This book is a study into C.S. Lewis’ approach to humour. The author acknowledges that in reality dissecting a joke stops it from being funny, so attempts instead to simply present Lewis’ ideas in their purest form, quoting from him liberally and attempting to communicate to the reader what he really meant without losing the wit originally present.
The book’s split into six parts: an introduction, a deeper look into C.S. Lewis’ four ‘types’ of humour (satire and flippancy, the joke proper, fun, and joy), and a conclusion.
Let’s start with the good bits. Lindvall accurately captures C.S. Lewis’ character throughout – he goes into a lot of depth for each aspect of Lewis’ approach to comedy, and as I say he quotes from him left, right and centre. I found myself challenged at times and chuckling at times, and sometimes experiencing both simultaneously. C.S. Lewis would be proud!
But for me there are some glaring not-so-good bits which don’t necessarily make the book a bad one, but are certainly worth noting.
Firstly, the book assumes a certain level of background knowledge about C.S. Lewis such as his nickname ‘Jack’ and his portfolio of books, both of which are referenced with little or no context, leaving the reader confused without that knowledge. If you’re completely unfamiliar with C.S. Lewis I wouldn’t use this book as your introduction!
Secondly, the book is very long! This is less a light-hearted joke book, more a weighty biography. Even the nature of the footnotes section (a very detailed bibliography rather than an explanation of context) is far more intellectual than the title might suggest.
Thirdly, saying this is about C.S. Lewis is not quite right – Lindvall probably quotes from G.K. Chesterton just as much as Lewis, and for good reason, but I feel it does take away from the focus of the book being C.S. Lewis.
Finally I’m not sure that the book has the right title. It’s subtitled ‘the comic world of C.S. Lewis’, but in reality it’s about general attitudes to life, Christianity and eternity, including dealing with suffering, sin, and other things which it would be difficult to describe as ‘comic’.
In summary then, I genuinely enjoyed this book; I do think it’s a fair reflection of Lewis’ attitude towards laughter and a deep sense of joy. I suppose, however, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, which just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover (much like Lewis himself).
I got this book for free from BookSneeze.com. I’m not required to give a positive review.