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Surprised by Joy The Shape of My Early Life is a partial autobiography describing Lewis' conversion to Christianity The book overall contains less detail concerning specific events than typical autobiographies This is because his purpose in writing wasn't primarily historical His aim was to identify describe the events surrounding his accidental discovery of consequent search for the phenomenon he labelled Joy This word was the best translation he could make of the German idea of Sehnsucht longing That isn't to say the book is devoid of information about his life He recounts his early years with a measure of amusement sometimes mixed with pain However while he does describe his life the principal theme of the book is Joy as he defined it This Joy was a longing so intense for something so good so high up it couldn't be explained with words He's struck with stabs of joy throughout life He finally finds what it's for at the end He writes about his experiences at Malvern College in 1913 aged 15 Though he described the school as a very furnace of impure loves he defended the practice as being the only chink left thru which something spontaneous uncalculating could creep in The book's last two chapters cover the end of his search as he moves from atheism to theism then from theism to Christianity He ultimately discovers the true nature purpose of Joy its place in his own life The book isn't connected with his unexpected marriage in later life to Joy Gresham The marriage occurred long after the period described though not long after the book was published His friends were quick to notice the coincidence remarking he'd really been Surprised by Joy Surprised by Joy is also an allusion to Wordsworth's poem Surprised by Joy Impatient As The Wind relating an incident when Wordsworth forgot the death of his beloved daughter


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    CS Lewis the man that thought his way to God according to the back of the book isn't really all man he's part reading machine Everything every sentence in his spiritual autobiography is laden with some classical allusion to a work that the normal person hasn't read in Greek or LatinAfter the death of his mother in his youth Lewis enters a long lasting period of atheism Although he knew epistemologically that God didn't exist he still felt that there was something else out there This is different from agnosticism though he believed that the something else was not divine but it was a Romantic quality Lewis' life was occasionally visited by what he came to call Joy that unsatisfied desire which is itself desirable than any satisfaction Not how you would define joy? Me neither but this operational definition fits into his scheme of finding God Enad with Joy Lewis sought to experience it as often as possible in reading great books listening to music experiencing nature etc etc However he finally realized he was confusing object with product these things could not produce joy they were only vehicles of it from some other source As the book draws to a close Lewis is truly surprised by a God who cares a true mythology the Christian narrative and the creator of joy In his thirst for Joy Lewis had gone to the cups glasses and water bottles that had satiated him before now he had found the well of living water