Chapters 4-6
Chapters 4-6 E-mail

Surprised by Joy

Chapters 4-6


Chapter 4

1.  At a subsequent boarding school, Lewis "ceased to be a Christian."  What factors led up to this? 

2.  What misunderstanding about prayer burdened Lewis?  Have you ever felt similarly weighed down by a spiritual discipline?

3.  To what did Lewis attribute his "deeply ingrained pessimism"?

4.  What influence did the new young master (i.e. teacher) nicknamed Pogo have on Lewis?

Chapter 5

5.  How does Lewis use "Renaissance" in this chapter?  Why is boyhood like the Dark Ages for Lewis?  Do you identify with the way he has characterized childhood, boy(girl)hood, and the teen years?

6.  Why does the discovery of "Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods" make such an impact on Lewis?  Discuss Lewis's attempt to create his own epic poem.

7.  What four major effects does Lewis's love affair with "Northerness" have on the rest of his life? 

8.  Describe the inner versus outer life of Lewis.  Of what did his imaginative life consist?  How does Lewis qualify his definition of imagination?

9.  Why do you think Lewis included Boxen in this chapter?

Chapter 6

10.  What is a Blood?  What are the qualifications for being one?  Why was a revolution not worthwhile in the Wyverian student political system?

11.  Consider the Fribble story.  What are "two perfectly good morals" that might have been drawn from it?  Instead, what "crime" was Lewis charged with? 

12.  Why did Lewis think he was a marked man?  How does Lewis describe himself?

13.  At least six times in this chapter Lewis says (satirically?) that his schooling was "preparation for public life."  Select one of the following aspects of life at Coll and explain how this is so.

a.  tarts
b.  bloods
c.  fagging
d.  games
e.  Tennyson's "punishment"


Please see the handout from the website for additional notes.

Spiritualism:  a religion which believes that spirits of the dead wish to communicate with the living typically through a medium in a séance.  It reached its peak form the 1840s to 1920s among the middle and upper classes of English-speaking countries.  The movement weakened due to charges of fraud.

Theosophy:  a general term for occult studies; also the Theosophical Society founded by the Russian medium and author Helena Blavatsky.  She influenced the Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

Rosicrucianism:  lit. the Order of the Rosy Cross; a fraternal order of mystical teaching dating back to 15th century Germany which attempted to blend alchemy with Christianity.

Sir Robert Ball (1840-1913):  the Royal Astronomer of Ireland; a professor of applied Mathematics and Astronomy in Dublin and later at Cambridge where he was also director of the Cambridge Observatory.  His books and articles were popular and accessible.

Titus Lucretius Carus (99 BCE-55 BCE):  Roman poet and philosopher whose one extant work On the Nature of Things is an epic poem laying out many ideas ahead of their time, such as atomic theory, materialism and the idea that religion could be harmful.  Lucretius is experiencing a bit of revival thanks to Stephen Greenblatt whose book The Swerve: How the world became modern won the 2011 National Book Award for non-fiction.

Saki aka Hector Hugh Munro (1807-1916): British writer of short stories which satirized Edwardian manners.  He also wrote several plays.

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975): British humorist, influenced by Saki, who wrote novels, short stories, plays and lyrics for over 30 musicals.  Best known for Jeeves, Wodehouse's stories emphasize the eccentricities of the upper class and feature servants who know more than their masters.

W. A. Bekker's Charicles (also spelled Becker): an 1854 book whose full title is Charicles: illustrations of the private life of the ancient Greeks with notes and excursuses from the German by Professor Becker.  View it online at

Circassian: pertains to the Caucasus region of Eurasia where the women were reputed to be very beautiful.

Thomas Traherne (1636-1674):  Clergyman and metaphysical poet.  Vividly presented the common things of everyday life as vehicles of mystical revelation.

‘Sohrab and Rustum´ by Matthew Arnold (1853): a narrative poem about the legendary Persian hero, Rustum, and his son, Sohrab.  The two meet in single combat, in ignorance of their relationship, and Sohrab is slain.

Siegfried:  hero of the Nibelungenlied, Germanic epic poem c. 1190 or 1200.  Author unknown.  Adaptation by Wagner in "The Ring of Nibelungen."

Tegner (1782-1846): Swedish poet

Balder: Norse god of light (the good guy).

Eddaic:  Pertaining to Edda, a collection of early Icelandic mythology.

batrachised:  made into a frog

diarchy:  government by two joint rulers

"Played Chesterfield to my Stanhope":  Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773) statesman and man of letters.  His "Letters" to his natural son Philip Stanhope, were sharply criticized by Samuel Johnson as "teaching the morals of a whore and the manners of a dancing master."

fag: in this context, refers to an English public school boy who takes the role of a servant to an upper classman

catamite:  a boy who has had a sexual relationship with a man

pederasty:  from pederast, an older man who has sexual relations with a boy

atra cura:  lit. dark cares, troubles

corveé:  French for chore, hard task

Erewhon: (anagram of Nowhere) a satirical novel by Samuel Butler.  A satire of English attitudes toward religion, crime, science, etc.

© 2012 by Allyson Wieland