Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

by C. S. Lewis

NOOK Book(eBook)

$8.99 View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now


A repackaged edition of the revered author’s spiritual memoir, in which he recounts the story of his divine journey and eventual conversion to Christianity.

C. S. Lewis—the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other beloved classics—takes readers on a spiritual journey through his early life and eventual embrace of the Christian faith. Lewis begins with his childhood in Belfast, surveys his boarding school years and his youthful atheism in England, reflects on his experience in World War I, and ends at Oxford, where he became "the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." As he recounts his lifelong search for joy, Lewis demonstrates its role in guiding him to find God.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062565440
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/14/2017
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 67,653
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Clive 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, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more 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 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 have been transformed into three major motion pictures.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) fue uno de los intelectuales más importantes del siglo veinte y podría decirse que fue el escritor cristiano más influyente de su tiempo. Fue profesor particular de literatura inglesa y miembro de la junta de gobierno en la Universidad Oxford hasta 1954, cuando fue nombrado profesor de literatura medieval y renacentista en la Universidad Cambridge, cargo que desempeñó hasta que se jubiló. Sus contribuciones a la crítica literaria, literatura infantil, literatura fantástica y teología popular le trajeron fama y aclamación a nivel internacional. C. S. Lewis escribió más de treinta libros, lo cual le permitió alcanzar una enorme audiencia, y sus obras aún atraen a miles de nuevos lectores cada año. Sus más distinguidas y populares obras incluyen Las Crónicas de Narnia, Los Cuatro Amores, Cartas del Diablo a Su Sobrino y Mero Cristianismo.

Date of Birth:

November 29, 1898

Date of Death:

November 22, 1963

Place of Birth:

Belfast, Nothern Ireland

Place of Death:

Headington, England


Oxford University 1917-1923; Elected fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford in 1925

