Preview: The Man Born to Be King
C.S. Lewis read this twelve play-cycle every year during Holy Week!
I’ve finished The Man Born to Be King and think it a complete success…
I shed real tears (hot ones) in places: since Mauriac’s Vie de Jesus
nothing has moved me so much…
(Collected Letters, II, 577f)
The Man Born to Be King, published toward the end of Dorothy Sayers’s prolific career (1943), is peerless. This famous play-cycle, a faithful account of the four gospels in dramatic form, was written first for broadcasting and was performed on BBC Home Service. Sayers is completely true to the eyewitness material in the New Testament but, as a great literary artist, she brings us into direct contact with the living text and the reality of the life of Christ. She adds character introductions, minor characters, stage directions, dialogue—all the details that help us to remember that, like us, these people breathed and lived messy lives together and yet they supped with Christ over a meal they had caught and grilled themselves. Through these plays, the incarnation newly dawns on us as readers and we remember that real oxygen circulated in those pairs of lungs.
The play-cycle is an excellent source for down-to-earth literary reading, devotional reflection, school and homeschool production, and theological discussion. Classical Academic Press is delighted to bring this classic and unmatched text back into print.
Sayers was an honorary member of the Inklings, a group of writers which included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Like them, she graduated from Oxford but had the distinction of being one of the first women to do so. Many letters (now published) passed between Sayers and Lewis. Lewis was so taken with this twelve-play collection that he read it each year in preparation for Lent. Sayers’s work also included translating Dante and writing smart, popular mystery novels as well as incisive essays, such as “The Lost Tools of Learning,” which have launched an educational movement in the United States.