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The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 1: Family Letters, 1905-1931 [Hardcover]

By C. S. Lewis (Author)
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Item Number 71833  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   1072
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.84" Width: 5.2" Height: 2.07"
Weight:   2.56 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2004
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
ISBN  0620727632  
EAN  9780060727635  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The first of a three volume collection of the letters of C. S. Lewis. This volume contains letters from Lewis's boyhood, his army days in World War I, and his early academic life at Oxford. From his declared atheism at age 16 to his budding friendship with Tolkien during his days at Oxford, these letters set the stage for Lewis's influential life and writings.

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More About C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis Clive Staples Lewis, born in Belfast, Ireland, in 1898, was for more than thirty years Fellow and Tutor of Magdalen College, Oxford, and at the time of his death in 1963 was professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Cambridge University. His many books -- of fiction, poetry, theology, literary scholarship, and autobiography -- include The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, Miracles, and the seven volumes that comprise The Chronicles of Narnia.

C. S. Lewis was born in 1898 and died in 1963.

C. S. Lewis has published or released items in the following series...
  1. C.S. Lewis Signature Classics
  2. Canto
  3. Canto Classics
  4. Chronicles of Narnia
  5. Chronicles of Narnia (HarperCollins Hardcover)
  6. Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis
  7. Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis No. 13
  8. Cosimo Classics Literature
  9. Harvest Book
  10. Harvest Book
  11. Harvest/HBJ Book
  12. HBJ Modern Classic
  13. Literature Units
  14. Minnesota Voices Project (Paperback)
  15. Radio Theatre
  16. Scribner Classics
  17. Shepherd's Notes
  18. Space Trilogy (Paperback)

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious   [0  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General   [31520  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Excellent for the serious reader  Feb 17, 2010
The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 1 : Family Letters, 1905-1931 Realizing that in many people's minds C.S. Lewis only wrote "The Chronicles of Narnia," (they came to that realization after the movies began to be released) and maybe "Mere Christianity," this collection of letters is not for the faint of heart. Mere size will scare your average reader away. Understanding that collections of letters are one of the best forms of biography this volume is a wonderful foray into the life of Lewis for the serious student. C.S. Lewis was an inveterate writer so these writings are rife with detail regarding familial and extra-familial relationships and his amazing love of books. As is the case with letters, these are probably going to be read carefully and therefore it is a fairly significant investment of time, but an investment that returns worthy dividends.
Provides incomparable insights into the man  Mar 18, 2009
I ordered this from the UK 9 years ago because I couldn't stand waiting for it to be released in the US, and then I let it sit and gather dust on my shelf until a friend shamed me into reading it by mentioning that he'd finished all 3 volumes. I'm very glad he did, because this was a great read!

Various people have complained about some of the unsavory aspects of Lewis's life that are exposed in these early letters: He's fascinated by weird things, snobbish, unkind to his father, and generally not living up to standards he would later propound. But all this had the effect of increasing rather than decreasing my admiration for Lewis, as I was given a front-row seat to the beginnings of a miraculous transformation in his life. As he becomes an adult, suffers the pains of war, copes with his father's death, and is gradually worked upon by faithful friends, the Lewis that we have come to know and love begins to emerge.

Sometimes you encounter an author whose every sentence seems to be remarkable, or nearly so. For me, those authors are Austen, Dickens, and Lewis. By the end of this volume, Lewis the Gifted Writer has made his appearance. This is evident not only in his carefully organized logical arguments but in his humorous asides. How anyone could read the paragraph spanning pages 843 and 844 without laughing out loud is beyond me. And that is in the midst of a careful report about sifting through his late father's belongings!

There's no accounting for taste, but, rather than exhausting me, this 1000-page volume has whetted my appetite, and I began reading my copy of _All My Road Before Me_, immediately after finishing this one. For those who enjoy Lewis's writing and want to understand him better, I give this book my strongest recommendation.

We Don't Write Letters Anymore...  Dec 9, 2006
I should begin this review with an important stipulation: I haven't finished the book yet. I am slightly over halfway done -- about 600 pages into it.

That said, I think I have a pretty good grasp of the course this first volume is taking. And it's a good one. I am thoroughly enjoying this detailed romp through C.S. Lewis's early life, though I must join with a previous reviewer in saying that I do feel a bit guilty reading through his personal papers.

You have to attack this book with the right mindset. It's not a novel, an action adventure story or even a biography. It's simply the unedited, honest ramblings of a man growing up in the early 20th century.

This first volume does contain a lot of excruciating details that one might call mundane. In many of the letters, Lewis is doing nothing more than asking his father for money, describing the binding of a new book he has recently purchased or apologizing for taking so long to write.

