In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS 689 equally applicable to the latter, they are clearly not his point of reference. Another distracting publisher's idiosyncrasy is pagination: the text of both books begins on p. 7-well, actually, the editor's introduction to The Word begins on p. 7, but Barge's preface begins on p. 7, where most publishers would use small Roman numerals. Of course, it is not necessary that a publisher slavishly follow The Chicago Manual ofStyle. But most do. In any case, it is apparent that the press's editors emphasized design and appearance over style, editing, and proofreadingperhaps not the optimum way to reach an English teacher's attention. Michael G. Ditmore Pepperdine University A Sword between the Sexes? C. S.Lewis and the Gender Debates. ByMary Stewart Van Leeuwen. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2010. ISBN978-1-58743-208-8. Pp. 264. $19.99. A Sword between the Sexes? C. S. Lewis and the Gender Debates is a welcomed addition to the neglected matter of Lewis and gender. While a handful of critical articles on this issue have been published, the only other book-length study, Women Among the Inklings: Gender, C. S. Lewis, f. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams (Greenwood Press, 2001) by Candice Fredrick and Sam McBride paints on too broad a canvas; moreover, it looks at the matter of gender primarily through the published works of Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams while eschewing their correspondence (for an extensive bibliography on Lewis and gender, see "c. S. Lewis and Gender: 'Positively Medieval?" Christian Scholar's Review 36.4 [Summer 2007]: 387-390; this entire issue is devoted to Lewis and gender with a lead article by Van Leeuwen). In addition, neither Fredrick (education) nor McBride (literature) has the academic training requisite to examine the issue of gender from a critically nuanced perspective. A Sword between the Sexes explores both Lewis' books and his correspondence in an effort to offer a comprehensive and chronological investigation of Lewis' views on gender, and Van Leeuwen's academic background in philosophy and the psychology of gender (including three other books on gender) well equips her to write with a seasoned, informed, and perceptive eye on the multifaceted aspects of this issue. Readers of A Sword between the Sexes will find much to admire, including Van Leeuwen's honest, engaging voice,her broad reading of Lewis'oeuvre, and her fresh insights. For instance, while Van Leeuwen offers a critical assessment of Lewis' early defense of "gender essentialism" -the idea that men and women are "faint and blurred reflections of masculine and feminine" -and "gender hierarchy"the idea that but for our fall into sin "patriarchal monarchy would be the sole 690 CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE lawful form of government" (9)-she is fair-minded and has no personal axe to grind. In fact, she disarms readers in her opening chapter, "Surprised by Jack: An Ambivalent Journey;' by noting how her own intellectual and spiritual development had paralleled Lewis: noting in particular that like Lewis she acquiesced to being confirmed in her church as a young person, resigning "my agnostic self to going through the motions of confirmation" (17). In addition, when Van Leeuwen went to university, she regarded Lewis "as a positive model, an advocate for a robust Christianity whose scope included the lifeof the mind as wellas piety and personal morality" (28). In spite of this debt to Lewis,she is honest enough to add: But now I need to point out that Lewis was at the same time a major stumbling block to my acceptance of Christianity. This was due to the mixed messageshe sent about the nature (both actual and ideal) of women, men, and their relationships in books ... such as Mere Christianity, The Four Loves, and Surprised by Joy. Moreover, much of what he said about these topics he claimed as part of "mere" Christianity ("the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times") and thus presumably not open to dispute by any who call themselves orthodox believers. (28) However, because of her own life experiences as a young adult, she shares how she never really soured on Lewis;instead, she became curious about...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 689-693
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.