The Narnian

  • by Alan Jacobs
  • Narrated by Alan Jacobs
  • 9 hrs and 48 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The White Witch, Aslan, fauns and talking beasts, centaurs and epic battles between good and evil: these have become a part of our collective imagination through the classic volumes of The Chronicles of Narnia. Yet who was the man who created this world? This audiobook attempts to unearth the making of the first Narnian, C. S. Lewis himself.One of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably the most influential religious writer of his day, Lewis was also an Oxford don and a scholar of medieval literature who loved to debate philosophy at his local pub. Yet one of the most intriguing aspects of Clive Staples Lewis remains unanswered. How did a bachelor professor, nearly 50, and living in a wholly adult world, turn to the writing of stories for children, stories that would become among the most popular and beloved ever written?Alan Jacobs masterfully tells the story of C.S. Lewis. From his childhood days in Ireland to his horrific experiences in the trenches of the First World War, to his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkein (and other members of the "Inklings") and his remarkable late-life marriage to Joy Davidman, Jacobs traces the events and people that shaped Lewis's philosophy, theology, and fiction. The story of a profound mind and extraordinary imagination, The Narnian is a remarkable tale of a man who knew great loss and great delight, but who knew above all that the world holds far more richness and meaning than the average eye can see.

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What the Critics Say

"Amidst a sea of entry-level Lewis portraits being published this fall, this more substantive book is for hard-core Lewis lovers eager to soak up historical minutiae and savor salient Lewis quotes for years to come."(Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Narnian

C.S Lewis is a theologian and Christian writer. He was good friends with fellow writer and academic J.R.R. Tolkien. Both Lewis and Tolkien were members of the Inklings, a writers group that met regularly during the time Lewis was writing The Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien was writing The Lord of the Rings. The Narnian is the story of C.S Lewis from his childhood in Ireland to his experiences in WWI to his highly interesting association with Tolkien.

The most amazing part of this to me is how the experiences of up-and-comers Lewis and Tolkien in the twentieth century parallels that of the experiences of up-and-coming authors in the twenty-first century and most notably, my favorite author.
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- Stephie

portrait of a very human Lewis

While not a simplistic bio of Lewis, it's not overly academic either. Neither is it (thankfully) an interpretation key for Chronicles of Narnia. Although Jacobs' thesis is that Lewis expressed his imaginative world best (consciously or unconsciously) through Narnia, he covers all Lewis' work. Jacobs creates a skilful and entertaining biography, weaving together smoothly discussion of Lewis' fiction and nonfiction with bio details and some interpretation of those life experiences.

Occasionally, however, the book sounds like C.S. Lewis for Dummies--Jacobs will cite a passage of Lewis (quite well expressed by itself) then explain it in his own words. Jacobs assumes the listener is unfamiliar with early/mid century British culture and details the school system etc. that would be familiar to even occasional readers of Brit lit. There are also short digressions about Chesterton, Housemen and others who influenced Lewis--not enough to bore someone familiar with them, but enough to situate a reader who isn't. It's very much a conversion story and an exposition of Lewis' attacks on moral relativism, instumentalism and conformity, but the bio ends with the older, wiser Lewis transcending the words and doctrines of the middle-aged apologist with images.

Overall an enjoyable listen, neither heavy nor lightweight, a bio skilfully and lovingly written and narrated by Jacobs so as to surprise with joy even a tepid fan of CS Lewis like me.
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- connie "Narrative makes the world go round."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-12-2005
  • Publisher: HarperAudio