Image and Imagination, by C.S. Lewis

Reviewed by Paul Harrison

I picked Image and Imagination  to review, because I was surprised by how many C.S. Lewis books have come out since Lewis died in 1963.   I enjoy reading literary criticism and was pleasantly surprised to see that half of the Image and Imagination (Canto Publishers/Cambridge University Press, 2013, Walter Hooper, Editor) is a collection of all Lewis’s book reviews.

The books reviewed in this anthology show an interest in all kinds of literature, from the ancient Greeks to writers of Lewis’s own time.  Many Christians only know a few small parts of Lewis’s output, but, like G.K. Chesterton, Lewis wrote about many interesting subjects, not just apologetics. His main interest even before he became a Christian was literature and especially Medieval and Renaissance literature.

Especially interesting to me are the reviews of his friend J.R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien shared with Lewis an interest in the literature of Scandinavia and Iceland during the Middle Ages. Lewis was influential both in his having Tolkien read his drafts to him and as part of an unofficial club called the “Inklings,” which also included friends of Lewis like the writer Charles Williams. This makes Lewis’s reviews all the more interesting.

Christianity influenced everything Lewis wrote, but that wasn’t always as directly visible as in his more famous books, such as the Narnia series.  Studying various aspects of his life has been very rewarding for me. This book is a good place to start.

For further reading:

Amazon/Barnes & Noble/IndieBound

“C.S. Lewis: An Unseen Essay on Truth and Fiction,” The Guardian, November 21, 2013