But at the same time, the anthology is chock full of minute details that shed infinite light on what life was like at the dawn of the 20th century. The very idea that people would write so many (and so lengthy) letters at all seems foreign to us now in the age of e-mails and instant messages. Imagine growing up in a time when you were expected, not only to learn Greek and Latin, but also to speak and read it fluently. I used to think I was an intellectual for having read The Iliad and The Odyssey in their English translations. Lewis (and likely his contemporaries) seemed to scoff at anyone who would read anything other than the Greek versions. It was a different time.

The other reason this book is appealing is that it enables you to trace a seismic shift in Lewis's worldview. Smattered among the grocery lists, the book reviews and the complaints about his father are honest observations about the universe itself. These doses of philosophy come from Lewis unedited and unexpected -- a sentence or paragraph in between the requests for new socks and a comment on the weather.

By the time he entered his teenage years, Lewis was a staunch athiest. In fact, he sometimes chides his childhood compatriot Arthur Greeves for his belief in Christianity. On several occasions he mockingly calls down the anger of God upon himself and blasts Christianity in favor of the older religions, such as Greek mythology.

But slowly, we see Lewis's atheism whittled down until, by the end of Volume One, he has converted to Christianity. Being a believer myself, I am always amazed to see the contrast between a person before and after they accept Christ. This collection of Lewis's letters provide a window into the "before". Volumes Two and Three will no doubt give us the "after".
Extremely interesting in parts, rather boring in others  Mar 6, 2006
My opinion of this book is rather similar to the previous reviewer's. This book provides an extraordinary glimpse into the pre-Christian life of the giant of the faith, C. S. Lewis. There are many, many letters which are extremely interesting, and you can see Lewis' thought developing as the years pass in the book. On the other hand, there are also many letters which have no relevance to Lewis' thought at all and are, as far as I can tell, completely useless to anyone who is not some kind of Lewis fanatic or something (who really wants to read a letter about what groceries Lewis needs that week?). Hooper could really have done a better job at choosing what to weed out, and some of the letters he chose to retain are doing nothing but taking up space in the book and frustrating readers who are looking for gems in this book.

One of the best parts of the book is that in a good portion of his letters Lewis writes about books that he is reading at the time. I loved reading about what Lewis thought of the books he was reading, and seeing the vast number of books that Lewis was reading was what inspired me to start reading the classics myself, so I owe a great debt to this book (as well as the 2nd volume, which I read at the same time).

As to the previous reviewers question about how to read through this book, I just read sraight through. It was tough, but I wanted to see Lewis' thoughts develop, which is hard to do if you take the "island hopping" approach. It may be a tough read, but it is definitely worth it.

Overall grade: A-
Intermittently interesting.  Jan 1, 2005
I feel a bit guilty reading this book. Since I "discovered" Lewis thirty years ago in a friend's basement in Alaska, his ideas, stories, logic, and humor have more than influenced me, they have become part of the furniture of my mind. Anyone who knows Lewis well, knows how little he would have liked having his mail read by snoopy Americans. Oh, well, where he is now, they can afford to be forgiving.

This volume is put together well. Walter Hooper is both thorough and judicious in his editing; the notes he adds at the bottom of the page are often helpful. I find myself wondering how in the world he tracked down some of these sources. The book is also physically attractive, as Lewis would have appreciated.

Most of the letters in this first volume are to one of three people: Arthur Greeves, Lewis' "first friend," his father, and his brother Warren. Especially with Arthur, who seems to get the most, the topic is usually books and the ideas contained in them, romance (in the literary sense, not sex, which is treated with a detached voyerism), philosophy, art and music, natural beauty. The "real world" also intrudes (school, war, college, a job) from time to time. Not all of this is interesting to me; often he's talking about subjects I know nothing about, in a way that sheds little light on them.

But from an early age, Lewis has already become a precise and perceptive writer, with wide-ranging curiosity. So while the material is not equally interesting, and some could have been excluded -- are the sexual fantasies of two post-adolescents really our business? -- I am finding it intermittently interesting to look behind the screen, and grapple with this new motherload of unsifted Lewisiana. But I wouldn't recommend volume one to anyone who doesn't (a) have a strong interest in Lewis AND (b) love Western literature. Volume two is broader in scope and correspondents.

While volume two is easier to read right through, I'm not sure I have found the right way to do the first volume yet. Straight reading would be like hacking a road through the Peruvian jungle. I have tried the "island hopping" method of General McCarthur, and the "pick up and read" method of Augustine . . . Compared to volume 2, this one may get more shelf time. But I am glad to have it, and will leaf through it from time to time. The paperbacks and garage sale hand-me-downs on my shelf seem flattered by such gentile company; though perhaps they worry that property taxes will now go up.

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