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The C.S. Lewis Handbook

[The C.S. Lewis Handbook] The C.S. Lewis Handbook
by Colin Duriez
Published by Baker Book House, 1990
Amazon.com: paperback
Amazon.ca: paperback
Amazon.co.uk: paperback
Recommended by: Greg Slade

It's not quite accurate to call this work a "biography." In fact, even calling it "analysis" is a bit misleading. In fact, what Duriez has done is compile his material alphabetically, similar to a dictionary or encyclopaedia. Thus, an article on The Allegory of Love, which did much to establish Lewis' reputation as a scholar, is followed by an article on "Andrew, Uncle", a character in The Magician's Nephew, one of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, which are widely considered to be children's books. This deliberate crossing of lines between different aspects of Lewis' life and work can be very helpful in introducing readers who are only familiar with Lewis' work in one context to the wider scope of his writings. I also appreciate that Duriez has included articles on a number of Lewis' friends and associates, including a complete listing of the group called "The Inklings." (I mean, once you get past Lewis, Tolkien, and maybe Charles Williams, how many can you name off the top of your head?)

I do have a couple of quibbles. For me, the book is far too short. There is more that I want to know about Lewis than could possibly be squeezed into a book of this size. Thus, to me, this is more like a promising beginning than a completed work. (While checking the links for this book, I discovered a more recent title by Duriez called The C.S. Lewis Encyclopedia, which, presumably, is the longer and more complete work that I wish for.) For another, Duriez makes some choices which strike me as a bit odd. For instance, the entry for "Narnia" reads, "See NARNIA: History." (The "NARNIA: History." entry, which is just under two pages long, then directs readers to the entry on "NARNIA: Geography." Why Duriez found it necessary to divide the entry into two parts escapes me.) (December, 2004)


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