An Experiment in Criticism / Edition 1 available in Paperback
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.
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 Contents
1. The few and the many; 2. False characterisations; 3. How the few and the many use pictures and music; 4. The reading of the unliterary; 5. On myth; 6. The meanings of fantasy; 7. On realisms; 8. On misreading by the literary; 9. Survey; 10. Poetry; 11. The experiment; Epilogue; Appendix.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you can read through his occasional old-fashioned biases on class and gender, dated even for 1961 when this was first published, this is a wonderful little guide on how to read. Exploring the differences between mundane everyday reading and reading with a capital R; the reading of great literature, Lewis also includes chapters on poetry, myth and fantasy. He provides one of the most compelling reasons ever offered for why we read at the end of this little gem of a book: "But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself......I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do."
A delightful short volume on literature. My favorite parts were the chapter on myth and the epilogue, along with the whole idea that literary criticism in its modern incarnation is dry, dull, and harmful to literature.