A friend to J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis spent much of his life at Oxford surrounded by academics who often held him in contempt for his Christian views (though few could fail to admire Lewis for his skills as a writer and his exhaustive knowledge of literature). In this course, we will look at Lewis's life and examine the influences that would help to shape Lewis both as a man and as a writer. We will take an in-depth look at Lewis's science-fiction trilogy, his Chronicles of Narnia, his apologetic and scholarly works, and his other writings.
In doing so, we will come to understand the major thematic elements that mark Lewis's work. More importantly, perhaps, we will come to a finer appreciation of a writer whose true testament may be that which he strove for in all his major works: the evocation of "joy".
As the title indicates, this lecture series mainly focuses on C. S. Lewis's fiction (the Chronicles of Narnia, the Space Trilogy, Till We Have Faces), though Professor Shutt does spend some time discussing C. S. Lewis's life and his non-fictional writings. Shutt assumes you've read the books he's discussing (at one point in one of the lectures, he says "You've read the book; what do you think?"), and you'll get the most out of the lectures if you're familiar with Lewis's books; but even if there are some you haven't read, or haven't read in a long time, the lectures are still worth listening to.
I found these lectures to be consistently interesting and insightful, and they left me with new appreciation for C. S. Lewis. Shutt is knowledgeable, not only about Lewis's own writings, but about the literary background that Lewis himself loved and was influenced by. Shutt comes across as an appreciator of Lewis, but not an uncritical, gushing fanboy. He doesn't hesitate to talk about what he or others have found flawed or unsuccessful in Lewis's writings in addition to talking about the things Lewis did particularly well. And Shutt doesn't shy away from talking about Lewis's Christian faith and its influence on his writing, but in a way that neither Christian nor nonchristian listeners should find off-putting.
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