And so begins the autobiography of one of the most prolific writer's of his time, C.S. Lewis. While Lewis gives an engaging description of his life as a boy, first in Ireland, and then later in England, his main goal is to give the reader little windows into the experience that he called "Joy", which one can equate with the German word, "Sehensucht" translated into English as an "intense longing". During his childhood, Lewis experienced brief yet keen feelings of this profound yearning. If one tried to manufacture this emotion or hold onto it, it would simply remain illusive or slip away; it came of its own volition, which indicated to Lewis that this desire pointed to something beyond himself.
|In the Garden (1885)|
William Merritt Chase
|Magdalen College Oxford|
Before I wrap up this review and somewhat off topic, Lewis made a curious reference to automobiles in this biography, which I found very insightful and profound.
"I number it among my blessings that my father had no car, while yet most of my friends had, and sometimes took me for a drive. This meant that all these distant objects could be visited just enough to clothe them with memories and not impossible desires, while yet they remained ordinarily as inaccessible as the Moon. The deadly power of rushing about wherever I pleased had not been given me. I measured distances by the standard of man, man walking on his two feet, not by the standard of the internal combustion engine. I had not been allowed to deflower the very idea of distance; in return I possessed 'infinite riches' in what would have been to motorists 'a little room'. The truest and most horrible claim made for modern transport is that it 'annihilates space.' It does. It annihilates one of the most glorious gifts we have been given. It is a vile inflation which lowers the value of distance, so that a modern boy travels a hundred miles with less sense of liberation and pilgrimage and adventure than his grandfather got from traveling ten. Of course if a man hates space and wants it to be annihilated, that is another matter. Why not creep into his coffin at once? There is little enough space there."
A very biting commentary but for me it rang with truth and made me wonder how much "Joy" has been robbed by modern conveniences. Hmmm …….
In any case, this was a wonderful, uplifting biography that I fortunately get to read again for my WEM Project at some point in the future!