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Spirits in Bondage: a cycle of lyrics

Spirits in Bondage: a cycle of lyrics by C. S. Lewis
By: (1898-1963)

First published in 1919 under his pseudonym Clive Hamilton, Spirits in Bondage, is also the first published book by the notorious novelist C.S. Lewis. This early piece of work represents Lewis’ youth, as it was written at a time when the author had just returned from his military service in the First World War. In addition it differentiates itself from his other works, not just in terms of style, but also in themes due to his agnostic stand at the time. Written in the form of poetry, the piece is divided into three sections of poetry, each intended to be read in chronological order to gain complete access to its themes and ideas.

Divided into three parts, each provides a distinctive set of ideas, which all essentially come together to create a masterful poetical result. The poems are prominently concerned with Lewis’ world views dominated by his bitter outrage with the notion of God, although he does subtly appear to yearn for some sort of spiritual fulfillment and balance. Furthermore, the poetry offers strong imagery and descriptive language, used to highlight his unconvinced perception of a higher power. Interestingly though, the notion of dualism appears, as the author uses bitter irony as a tool to criticize the existence of God, yet he is quite open to acknowledge God for the purpose of blaming him for the asperity of the world.

A slightly different book by one the most prominent lay theologians, Lewis offers a public view of his personal journey as he travels down the road of agnosticism and firmly clutches on to his pessimistic attitude towards God and religion. Addressing the atrocities of war, with an emphasis on grief and loss, the poetry reflects an honest output depicting a chapter in the author’s life. Nevertheless, an intriguing insight into his early career as a writer, the book is an essential to anyone who wishes to acquaint themselves with a rather surprisingly blasphemous piece of literature.


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