Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

C.S. Lewis / Nov 29, 2020

Surprised by Joy The Shape of My Early Life Surprised by Joy The Shape of My Early Life is a partial autobiography describing Lewis conversion to Christianity The book overall contains less detail concerning specific events than typical autobio

  • Title: Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
  • Author: C.S. Lewis
  • ISBN: 9780006280835
  • Page: 471
  • Format: Paperback
  • Surprised by Joy The Shape of My Early Life is a partial autobiography describing Lewis conversion to Christianity The book overall contains less detail concerning specific events than typical autobiographies This is because his purpose in writing wasn t primarily historical His aim was to identify describe the events surrounding his accidental discovery of ampSurprised by Joy The Shape of My Early Life is a partial autobiography describing Lewis conversion to Christianity The book overall contains less detail concerning specific events than typical autobiographies This is because his purpose in writing wasn t primarily historical His aim was to identify describe the events surrounding his accidental discovery of consequent search for the phenomenon he labelled Joy This word was the best translation he could make of the German idea of Sehnsucht, longing That isn t to say the book is devoid of information about his life He recounts his early years with a measure of amusement sometimes mixed with pain However, while he does describe his life, the principal theme of the book is Joy as he defined it This Joy was a longing so intense for something so good so high up it couldn t be explained with words He s struck with stabs of joy throughout life He finally finds what it s for at the end He writes about his experiences at Malvern College in 1913, aged 15 Though he described the school as a very furnace of impure loves he defended the practice as being the only chink left thru which something spontaneous uncalculating could creep in The book s last two chapters cover the end of his search as he moves from atheism to theism then from theism to Christianity He ultimately discovers the true nature purpose of Joy its place in his own life The book isn t connected with his unexpected marriage in later life to Joy Gresham The marriage occurred long after the period described, though not long after the book was published His friends were quick to notice the coincidence, remarking he d really been Surprised by Joy Surprised by Joy is also an allusion to Wordsworth s poem, Surprised by Joy Impatient As The Wind , relating an incident when Wordsworth forgot the death of his beloved daughter.

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      Published :2020-08-05T21:57:16+00:00

    About "C.S. Lewis"

      • C.S. Lewis

        Librarian Note There is than one author in the database with this nameIVE STAPLES LEWIS 1898 1963 was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954 He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement He wrote than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.Lewis was married to poet Joy Davidman.


    1. C.S. Lewis, the man that "thought his way to God" (according to the back of the book), isn't really all man - he's part reading machine. Everything, every sentence, in his spiritual autobiography is laden with some classical allusion to a work that the normal person hasn't read in Greek or Latin.After the death of his mother in his youth, Lewis enters a long lasting period of atheism. Although he knew epistemologically that God didn't exist, he still felt that there was something else "out there [...]

    2. Okay, I started this today and finished it today, and will probably reread it. This has happened with many of Lewis' books. I've read The Four Loves several times and am getting ready to reread Miracles. There often seems to be a lot that I don't get first time through.This is a wonderful book with some less than wonderful parts. By that I mean discourses on difficult or unpleasant events and/or topics. I won't try to go over this volume in any kind of detail. I suspect it will "strike" differen [...]

    3. There's not much to say about this book, as it is famous, and has been reviewed many times. It's about C. S. Lewis' conversion from atheism to Christianity. He identifies a quality which he calls "Joy," which occurs in what he describes as "a stab of joy." This is the a moment of perfect happiness occasioned by . . . well, it differs. Lewis explains that he got three stabs of joy in his youth: once from the a model garden in a biscuit-tin lid that his brother had made, once while reading Beatix [...]

    4. "Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back.everything is different."I can easily mark this as my favorite autobiography. It didn't drone on and on as most others do. Starting out in his childhood, spreading through his years at Oxford and when he served as professor, and ending shortly after his conversion to Christianity, there was insight for almost every season of life. I've been a long-time reader of many of the classic Lewis works (Mere Christianity, Narnia, etc. [...]

    5. Considering all the things we’ve studied at New Saint Andrews—and the way it keeps coming back to one thing—I find it highly interesting that it was essentially C.S. Lewis’ love of story that brought him to Christ. If you think about it, story is what all of his experiences of Sehnsucht have in common. Most of the Sehnsucht took place while reading poetry or literature, and if not, it was because it transported him to the places in those stories. For example, looking up at the night sky [...]

