Readers who can quote word for word from C.S. Lewis’s theological classic, Mere Christianity, or his science fiction novel, Perelandra, have often never read his work as a professional literary historian. They may not even recognize some of the neglected works discussed, here. Mark Neal and Jerry Root have done students of Lewis a great service, tracing the signature ideas in Lewis’s works of literary criticism and showing their relevance to Lewis’s more familiar books. Their thorough research and lucid prose will be welcome to all who would like to understand Lewis more fully, but who feel daunted by books of such evident scholarly erudition.
For example, when you read The Discarded Image on the ancients’ view of the heavens, you understand better why Ransom has such unpleasant sensations when first descending toward Malacandra in Out of the Silent Planet. And when you come across Lewis’s discussion in OHEL of a minor sixteenth-century poet who described the hellish River Styx as a “puddle glum,” you can’t help but chuckle at the name when you meet the famous Marshwiggle in The Silver Chair. These are just two examples of how reading the “Neglected Lewis” can help every reader understand Lewis more fully.
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“In 1952 Lewis disclosed that writing his magnum opus on the literature of the sixteenth century had been his ‘top tune’ for fifteen years and all the other books he wrote during that period were ‘only its little twiddly bits.’ It may surprise some readers to hear Lewis describe The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Screwtape Letters and The Abolition of Man—to mention just three—as mere twiddly bits in comparison with the main melody of his output. But that was how he saw it. Neal and Root are to be commended for rehabilitating that ‘top tune’ and other similarly neglected works in this clear, useful, and informative survey.”
“Neal and Root have done us a great service. At a time when we are in danger of being surfeited by the endless rehashing of the well-known C.S. Lewis, they have opened up the treasures of the less known but invaluable Lewis. I found this book delightful and stimulating.”
“Reading The Neglected C.S. Lewis reminded me, a professor at a very secular Russian university, of what Lewis said about Charles Williams’ lecture on Milton’s Comus: ‘I have at last, if only for once, seen a university doing what it was founded to do: teaching wisdom.’”
“I remember my surprise and delight when I discovered, as a literature student, that the author whose Narnia stories I had enjoyed as a child was also a brilliant literary critic, in fact the most lucid and helpful of all the scholars whose works I read at Cambridge. I am delighted, therefore, to see that Neal and Root are sharing so much of this treasure in this new volume. They are ideal guides. I heartily recommend this volume.”
“Neal and Root do not want C.S. Lewis’ neglected works to remain neglected. The reasons they spell out in this book are compelling, as is the authoritative guidance they provide for those works. Beyond Screwtape, Narnia, Mere Christianity, and the space trilogy, there turns out to be a vast terrain of underappreciated insight (from Lewis and these authors both).”
“Lewis’s most popular books are rich in wisdom and wonder, but many of his most important insights are buried in the pages of his lesser-known works. Now, at last, Mark Neal and Jerry Root have provided us with a map that leads us straight to the heart of these treasures.”
“Neal and Root are reliable guides to the professional writings of C. S. Lewis, demonstrating how his insights on past literature help us navigate the turbulent waters of today’s words and rhetoric.”
“C.S. Lewis has two sets of readers who almost never talk to each other. Finally, Neal and Root have arisen to help introduce them to each other. It’s about time!”
“Even though the subject matter may seem obscure and academic, I believe that you will find your horizons broadened. The best outcome for this book will be an impetus to go back and read Lewis’s ‘neglected’ books and the works that inspired them.”
“Neal and Root have filled a huge void in the critical study of Lewis by writing an introduction to Lewis’s scholarly work that should provide a guide for those interested in Lewis for years to come.”
“That there still exists neglected dimensions of Lewis’s work only attests to how masterfully multi-dimensional his work proves to be. Neal and Root have walked readers around to the lesser known, though no less important, places of Lewis’s critical corpus to show us just how necessary the ‘neglected’ really is.”
“Anyone who enjoys reading Lewis and wants to understand him better will not want to neglect this book!”
This book has been long overdue. All readers who really want to understand the depths of C.S. Lewis will find The Neglected C.S. Lewis both a valuable resource full of insight as well as a journey of joyful intellectual discovery.
“Even the most informed students of Lewis’s writing will be enriched by this splendid book.”