I keep seeing and hearing how the Screwtape Letters are hugely popular, but somehow I never saw the appeal in them. I read some and thought “so what?”
But I really, really like Lewis’s Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength). I thought he did a bang-up job with that. Even though I’m not Christian, I thoroughly enjoyed it. He gets a little heavy with the dogma in a few places, but that didn’t prevent him from writing some exciting, thoughtful adventures. Perelandra has some extremely deep private personal meaning for me.
I still like Tolkien better, because his writing is so well crafted. All of Tolkien’s work is suffused with Christian depth, although he never proselytizes the way Lewis did.
Lewis thought his last novel, Till We Have Faces, was by far his best. Doesn’t anyone read that any more? I still have to get to it.
I still have to read The Man Who Was Thursday, it really sounds interesting. I just started MacDonald’s Lilith, on the basis that Lewis saw MacDonald as the forerunner and inspiration for his fantastic fiction.
Canticle for Leibowitz??? That’s very much post-Christian, I would say.
John Donne ROCKS! The 17th century is perhaps the greatest period in English poetry, and Donne is the champ of it. No other English poet has combined Sex and Religion so well.
I’m surprised no one has mentioned Charles Williams. If you want really seriously thought-provoking Christian fiction and poetry, you really have to check out Charles Williams. Especially The Place of the Lion (which inspired “Aslan”), Descent into Hell, and All Hallow’s Eve. Williams was a one-of-a-kind author. For him poetry had occult incantatory power, and he was a master of several schools of poetry. He was one of the few people to combine Anglican Christianity with occult Magick. His concept of love, which he found in Dante’s treatment of Beatrice, was that human love leads to divine love, a belief he shared with Sufis and Tantrics as well as Dante. Williams was one of the three major members of the Inklings, the little coterie that formed around C. S. Lewis and included Tolkien as its other major luminary. I just got done re-reading Humphrey Carpenter’s The Inklings and learned more from it than the first time I read it. You all should definitely read The Inklings for an in-depth discussion of what the craft of writing Christian literature meant to Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams and friends.