    6. C. S. Lewis, one of J. R. R. Tolkien's best friends and creator of the Narnia Chronicles, among others. Pure genius. Period.

    7. Not quite an autobiography24 May 2014 It is a little difficult to categorise this book since while in part it is an autobiography, Lewis goes to great pains to exclaim otherwise. One could also suggest that it falls into a category of Christian literature known as a testimony: a story that is told by the author as to how they became a Christian. However this particular book sort of does not follow the two forms that that type of literature takes, which are:1) I was a really, really, really bad p [...]

    8. Interesting to read immediately after The Pilgrim's Regress. I could see how the latter was an allegorical representation of his own conversion. I only wish he'd written a regular autobiography as well, for I'm very interested to hear of his later life in his own words.Recommended for: Ages 15 to Adult (mentions of sinful behavior by the other boys at school, and mentions of certain temptations)Many years ago, I read the first few chapters of this book as research for a speech on C.S. Lewis. I s [...]

    9. This book wasn't what I was expecting. At first, I had expected it to be the story of how Lewis met his wife, Joy, as was portrayed in the movie SHADOWLANDS with Anthony Hopkins. Upon learning that such was not the case, I then expected it to be a straight-forward autobiographical account of Lewis' life. Wrong again. Actually, SURPRISED BY JOY is a memoir about Lewis' formative years. More specifically, it deals with Lewis' early rejection of Christianity and the manner in which he eventually re [...]

    10. This was interesting, but considering the very lengthy and detailed set-up, the denouement was hasty and disappointing. It barely brought together any of the varied strands he'd investigated; especially, his final treatment of “Joy” is relegated to one brief paragraph on the final page, and he fails to explain how Christianity satisfies/fulfills this feeling. He believes it does, as he says in Mere Christianity: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only [...]

    11. "Surprised by Joy" este autobiografia intelectuala a lui C.S. Lewis si prezinta trecerea lui de la crestinismul din copilarie la ateism, la teism si apoi la un crestinism matur. In prima parte a cartii descrie copilaria in Irlanda, relatia cu tatal si fratele lui, apoi diversele scoli si internate prin care a trecut, anii petrecuti la Oxford si experienta primului razboi mondial. Intors la Oxford dupa citiva ani, intilneste mai multi intelectuali crestini, printre care si J.R.R. Tolkien. Lecturi [...]

    12. I love The Chronicles of Narnia. I even like The Screwtape Letters. But, I haven't really connected with Lewis' essays as much. I've never really been able to follow his train of thought. Maybe it's his brittishness, or perhaps his discursive mind, but I just can't seem to hang with his discourse. However, I love his imaginative works! And oh man, I love his Till We Have Faces. Anybody who can write such literature deserves further investigation. Well, after reading this autobiography, I'm even [...]

    13. cel mai ciuda mi'e ca nu imi las notitele proaspete, atunci cand citesc cartea. pentru ca dupa aceea nu mai ii simt pulsul in acelasi fel, nu mai este totul proaspat in mine si apoi nu mai am aceeasi usuratate in exprimarea insemnatatii scrierii respective. asta ii asa, in general, dar si in special pentru cartea asta si lewisa ca o sa urmeze niste notite care mie imi par asa seci, serbede.i pare rau. asta e! invatatura de minte!mi'a placut:* franchetea lui de la inceput:) ca aceasta carte nu ii [...]

    14. "Really, a young Atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side." C.S. Lewis should know, he was one.It is a rare thing to find a book that speaks to you so thoroughly and on so many levels. This was a complete surprise, something I rather stumbled upon because of a reference to it in another book. And what a surprise! Reading each chapter, each paragraph, each sentence, felt much like catching up with an old and dear friend, someone who understands your [...]

    15. This is Lewis's spiritual autobiography of sorts. It traces his life from childhood experiences in church as the grandson of a clergyman to ignoring God as a youth to the trenches in which he fought in WWI to his Oxford days as a full-out Atheist to his close friendships with JRR Tolkien and a few others that sped along his ultimate conversion. It's written in a very rational and slightly detached way (as is everything Lewis writes). It's interesting to see how his childhood shaped him into the [...]

