Among the numerous prominent writers and poets of the 20th century, C.S. Lewis stands at the forefront. Lewis stands at the forefront in many areas of writing and philosophy, including children’s literature, poetry, literary criticism and theology. His theological writings are a staple of Christian teaching. The books in The Chronicles of Narnia series alone have sold over 120 million copies. Adaptations of his works exist in various media formats. The writings of C.S. Lewis have influenced much of the literature of the late 20th century.
On November 29th, 1898, Clive Staples Lewis was born in the town of Belfast, Ireland, to Albert and Flora Lewis. At age four, Lewis took the nickname “Jack”, after his pet dog Jacksie died. Those close to him would use the nickname throughout his life. He began attending Malvern College at age fifteen. During his time at Malvern, he renounced his Christian faith, instead pursuing atheism. As an atheist, Lewis became interested in fantasy and mythological storytelling, which would influence his writing even after his return to Christianity. He remained an atheist until age thirty-three, when, after a long talk with his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, he returned to his childhood beliefs in Christ.
For twenty-nine years, Lewis had a position as an English literature tutor at Oxford University. During this time, he became a member of a literary group called “The Inklings”. This group included Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, and J.R.R Tolkien, among others. While not officially a Christian group, many of the members held Christian views. The Inklings met in Lewis’ college dormitory weekly to read and discuss the unfinished works of the members. Some of the works first heard by the Inklings include Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The Inklings continued holding their meetings until 1949.
C.S. Lewis wrote many classic literature pieces, including The Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity. Lewis’ first work after returning to Christianity was The Pilgrim’s Regress, his own take on Paul Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, set in the early 20th century. The Chronicles of Narnia, a seven book series, is considered a classic piece of children’s literature. Lewis received the Carnegie Medal in recognition of The Last Battle, the seventh and last book in the Narnia series. In Mere Christianity, Lewis explained Christianity from its fundamentals, stripping the theological jargon away and giving a basic view of the true meaning of Christianity. In 1951, Lewis received an offer of the title of Commander of the British Empire, a position similar to Knight, but he declined.
I believe C.S. Lewis is a hero because of his impact on society. Lewis’ work has had a huge effect on literature, poetry, and even music in the 20th and 21st centuries. Various works by Lewis that were never published during his life have been published posthumously. Several television series’ and even a movie have been made of Lewis’ life. The Chronicles of Narnia series has spawned two movies, with a third in production and most likely more to follow. Many Christian contemporary and alternative recording artists have taken influence from the works of Lewis, such as Sixpence None the Richer, whose name comes from a line in Classic Christianity. C.S. Lewis was considered influential even during his life, and his impact continues to be felt today.
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