From 1917 to 1919 Lewis enrolled himself in the Somerset Light Infantry while attending Keble College.
Lewis graduated from Oxford University in 1923. He tutored in English at Magdalen College for nearly thirty years. From 1954 to 1963 Lewis became a professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University. Many said the young professors lectures were crowded and that Lewis’ memory was phenomenal; and that he could speak spontaneously about Greek and Latin texts with out notes. (Kirjasto 2).
While working at the Magdalen College in Oxford as an English tutor, Lewis formed a literary group called “The Inklings”. In the group, many well-respected writers joined their weekly meetings, such as, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Wiliiams. They met Tuesday during lunchtime at the Bird and Baby Pub, which many people in Oxford began to notice. Lewis said that he preferred only men at his meetings; he said women’s minds were “intrinsically inferior to men’s” (Kirjasto 1). After Williams’s death in 1945, they stopped meeting so regularly. The meetings eventually came to a close in 1949.
Through all of this Lewis grew as a person. He was raised as an atheist by his father but searched for a new meaning in his life as young as the age of thirteen. “The watershed in Lewis’s life was his conversion from atheism to Christianity. He had began to lose his faith at the age of thirteen, partly due to his deep-rooted pessimism. After abandoning his youthful snobbery, he became a deist in 1929.” (Kirjasto 2). This had a tremendous impact on Lewis’s works; it also brought him worldwide fame. Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold more than a million copies per year. The books in The Chronicles of Narnia series have sold more than 100 million copies and translated into forty-one languages (Kirjasto 3).
The Chronicles of Narnia series have become Lewis’s most renowned works. Lewis said, “I wrote the books I should have liked to read, that’s always been my reason for writing.” (Kirjasto 3). The series contain seven fantasy novels for children, though many adults read them today. Lewis wrote these between 1949 and 1954. The books were published in several different orders, and the preferred reading order is still debated today.
The name “Narnia” seems like it might have a deeper theological meaning behind it, but it came from a childhood book titled Murray’s Small Classical Atlas. On the map, in the middle of Italy, sits a small town named Narnia. (Colby 1). “The Chronicles tell the story of a group of children, who come into contact with the mysterious other world of Narnia, where the lion Aslan is the prototype of Christ. “I don’t know where the Lion came from or why He came,” Lewis explained later. “But once He was there He pulled the whole story together.” The portal to Narnia is a wardrobe through which four sibling children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy enter a secondary world.”. Like many other children at the time, the children were sent to another country to escape the bombs that were falling in London during World War II.
The wardrobe seems like a random element in the title of the story, and it kind of is. In Lewis’s childhood home was a wardrobe that his grandfather made him. According to his brother, this was the inspiration for the title of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Kirjasto 3). In The Chronicles, the wardrobe came from a seed from Narnia that grew into a tree. Many elements of the story reflect the basic beliefs of Christianity. One might assume that Aslan is the main character of the series because he is the only character that appears in all of them. Aslan is the Turkish word for “lion”. Lewis said that he found the name in an edition of The Arabian Nights (Colby 10). The most important Biblical allusion out of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is C.S. Lewis’s central idea of belief, Aslan’s death and resurrection. There are many elements of this scene that reflect the Bible, such as, Deep Magic carried in the stone just as the Old Testament ten commandments on the stone tablets. One contrast to Aslan’s death and the death of Jesus would be that Aslan’s emotions don’t fit the story because they are the same as Jesus’, but the death of Jesus varied tremendously. For one, Aslan is not betrayed before his execution, Aslan chose execution, and Lucy and Susan are faithful to him on his last night. This seems quite different then Jesus’ last night before the Pharisees arrested him in the garden (Colby 33). Aslan and Jesus do relate directly, but, when you are trying to create a character with the qualities of Jesus Christ, you are always going to come up short. C.S. Lewis realized this fact and decided to create an animal that he could put his own imagination into, which many people believe makes him brilliant.
For every good action story there has to be a hero and a villain. Lewis acknowledged this fact and created Jadis, more commonly known as, “the White Witch”. Her real name only appears once in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, on a note pinned to “Mr. Tumnus’s door. Jadis is one of the main characters in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. “Lewis invented Jadis from several unusual sources. Her iciness, her pretension, her anger, her destructiveness, her ambition to rule Narnia – all these come from literary characters Lewis knew well.” (Colby 52)
After finishing the Narnia series, Lewis began to slow down and “retire”, he focused on writing autobiographical and religious subjects. Mainly because of the health crisis of his wife, Joy, who died of cancer in 1960. After her death, Lewis’s own health deteriorated and in 1963 he resigned his post at Cambridge. His death occurred on November 22, 1963, which is the same day as President Kennedy’s assassination. President Kennedy’s death drew most of the attention in the newspapers that day, however, readers all over the world will remember the lasting legacy that he left on the hearts and minds of millions.