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting. It would be best classified as an autobiography, but as the author notes at the beginning, it isn't a normal autobiography. The reason for that is because the book is really written about the author's search for 'joy,' and how that eventually led to him to faith in Jesus Christ. It has always been interesting to me how the individual who was probably the most vocal defender of Christianity from a logical perspective in the 20th century was an athiest before being a Christian. This book lets you see how the transformation took place. It is easy to get wrapped up in minor details of this book. For example, I did not know that C. S. Lewis was actually Irish, and not English. But he is Irish (North Irish, if that matters to you), and where he grew up had (as it always will) an affect on his thinking and beliefs early in life. I also didn't know that private English schools in the early 20th centure were hotbeds of homosexuality. It doesn't really mean much, and the author just notes that it occurred, and doesn't even pass judgement on it, but it was something that had never once crossed my mind as being possible. Stuff like that could lead you off track, but the way that the author logically works through all others ideas and in the end finds that Christianity is the only one viable is really fascinating, and is the true meat of the book. Highly recommended for C. S. Lewis fans still recommended, but not so highly, for those of you who care about the logical side of Christian faith.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In C.S. Lewis' book, Surprised by Joy, he describes his own childhood and young adulthood experiences and maps his meandering path to conversion. C.S. Lewis is both candid and reticent at the same time. He describes many of his most personal struggles and insights, while witholding some important details from the reader, and exagerrating others. Lewis does not pretend to be an objective observer of his own life. He tells the story as he means to tell it, nothing more and nothing less. C.S. Lewis enthusiasts will proably not find this book to be joyful and uplifting, but they may find it inspiring to follow C.S. Lewis' steps from atheism to Christianity. For those who 'read to know we are not alone,' they will indeed get their wish. In Surprised by Joy, they will find a truly genuine person.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I grew up in the United States and never attended boarding school, I found amazing similarities between Lewis' quest for understanding the existence, power and authority of our Divine Creator - and my own. Lewis was not a theologian, but in terms of relating human experience to Christian faith, there was none better in the 20th Century. The Four Loves, Mere Christianity and his works on grieving (written after the death of his wife) are all excellent for a reader desiring to better understand his or her own experiences.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Marvelous! Here you meet the wonderfully complex man Lewis really was. In love with books and ideas, he was the product of a passionate Welshman father, and a cool, aristocratic mother. A quirky, fascinating, readable autobiography.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a most remarkable account of one's conversion to belief. It is the eloquent yet highly readable language that Lewis uses which enables the reader to relate to his way of thinking. Lewis ultimately realizes that 'before God closed in on me, I was offered...a moment of wholly free choice...I could open the door or keep it shut...' This autobiography will fascinate the person who is perhaps searching for God or is unsure of God's existence. It will present a rather different perspective of conversion as it is taken from an intellectual standpoint. Finally, this book will reaffirm the authority of the one who simply declared 'I am that I am.'
Porius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Surprised by joy--impatient as the wind. Lewis tells of his early life. His father came from Welshmen, true Welshmen who were sentimental, passionate, and rhetorical, easily moved to anger and to tenderness; men who laughed and cried a great deal and who had not much of the talent for happiness. The Hamilton's (his mother's people) were a cooler race. Their minds were critical and ironic and they had the talent for happiness in a high degree--went straight to it as experienced travelers go for the best seat in the train. You must have a heart of stone not to read on.
allenkeith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is great for anyone, but most especially for those who wonder if Christianity is substantive. It is also beneficial for those who want to strengthen their ability to articulate the substantial nature of Christianity. It merits reading because it is about a man who became a prolific writer and one of the greatest apologists for Christianity in the 20th century. C.S. Lewis in his pursuit of truth was atheistic but made a 180 degree turn about to embrace Christianity. This largely came about by those authors that he read (and, of course, by being decidedly responsive to God¿s grace). He speaks of a thread of occasions in his journey when he experienced inexplicable joy, and he gives insight into his personal experience, of the events and the persons that shaped him, and more primarily the great authors that influenced him.
