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A PREFACE TO PARADISE LOST: BEING THE BALLARD MATTHEWS LECTURES DELIVERED AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, NORTH WALES, 1941. Hardcover – 1959


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (1959)
  • ASIN: B000XDBFVM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,688,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 English 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.


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The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know what it is-what it was intended to do and how it is meant to be used. Read the first page
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
The purpose of this book is to remove hindrances to the enjoyment of Paradise Lost: the author felt it useful to start by defending the genre of long narrative poems as such. There is no point reading them like lyrics and looking for good lines: that is like looking for good stones in a cathedral. Lewis frankly admits the poem's weak points (especially the closing books in respect of which he quotes Dr Johnson: "the story cannot possibly be told in a manner which will make less impression on the mind") but rises to the defence of the pomp and ceremony of epic poems, which are usefully distinguished into primary (Iliad, Beowulf) and secondary (Aeneid, Paradise Lost). The point of the distinction is to place Milton in the line of descent from Vergil: a poet whose poem points somewhere and who writes within a conscious scheme of things (this teleological aspect being lacking from, say, Homer).
Is a book about Paradise Lost likely to be read only by the true believers? Perhaps, but the ideal reader would be someone who has struggled to get past the first book or two and would appreciate getting the hindrances cleared out of the way.
I have bought this book twice but have no copy of it now: don't lend it out if you want to get it back.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mike London on 2 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
In "A Preface To Paradise Lost", Lewis talks about what Milton was trying to accomplish with this epic, and this critical work will always stand in very high circles indeed in Milton scholarship. Much of his wisdom is sound, especially when it comes to judging a thing. Lewis says to judge something we must know what it is and what it is intended to do, and then he goes into types of epic poetry and what Milton is trying to accomplish with his work.

Milton's influence on "Perelandra" is very evident, for Lewis took everything he did not like in Milton and threw them out in the elaborate construction of "Perelandra". It is obvious Lewis greatly admires Milton, and his tribute to him is very great indeed.

One issue, as some critics have pointed out, is Lewis's inability to appreciate spoken poetry, which is a very real weakness. Other than that, however, "A Preface to Paradise" lost stands as one of Lewis's best work of scholarship and will greatly add to anyone's understanding of Milton's aim and theology in general.

Lewis deals with the several key issues in Milton. One thing often misunderstood by the Romantics was it seemed to have a positive portrayal of Satan, and how lordly he sounds. The idea of better to be a king in hell than a slave in heaven is of course an absurd one, but from this Lewis builds his great little novel "The Great Divorce."

Ultimately, like Tolkien with "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics", Lewis has written the definitive textual commentary to "Paradise Lost", and probably the most read book on Milton as well as far as literary criticism goes.

--------------
[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike London on 24 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover
[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon. These writings comprise two types of reviews: unfinished reviews, abandoned during various stages of composition, and completed reviews that for life reasons were never posted. Of the later type, back in September 2001 I wrote a cache of work, a full sixteen reviews* of several different C. S. Lewis books which have never been released. I have issued these reviews in October 2012 on Amazon.com, over a decade after they were initially written. However, these reviews were heavily edited and in several instances radically and drastically revised. I am publishing these reviews now for the first time in their original, unrevised format as written in 2001, with bracketed additions added for occasionally necessary clarification. Mike London 10-23-2012]

In Preface To Paradise Lost, Lewis talks about what Milton was trying to accomplish with this epic, and this critical work will always stand in very high circles indeed in Milton scholarship. Much of his wisdom is sound, especially when it comes to judging a thing. Lewis says to judge something we must know what it is and what it is intended to do, and then he goes into types of epic poetry and what Milton is trying to accomplish with his work.

Milton's influence on Perelandra is very evident, for Lewis took everything he did not like in Milton and threw them out in the elaborate construction of Perelandra. It is obvious Lewis greatly admires Milton, and his tribute to him is very great indeed.

One issue, as some critics have pointed out, is Lewis's inability to appreciate spoken poetry, which is a very real weakness.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rocke Harder on 28 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book got me through my A level English - we studied Book 4 and I soaked up all that CS Lewis said about Paradise Lost. He gave me a breadth of insight that got me an A grade - that was over 30 years ago !!

Eternall grateful.
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DM SHERWOOD on 2 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Leis valuently makes a Case that Milton can be read without saigning up to Xtianity & yet not taking the line about 'Lies breathed thru silver'
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