Peter Kreeft, “C.S. Lewis: A Critical Essay”

Years ago I had clipped and saved a description of this book, and recently I finally bought a used copy online (I’m not sure it’s easily available any other way; I’ll note that the copy I got had quite a few typos in it).  I’m glad I did.  Peter Kreeft, who is a philosophy professor at Boston College, is a solid thinker, engaging writer and speaker, and in particular is an expert on C.S. Lewis and an effective Christian apologist in his own right — and he’s written a fine essay.

The book is quite short (only 71 pages, and that includes the two-and-a-half page select bibliography).  The author quotes extensively (and well) from Lewis himself, and is a Lewis fan, though the book includes some criticism (in the introduction, written 20 years after the text, the author tempers some of that criticism).  The titles of the five chapters describe the book’s organization:  “The Romantic Rationalist:  Lewis the Man”; “The Funeral of a Great Myth:  Lewis’s Attack on Modernity”; “Mere Christianity:  Lewis’s Religious Philosophy”; “Other Worlds:  Lewis’s Fiction”; and “The Last Dinosaur:  Lewis’s Historical Significance.”

So the author loves Lewis and, in course of drawing together the recurrent themes on Lewis’s work, the book also makes the case well for the man’s broad brilliance and astonishing productivity.  I’ll add just two more specific notes, namely that Professor Kreeft singles out The Last Battle for special praise, and draws interesting parallels in the last chapter between Lewis and Soren Kierkegaard.

Who should read this book?  My initial thought on completing it was that it is more suitable for someone who already knows Lewis well, but on second thought it might also be useful for someone who is trying to decide whether to start reading him.