GTWise on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's been quite a few years since I read this book, and I now have a far different worldview than I did when I read it, but this book continues to interest me as I continue to be interested in the possibility of and nature of religious experiences. It is no longer fresh in my mind what he wrote and, considering I read it back in High School, there was much that he discussed that probably meant nothing to me then that would mean something to me now. But that's why I'm writing this review with it as a distant memory, I want to talk about what was in the book that stuck with me.There exists a feeling that comes upon people at some times. I do not know if it comes to all people ¿ though I have no reason for supposing that it is available to some men and not others, barring the possibility that it has to be prompted by certain environmental factors that some people may not be exposed to ¿ what is important is that the feeling exists. In my opinion, the discussion of this feeling, which Lewis calls ¿joy¿ is the greatest contribution this book makes. If you are a Christian, this book is valuable as a discussion of some part of human nature that cries out for another world. If you are an atheist, this book is valuable as an example of some peculiarity of human psychology that leads people to search for God.¿If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.¿ (A quote from Mere Christianity, which I imagine was a reference to the desire that Lewis came to call ¿joy¿)You will get plenty of discussion about the rampant homosexuality in the school Lewis was sent to (which was largely a result of Lewis's own overly-sexual and overly-suspicious view of his peers. His older brother was baffled by his portrayal of their school), you will get information about Lewis's time with Kirkpatrick where he began to put on intellectual muscle from a very logical, literal, and precise teacher, you will read about him enduring time as a soldier in World War I, him attaining a prestigious teaching post, and plenty about his love for mythology ¿ especially Norse mythology. You won't find many logical proofs about what led him to Christianity. You won't get a list of facts that Lewis took into account to determine that Christianity was more likely than otherwise. The book would be worse if he included them, as they would detract from the main contribution the book makes: the personal and subjective account of what led a reasonable and intelligent man to place his faith in Christ, and his account of an experience of longing and desire called Joy.If you put aside the pretenses of commitment to facts and evidence that both sides posture with, you will get an glimpse of what can really move an intelligent man to faith ¿ whether or not you consider a move to faith to be an improvement. Or, perhaps just as likely, you yourself may have felt what Lewis called Joy: a bittersweet longing and desire, in which case this book will give you an opportunity to read how he reacted to that experience. Or maybe you think Lewis is just a ridiculous man, well, he certainly won't change your mind here, but you might find some opportunities to laugh at him if that's how you get your kicks. If religious experiences and conversion stories interest you, or if you are interested in Lewis in general, I highly recommend the book. If your main interest is apologetics, I advise skipping this one.[As a general caution, I would recommend reading this book as events that happened in C. S. Lewis's life ¿ as Jack would want you to believe them. This book was nicknamed ¿Suppressed by Jack¿ among those intimate with the details of Lewis's life. That's not to say it is not valuable, merely that it shoul
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In his introduction, Lewis makes it clear that he is not writing your normal autobiography, but is writing specifically about the events leading up to his conversion to Christianity. In some ways, I found it to be the autobiography of a mind and heart, from his early days in boarding school, his interests in mythology, and his growing dissatisfaction with the philosophies he once adhered to.I have difficulty conceiving of anyone enjoying the book unless they agreed with either his particular scholar's mind or his belief in the God of Christianity. I happen to be in the latter camp, and confess that at times his mind eluded me. Whole passages referring either to the books that most moved him or schools of modern thought of his times completely eluded my grasp, and I can only conclude that my mind must work very differently from his or that I must have a longer time on this earth before I can fully grasp his reflections on childhood, boyhood, and young adulthood. Yet then a sentence, a thought, would break through and give me pause or move me to tears. This is a book that I would reread not so much because of any initial enjoyment but because my appreciation would increase, perhaps once I read another biography or some of the classics which molded his thought.
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
C. S. Lewis's Surprised By Joy is subtitled "The Shape of My Early Life," and is mainly about his childhood and young adulthood. In this spiritual autobiography Lewis traces the slow hand of God moving in the events and influences of his young life, through his atheism and finally into his spiritual surrender when he finally, reluctantly admitted that "God was God" (228).Some things shocked me (I can't take the rampant pederasty of British public schools with quite Lewis's aplomb); other things merely surprised me. I learned a lot of things I didn't know about Lewis, such as his difficult relationship with his brilliant but eccentric father, his various boarding-school experiences, and his interest in the occult.He traces his atheism and general pessimism about life as far back as the chronic, unusually marked clumsiness he possessed even as a child. He believes that because of this clumsiness, he soon grew to expect that everything he touched would go wrong somehow, that things going well was the exception and not the rule. His mother's death of cancer when he was ten years old also had a profound effect on his worldview.Lewis also explores his early creative and rational influences. His friend Arthur had a strong part in helping Lewis appreciate what Arthur termed "Homeliness," a type of cozy beauty in sharp contrast to Lewis's passion for Wagner and Norse mythology and what he called "Northernness." This passion Arthur also shared, but rounded it with a love of simple, wholesome sights and ideas. Lewis also talks about his friend Jenkins who taught him to savor the taste of everything, even ugly things, to enjoy them fully for what they are. The influence of Lewis's strictly rationalist tutor, William