A Grief Observed
C. S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis joined the human race when his wife, Joy Gresham, died of cancer.
Lewis, the Oxford don whose Christian apologetics make it seem like he's got an
answer for everything, experienced crushing doubt for the first time after his
wife's tragic death. A Grief Observed contains his epigrammatic reflections on
that period: "Your bid--for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist,
for eternal life or nonentity--will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it.
And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high,"
Lewis writes. "Nothing will shake a man--or at any rate a man like me--out of his merely
verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes
to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover
it himself." This is the book that inspired the film Shadowlands, but it is more wrenching,
more revelatory, and more real than the movie. It is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest
record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and
how he can gradually regain his bearings.
---Michael Joseph Gross