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C.S. Lewis was a windbag (aka C.S. Lewis' "Surprised by Joy") [Archive] - DVD Talk Forum
 
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View Full Version : C.S. Lewis was a windbag (aka C.S. Lewis' "Surprised by Joy")


DrRingDing
11-09-05, 05:57 PM
i'm currently (and have been for quite awhile) C.S. Lewis' <i>Surprised by Joy</i>. it's his autobiography. i'm only about halfway through it and it's bloated with (what i believe is unintentional) pompous phrasing, pompous anecdotes and pompous analysis of his school days. he uses way too many words to express or tell simple stories.

i have 135 pages left and he still hasn't finished dissecting his days in school.

has anybody else read this? should i bother to keep reading? it's not bad, it's just laborious. i don't think i'm necessarily gaining anything from it. (before you answer, consider that it was given to me as a gift from a friend..)

-di doctor-

PopcornTreeCt
11-10-05, 01:12 AM
I'm reading Mere Christianity and it seems to be the same way.

Amator
11-11-05, 10:47 PM
C.S. Lewis' writing style is a little too verbose for modern tastes. Much the same way it seems as J.D. Salinger or F. Scott Fitzgerald. His sentences seem to carry on forever, clause after clause. Personally I'm a big fan of this writing style, but I seem to be in the minority.

Suprised by Joy is okay, but his best work is Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, and the Narnia books. An autobiography of one's early years is usually self indulgent and kind of vapid, and Suprised by Joy is no exception. If you're unfamiliar with Lewis' work, you may want to read one of his masterpieces before judging him on a diary of his school years. It's kind of like judging Tolkien over Farmer Giles of Ham.

DrRingDing
11-12-05, 06:22 AM
C.S. Lewis' writing style is a little too verbose for modern tastes. Much the same way it seems as J.D. Salinger or F. Scott Fitzgerald. His sentences seem to carry on forever, clause after clause. Personally I'm a big fan of this writing style, but I seem to be in the minority.

Suprised by Joy is okay, but his best work is Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, and the Narnia books. An autobiography of one's early years is usually self indulgent and kind of vapid, and Suprised by Joy is no exception. If you're unfamiliar with Lewis' work, you may want to read one of his masterpieces before judging him on a diary of his school years. It's kind of like judging Tolkien over Farmer Giles of Ham.

i read all of the narnia books for the first time not too long ago and they were not at all like this. the narnia books were fiction and they were meant to be able to be read by children as well as a adult... they are understandably classics.

on the other hand is Surprised by Joy... IMO, i think it's very easy to go from being verbose to being pompous and too verbose. i don't mind lengthy rambling books either, but not when they are also injected with a sense of privilege. again, i don't think it was intentional, but the ironic bit is that he spends a lot of time explaining how he escaped being pompous and "holier-than-thou" and it all comes out sounding exactly that way.

AGuyNamedMike
11-17-05, 08:19 AM
Bear in mind that Mr. Lewis was born in 1898 and educated at various posh English prep schools, eventually attending Oxford on scholarship, with a break to serve as an officer in combat in France. He then entered the heady and self-promoting world of English academia. He learned to write that way as a normal result of his upbringing, education, and professional environment, and had to simplify his standard style for a younger audience for works like the Chronicles. Imagine how pompous he would have sounded in his autobio had he not consciously tried to tone it down!

freudian-slip
11-17-05, 08:31 AM
Something else to keep in mind is that a number of his books were compilations of radio addresses (Mere Christianity, for one). And it was a different time and a different era. Dickens is considered "wordy" (I don't want to call either of these men 'windbags') by today's standards, but that was commonplace then. But even Lewis and Dickens had some quick reads, too (Christmas Carol and the Narnia books).

Some classics must be understood within their contexts.

DrRingDing
11-19-05, 05:22 AM
Something else to keep in mind is that a number of his books were compilations of radio addresses (Mere Christianity, for one). And it was a different time and a different era. Dickens is considered "wordy" (I don't want to call either of these men 'windbags') by today's standards, but that was commonplace then. But even Lewis and Dickens had some quick reads, too (Christmas Carol and the Narnia books).

Some classics must be understood within their contexts.

i would agree to a point, but having read some dickens and now some Lewis outside of their quick reads, i think Dickens didn't bloat his stories with as many big words as Lewis. i'm not saying that using big words is bad, either, but i think that if you overuse them, you end up sounding too eager to come off as intelligent/learned. that is my problem with Lewis.

then again, i don't really remember <i>Great Expectations</i> all that well, but i certainly don't remember thinking that he was a windbag.

i do have to admit though, now that i'm in the final bits of this book, it's less so. i think the first half of the book just took way too long and Lewis made things a lot more complicated when they were inherently simple by nature. he overanalyzed and overexplicated a lot of things earlier in the book, in other words.

he still does things that sound awful too. like he says that to describe the Holywood Hills would be impossible and unfair to even attempt and then he immediately tries to do just that for two or three pages...