The Authentic Voice

biography, C.S. Lewis, Oxford, Oxford History of the English Language, Uncategorized
 One of the best biographies I have ever read is: C.S. Lewis, The Authentic Voice by William Griffin. It is unlike any other biography that I have come across, in that it is not a continuous narrative of Lewis’s life, but rather a collection of chronological vignettes that together give a much more rounded picture of the man than would a traditional style of biography. Some of these snippets last for several pages, but many of them are short two- or three-paragraph descriptions on encounters he had with people, speaking engagements, books he was reviewing, students he was tutoring, walking trips he made with his friends, conversations he had with various people, his loves and his hates. It is a highly entertaining volume in which each chapter is a year of Lewis’s life from his inauguration into a teaching position at Oxford, in 1925, to his death in 1963. Nevertheless because it is broken into fragments of his life, the book can be dipped into anywhere.
The copy I have is somewhat dilapidated, so I guess I must have read it half a dozen times.  An example of the style of the little sections in the chapters is an episode involving a tutorial with a student who walked in late, snickering to himself. When Lewis asked him what was so funny, the guy answered, “I’ve just been walking through a graveyard and I saw the headstone of an atheist that read ‘All dressed up and nowhere to go!’ Quick as a flash Lewis responded, “I’ll bet he wishes now that that were true…”