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The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto) Paperback – August 26, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0521477352 ISBN-10: 0521477352 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Series: Canto
  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (August 26, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521477352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521477352
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Wise, illuminating, companionable, it may well come to be seen as Lewis' s best book.' The Observer

'... erudite and graceful, filled with anecdote and analogy, illuminating the images of the past.' Los Angeles Times

'... his wonderful gusto, the clarity of his style, the wit of his comments and analogies, the range of his learning and the liveliness of his mind are displayed to the full, warmed by a prevailing good humour.' Helen Gardner, The Listener

Book Description

Hailed as "the final memorial to the work of a great scholar and teacher and a wise and noble mind," this work paints a lucid picture of the medieval world view, as historical and cultural background to the literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

More About the Author

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and been transformed into three major motion pictures.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I am a PhD student in medieval history and have read an awful lot of books on the medieval mind and this is by far the best.
Andrew Jones
This is Mr. Lewis's final message to us: Open your heart to God and your mind will find the evidence and the models, that are developed in your society, will follow.
William Byrd
To return to Lewis, The Discarded Image is a masterful introduction to the literature and worldview of an age that has been "made out as much sillier than it was."
Jordan M. Poss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

138 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Simmons on July 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
Table of Contents:
Preface
I The Medieval Situation
II Reservations
III Selected Materials: the Classical Period
A The "Somnium Scipionis"
B Lucan
C Statius, Claudian, and the Lady "Natura"
D Apuleius, "De Deo Socratis"
IV Selected Materials: the Seminal Period
A Chalcidius
B Macrobius
C Pseudo-Dionysius
D Boethius
V The Heavens
A The Parts of the Universe
B Their Operations
C Their Inhabitants
VI The Logaevi
VII Earth and Her Inhabitants
A The Earth
B Beasts
C The Human Soul
D Rational Soul
E Sensitive and Vegetable Soul
F Soul and Body
G The Human Body
H The Human Past
I The Seven Liberal Arts
VIII The Influence of the Model
Epilogue
Index
In his "An Experiment in Criticism", Lewis suggests that the heart of literary experience is the surrender by the reader to the work being read; that good reading is the entering into the views of others and going out of ourselves.
With regard to medieval literature, this requires two things: the facts behind a host of unfamiliar references, and even more importantly, a remake of how to think of reality. Readers who insist on reading works of the period with their modernism intact are "as travellers who carry their resolute Englishry with them all over the continent, mixing only with other English tourists, enjoying all they see for its 'quaintness', and having no wish to realise what those ways of life, those churches, those vineyards, mean to the natives.
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113 of 115 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
The title sounds like something for the specialist in Medieval literature, doesn't it? Don't be put off by that or by the subject matter. There are a number of reasons to read this book.
Here is Lewis the common teacher, not the religious writer. You will find no polemic here. But, paradoxically, Lewis may be more persuasive and display more passion when he is neither trying to persuade nor be passionate. This book originated in a series of lectures, and it shows. There is love for both subject and reader on every page. Lewis writes simply and beautifully, so those of you interested in fine prose will find much here.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is the comparison Lewis draws between ancient and Medieval thought and the modern. Sometimes these comparisons are direct, but more often they are subtle, implicit. But, by continually pairing the two worldviews, whether directly or not, Lewis leads us, like the master teacher he was, to reflect on our own way of thinking.
For example, Lewis highlights good and bad aspects of Medieval writing. For one, Medieval writing revels in detail. This can be rich or boring, depending. But, the reason for such detail, Lewis suggests, is that Medieval writers were contemplating a world they loved and felt part of. Thus, to a lover, details about one's beloved are never overdone. In contrast, most of us feel somewhat alienated in today's society, don't we?
Lewis also suggests that Medieval writers copied earlier writers. Early writings are, like Cathedrals, products of many craftsmen. The need to be original or creative was subsumed by humility. Medieval writers did not want focus, like so many of today's artists, on themselves. Instead, they wanted to direct attention to contemplation of the figures and subjects of their writing. Pride in craft may have been present, but is was subordinate to love of subje
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ian M. Slater TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
A previous (1994) "Canto Books" paperback edition, with a splendid medieval cover (from an illustrated manuscript of "The Romance of the Rose") is still listed on Amazon. It has a fine set of reviews with it, including an older version of this one. Amazon hasn't seen fit to carry them over (at least so far), so I'm taking the opportunity provided by a change of cover art to revise my review (the first version of which goes back to September 2003).

"The Discarded Image" first appeared in print from Cambridge University Press in 1964, the year following C.S. Lewis' death. It first appeared in paperback in 1967 (with a less than inspiring blue-and-red cover). My copy of that edition was heavily marked up and fell to pieces after years of use, in High School and as an undergraduate and graduate student. So is safe to conclude that I am an admirer of the book. (Also of Lewis' fiction, and his other works of criticism; with a few exceptions, the books on Christianity which made him widely known are of less interest to me.)

It contains the substance (and presumably the final wording) of Lewis' lecture series introducing medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford, and, presumably, reflects what he taught his students at Oxford, and, at end of his life, was trying to establish at Cambridge. It is admirably concise, remarkably clear, and, for anyone who does not remember that it is described as only an introduction, at some points frustratingly limited.

In a very few pages he encapsulates some of the main features of European thought between, roughly, the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the publication of "Paradise Lost.
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