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The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis

Expand your knowledge of C. S. Lewis beyond his famous Chronicles of Narnia series and explore his life and his other fascinating works.

Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 186.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Moving I enjoyed this much more than I expected. The speaker is a little frenetic, but by the end it seemed more like honest passion. It was very thought-provoking. I'll listen to this again.
Date published: 2024-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceeded Expectations Loved the course. It, peaked my interest to dig a little deeper
Date published: 2023-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good overview of C.S. Lewis great content. Lecturer truly passionate about materials. Only wish is that he spoke a tad slower so I could capture more thoughts.
Date published: 2023-04-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Unrestrained adulation I got this course because I had next to no knowledge of C.S. Lewis and his works. The course was described as a “spiritual autobiography and other creative works.” However professor Markos’ ebullient presentation and unrestrained adulation among other things caused me to to lose confidence in him as an objective scholar. I will, however, try in the future to work my way through these obsequious lectures once more because C. S. Lewis is such an important part of our intellectual history. But aside from the fulsome praise of Lewis there are other problems I had with these lectures. I agree with one reviewer that it is a glaring error to misunderstand the origin of the “Chinese” term Tao—a mistake one would not expect regarding a term important to C. S. Lewis. However, there are more such mistakes. For example, Markos demonstrates a confusion about 20th century history. He describes how “[The Soviets were willing to] kill off the gulags.” However, he apparently confuses the word Gulag with the word Kulak. Gulag is the term for the Soviet prison system. The Kulaks, on the other hand, were a group of peasant farmers who were exterminated and imprisoned in those gulags by the Soviets—mostly because they resisted collectivization. I was also surprised in one of the early lectures by Markos’ gratuitous and condescending reference to the Biblical criticism scholars and historians commonly known as the “Jesus seminar.” In a later lecture Markos explains that Lewis disagreed with such scholarship. However, I’m skeptical that Lewis would have been so cavalierly dismissive. It seemed like a needless ideological shot to me as was his gratuitous political claim that communism is worse than fascism. Such outbursts make me wonder at times whether I was learning about Lewis or listening to a sermon from Markos. I have mixed thoughts about the course. I’ve purchased several dozen courses from The Great Courses. I rank this at the very bottom.
Date published: 2023-03-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Hardly Objective Style of this GCs presentation is outdated and inconsistent with materials presented decades since this offering. Should be removed or marked a Christian Literary Review.
Date published: 2022-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Overview Prof. Markos is certainly very enthusiastic about his subject; his love for Lewis’s writings certainly manifests itself with some thoughtful commentary on Lewis’s writings. The great weakness of this course is that Markos seems to believe that his job is to supplement Lewis’s Christian apologetics with apologetics - or even evangelization - of his own. For example, when describing a certain point, Markos cites a biblical citation – not because Lewis made a literary allusion to it, but because Markos believes it would fill out the Christian perspective. While I am not unsympathetic to Markos’s worldview, I think he ought to have maintained more scholarly objectivity. All the same, it is an enjoyable lecture series.
Date published: 2022-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Enthusiasm I was infected with the presenters Joy. Smiling just thinking about it:)
Date published: 2022-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from “In the end, men may build a utopia…” Markos believes that Lewis sought “…to free his age from progressivist...non-negotiable views of man, God, and the universe.” At the same time, Lewis (in “The Pilgrim's Regress”) allegorizes the many false lures that drive the religious off course in his portraiture of the repressive, hypocritical town of “Puritania”. L2 discusses “Surprised by Joy”. Markos describes Lewis’ “sehnsucht” (German for yearning for a ‘something' just beyond one’s grasp). Where Freud said spiritual longings were displaced animal instincts, Lewis inverts Freud with: “human an incarnation from above." "Whereas Wordsworth's 'spots' point back nostalgically to something lost, Lewis' joy is a signpost that points to a richer world.” Lewis next describes the traps of post-Modern desire: 1. Noble things often serve as idols, 2. One can wrongly respond to “sehnsucht” by moving from one natural object to the next OR becoming stoic to all desire, 3. Many people reject all but “a pale shadow of what God offers us”, 4. Many people fear to accept the gifts given. L3 addresses Rousseau’s argument that “men are perfectible creatures who lack only proper education…" (a laughable proposition to anyone with sufficient gray hair). Lewis points to the humiliating opposite: “we are ‘rebels who must lay down [our] arms.” L4: “Miracles” builds on the argument that “our theories and proofs and laws are linked to nature but cannot be a part of nature itself”. This is a stunning statement on the limitations of science. L5 Lewis takes on secularism by describing it as “the insidious process by which human souls are reduced to mere shades”. Rather Lewis proposes that man's final purpose is redemption that can only occur after the disarmament described in L3. L5 ends with an allegory from “The Great Divorce” describing the consequences of choosing not to disarm: Just as the earth is an infinitesimal dot in our known universe, “…hell is so small and heaven so vast that if the smallest bird in heaven were to swallow all of hell, it would not even notice it.” L6 is an articulate response against current beliefs regarding love, pride, sex, and so on. He notes that modernism leads to “a fracturing of that internal censor that discerns good from evil”. “This has created a “lowest-common-denominator society built not on a belief in the innate dignity of all men but on the envy-based creed…” The Space Trilogy of L7 is a complex parody of modern trappings. The first book centers on the enthusiasm for an anti-humanistic evolution of the human species via a George Bernard Shaw-imagined “vital force". It ends with the apocalyptic implications of such spiritual warfare. L9 to 11 explain The Chronicles of Narnia, ending with the Anti-Christ figure (a donkey named Puzzle) that teaches the “relativistic faith". L12 discusses "Till We Have Faces" where Orual, the eldest daughter of a cruel king, is set on "rescuing" her stepsister. Orual prefers using her “enlightened misery" to manipulate those around her, not with “true love (agape or charity) but rather manipulative friendship and eros. "What Orual had thought was love …is actually a kind of hatred." Lewis’ arguments in "The Four Loves" are summarized: “…when the natural loves (affection, friendship, and eros) are divorced from supernatural charity, they eventually become warped, false idols that use love as a shield for envy, selfishness, and hate.” SUMMARY: Many may find Lewis’ arguments difficult, but Markos has done an excellent job portraying them. The most striking reason to take this course is its (L2) prediction: “In the end, we may build a utopia, but it will be ruled by conditioners who...will base their decisions …on how they feel at the moment."
Date published: 2022-04-18
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The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis takes you through the unique and diverse legacy of one of Western literature's most beloved authors. These insightful lectures are delivered by award-winning Professor Louis Markos. Under his expert guidance, explore the wealth of moral lessons and spiritual allegories behind virtually the entire Lewis canon. You'll also get a complete picture of Lewis as a renowned medieval scholar, a literary critic, a philosopher and theologian, and an inspirational advisor and role model.


