The Misquotable C.S Lewis: What He Didn’t Say, What He Actually Said, and Why It Matters

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


The Misquotable C.S Lewis: What He Didn’t Say, What He Actually Said, and Why It Matters


William O’Flaherty (foreword by Jerry Root)


Wipf and Stock

Publication Date:

March 16, 2018




144 pages


”What do C.S. Lewis, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and the fictional Sherlock Holmes have in common? All of them have had quotations attributed to them that they didn’t write or say.” William O’Flaherty opens his introduction with this point, and then devotes the rest of the book to explaining 75 quotations that C.S. Lewis has been credited with saying, but which Lewis did not in fact say. These include:

  • Things Lewis never said at all
  • Things Lewis almost said but in different words
  • Things Lewis said or wrote but which sound very different when taken out of context

On one level, this book is entertaining because it highlights the unfortunate fate of so many well-known writers. That is, they tend to get attributed with anything and everything that could almost sound like what they maybe said once upon a time. It’s particularly entertaining to see the quotes which are actually more or less the opposite of what Lewis said or believed. On another level, O’Flaherty captures just how important context is to understanding a writer’s thoughts. This is particularly clear in the last section, where he notes things that Lewis wrote but which need context (like Uncle Andrew’s self-serving quote “No great wisdom can be reached without sacrifice” in The Magician’s Nephew). Knowing that a quote is something a fictional character says in an author’s novel, as opposed to something the author wrote in a nonfiction work, changes the meaning in a big way. When writers have characters say certain things, those are not always things the writer personally thinks (a point that gets missed a lot in the age of Internet memes). In short, taking the time to read and to read well is always important, perhaps especially in an age where people have shorter and shorter attention spans.

A thoroughly entertaining examination of C.S. Lewis’ legacy and writings.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Readers interested in C.S. Lewis’ work and his reputation.

Christian Impact

Throughout the book, the author helps readers to understand C.S. Lewis’ theological views better by showing what he actually wrote and how it differs from various misquotes. In the process, the author helps readers to differentiate between certain theological ideas and more popular ideas (such as self-help) which sound like sound theology but are actually off-kilter.

Fatal Strike

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