A Deeply Protestant Lewis? by Adam Schwartz

A Deeply Protestant Lewis?

A Challenge to C. S. Lewis
By Peter Milward, S.J.
Cranbury, N.J.: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1995.
(138 pages; $29.50, cloth)

reviewed by Adam Schwartz

As the centenary of C. S. Lewis’s birth approaches in 1998, there likely will be a proliferation of books, articles, and conferences attempting to assess his significance. A substantial body of scholarship on his life and writing already exists, much of it biographical or dealing with his work as an apologist or fictionist. Peter Milward’s short book, though, seeks to “redirect Lewis scholarship away from an excessive attention to biographical details,” in the hope of promoting critical study of his former teacher’s ideas, particularly Lewis’s scholarly work, through the prism of his mentor’s religious beliefs: “I am for the first time surveying the academic writings of Lewis all together and exposing his deep commitment to the Protestant position.” Yet Milward’s analysis is deeply flawed. Although offering occasionally acute challenges to Lewis’s academic efforts, Milward’s exclusion of his fiction prevents a holistic appraisal of the topics he addresses. Moreover, his attribution to Lewis of what J. R. R. Tolkien called “the Ulsterior Motive” not only illuminates some areas of Lewis’s thought but also becomes a reductionist analysis at times, ultimately leading to a serious misreading of Lewis’s attitude toward modernity.

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Adam Schwartz is Assistant Professor of History at Christendom College.

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