    16. I'm pleasantly surprised by Surprised by Joy. I've attempted a couple of his other books which I couldn't get my head around, and indeed I have read other books I understood better but rated less than this one, but there really was something quite special about Surprised by Joy which kept me enthralled to the end. Maybe it was the journey, maybe because I knew a lot of the places he mentioned, maybe because I saw a bit of Lewis in me (only without the same intellect). Whatever it was, It's a boo [...]

    17. 1) I am rather dismayed at the education system CS Lewis had to go through - it was hard to read about school after school of terrible pedagogy, abuse and neglect.2) I greatly appreciate his intellectual honesty - I now trust much more his quick refutation of certain ideas in other books, because I see that he once held these ideas in the highest regard, loved them and lived them; and therefore, rejected their most compelling version. I can almost picture him creating these models of the world i [...]

    18. In this autobiographical account of how he tumbled accidentally into the Christian faith, Lewis talks about the first time he went to his alma mater, Oxford. He got off the train and began walking. After a mile or two he turned around, bewildered. There, behind me, far away, never more beautiful since, was the fabled cluster of spires and towers. I had come out of the station on the wrong side and been all this time walking into what was even then the mean and sprawling suburb of Botley. I did n [...]

    19. Unlike some of the other Lewis works I've read, this book meandered around for a while and was hard to follow during Lewis' early years. Maybe I just wasn't the type of kid Lewis was -- totally interested in fantasy and mythology. Whatever it was, I was pretty bored and confused for the first 150 pages.Also, the bullies at British prep schools are downright cruel. Remind me never to send my future kids there.Then it got much better. As Lewis entered his college years and started reading some of [...]

    20. Mostly, I was charmed by this painstaking account of a spiritual pilgrimage, by CSL's awkward earnestness, if not his logic. It appears that he was led, kicking and trying to wriggle out of Divinity's fierce embrace, pinned by his own scrupulous honesty and reasoning. That he still sympathized with those who still cling to their atheist beliefs was surprising, but when he admitted that he still cringed at their bad arguements,he endeared himself to me forever as a sensitive, scrupulous man of in [...]

    21. There is so much that I love (absolutely love!) about this book. First of all, it's a book by CS Lewis. Secondly, it's about his life. Thirdly, it's about his life with learning and books. Fourthly, it's a story of a journey of thought from atheism to Christianity. Many of the quotes that people love so much come from this book. This is definitely one to reread many times, and I can't wait to look into some of the books he recommends. There is something about Lewis that makes me think I could ha [...]

    22. One can learn so much from C. S. Lewis, feast on the beautiful language and sophisticated literary and historical references, not quite get everything, but still revel in the mysteriousness of it all. I loved this book for more than one reason. For me, it wasn't only about him becoming Christian; this book is an honest account of Lewis' self-discovery and the series of experiences--pleasant and otherwise--that molded his personality and made him the legend that he was, has been, and continues to [...]

    23. An excellent book! For C.S. Lewis fans and more. If interested in the full discussion from the Inklings Series, join in! booksandbeverages/2017/01/

    24. Reading a book a second time a long time after the first reading often means one sees it in a completely different way, and this one is no exception. It is a spiritual autobiography, an account of how C.S. Lewis abandoned the Christian faith of his childhood, and returned to it in later life. When I first read it, I had not read many of his books. I was still at school, and so it was the parts of the book where he was a schoolboy that stood out in my memory, comparing the schools he had attended [...]

    25. This man just has a way with words. Many laugh out loud moments as well as honest admissions of his own faults and defects that shaped his early life. A helpful background to the types of characters and issues Lewis incarnates in the stories and essays he writes. Like Lewis, may we follow the signposts of Joy to the city of eternal Joy.

    26. Brilliant C.S. Lewis as usual. Plenty of it was over my head (I’ve never heard of most of the philosophers he references, much less have any familiarity with their works) and as I have experienced with most of his books, this one often left me feeling very ignorant in the presence of his towering intellect. That said, persevering to the final paragraph made the 18 or so months this book has been in my “currently reading” pile worth it, and answered, in a very Narnian way, the question of h [...]

    27. An enjoyable read but to those looking for Lewis' fantastic theology this may not be worth your time. It is a lot more autobiography of his early life then his spiritual journey. To be fair he warns that this is an autobiography in the opening of the book but I was expecting maybe a 50/50 split, when in actuality he only really gets into the meat of his conversion around the 230 mark (out of 275 pages). Again though, still an enjoyable read with many interesting tidbits from a great mans life

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