Saturday, February 22, 2014

The A-Z of C.S. Lewis: An encyclopedia of his life, thought and writings by Colin Duriez, ©2013

   The A-Z of C.S. Lewis has been written to help an exploration and discovery (or rediscovery!) of his world. The rich variety of Lewis's writings is part of an integrated whole. He combined reasoning and imagination in a unified and bright vision of reality -- and of the God he discovered, whom he came to see as the giver of reality.
   --author Colin Duriez

A very nice hardcover copy, this book will be enjoyed by those who have read C.S. Lewis's works, or wish to further explore what he has written. In alphabetical listings, peers, locations and characters within his writings are explained and in which volume they are mentioned. This is a listing, not a narrative, in encyclopedic form. For instance, here is a sampling. The asterisks refer to a listing under the name starred.

Bennett, J.A.W. (1911-1981)  A New Zealander, Inkling*, and colleague of Lewis's at Magdalen College, Oxford* University, from 1947. In 1964 he took on Lewis's post as Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University. His inaugural lecture was devoted to the subject of Lewis and entitled "The Humane Medievalist" (1965). (46)

Stormness Head  A distinctive peak in Narnia's* southern mountains in The Horse and His Boy*. Clouds assembling around the peak signify bad weather, hence the peak's name. The main pass into Narnia from Archenland* runs through Stormness Gap nearby. (289)

Strawberry  The horse of London cabby*, Frank*, in The Magician's Nephew*, who is turned into a talking and flying horse by Aslan* and renamed Fledge*. (289)

wardrobe  A wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe*, made out of a tree that grew from a magic apple brought from Narnia* by Digory Kirke*. It stands in an empty room in his rambling country house. The wardrobe provides a portal into Narnia. Lewis was inspired by wardrobes in stories of two authors he admired, George MacDonald* and E. Nesbit*. In Phantastes*, Anodos enters a mysterious wardrobe in a spare chamber; from there he is transported into Fairy Land, where he is inflicted with a baleful shadow he cannot lose. In E. Nesbit's* short story "The Aunt and Amabel", Amabel finds her way into a magical world through a "Bigwardrobeinaspareroom". (333-334)

I enjoyed the mention of the Pevensie children (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy), giving an overview of their positions in the Narnia stories. Lewis discovered that a story concerning several children of varied characters and ages would grip the attention of a young reader far more than a tale involving simply one character. With children from the same family, the likelihood of spats and angry clashes would increase. (238)

Also included is a bibliography of C.S. Lewis: Writings of C.S. Lewis; Posthumous writings and collections; Select list of books about C.S. Lewis.

Colin Duriez was for many years a commissioning editor at Inter-Varsity Press UK. He has subsequently appeared as a commentator on DVDs of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, and BBC television's The Worlds of Fantasy. He is also the author of The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship, and Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, and has contributed to definitive reference works relating to Tolkien such as The Tolkien Encyclopedia (Routledge). Learn more about Colin at:

***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for inviting me to be part of the book tour for The A-Z of C.S. Lewis and for having a review copy sent to me. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

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