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C. S. Lewis and the Craft of Communication

Steven A. Beebe

C. S. Lewis, based on the popularity of his books and essays, is one of the best communicators of the twentieth century. During his lifetime he was hailed for his talents as author, speaker, educator, and broadcaster; he continues to be a best-selling author more than a half-century after his death.

C. S. Lewis and the Craft of Communication analyzes Lewis’s communication skill. A comprehensive review of Lewis’s work reveals five communication principles that explain his success as a communicator. Based on Lewis’s own advice about communication in his books, essays, and letters, as well as his communication practice, being a skilled communicator is to be holistic, intentional, transpositional, evocative, and audience-centered. These five principles are memorably summarized by the acronym HI TEA. Dr. Steven Beebe, past president of the National Communication Association and an internationally-recognized communication author and educator, uses Lewis’s own words to examine these five principles in a most engaging style.

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Foreword

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When the Nobel Prize winning poet, Seamus Heaney, came to the door of The Kilns, C. S. Lewis’s home in Oxford, he shouted, “I want to see the house where the Irishman lived!” Heaney grew up in North Ireland not all that far from where Lewis was raised. Ireland is a country that seems to have a disproportionate number of great writers, given the comparatively small population. Lewis thought it was in the genes to be a communicator. He once wrote, “I am an Irishman and a congenital rhetorician”1 Perhaps that is it. The Irish are simply great at communication, and there is nothing more to it: great storytellers; great at spinning a yarn, and great at holding the attention of an audience. Perhaps it is something in the water. Perhaps, it is the island’s unique combination of extraordinary beauty. The landscapes take one’s breath away. However, the beauty also coexists with the history of a people who have endured centuries of suffering. Beauty and sorrow weave the texture unique to Irish literature. Is this what Lewis had in mind when he connected his rhetorical skill to his being Irish? Whatever the case, Lewis was a brilliant communicator.

Professor Steven Beebe reveals that nobody can fully appreciate the genius of Lewis without seeing the brilliance of Lewis’s skill as a communicator. Lewis’s scholarly books like The Allegory of Love and English Literature in the Sixteenth Century: Excluding Drama are masterpieces for their ability to follow a narrative...

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