The Last Romantic: C. S. Lewis, English Literature, and Modern Theology, By Jeffrey W. Barbeau
The Last Romantic
  • Length: 176 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: January 28, 2025
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A1051
  • ISBN: 9781514010518

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Three Essays on C. S. Lewis and Romanticism

Many readers have heard C. S. Lewis's logical arguments for the Christian faith. Yet throughout his wide-ranging study and writing, Lewis often began with experience, intuition, and religious feeling rather than dogmatic assertions. The most profound questions of Lewis's own life, argues theologian and literary critic Jeffrey Barbeau, can be seen in his quest to understand the relationship between personal experience and the truth about the world around him.

In a series of three essays, Barbeau explores the influence of nineteenth-century Romanticism on the writings of C. S. Lewis. Barbeau demonstrates Lewis's indebtedness to Romantic notions of imagination and subjectivity, opens new contexts for understanding ideas about memory and personal identity in his autobiographical writings, and explores beliefs about nature and Christian sacraments throughout his writings on Christian faith. This theological and literary investigation reveals Lewis as a profoundly modern thinker and illuminates his ongoing relevance to contemporary debates about theology and culture.

Drawing on extensive reading of the marginalia in the personal library of C. S. Lewis held by the Marion E. Wade Center, Barbeau offers a fresh understanding of the influence of modern theology and Romantic poetry, especially Wordsworth and Coleridge, on many of Lewis's most beloved works. Essays and responses include:

  • C. S. Lewis and the "Romantic Heresy" with response from professor Sarah Borden,
  • C. S. Lewis and the Anxiety of Memory, with response from professor Matthew Lundin, and
  • C. S. Lewis and the Sacramental Imagination, with response from professor Keith L. Johnson.

Based on the annual lecture series hosted at Wheaton College's Marion E. Wade Center, volumes in the Hansen Lectureship Series reflect on the imaginative work and lasting influence of seven British authors: Owen Barfield, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.

"This beautifully crafted book sets the religious writings of Lewis within the context of German idealism and English Romanticism. Barbeau brilliantly draws upon the marginalia in books from Lewis's own library to place him within the tradition of Methodism, the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge, and the philosophy of Schleiermacher, Hegel, and Feuerbach. In the construction of theological language, Lewis is revealed afresh as a deeply learned, sensitive, and serious Christian thinker."

David Jasper, honorary professional research fellow for the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow


Preface: G. Walter Hansen

1. C. S. Lewis and the "Romantic Heresy"
Response: Sarah Borden

2. C. S. Lewis and the Anxiety of Memory
Response: Matthew Lundin

3. C. S. Lewis and the Sacramental Imagination
Response: Keith L. Johnson

Appendix: Poetic Fragments by C. S. Lewis
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Jeffrey W. Barbeau

Jeffrey W. Barbeau (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of theology at Wheaton College. He is the author or editor of several books, including Religion in Romantic England: An Anthology of Primary Sources; Sara Coleridge: Her Life and Thought; Coleridge, the Bible, and Religion; The Image of God in an Image Driven Age; Spirit of God: Christian Renewal in the Community of Faith; and Coleridge's Assertion of Religion: Essays on the Opus Maximum.

Barbeau holds graduate degrees in English literature, theology, and religious studies, and he writes and researches on British Romanticism, theology and literature, the nineteenth century, Methodist history, and Wesleyan theology.