March 17, 2012

Review - Surprised By Laughter (Terry Lindvall)

Surprised by Laughter looks at the career and writings of C. S. Lewis and discovers a man whose life and beliefs were sustained by joy and humor.
All of his life, C. S. Lewis possessed a spirit of individuality. An atheist from childhood, he became a Christian as an adult and eventually knew international acclaim as a respected theologian. He was known worldwide for his works of fiction, especially the Chronicles of Narnia; and for his books on life and faith, including Mere Christianity, A Grief Observed, and Surprised by Joy. But perhaps the most visible difference in his life was his abiding sense of humor. It was through this humor that he often reached his readers and listeners, allowing him to effectively touch so many lives.
Terry Lindvall takes an in-depth look at Lewis’s joyful approach toward living, dividing his study of C. S. Lewis’s wit into the four origins of laughter in Uncle Screwtape’s eleventh letter to a junior devil in Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters: joy, fun, the joke proper, and flippancy. Lindvall writes, “One bright and compelling feature we can see, sparking in his sunlight and dancing in his moonlight, is laughter. Yet it is not too large to see at once because it inhabited all Lewis was and did.”
Surprised by Laughter reveals a Lewis who enjoyed the gift of laughter, and who willingly shared that gift with others in order to spread his faith.

Probably best known for his fantasy trilogy The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis was much more than just a novelist. An academic, literary critic, and Christian apologist, his life and work will hold quite a few surprises for those who love to learn more about the person behind the author. In Surprised By Laughter Terry Lindvall sets out on a journey through Lewis' work, focusing on the importance of humor, or more specifically, what joy, fun, jokes, and satire meant to him - not just in writing but in living.
While this book certainly presents all kinds of landscapes of humor it does so in the most serious way. Despite Lindvall's notion that we must not loose out humor while studying Lewis' work, humor is obviously serious business and awfully dry too. Of course I didn't expect a slapstick comedy unraveling before me when I started reading this book, yet it soon became very clear to me that it is more aimed at those academically inclined people out there and not really for someone who likes their non fiction to be both engrossing and entertaining.
My impression of this treatise is that it is a balanced work on both Lewis' literary work and his Christian faith, certainly well written but far from being accessible for the average reader. I rarely give up on books, but admittedly I gave up half way through here.
In short: Humor as serious business - too serious for my taste!

2/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

1 comment:

  1. I have to nit-pick here... His trilogy was not The Chronicles of Narnia... It was the Space trilogy; Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. Narnia was seven books.