Who would have thought that a new book on C. S. Lewis could bring fresh, even revolutionary insight to perhaps the most overstudied Christian writer in the anglophone world? The Lion’s World is such a book.
G. K. Chesterton is often regarded as a staunch and unwavering apologist for Christianity, a culture-warrior of the right, a rollicking jester who trounced his opponents with incisive paradoxes and witty self-mockery.
"Man is wolf to man," said Roman playwright Plautus, and novelist C. J. Sansom seems to agree. The main character in his historical novels, detective Matthew Shardlake, repeats the ancient adage three times in Dark Fire, the second novel in the Shardlake series.Through the first-person narratives of a 16th-century lawyer, Sansom gives fictional life to a gloomy but not hopeless view of human nature.In Dissolution, the first book, King Henry VIII closes a Benedictine monastery on England's Cornish coast as part of a massive seizure of church lands and properties. In Dark Fire, Henry fears that Catholic forces may revolt with a magical concoction, a jellied petroleum akin to napalm. In the newest book, Sovereign, the king makes a grand tour of his kingdom as a display of royal might and a warning to Catholic forces in the north.
The encounter that most decisively shaped my teaching occurred during my very first year in the classroom. I was fresh out of graduate study at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and the lines of my life, as the psalmist says, had fallen in pleasant places.
The first of three annual film installments of J. R. R. Tolkien's 1,500-page epic The Lord of the Rings, directed by New Zealander Peter Jackson, has many fine qualities. The New Zealand scenery evokes the fantastically real world of Tolkien's Middle-earth, and the tunnelly hobbit-homes are finely rendered.
Whenever one thinks of John Updike's work, one thinks instinctively of its obsession with sex. His new collection of short stories, which includes a novella titled "Rabbit Remembered," confirms this response.
The literary critic John Bayley has written a deeply affecting lament for his late wife, the philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch, as she disappeared into the insidious fog of Alzheimer's. She died at roughly the same time the book was published, in January of this year. Yet Bayley's book is not only a threnody; it is also an epithalamium, a nuptial hymn offered in praise of their 40-some years of marriage.