An Experiment in Criticism

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CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Jul 30, 2016 - Criticism - 128 pages
Why do we read literature and how do we judge it? C. S. Lewis's classic An Experiment in Criticism springs from the conviction that literature exists for the joy of the reader and that books should be judged by the kind of reading they invite. He argues that 'good reading', like moral action or religious experience, involves surrender to the work in hand and a process of entering fully into the opinions of others: 'in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself'. Crucial to his notion of judging literature is a commitment to laying aside expectations and values extraneous to the work, in order to approach it with an open mind. Amid the complex welter of current critical theories, C. S. Lewis's wisdom is valuably down-to-earth, refreshing and stimulating in the questions it raises about the experience of reading.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - musecure - LibraryThing

There are no good or bad books, only good and bad readers or perhaps more correctly good or bad reading methods. Even a "bad book" can be "read well". One shouldn't judge the work but rather how the reader receives and reads the work. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lycomayflower - LibraryThing

If you can get past Lewis's snooty attitude here (LW3 called him a "pompous poot" in the margin in the copy I just read), he has some rather interesting and important things to say about how we judge ... Read full review

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About the author (2016)

C. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis, "Jack" to his intimates, was born on November 29, 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. His mother died when he was 10 years old and his lawyer father allowed Lewis and his brother Warren extensive freedom. The pair were extremely close and they took full advantage of this freedom, learning on their own and frequently enjoying games of make-believe. These early activities led to Lewis's lifelong attraction to fantasy and mythology, often reflected in his writing. He enjoyed writing about, and reading, literature of the past, publishing such works as the award-winning The Allegory of Love (1936), about the period of history known as the Middle Ages. Although at one time Lewis considered himself an atheist, he soon became fascinated with religion. He is probably best known for his books for young adults, such as his Chronicles of Narnia series. This fantasy series, as well as such works as The Screwtape Letters (a collection of letters written by the devil), is typical of the author's interest in mixing religion and mythology, evident in both his fictional works and nonfiction articles. Lewis served with the Somerset Light Infantry in World War I; for nearly 30 years he served as Fellow and tutor of Magdalen College at Oxford University. Later, he became Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University. C.S. Lewis married late in life, in 1957, and his wife, writer Joy Davidman, died of cancer in 1960. He remained at Cambridge until his death on November 22, 1963.

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