Kirkpatrick, is also acknowledged as a deep debt. All of this is written in Lewis's characteristically excellent prose. I loved this passage about his final thrashings before accepting the reality of God:The fox had been dislodged from Hegelian Wood and was now running in the open, "with all the wo in the world," bedraggled and weary, hounds barely a field behind. And nearly everyone was now (in one way or another) in the pack; Plato, Dante, MacDonald, Herbert, Barfield, Tolkien, Dyson, Joy itself. Everyone and everything had joined the other side. (225)I am finding that the more I learn about Lewis, the more divided I become. I agree with him more; I agree with him less. It is hard to really articulate where we are different (well, besides his obvious and all-permeating Arminian leanings which conflict sharply with my Calvinist tenets). I think one of the issues may be Lewis's reliance on and almost religious respect for literature besides the Bible. Of course he is detailing a period in which he was first reading the world's great literature as a student and lover of beauty, so naturally he will have a lot to say about its influence on his thinking and development. And I have to remember too that Lewis is a Christian thinker, not a pastor charged with preaching the full counsel of God and illuminating Scripture to his flock. I do think, however, that at bottom I have a much deeper reverence for Scripture than Lewis has displayed in the books of his that I've read so far. This both simplifies and complicates my thoughts about him and his work. The thread that ties everything together in this story is the central idea of Joy, which Lewis describes as the "unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction" (17¿18). These flashes of beauty, themselves insufficient, point to something else, something outside the person experiencing this longing. Ultimately Lewis connects Joy with the desire to know the source of all Joy, God. Those flashes of beauty and the unfulfilled longings are divinely given. And yet they are not the goal. Lewis writes, But what, in conclusion, of Joy? for that, after all, is what the story has been mainly about. To tell you the truth, the subject has lost
benfulton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The discussion of his early life is interesting, but I didn't find Lewis's reasoning all that compelling. I can see how he moved from a belief in the Absolute into Theism, but it almost seemed that he became a Christian only since it was the latest thing, an argument that (1) applies better to Islam, and (2) is a sort of a sin that he argues against in at least two other books.
billmeister16 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am ashamed to say that it took me so long to rinally read this classic. Now, after having read it, I can testify that I was completely captivated by Lewis' journey to Christianity. It is always surprising when we realize that our joy is to be found in God, and that all the "joy" we've experience prior to salvation in Christ was not really joy at all, but rather lesser ideas of pleasure and happiness.
ElTomaso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Subtitled: The shape of my early life. I compromised on the rating of this book, because I find the authors style distracting; however the message is worth a score of "five."
MarieFriesen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this book Lewis tells of his search for joy, a spiritual journey that led him from the Christianity of his early youth into atheism and then back to Christianity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was work to read this book. His style of writing makes for an unpleasant reading experience. Importantly, and very unfortunately, the book's substance was not the least bit interesting to me, until the final couple of dozen pages. It is finally there that Lewis writes in any detail about his concept of God and his thoughts on the nature of the universe, of consciousness, of self, and all that. Even here, the discussion was not in great depth. This book was not at all what I had hoped it would be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am surprised that the editors let this pass for autobiography and not rambling sentiment. There are certain places within that are reminiscent of his life but are not necessarily pertinent to "Joy!" Just like all of us, Lewis was a bit of a rascal on a grand scale and as he comes to the edge of disclosure of his hidden lives he veers off and talks of everything but the completion of his intention to tell his life story. I am not talking about the nitty gritty details of his personal life for I have enough of my own to mourn over. But this book comes up short in not so much honesty but in the fullness of the word itself. There are places where he comes out from behind his intellectual facade and really puts forth some great moments. But like the English weather that changes so fast and frequently, Lewis rarely gives us a chance to see the Son who set him free.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Egjfjbmeyiyeuwznjdew wt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
B&N usually has great Ebooks. This is a dramatic exception to that rule - this copy is really poorly done. About two or three times a page there is a misread of the original text. For example, "He" is often switched to "Fie, " and the like. You can figure out the meaning, but it's terribly distracting and annoying. I've never paid for an Ebook with quality this low. If this bothers you, too, get the book in another format or from somewhere else. That being said, this book is totally worth the read. It would be both thought provoking for the curious non-believer and encouraging to the doubting believer. However, readers looking for a scientific argument for Christianity will be disappointed - the content of the book is chiefly literary and philosophical. And unless you're a literary buff yourself, you may be bored or turned off by most of Lewis' description of his own life, which revolves mainly around literature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago