Happy Birthday C. S. Lewis!

C. S. Lewis, the Christian apologist and novelist, was born this day in 1898. Among modern Christian thinkers and writers he remains one of the most important voices, and you can learn much about him in the biographical address by John Piper (here).

Lewis spoke of the physical limitations that pushed him towards fictional adventure and novel writing in his autobiography, Surprised By Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (1955), page 12:

What drove me to write was the extreme manual clumsiness from which I have always suffered. I attribute it to a physical defect which my brother I both inherited from our father; we have only one joint in the thumb. The upper joint (that furthest from the nail) is visible, but it is a mere sham; we cannot bend it. But whatever the cause, nature laid on me from birth an utter incapacity to make anything. With pencil and pen I was handy enough, and I can still tie as good a bow as ever lay on a man’s collar; but with a tool or a bat or a gun, a sleeve link or corkscrew, I have always been unteachable. It was this that forced me to write. I longed to make things, ships, houses, engines. Many sheets of cardboard and pairs of scissors I spoiled, only to turn from my hopeless failures in tears. As a last resource, I was driven to write stories instead; little dreaming to what a world of happiness I was being admitted. You can do more with a castle in a story than with the best cardboard castle that ever stood on a nursery table.

5 thoughts on “Happy Birthday C. S. Lewis!

  1. And how thankful the rest of Christianity is for that thumb defect. I praise God that he doesn’t just allow flaws in his children; he designs them for their and others’ good.

  2. What drove him to write was this defect about which he had no choice. What equipped him to write so excellently was rooted in a choice that he did make, his rule for reading: “…after reading a new book, never allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one…keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds…”

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