Surprised by Laughter The Comic World of C.S. Lewis (Book Review)

My mother was the first to place a book by C.S. Lewis in my young hands. I can remember my every sense being drawn upon as I ripped through those pages. During my college years C.S. and I met again as a college professor read from the Screwtape Letters. As a pastor and preacher I always have one of his books on my desk. Though I never met the man, the past thirty five years of my life have been impacted by his work.

In Dr. Terry Lindvall’s book, “Surprised by Laughter the Comic World of C.S. Lewis”, I finally got to meet and laugh with an old friend as we reviewed his life’s work together. This book is neatly divided into six parts each focusing on a differing type of humor. These parts contain short chapters which focus the lens on the origin of this type of humor, his use of it and the outcome in his writing. For a large book (454 pages) understanding this breakdown is important for readers who may be off put due to its size.

I have heard it said, one should write what they know. In this work a reader will see firsthand the connection of C.S to his Father, his faith, his influences, favorite time periods, sense of adventure, disdain for psychotherapy, use of animals, fables, children and even Lewis’ self-deprecating humor. Lindvall seems to leave no stone unturned.

This book is quite easy to pick up and read in short bursts or long drives. I hope the cost of the paperback will make it accessible for many of today’s younger readers just beginning a journey with C.S. Millennial’s desire relationship and connection at a deeper level to mentors than previous generations and this work supports that inclination in a substantial way. I hope college professors will consider utilizing this book. It is the kind of supportive reading destined to be on every summer reading list.

The index is very good and would allow anyone writing on a specific Lewis work to connect to background on that particular writing.

From his childhood to his marriage and everything in between I now feel more connected to the awkward kid who grew and utilized catastrophe in fable to illustrate the coming of future joy. As I continue my lifelong connection to his work I hope I will remember to pull this book down and consider the man behind the pen as I peruse these pages.

This review was written in exchange for a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

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