The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature / Edition 1 available in Paperback
About the Author
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) was a British novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, theologian, broadcaster, and lecturer. He is best known for his fictional works, including The Screwtape Letters, The Space Trilogy, and The Chronicles of Narnia. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the second book in the seven-book Narnia series, often tops must-read lists of classic children's literature; the series has been adapted for film, radio, TV, and the stage.
Date of Birth:November 29, 1898
Date of Death:November 22, 1963
Place of Birth:Belfast, Nothern Ireland
Place of Death:Headington, England
Education:Oxford University 1917-1923; Elected fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford in 1925
Table of ContentsPreface; 1. The medieval situation; 2. Reservations; 3. Selected materials: the classical period; 4. Selected materials: the seminal period; 5. The heavens; 6. The longaevi; 7. Earth and her inhabitants; 8. The influence of the model; Epilogue; Index.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
C S Lewis invents the idea of a medieval model to explain the medieval world view; just as in past ages men of learning have used models to understand the universe which they live. He may have used the title "The Discarded Image" because the medieval model has proved to be palpably not true. This however is not the point. Lewis contends that to understand medieval literature the modern reader must be familiar with their world view because it was the view that shaped their thoughts, lives and everything they wrote. The success of the book depends therefore on how well Lewis is able to explain and describe the model's essential elements. Lewis introduces his subject by stating that medieval man built himself a model which explained the universe in which he lived and into which all his knowledge and learning could be included. Everything had to be fitted in. The middle ages are described as an age of acteurs(authority); all writers whenever they could based their knowledge on what had come down to them from past ages. It was an age of books and manuscripts which were pored over in order to find the necessary authority to shape their thoughts. This leads nicely into the next few chapters that identify and describe the sources that were used. Lewis starts with the classical aucteurs pointing out that the middle ages had less access to works from antiquity than we enjoy today. He then moves on to the seminal period: the period from the 3rd century AD to the 7th century AD where a pagan society became dominated by a western Christian society. He guides us through Plotinus; father of the neo-platonists to Calcidus, Macrobius, Dionysius and finally Boethius. Time is spent explaining their contribution to the medieval model and some important ideas emerge. The Christian society of the middle ages was based on a pagan view of the universe. It was Justin Martyr who had said earlier that: "Whatever things have been well said by all men belong to the Christians" Lewis also point s out that much of the writing was philosophical in nature it was not Christian doctrine. Lewis reminds us that Boethius was a Christian but it was a philosophy he was writing and so he had no hesitation in including pagan elements.Having dealt with the sources for the model Lewis then sets out to to describe how it explains the workings of the cosmos. The earth is set at the centre with concentric circles radiating outwards from it. The circles immediately surrounding the earth are made up of the four elements; earth, air, fire and water. Then comes the great divide of the moon where air gives way to the ether. Lewis stresses it is important to understand that the circles above the moon containing the sun and the planets are translunary. These are the heavens; the realms of the angels and the gods and are incorruptible. The area below the moon is the sublunary where nature rules, there are deamons and the world is corruptible. Here Lewis could really use a diagram as it is difficult to understand the concepts from the text alone. Lewis emphasises that the heavens (translunary) were not conceived as the dark abyss of space, indeed they were full of light and the harmony of the spheres.Lewis calls his next chapter "The Longaevi" these are the fairies that play significant parts in many medieval texts. Fairies consist of fauns, pans, satyrs silvans and nymphs and Lewis admits that they remain elusive, but need some interpretation for the modern reader. The following longer chapter "Earth and its Inhabitants" covers most other fields of knowledge. There is; the human rational soul, the human body and its humours, the human past and the teaching of the liberal arts. Finally we come to "The Influence of the Model" where Lewis explains how the model he has described effected the literature produced in the middle ages and beyond. Interesting points arise here especially for those readers who have issues with some aspects of medieval literature. For example why does it cont
This is not an easy read, but worth the effort. Lewis uses his knowledge of medieval culture, society and literature to introduce some images that were once familiar, but have since been lost to the modern world.