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Clive Lewis’ Biography and Books Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: May 30th, 2020

Background to the author

Clive Lewis had an eventful upbringing that would gradually see him mold into the person that he became in his adult life. It was full of education as most scholars were at a time when there were many challenges that he faced. His articulate method of thinking got him to start evoking thoughts of categorizing love, thus, his wayward writing. Grappling at a time when most people were ignorant of their inner feelings, Clive Lewis managed to climb out of the pit of sunken feeling and bring out some of the most thought provoking, every day scenarios. The renowned author, Clive Staples Lewis, was sired in Ireland in the city of Belfast in the year 1898 on the 29th day of November.

His father, Albert James Lewis, who was born in the year 1863 and passed away in 1929, was a legal representative who had been born and raised in Ireland after his father repositioned himself from Wales in the midst of the prior century. Lewis’s maternal parent was the offspring of an Anglican Minster in the Irish Papacy. She was called Florence Augusta Lewis, née Hamilton and she lived between the years 1862 and 1908. Clive had an elder brother named Warren Hamilton Lewis. He changed his name at the age of four after an incident that involved the death of his favorite pet dog. He actually refused to answer to any other name apart from the one that had been bestowed upon his dog. Clive loved animals all his young life and he started writing at a tender age. He would replicate some of the stories that he read written by Beatrix Potter and would create his own versions and animals in his stories (Lewis Four loves 68). He managed to create the world of Boxen with his brother where the animals ruled the world that they lived in. He was in love with reading and would saunter into his father’s library and get hold of all the books that he could, and go through them thoroughly.

This made him quite adept to reading and he would take to books like a duck to water. At one point, he stated that locating the right manuscript to read was as stress-free as finding a new vane of pasture in a meadow. Private tutors helped with his initial schooling at home. This was prior to his being shipped off to Hertfordshire in the region of Watford. Here, he attended Wynyard School in the year 1908. This was following the death of his mother. She passed away after suffering from cancer. Luckily, for him, his brother was already enrolled there and it was easy for him to settle in without problems. Unfortunately, the school had to close down due to a serious lack of students. The headmaster was then committed to a mental asylum after losing his faculties. He was called Robert “Oldie” Capron. Clive proceeded to Campbell College on the eastern side of Belfast. This place was situated almost one mile from his home. He had to leave after a short while due to some respiratory problems that he developed. He was transferred to a health resort town called Malvern in Worcestershire.

He attended Cherborg House, which was a preparatory school. In this period, Clive abandoned his Christian hood and declared that he had become an atheist. He gained more interest in the occult, as well as mythology. He registered in Malvern College in month of September of the year 1913 and stayed until the middle month of the subsequent year. He experienced some stiff competition socially as he stated later. He left the school and an old friend of his fathers who was a former headmaster of Lurgan College tutored him. He was called William T. Kirkpatrick. One of the things that always caught his full and undivided attention was the legends, as well as, songs of what he termed as Northernness. This was the ancient literature of the Scandinavian region that was more or less preserved in the Icelandic sagas.

His internal longing that he later named “joy”, emanated from the legends. He fell head over heels in love with nature and he stated that its beauty brought memories of the tales of the North and he also stated that the North brought back memories of the beautiful aspects of nature. The tales and epics that he would write as a teenager on Boxen veered and he started utilizing various graphic types that included theatricals as well as larger-than-life poetry in a bid to regain his interests in folklore of the Norse, as well as, the regular world. Kirkpatrick brought out his great interest in the literature from Greece. He also brought forth his interest in Greek mythology as well as sharpening his skills in debating and offering sound reasoning power. His enormous efforts led to his being offered a scholarship at the Oxford University College. Lewis went to war in the First World War, and suffered injuries, which left him depressed as well as homesick. He reverted from being an atheist later on and returned to Christian hood (Lewis Mere Christianity 77). He had been separated from his Christian upbringing after he started viewing it as being tedious. He became a successful writer after he managed to expose most of the feelings that may have been suppressed in most people and evoked feelings that may never have been interpreted in the way that he did.

A summary of the main points or themes

This book explores and elucidates on the nature of love from a Christian based angle, through experiments of thoughts. In the initial phase of the book, Clive Lewis admits that he misunderstood the words of St. John “God is Love”, as an artless starting, point to speak on the subject matter. This would be interpreted later on to depict a couple of diverse types of love. These are the need-love and the gift-love. The former is the love such as the mother to child love while the latter is the love such as the love for man by God. Clive Lewis discovered that the natures of these uncomplicated classifications of love are more complex than they may first appear to people.

