C. S. LEWIS AT THE BREAKFAST TABLE by James--Ed. Como

C. S. LEWIS AT THE BREAKFAST TABLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Lewis' friends, acquaintances, and former students, two dozen in all, relive their years with him. Their recollections run the gamut from detached (""one simply never got near him"") to dithyrambic (""the greatest man I have ever known""), with most of the members of this inevitably partisan, pious, clerical-academic in-group both awed by his genius and warmed by his hearty, unassuming camaraderie. In the light of their memories Lewis appears as a thoroughly normal, sensible character, shy and self-involved behind a mask of studied bluntness, an eager, sometimes fierce, debater who overwhelmed opponents with hammer blows of logic and erudition, an almost ostentatiously reactionary thinker (he styled himself a ""dinosaur"" and ""Neanderthaler""), and an archetypal Oxford don. None of this is news--a good third of the essays here have already been published elsewhere, and in any case the Kilby-Gilbert and Green-Hooper biographies exhaustively document a life that was by any standard uneventful. Still, there's a certain fascination in viewing a man of Lewis' stature from so many different angles. Como's book portrays Lewis and his world in rich, convincing detail, and should prove useful to students of his immense and varied oeuvre. Most of the contributors, naturally enough, rate that body of work very high indeed, although John Wain, in what is perhaps the best piece of all, shrewdly notes that Lewis ""was fighting a perpetual rear-guard action in defense of an army that had long since marched away."" Be that as it may, Como focuses on Lewis the man rather than Lewis the Christian apologist, and the picture he gives us is impressive and, despite a touch of priggishness, broadly appealing.

Pub Date: June 18th, 1979
Publisher: Macmillan