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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on July 2, 2015
I like C.S. Lewis but this autobiography is way too detailed in the first half of the book for my liking. I found myself speed reading through far too many pages.
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on March 24, 2016
Excellent book by and excellent author. Highly recommended.
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on June 1, 2002
It seems sacrilegious to redact such a gifted writer whose phraseolgy make his prose almost poetic, but my patience wore thin as I listened via Books on Tape to all his self-absortive drivel awaiting the "piece de resistance" of the basis for his conversion. I was deeply disappointed in the short shift he accorded the latter. My iconoclastic opinion.
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on December 29, 2000
This short book takes us from Lewis' early atheism to his later belief in God and ultimately, we know, to his belief in Christianity. Like all of his works, this book is clear and engaging to read, and often thought-provoking.
Unfortunately, I cannot give it my highest recommendation. Though I enjoy most of Lewis' works, this one fell a bit short for me. I had trouble believing Lewis was ever really an atheist, or even an agnostic. Perhaps that is partly by design, but I rather think that Lewis was trying to make his conversion seem a greater alteration than it was. Compared to the "great" conversions of St. Paul or St. Augustine, this one pales in comparison.
Also, this book is rather unfairly included with religious works, and while religion is one of its topics--and its organizing principle--Lewis is interested in other ideas, including education and child rearing. So much has changed in these 2 areas over the last 50 years or so, that I found much of those sections in the book uninteresting. Still, for Lewis fans, this is a book you should read. However, if you are looking for an introduction to Lewis' Christian thought, you'd be better of with Mere Christianity.
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on May 15, 1999
My first exposure to C S Lewis was through The Screwtape Letters, which I found to be both absolutely engrossing and filled with insight of the highest order into society and human nature. I was also strongly captivated by the author's Narnia series of children's books, and I was ready to count myself a Lewis fan. But Lewis's non-fiction, although written with flair and clarity, proved disappointing. His penchant for allegory and metaphor makes his fiction great, but it undermines the logic of books like Mere Christianity and Miracles. And although Surprised by Joy is, like all of his books, very enjoyably written, it destroyed my former conception of Lewis by revealing how dependent his religious beliefs were on his own personality and emotional struggles. We must commend Lewis for not tidying up his image, but the effect of the book, for me, was to cast a veil of doubt over everything else he published.
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on January 7, 2001
Like one other reviewer, I too had trouble believing that Lewis was atheist or agnostic prior to his "conversion," which was more like an awakening to the relevance of it all in daily life.
I was surprisingly disappointed not only in what I learned about Lewis, but in his writing style here. Over half of the book was bland, unengaging; the psychology of his journey seemed insincere, transparent. The last few chapters were most interesting, suddenly articulate, and thought provoking.
But I don't regret the read. Although somewhat disappointing, this is still good information for the C.S. Lewis fan. The more one knows about an author, the more clearly one can understand and appreciate his work.
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on August 11, 2003
A wonderful writer.
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on April 6, 2004
A disappointment, though not without interest. Lewis's purpose is to tell the story of his conversion from atheism to Christianity. But there is little here to challenge or even interest the open-minded atheist. It seems to me that Lewis converted largely for emotional reasons, apparently because he believed in some kind of Hegelian Absolute. The last two chapters are so vague and poetic (or perhaps poetically motivated...?) as to be very tough to read when trying to find out why he believes and what relevance his conversion might have to me. I never really got clear answers to these questions. Lewis is always readable, but this was disappointing on intellectual grounds (which is true of all his apologetics).
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