Finishing “The Completion of C.S. Lewis”

Finishing “The Completion of C.S. Lewis” November 18, 2022

Image: Crossway

In some ways I suspect this will be the least popular of the three book trilogy by Harry Lee Poe. (The first reviewed here, the second here.) In The Completion of C.S. Lewis (1945-1963): From War to Joy, Poe gives us an overview of the last eighteen years of Lewis’ life. In this stretch of time, he’s kind of a boring professor doing boring professor things. Which isn’t to say Poe’s writing is boring! As a boring professor myself (albeit not nearly as good a one as Lewis by any measure), I enjoyed this book the most. But there wasn’t war or much in the way of inner turmoil, and as a result I suspect this one will be held as the ‘lesser’ of the set.

That said, this is also the book where we get into Narnia, and Poe engages directly with the claims by Michael Ward in Planet Narnia (which I have not read, and so am not equipped to affirm or deny), as well as with other biographies of varying levels of quality. I won’t say which are the best and which the worst, though I generally agree with Poe’s conclusions (and if Poe’s doesn’t end up at the top of ‘the best’ list, then the world is more insane than I had thought).

In addition to the Narnia books, we get the background to A Grief ObservedLetters to Malcolm, Lewis’ letters and essay collections, and several other works. We also see Lewis move to Cambridge and get married, only to have to watch his wife die of a particularly terrible cancer.

As I’ve said in the reviews of the other biographies in this trilogy (and if I haven’t, I should have), Lewis is the dominant writer in Christianity in the 20th century, and we are all obligated to know about him. These books are the best way to do that to date.

Highly recommended.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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