Louis Markos

When it comes to learning and to teaching, my motto has always been that of Socrates: The unexamined life is not worth living.


Houston Baptist University

Dr. Louis Markos is Professor in English at Houston Baptist University, where he also holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities. He earned his B.A. in English and History from Colgate University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Michigan. Professor Markos specializes in British romantic poetry, literary theory, and the classics and teaches courses in all three of these areas, as well as in Victorian poetry and prose, 17th-century poetry and prose, mythology, epic, and film. He received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from the University of Michigan and was named the Opal Goolsby Teacher of the Year at Houston Baptist. Dr. Markos has published several articles and is the author of How C. S. Lewis Can Train Us to Wrestle With The Modern and Postmodern World.

The Legacy of C. S. Lewis

01: The Legacy of C. S. Lewis

Why has Lewis had such a profound impact on 20th-century readers? What is distinctive about his method of speaking for Christian beliefs? What shaped his thought and works?

32 min
Argument by Desire—

02: Argument by Desire—"Surprised by Joy" and "The Pilgrim's Regress"

Lewis's "real" biography is the story of his spiritual pilgrimage. Why did he see his movement toward Christianity in terms of joy and desire? How did this influence his apologetics?

30 min
Ethics and the Tao—

03: Ethics and the Tao—"Mere Christianity" and "The Abolition of Man"

In an age of relativism and skepticism, Lewis not only defended the idea that ethics are objective, but also suggested that morality at its highest points beyond itself to the divine.

30 min
Nature and Supernature—

04: Nature and Supernature—"Miracles" and "The Problem of Pain"

Lewis's book on miracles and his book on pain may seem unrelated, but in fact they have a close and vital connection. To grasp just what that is, you'll want to witness this lecture.

30 min
Heaven and Hell—

05: Heaven and Hell—"The Screwtape Letters" and "The Great Divorce"

Lewis used his imagination to explore not merely the theology but also the psychology of sin: the process by which sinners, through persistent selfishness, finally efface not only their God-given potential but their very humanity. Heaven, by contrast, is the fulfillment of our humanity.

30 min
Lewis the Scholar—Apologist for the Past

06: Lewis the Scholar—Apologist for the Past

In addition to being a popular writer, Lewis is a major figure in the academic study of literature. In his scholarly work, Lewis sought to challenge common modern prejudices and to bring to light the views held by people in past ages.

30 min
Paradise Regained—The Space Trilogy, I

07: Paradise Regained—The Space Trilogy, I

Lewis not only argued for the beauty and truth of older ideas, but sought to manifest that beauty and truth in his fiction. In "Out of the Silent Planet" and "Perelandra," he beckons you on a journey through a living universe to two still-Edenic planets, raising searching questions about modern man's urge for immortality.

30 min
Temptation, Struggle, and Choice—The Space Trilogy, II

08: Temptation, Struggle, and Choice—The Space Trilogy, II

Watch a master intellect and storyteller at work as Lewis re-enacts the drama of temptation and choice, first on the unfallen world of Perelandra and then in a corner of our own fallen Earth.

30 min
Smuggled Theology—The Chronicles of Narnia, I

09: Smuggled Theology—The Chronicles of Narnia, I

Lewis is perhaps best known and loved for his seven "Chronicles of Narnia," fantasy tales for children of all ages that conjure a world of magic and wonder. Here you consider the first two Chronicles: "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" and "Prince Caspian."

30 min
Journeys of Faith—The Chronicles of Narnia, II

10: Journeys of Faith—The Chronicles of Narnia, II

Here the middle three "Chronicles of Narnia"—"The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," "The Silver Chair," and "The Horse and His Boy"—are illuminated more deeply through reflections on key passages that reveal Lewis's beliefs and concerns.

30 min
The Beginning and the End—The Chronicles of Narnia, III

11: The Beginning and the End—The Chronicles of Narnia, III

The final two Chronicles, "The Magician's Nephew" and "The Last Battle," relate the creation and destruction of Narnia. What separates the good from the evil characters in Lewis's vision?

30 min
Suffering unto Wisdom—

12: Suffering unto Wisdom—"Till We Have Faces" and "A Grief Observed"

Lewis's last novel, "Till We Have Faces," beautifully reworks the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche. The heroine is patterned on Joy Gresham Lewis. His later memoir, "A Grief Observed," is an equally mature and profound study of the despair he felt over her death, and his own long and painful road back to faith.

31 min

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