C. S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces (Audiobook)


The most comprehensive collection of essays by C. S. Lewis was edited by Lesley Walmsley in 2000 and published in London. At just over 1,000 pages it is the largest of its kind. And although it was published rather recently, the book has already passed in and out of print and now into the status of a rare and collectible relic.

C. S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces is simply a goldmine. Used copies of the giant collection of 137 essays, letters, and short stories can be found, but for a price. A few rare hardcovers (and a few even rarer paperbacks) are on the market, starting at around $150!

Another way to get the collection is in a $35 audiobook through Audible. I’ve been listening for a few days now, and loving it. The 39 hours of audio is performed by the late British actor, Ralph Cosham (1936–2014).

For details, check out the Audible site here.

Here’s the track list:

1) The Grand Miracle
2) Is Theology Poetry?
3) The Funeral of a Great Myth
4) God In the Dark
5) What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?
6) The World’s Last Night
7) Is Theism Important?
8) The Seeing Eye
9) Must Our Image of God Go?
10) Christianity and Culture
11) Evil and God
12) The Weight of Glory
13) Miracles
14) Dogma and the Universe
15) The Horrid Red Things
16) Religion: Reality or Substitute?
17) Myth Became Fact
18) Religion and Science
19) Christian Apologetics
20) Work and Prayer
21) Religion Without Dogma?
22) The Decline of Religion
23) Unforgiveness
24) The Pains of Animals
25) Petitionary Prayer: A Problem Without an Answer
26) On Obstinacy in Belief
27) What Christmas Means to Me
28) The Psalms
29) Religion and Rocketry
30) The Efficacy of Prayer
31) Fern Seed and Elephants
32) The Language of Religion
33) Transposition
34) Why I am Not a Pacifist
35) Dangers of National Repentance
36) Two Ways With the Self
37) Meditation on the Third Commandment
38) On Ethics
39) Three Kinds of Men
40) Answers to Questions on Christianity
41) The Laws of Nature
42) Membership
43) The Sermon and the Lunch
44) Scraps
45) After Priggery – What?
46) Man or Rabbit?
47) The Trouble With X
48) On Living in an Atomic Age
49) Lillies that Fester
50) Good Work and Good Works
51) A Slip of the Tongue
52) We Have No Right to Happiness
53) Christian Reunion: An Anglican Speaks to Roman Catholics
54) Priestesses in the Church?
55) On Church Music
56) Christianity and Literature
57) High and Low Brows
58) Is English Doomed?
59) On the Reading of Old Books
60) The Parthenon and the Optative
61) The Death of Words
62) On Science Fiction
63) Miserable Offenders
64) Different Tastes in Literature
65) Modern Translations of the Bible
66) On Juvenile Tastes
67) Sex in Literature
68) The Hobbit
69) Period Criticism
70) On Stories
71) On Three Ways of Writing for Children
72) Prudery and Philology
73) Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings”
74) Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What’s to Be Said
75) It All Began With a Picture
76) Unreal Estates
77) On Criticism
78) Cross Examination
79) A Tribute to E.R. Eddison
80) The Mythopoeic Gift of Rider Haggard
81) George Orwell
82) A Panegyric for Dorothy L. Sayers
83) The Novels of Charles Williams
84) Learning in War-Time
85) Bulverism (or, The Foundation of 20th Century Thought)
86) The Founding of the Oxford Socratic Club
87) My First School
88) Democratic Education
89) Blimpophobia
90) Private Bates
91) Meditation in a Tool Shed
92) On the Transmission of Christianity
93) Modern Man and His Categories of Thought
94) Historicism
95) The Empty Universe
96) Interim Report
97) Is History Bunk?
98) Before We Can Communicate
99) First and Second Things
100) The Poison of Subjectivism
101) Equality
102) De Futilitate
103) A Dream
104) Hedonics
105) Talking About Bicycles
106) Vivisection
107) The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment
108) Behind the Scenes
109) The Necessity of Chivalry
110) The Inner Ring
111) Two Lectures
112) Some Thoughts
113) X-mas and Christmas
114) Revival or Decay
115) Delinquents in the Snow
116) Willing Slaves of the Welfare State
117) Screwtape Proposes a Toast

118) The Conditions for a Just War
119) The Conflict in Anglican Theology
120) Miracles
121) Mr. C.S. Lewis on Christianity
122) A Village Experience
123) Correspondence With an Anglican Who Dislikes Hymns
124) The Church’s Liturgy, Invocation, and Invocation of Saints
125) The Holy Name
126) Mere Christians
127) Canonization
128) Pittenger-Lewis and Version Vernacular
129) Capital Punishment and Death Penalty

Short Stories
130) The Man Born Blind
131) The Dark Tower
132) The Dark Tower (continued)
133) The Dark Tower (continued)
134) Ministering Angels
135) The Shoddy Lands
136) After Ten Years
137) Forms of Things Unknown

The Elephant of Desire in the Kayak of Our Imagination

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (HarperOne; 2001), page 149:

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.

Peter Kreeft, Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing (Ignatius; 1989), pages 43–44:

Take an hour or so to do this experiment, not just read about it. (The simple act of taking an hour away from external diversions for inner confrontation with your heart, no matter what comes of it, may he the hardest part of the experiment — and also the most valuable and desperately needed in your hectic life.)

Ask your heart what it wants. Make a list. The sky’s the limit.

Now imagine you are God; there is no limit to your power. Design your own heaven and then give it to yourself.

First imagine what you want. Then imagine getting it all. Finally, imagine having it for eternity. How soon do you think you would grow bored or restless?

Suppose your first list wasn’t very profound. Try again. Go deeper this time: not pleasure and power and fame and money and leisure, say, but good friends and good health and intelligence and a good conscience and freedom and peace of mind. That might take a few more millennia to bore you, perhaps. But aren’t all imaginable utopias ultimately boring? In fact, aren’t the most perfect ones the most boring of all? Doesn’t every fairy tale fail at the end to make “they all lived happily ever after” sound half as interesting as the thrills of getting there?

Can you imagine any heaven that would not eventually be a bore? If not, does that mean that every good thing must come to an end, even heaven? After eighty or ninety years most people are ready to die; will we feel the same after eighty or ninety centuries of heaven? Would you have to invent death in your ideal, invented heaven? What a heaven — so wonderful you commit suicide to escape it!

But if we don’t want death and we don’t want boredom in heaven, what do we want? If heaven is real, what real desire does it satisfy? And even if it is unreal, only wishful thinking, what is the wish? What do we want?

We want a heaven without death and without boredom. But we cannot imagine such a heaven. How can we desire something we cannot imagine?

Our desires go far deeper than our imagination or our thought; the heart is deeper than the mind.

Psalm 16:11:

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Persuading Sexual Purity

In the spring of 1955, a teacher in New Zealand (Rhona Bodle) wrote C.S. Lewis. She was now expected to warn students against the dangers of premarital sex, but forbidden to use any religious arguments in the classroom. Is this possible? She asked and Lewis sent his reply 12,000 miles back to her. Here’s what he said [Collected Letters, 3:600]:

It certainly seems very hard that you should be told to arm the young against Venus without calling in Christ. What do they want? I suppose the usual twaddle about bees and orchids (as if approaching a subject by that devious route would make any possible difference either good or bad). And indeed now that contraceptives have removed the most disastrous consequence for girls, and medicine has largely defeated the worst horrors of syphilis, what argument against promiscuity is there left which will influence the young unless one brings in the whole supernatural and sacramental view of man?