Comments: 13
8 years ago
I have to agree with your view. Kindness towards others reflects back on you. I haven't seen this book before, but have only read the Narnia books by Lewis.
BrokenTune 8 years ago
Ironically, I did it the other way round - started with The Problem of Pain and then moved towards the Narnia books via the Screwtape Letters and The Four Loves. I still haven't read all of the Narnia books and having such different views on The Problem of Pain, I think I'll revisit his other books, too.

Btw, Lewis goes into quite a detailed discussion of the difference between divine love and kindness in the book. It is worth reading, but to me it reads rather like an attempt to force a point towards making an argument for pain/suffering having a divine purpose.
bookaneer 8 years ago
FWIW, if I remember rightly, Lewis wrote Problem of Pain before he had ever truly suffered any, and later said that it was pretty much pompous bull. After his wife died, he wrote a book called A Grief Observed, which is much more heartfelt and less theoretical and abstract.
BrokenTune 8 years ago
Yes, I always meant to read A Grief Observed but lost my copy during a move. To be honest, I was wondering if he had changed his stance later on. This was still an "early" book being written in 1940. I'm planning to revisit Lewis soonish.
Books etc. 8 years ago
I love A Grief Observed, a whole lot more that Narnia series. Now I wonder if I'd like Problem of Pain; I'd probably try reading it one of these days. Have any of you read his adult fiction Till We Have Faces? It wrenched my heart when I read it first, but then again I was so much younger that time. I think I've pretty much decided not to touch Lewis' children's books and concentrate more on his adult books.
BrokenTune 8 years ago
Following bookaneer's prompt I chased down a copy of A Grief Observed last night. It is gutwrenchingly powerful stuff - and whatever criticism I have about the Problem of Pain stands in no comparison to the beauty and sadness of AGO. Finished it at 2:30am this morning - who needs sleep!? Review will come at some point...

I haven't read Till We have Faces, yet. I think I'll have a whole lot his adult fiction to catch up on.
Jenny Schwartz 8 years ago
I don't think I've read P and P, but I did enjoy the Screwtape Letters. Clever conceit.
BrokenTune 8 years ago
I have fond memories of the Screwtape Letters - his very astute observations. It's on the re-read list, too.
8 years ago
How do his other books compare to Narnia? I found those very much at a children's book level, but I had to read them anyway, just because it's Narnia. I read them around when the first film came out.
BrokenTune 8 years ago
I have not read his adult fiction (apart from The Screwtape Letters but I'd class that as part of his religious theory canon), only some of his non-fiction books. Although I do not share (most of) the conclusions of his argument, I do enjoy his writings - I like the parts where the medieval scholar shines through, and the construction of his arguments, really just the way he uses language.

The Narnia books (only read 2 so far) are well written, too, but just aim at a completely different audience. They're magical (even though some people would interpret the life out of them) and they weren't really written as an argument.
BrokenTune 8 years ago
All, I just wanted to thank you all for a stimulating discussion. I wasn't sure whether to review this book or not - weird topic and I'm fully aware that many will have a much better understanding of Lewis' work than I do - but I can only say that the discussion has been very enlightening and helpful to better understand Lewis' writing.
Classical Carousel 8 years ago
I've come late to the discussion. The Problem of Pain is one of my least favourites; I think he was asked to write it and it is written from more of an intellectual standpoint than an internal one. If I can remember correctly, when he referred to "self" he was distinguishing the human soul, with the ability to reason, etc. from an animal that perhaps does feel emotions, but is driven by instinct. I'd have to read it again to be sure though.

Suffering building character is all through literature. I'm reading The Odyssey now and that is particularly apparent. Of course, there is always the issues of free will and choice which complicates the matter.

Lewis's Space Trilogy is excellent and I'm looking forward to reading The Great Divorce where a busload of people travel from Hell to Heaven and only a few of them decide to stay. Interesting stuff!

Thanks for the great review! Yes, please review books like this! It has generated great discussions and I'll be looking forward to your A Grief Observed post! :-)
BrokenTune 8 years ago
Hi. The suffering building character theme is at the centre of many of my favourite books and I subscribe to the concept broadly (though more so from an existentialist point of view) but to generalise that character building is the sole purpose of pain and is an expression of love of God seems flawed to me.

Thanks for your recommendations. I have The Great Divorce around here somewhere - it's on the TBR.