Terry Lindvall, Ph.D., has written a number of books examining laughter, satire and popular film culture as they relate to religion. This is one of those tomes.
I’m a fan of C.S. Lewis, particularly the Narnia chronicles and The Screwtape Letters. I also found Pilgrim’s Regress interesting. So when I saw the title of this book – Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis – I requested it from Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program without hesitation. Little did I know I was in for a semester-long independent study course in the influences that shaped Lewis and his writings.
My fault, I suppose; if I’d read the description before requesting it, I might have abstained. But if I had, I would have missed a backstage pass into the literary life and loves of one of Britain’s all-time best Christian apologists and authors.
Don’t mistake me – there’s much in this book I would have omitted for a general audience. The use of foreign language phrases made me feel as though I were at a UN session, and many of the literary and historical references were unfamiliar to me.
Let me put it this way: the text is 454 pages, and there’s an additional 22 pages of bibliography and a nine-page index afterward. Not the light reading I anticipated.
Still, it provided valuable insight into how Lewis became a writer whose work is relevant today. His sense of humor and ability to tell a good story are major factors in his appeal and the reason his work is still being read and even made into movies.
All in all, I’d say Surprised by Laughter is a great read for a college textbook, but a bit heavy for the Religious/General book it claims to be. About half the content could be removed without losing the points being made, and it would result in a book more suitable to a general audience. If you decide to read it, don’t try to take in too much at once, or you’ll be wondering where the laughter is.
At least there’s no final exam attached to this text…
Disclosure of Material Connection: Unless otherwise noted, I receive the books I review free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I am not required to write a positive review of any book. The opinions I express are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”