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Karin

Karin's Reading Chronicles

I am somewhat of an eclectic reader who is very active on Shelfari, but since it may not last, am trying out Booklikes :).
Surprised By Joy: The Shape of My Early Life - C.S. Lewis

Like so many others, I greatly enjoyed the Narnia series when I was growing up. I read it for fun and had no idea that it was a Christian allegory until I was an adult. While my daughters enjoyed them (one has read them at least four times) they disappointed me somewhat as an adult. However, I have tried a few times to read other books by Lewis, but this is the first one I’ve made it all the way through. To be honest, what kept me going is that this will be part of a book discussion with some old reading friends. I read a chapter per day as if it were a school assignment.

 

The two stars are not because Lewis was unable to write or articulate his thoughts, because he certainly did. However, as a memoir of his journey to atheism and then to Christianity, a subject of keen interest to me, it ended up having little appeal. It was more of his educational and intellectual journey through his youth, punctuated by descriptions of life away at different schools, until he became a Christian. Of course, it’s another example of a brilliant intellectual coming around from atheism to Christianity, something so many feel is impossible, but there was little to tug at my heartstrings or to empathize or sympathize as much with him as I would have liked to given so many of his circumstances. Perhaps it’s because he write it when he was will into his fifties and was so far removed, but I think perhaps it may have been because he was not ever given to having many friends when he was growing up, nor did he really want them most of the time, and those he did make were usually as intellectual as he was.

 

That said, Lewis had some interesting insights at times, but what I found irksome was that girls and women tend to only appear as the odd relative hosting some sort of gathering (his mother died when he was very young) almost another species, or were referred to in light of erotic passion not being a substitute for joy, or how lack of girls in the area led to increased pederasty in public school and how it affected or was affected by the social hierarchy (that’s the term he employed for that) or other things equally bereft of any recognition of women as humans with a capacity for intelligence.