C.S. Lewis wrote the first books I fell in love with as a kid, and he continues to be my “go to” author as an adult. One of the things which makes Lewis so widely read and appreciated is the variety of genres in which he wrote. This is the subject of an insightful book by Jerry Root and Mark Neal—The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. Lewis.
Lewis wrote satire, poetry, literary criticism, autobiography, apologetic, children’s literature, and science fiction, to name just a few of the genres. Scholars who study his works point to seventeen literary genres in which he was adept. The fact that he could write so eloquently in this many genres is amazing, but what’s even more amazing, say Root and Neal, is that he could stick to one genre, even when it would be so tempting to shift to another mid-book.
Lewis was fond of talking about the time he felt his imagination had been “baptized.” That is to say, when he was aware of the power of using imagination to open others’ minds to new worlds and ideas. Those who have read the Narnia books or the space trilogy books know how imaginative Lewis’ writing can be. But what Root and Neal point out is that this amazing imagination was on full display in all of the different genres in which Lewis wrote.
The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. Lewis would be a great pre-read the next time you are going to read something from C.S. Lewis. Each chapter in this book zeros-in on a particular Lewis book, so reading that chapter prior to reading the corresponding C.S. Lewis book will prime your mind to spot the brilliant imagination that was on display in every book he wrote.
I am an Abingdon Press book reviewer.