Lewis formulated his ideas and notions for the basis of his topic from this, by exploring the natural aspects of pleasure and then he divides love into four different categories. This does not imply that the premier classes can operate without the lower ones to support them. The categories are mostly based partly on the four Greek words for love. These are affection, friendship, eros and charity (Crooks 37). Lewis likens the corruption of love to insolently depict that it is not what it actually is, to Lucifer, who was an archangel at one time, and deviated himself by his pride and arrogance, and finally fell into decadence.

Storge (affection) – affection can be termed as fondness via familiarity, mostly among members of a family or rather individuals who have formed a gathering by chance. This form of love may be defined as the utmost emotive, natural and widely subtle modes of love. It is considered as being natural because it is present among people with no sense of compulsion, and is considered as emotive due to the fact that it is resultant from affection due to understanding. It is also considered as most widely diffused, due to the fact that it offers the least amount of attention to some of the characteristics that may be believed to be valued or worthy of love and as such, is capable of transcending majority of the discriminating aspects. In an ironic twist to the tale, the strength that it exudes is what mainly makes it most vulnerable. The emotion of affection appears to in built or rather ready-made according to Clive Lewis, and as a result, individuals come to anticipate, or even mandate its presence. This is regardless of their conducts and the natural results it brings forth.

Philia (friendship) – This is the love that is shared between friends. Friendship is termed as the tight bond that exists between individuals who may be sharing common wellbeing or undertakings in their lives. Clive Lewis is able to set apart friendship love from other forms of love. Lewis is able to describe friendship love as being the least animate, extroverted, natural and indispensable of the loves that people have, and he insists that the human species does not require friendship so as to breed. Clive Lewis further states that friendship is overly philosophical since it is selected without restrictions. Clive Lewis is able to elucidate the fact that factual companionships, such as the lovingness between Jonathan and the renowned personality, David in the scriptures, is one of the knacks that has been well and truly lost to people today. He exudes a sturdy dislike for the manner in which the people in society today have taken friendship for granted. There are a number of poems that he uses to relate to true friendship. Lewis elucidates on this issue by saying, “to the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it” (Mere Christianity 77). Clive Lewis makes the bold assertion that many people in society do not appreciate true friendship because they have never quite been through it or experienced it enough before, so that they may know what the true value it stands for entails.

Eros (romance) – This is described as love in the sense of loving or being in love with somebody. This is distinctly exclusive from sexuality and Clive Lewis calls it Venus, as much he does not go in depth into talking about sensual goings-on and the mystical reference in any sense, whether Christian or non-Christian. Lewis recognizes eros as apathetic. He states that it is Venus that wants the carnal features of an association while on the other hand, eros wishes for the passionate association with the counterpart. Clive Lewis, in a synopsis, states that people who may utterly give themselves to it may consider eros as their center of worship. He depicts that it can be a tremendously philosophical experience for individuals who may vow to stay together to the last points in their lives.

Agape (absolute love) – Charity is the type of love that may bring forward thoughtfulness as well as tenderness, irrespective of the state of affairs. In his statement, Clive Lewis depicts that this is the extreme level of loves and he views it as one of the highest Christian virtues. The episode on the subject matter points to the desire to subsidize the natural loves to the love of the one and true God. He is full of charitable love, which is also considered as sacrificial love.

An evaluation of the book’s usefulness

The book is useful in terms of getting individuals to understand the aspects of love in a Christian context. All Christian denominations can learn from his teachings and get their followers to believe that the categories of love can actually enhance their lives once they get to acknowledge them as they are. The book is also useful in that many other writers have been inspired by the teachings and they have elucidated on the aspects of love from diverse angles that proffer unique thoughts. Many books have been inspired by his writings and have helped many people get along with their lives (Lewis Reflections 44). The book also depicts a situation whereby it shows the need for others in people’s lives. Those who may assume that they may not require other people in their lives may start seeing things in a different way and get to appreciate other people and not view them as obstacles or hindrances in their lives.

Works Cited

Crooks, Robert. Our Sexuality. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage, 2007. Print.

Lewis, Clive. Mere Christianity. New York: Harper Collins, 2001. Print.

Lewis, Clive. Reflections on the Psalms. New Jersey: Fount, 1958. Print.

Lewis, Clive. The Four Loves. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace, 1991. Print.

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