Persona and Paradox: Issues of Identity for C. S. Lewis, His Friends and Associates
edited by Suzanne Bray and William Gray
(Cambridge Scholars Press, 2012, 285 pages)
Persona and Paradox consists of papers presented at a conference on “issues of identity” for C. S. Lewis. It includes reflections on his Anglican heritage, his role as a lay theologian, his thoughts on friendship, and his relationship to people like J. R. R. Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, T. S. Eliot, George MacDonald, and Charles Williams.
There is so much literature out there on C. S. Lewis that one more book about him can seem pointless. Certainly not every essay in this collection is worth careful reading, but Lewis is such a multi-faceted figure that there is plenty that is worthwhile in these focused examinations of different parts of his heritage, be it literary, theological, philosophical, or psychological. I found the essays “A Grief Obscured: C. S. Lewis on Sorrow and Hope,” and “Was C. S. Lewis ‘Everyman’s Theologian’ (J. R. R. Tolkien)?” particularly interesting. These dealt respectively with Lewis’ memoir on the grief he experienced following the death of his wife and his qualifications as a theologian.
I picked up the book specifically because I was interested in the essays on Charles Williams. There were two of these, and while thought-provoking, they were not the best part of the book.