kingdom of God. This "Joy" that we seek is only met in His Kingdom and there is reason for it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, Sept. 12 2003
By 
Brian G Hedges (South Bend, Indiana) - See all my reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece: One Man's Journey to God, Feb. 15 2002
By 
R. Morris "Rob & Matt Morris" (Idaho Falls, ID USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Surprised By Joy (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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5.0 out of 5 stars a must read, March 10 2004
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jeff reedy (earth) - See all my reviews
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one of the best books by my fav author of all time. well worded, insightful, instructive, inspirational - how many more 'i' words do you need? please, take my word, and read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely and perennially absorbing book, Nov. 26 2003
This is a great book by a great writer, telling both of CS Lewis's life, including his education and his experiences as a front-line soldier in World War I, and his discovery of "Joy" and the sense of the scared, and his final conversion from Athiesm to Christiantiy. Full of wisdom, humor and fascinating historical description. His descriptions of his father, mother and brother, including his reaction to his mother's early death, are poignant and moving. He tells, also, of what it was really like to be a yong officer in the trenches of World War I, in which he was seriously wounded. In another key, how to really learn a difficult foreign language. This is a book to treasure and to read again and again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Introspective and Informative, Nov. 7 2003
By 
Dr. W. G. Covington, Jr. (Edinboro, Pennsylvania) - See all my reviews
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Lewis says the two families from which he sprang were extremely different in both temperament and origin. On his dad's side there was the Welsh lineage. He describes them as being sentimental, passionate, and rhetorical. While the Hamiltons, on his mother's side were less passionate, more critical and ironic. On both sides, his parents were "bookish" people. He says his brother was a blessing to him, although the two of them were different also.
I love the description of the house full of books in which he grew up. He writes: "My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents' interest..."
He talks about staking out his claim in the attic and making it his study. Early on he became a reader and writer. It was a love affair with communication. He discovered his gift and pursued it from then on.
This book traces the stages of his spiritual journey as well. He is very straightforward in describing what was going on in his mind at various stages. In reading about his unique experiences one acquires insight that can be beneficial in reflection on one's own life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece Read this work of his first, Aug. 28 2003
Owning all of C.S.Lewis' non-fiction works I believe this is the first book most people should own, simply because it shows his journey from being an atheist and a serious one at that, to becoming not only a Christian, but in many peoples opinion, including mine, the greatest Christian scholar on the twentieth century or many centuries. It is a book I recommend to any academia minded person who wants a literate and challenging work that lays out how a serious atheist and secular scholar can evolve into a scholar who also happens to be a Christian. Chapter fourteen titled Checkmate is where this really gets explained. The other interesting thing about this book is how it got me reading other works from the many people C. S. Lewis mentions as catalysts in his journey. People like George Macdonald, and G K Chesterton. Thus my home library has expanded a lot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lewis is deeply intelligent., Aug. 11 2003
By 
Declan "also_private" (Dublin., Leinster. Ireland) - See all my reviews
A wonderful writer.
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